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How to kill ugly wall paint: Expert tips to cover strong paint colours

If you’ve ever tried to paint over hot peach walls or bright blue ceilings and after FIVE coats that colour it is still shining through… well this post is for you!

Today we have Erin Hearns, a Haymes Colour Stylist, back with us to share her expert advice on how to kill ugly wall paint!

Related article: The power of paint: Living room makeover on a budget
Related article: How to select white paint: Tips on getting the right white paint

Haymes Paint colour stylist, Erin Hearns
Erin Hearns

We suppose preparation is a big part of getting rid of strong paint colours, what steps do you recommend?

“Applying an undercoat is important but the colour of the undercoat will depend on the colour of the wall and the colour you want to apply,” says Erin.

“If you are wanting to paint a light colour over a dark, the first thing to do would be to wash the walls down with a sugar soap mix with warm water to remove any dirt and grime.

“This will give you a clean surface that the undercoat and top coats can adhere to well.

“A good quality brush and roller will also help get best coverage on the wall and produce a much better end finish.

Without using an undercoat and painting straight over your original colour with a light colour you will have shadows and colour bleeding through your new top coat, altering the colour and giving it a patchy look.

“Using an undercoat creates a neutral base that will give you correct colouring of the top coat without any hot peach or sky blue showing through.

“Darker colours may need two coats of undercoat to cover properly and give an even finish.”

How to kill ugly wall paint
Styling by Ruth Welsby and photography by Martina Gemmola

We heard that applying grey paint is a way to kill ugly wall paint and reduce the amount of top coats — is this true or can you provide a better technique?

“This technique is correct. Using a tinted undercoat in a grey can help even out the base for another colour to cover over it.

“Having the tint in the undercoat makes coverage better and neutralises the original colour.

“We have a range of tinted undercoats recommended for different scenarios depending on the original colour and colour going over it.

“Staff at our stores all have a great knowledge of what undercoat is recommended for these situations to get the best coverage and base to paint,” says Erin.

If you want to paint a dark wall, most likely you will need a mid-grey undercoat first to get a true colour top coat, such as red.

“If a white undercoat is used under a red wall you will see irregular roller lines and patches and may need four or five coats to fix.

“Colours like these don’t have a great opacity — the neutral grey undercoat will not show up these marks and in two coats you will have a deep rich covering.”

What would you say is the hardest wall paint to cover?

“Any bright or dark colour can be the trickiest to cover, but with the right tinted undercoat it doesn’t have to be hard at all.

“The trickiest thing is that some walls may need two coats of undercoat to even out the surface.”

Simone Haag styling
Styling by Simone Haag and photography by Eve Wilson

Should you use different techniques depending on the wall colour? For example would you use a colour from the opposite side of the colour spectrum? Or is the approach always the same?

“Greys or white are always the best undercoat colours to use. If another colour is used this is still going to show through your top coat.

“You can also have the undercoat tinted to the top coat colour you are going to use but this again depends on the colour you are using.

“For example, if you were painting over a mid-range colour or something that isn’t too strong and wanted to paint it a colour similar to ‘Chapel Grey’ or another white-based colour, you could have the undercoat tinted the same colour as the top coat.”

There you have Erin’s advice on how to kill ugly wall paint. We’d love to hear your painting horror story. Tell us the most hideous room you’ve ever had to paint in the comments below!

More reno tips

How to kill ugly wall paint wood panel
Styling by Simone Haag and photography by Eve Wilson | Tips on how to kill ugly wall paint

This article was first updated in December 2014 and continues to be updated with latest information and images.

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.


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