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The appearance of a paint or coating used to be a matter of experience. Managers and workers would envision the look of the finished job by holding a paint sample against the surface in question or applying the product to an area of the surface and determining whether the surface will look that way after the entire surface is covered. Too often, though, this process led to a darker or lighter finish than desired.
If the sample card background was a flat white, a small area painted with the selected color would look lighter, but after the whole wall was painted, the color often would look darker.
Another method to test color is to use an online virtual painter that many paint manufacturers offer. The specifier selects a prototypical room or uploads an image of the actual room, selects a new color, and sees the results in real time. The specifier can bring up this application, try a color or several colors on the whole wall, and select the desired paint after seeing its effect on the appearance of the entire wall.
One common appearance question for managers is whether to specify a finish coat only, separate primer and finish coats, or a combined primer and finish. Each of these options depends on the area to be painted.
The finish-only option tends to work best with similar colors and paints and a non-glossy base — for example, when using latex over latex. The option of using a primer and finish or one coat combined depends on several factors. One coat of combined costs more than a standard finish coat, and a standard coat costs more than a primer.
The cost difference grows going from 1 gallon to 5 gallons or more. If the old and new colors are similar, one combined coat might work. If color differences are extreme, managers probably will need a primer and finish coat for enough depth. The supplier also can tint the primer at no cost by adding some of the top coat color to the primer when mixing. Two coats of tinted primer and one of finish coat would cost less. When covering light with dark, less primer or a combined primer and top coat should work.
Deep-tone primers can enhance the depth of color when applied before vivid finish color coat, popular today for accent walls. Manufacturers have devised separate, predetermined gray-primer-plus-finish pairings that often produce good appearance without the guesswork.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC, www.westerkampgroup.com.
Test Paint or Coating to Ensure Finished Job Features Proper Look