How Many Coats of Paint Does My House Need? 

a person painting a house

If you're considering painting your house's exterior, you may wonder whether you can get away with one coat of paint. Applying only one coat would reduce your material costs. But is one coat good enough?

While you may be able to get by with one coat of paint in some circumstances, we typically recommend at least one coat of primer and one to two coats of finish paint. Learn our answer to "How many coats of paint does my house need?" below, then contact Nelson Exteriors of Atlanta, GA at 678-283-8171 to schedule a professional exterior painting service.

What Does Each Coat of Paint Do?

Before you decide on the number of coats of paint you need, consider the roles of each coat:

  • Primer: Primer helps the finish color adhere to the surface and restores your home's exterior to a neutral white, making other shades look more opaque. Using a primer over unpainted surfaces is best, but using it anywhere you apply new paint doesn't hurt.

  • First finish coat: The first finish coat is the coat of paint in your desired shade. Some houses can get away with one coat of primer and one coat of finish if the exterior surface is smooth and the original paint color is light.

  • Second finish coat: The second coat of finish can enhance the appearance and durability of the paint job.

Factors Affecting the Number of Coats You Need

Factors Affecting the Number of Coats You Need

When you work with professional painters, they will examine your home's exterior to determine the number of coats necessary to create a smooth, even, durable finish. Your painting contractors will look at the following factors to make this decision:

Previous Color

The basic laws of painting say that when you're painting a light color over a dark color, you'll need more coats to make your light color look opaque. Going from a black house to a white one may take two to three coats of the finish color and one coat of primer.

Exterior Material

Some exterior surfaces soak up paint more than others, requiring additional coats for an even, opaque look. For instance, masonry is very porous and soaks up paint like a sponge. Painting over this material will require specialized prep work and several coats of finish to get into all the crevices and look smooth. Painting siding however, is a much more straight forward process that will require less coats than block homes.

Type of Paint

Higher-quality paint allows you to apply fewer coats while achieving a beautiful, even finish on your home's exterior. To ensure beautiful and lasting results with each paint job, Nelson Exterior's painters only use premium paint from Sherwin-Williams and PPG.

Benefits of Applying 2+ Coats of Finish

Benefits of Applying 2 coats of paint

The answer to "How many coats of paint does my house need?" depends on your painting project goals. If you want to experience the following benefits, you'll apply at least two coats of finish.

Richer Color

Your first finish coat may look slightly lighter or darker than the sample, as your home's previous color will show through a little. Applying a second coat of your finish color brings you closer to the shade on the paint sample. The second coat completely covers the previous color, creating a richer, fuller shade that better matches your vision.

Better Adhesion

Even if you prepare your exterior walls before the first coat, the paint may not adhere to the textured surface as well as it could. However, your second coat will adhere to the first coat, as it has a smooth, slightly sticky surface to cling to. This benefit could allow your paint to last longer on your home and create a more attractive, professional finish.

Cost Effectiveness

You may think that applying two coats will double your costs, but it will only increase your investment slightly. Whether you choose a DIY paint job or work with professionals, you won't need to pay for extra equipment or supplies beyond the additional gallons of paint. The second coat also goes on faster than the first because it does not need to be as precise.

To learn more, check out our post, How Much Does it Cost to Paint a House in Atlanta?

Is Applying More Coats Always Better?

If money isn't an issue, wouldn't it be best to apply three, four, or even five coats of finish? Probably not.

With each coat of paint you apply, you increase the risk of creating bumps and drips on the finish. While these imperfections may not be visible from far away, they will make the paint job look messy and unprofessional up close.

Final Verdict: How Many Coats of Paint Does My House Need?

While you may get by with one coat of primer and one coat of finish, applying a second finish coat will only enhance the appearance of your exterior paint job. Any additional coats may not be necessary and could even create a messier look.

When you work with our professional exterior painters, we'll determine the exact number of coats to create the perfect finish and save you money. Call Nelson Exteriors today at 678-283-8171, or contact us online for a free painting estimate in the Atlanta area.