Can You Change a Paint’s Color Once Mixed? (How-to Guide)


Once a large area has been painted, paint can sometimes look substantially different from what it did during the initial trial. Paint isn’t cheap, so is it possible to change the color instead of buying a new tin?

You can darken a paint’s color by using black pigment and lighten it using pure white paint. It’s also possible to intensify, tone down, and change the hue of a paint that’s already been mixed. The amount of pigment or paint needed to change the color will depend on how much of a change you wish to make.

How you light your home can have a huge effect on how you perceive your chosen paint color. This and other important factors will be discussed throughout this article so you can achieve your desired shade.

How to Darken

Changing the color is a complex science that is best done by a professional, but you can make minor changes if you take your time. When comparing the paint on your walls to another item of furniture in the room, you may want to think about moving things around. Shadows and light-colored items will make the paint appear darker. Re-directing lighting onto dark furniture and artwork can help balance out the paint.

If moving the room around is not an option, you can add black pigmentOpens in a new tab. to your color. A single drop of black pigment will make a considerable difference to the final color once it dries on your wall, so add carefully. To prevent making too much of a radical change to your paint, start with a gray pigment, which is a mix of black and white. After adding a pigment, you will need to remix the paint thoroughly to prevent streaking.

The paint will darken when you add more coats, and you will cover more of the original surface. In the darkening process, it is easy to get lost and forget the reasons for having a light color in the first place. A room with few windows will get dark in the winter if the space is deep and narrow.

It is better to try and stay within 2 shades of the original color you chose to avoid turning the paint into a new color. During the darkening process, you may also discover that it is not the darkness but the hue that you do not like. The undertone can end up being the dominant color when you go from a paint mixing shop to painting it onto your wall. This undertone can stand out and make the paint look much darker in a home.

How to Lighten

How well you light your room will go a long way to changing the darkness of your paint. Different types of lighting will also affect the darkness of your paint when it dries. Illuminating furniture and objects will darken the paint, but if you want to lighten the whole room, you need to change the main bulbs and shades.

Light bulbs come in a range of wattages, and a higher wattage will whiten the colors in your paint. The lower the wattage, the darker the paint will appear, so if you want to lighten the paint use higher wattage bulbs. Fluorescent tube lighting will wash out most colors, but the paint may look much darker when the sun coming through your windows lights up the paint.

Halogen bulbs produce powerful light, though the corners of your room farthest from the bulb may still look shaded. You should test the paint on a strip of white paper before you begin and hold it under your lights to see what the overtone is the dominant color. If the color is too dark, you can lighten the shade with the following steps.

How to lighten the shade of your paint:

  1. For every pint of paint you have, start with adding another 5% of that volume in pure white paintOpens in a new tab..
  2. Pour the white in and mix with a clean stick. For thorough mixing, you should use a paint mixing attachment on an electric drill.
  3. Once you have mixed, dip a slip of white paper into the center of the new mix, and wipe off the excess. Leave the paper to one side to dry and reseal the paint tin while you are waiting.
  4. Once the paper is dry, hold it up against the wall you want to paint, with the same lighting conditions you would have on the day.
  5. If you are satisfied, you can proceed to paint the wall.

Note: Whenever you are mixing paints, make sure that their base chemicals match. Do not mix water-based with oil-based paints.

How to Intensify the Color

A lack of color intensity can matter more when you are trying to make a bold statement with a room. When a color fails to pop out, it means that the overtone is being swamped by the secondary color, the undertone. The undertone and the overtone together make up the final color that you think you chose from a color wheel.

It is important to recognize the two primary colors that make up your paint and the rough proportions of each color in the paint. The primary color that is least used in the paint will be the undertone, and the color of highest concentration will be the overtone. The primary colors are blue, green, and red, and from these three colors, you can make any secondary color.

When it comes to intensifying the color, you want to use more of the overtone color. For example, if you have pink paint and want to intensify the red, you should add red. Mixing red with blue will make purple. A 50/50 mix of blue and green makes turquoise, and adding one of either color will intensify your paint towards that primary color.

Start by working out which of the primary colors are undertone and overtone are in your paint, then you will need to experiment to get to your desired intensity.

  1. Get five small disposable paper cups and pour a quarter-cup of your paint into each.
  2. Number each cup 1-5.
  3. Add ten drops of primary pigment to cup 1 and five drops to cup 2. Nothing to cup 3.
  4. Then change to adding your secondary pigment and add five drops to cup 4 and ten drops to cup 5.
  5. When mixing each cup, use a clean stick to mix the paint. Wash the stick off between cups.
  6. Dip a slip of white paper into each cup, and number them accordingly. Then wait for the paper to dry.
  7. You should be able to compare the difference in color intensity on each slip of paper. It will be easier to see the difference if you hold them up next to each other in the sunlight.

Ten drops of primary pigment equal around 1% of the total volume in a quarter-cup of paint. So, for a gallon of paint, you will want to add around one-eighth of a cup of your overtone pigment.

How to Tone Down the Color

Vivid colors in some rooms of your home can overpower the scene and detract from other decorations that you would prefer to sit center stage. Toning down a color depends on which of the primary colors is the overtone, the dominant, and which is the undertone. In this situation, it is the undertone that you want to increase the concentration of. You can even add a neutral white or black.

A paint wheel is a useful tool to figure out what primary color makes up your paint and where each primary color sits in terms of most concentration. The paint wheel will also show you which direction you need to take your paint to tone it towards your preferred color. Adding red to a bright yellow will make the paint appear more orange.

Satin and gloss paint can also make the paint look more intense when they dry than you expected. In some cases, it is possible to mix a satin paint with a matt paint, or a semi-satin with a gloss to help the paint lose some of its sheen. Again, you need to ensure that you do not cross-mix paint from different bases, i.e., oil-based with water-based paint.

Yellow gloss can be toned down by mixing it with a matt of the same color to arrive at a semi-gloss. But you need to mix the two thoroughly to prevent patches of varying sheen from appearing on your finished surface.

How to Change the Hue

Adding blue to pink will produce a mid-range mauve but adding opposing primaries will change the color completely. You can alter the temperatures, and hues of paint, by adding a new undertone or overtone to your paint. For a warmer green, you can add yellow, which brings light into the mix and create what is known as moss green.

If you add blue to green, you can cool the color to a teal. And by adding blue to red, you can create a violet. Mixing is less complex if you use a color wheel and introduce the modifying color in small doses. After adding a pigment but before painting a test strip, make sure that you scrape away paint from the inside of the container and mix everything in well.

Secondary colors are easier to change, such as variations of green, blue, yellow, red, and orange. Intermediate and dark colors are harder to alter, such as browns, beiges, and grays. It is worth spending time mixing up test cups of paint, as above, before committing a whole can of paint to the color.

And when you have the paint mix you like, keep a note of how you arrived at the color so that you have a better chance of recreating the hue if you rub it out. Even with the exact dose of pigment that you added to paint, it is near impossible to get back to the same color. Measure the surface area of the wall you are painting and reduce the chances of having to mix more.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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