Painting a room is one of the more common projects that DIYers tackle on their own, but having to tape, prime, paint, and repaint just for a new look can be tiring. One coat paint is up to 20 percent more viscous, which allows it to be much more effective at covering up old coats of paint so that you don’t need to spend time on a primer or on second coats. Though, keep in mind that “one coat” is a product title developed by manufacturers and not an absolute promise.
Choose your ideal one coat paint carefully. Consider the color, texture, paint type, and any additional features that would make it easier to use, like water resistance or an anti-drip formula. The best one coat paint for the bathroom isn’t necessarily the best choice for the bedroom, the living room, or the ceiling. The list of top one coat paint products below has been compiled to help you learn more about the options available.
- BEST OVERALL: BEHR MARQUEE Ultra Pure White Matte Interior Paint
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Glidden Premium Base Semi-Gloss Interior Paint
- BEST HIGH-END: KILZ TRIBUTE Interior Eggshell Paint and Primer
- BEST KITCHEN/BATHROOM PICK: HGTV HOME Sherwin-Williams Tintable Interior Paint
- HONORABLE MENTION: Valspar Ultra White Satin Tintable Interior Paint
- ALSO CONSIDER: Glidden Interior Paint + Primer One Coat
What to Consider When Choosing the Best One Coat Paint
Whether you’re picking out a one coat paint product to redo the living room or to add a pop of color to the bathroom, there are several factors to consider, including the intended use, the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and the color and finish.
Paint is used inside and outside the home with a variety of formulas designed to protect and enhance that fall into either the oil-based category or the water-based category of paints.
- Oil-based paints are commonly used in high-moisture areas, like bathrooms or kitchens, because they are naturally resistant to water, ensuring that the walls, ceilings, and trim are properly protected against mold and mildew. This type of paint typically takes longer to dry and contains a higher percentage of VOCs, but the durable finish is a better choice for impact-prone locations, like baseboards and door trim.
- Water-based paints are also known as latex or acrylic paints. They have a low VOC concentration and they dry quickly, making this type of paint a great option for hallways, ceilings, bedrooms, and living rooms. One coat paint isn’t usually water-based because it’s difficult to manufacture a very thick water-based latex or acrylic paint that will reliably cover in just one coat. This type of paint usually requires two or three coats, though each coat dries in just a few hours.
The area where the one coat paint will be used is a great indicator of the appropriate paint product for the job. This is because certain areas around the home require water-resistant paint while other locations can get by with paint that offers some protection but is more for aesthetic appeal.
- Low-traffic surfaces, like the walls in the living room, den, dining room, bedrooms, and halls, are suitable for one coat paint that is designed to provide a small amount of protection to the drywall while looking great. Any protection beyond this is a bonus.
- Kitchens and bathrooms are the most difficult rooms in the home to paint because they are regularly subjected to high levels of moisture and rapid temperature changes. In order to properly care for the walls in these rooms, a one coat paint product with high water resistance and mold/mildew protection is necessary.
- Ceilings generally fall into the low-traffic category, but it may be beneficial to look for a one coat paint product that has a thick, anti-drip formula so that the paint goes on smooth with the paint roller and doesn’t drip all over the drop sheets protecting the floor.
Painting a room isn’t usually high on a list of dangerous projects, but without the proper ventilation and breathing protection, the fumes produced by paint can cause headaches, nausea, organ damage, and even loss of consciousness in extreme situations. These symptoms are typically caused by VOCs.
Low-VOC one coat paint contains about 0.4 ounces of these harmful chemicals per gallon of paint, and even products labeled as zero VOC can still contain 0.04 ounces per gallon. These user-friendly options aren’t as dangerous, though they may not yield the same results as a standard one coat paint, which is typically high in VOCs.
Color and Finish
When deciding on a one coat paint product, the color is an obvious consideration that should be made depending on the desired aesthetic. The finish may require a bit more thought because it can be split into several categories, including flat, matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss.
- Flat and matte finishes are at the lowest level of glossiness. This type of one coat paint finish is nonreflective, allowing it to hide surface inconsistencies and appear smooth and velvety.
- Eggshell and satin finishes have more reflectivity and sheen than flat or matte, but they don’t shine nearly as bright as semi- and high-gloss. This middle ground makes them ideal for bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms where natural light may be scarce.
- Semi-gloss and high-gloss finishes are designed to accent a room with a highly reflective formula. Use these finishes on doors, moldings, window frames, baseboards, and other trim. The reflectivity focuses the eye on the main decor, similar to the way a border or picture frame draws the focus to the centered art.
Coverage and Drying Time
Water-based paints will dry quickly, but they will have a more difficult time adequately covering the old paint, while oil-based paints have good coverage, but they can take up to eight hours to dry to the touch and over 24 hours to fully cure. Coverage and drying time will also vary among specific products, so it’s important to take the time to read the product information and the manufacturer’s recommendations for use before deciding on a one coat paint product.
While one coat paint is thick enough to provide ample coverage, the color of the surface to be painted and the selected color of the new paint can be a concern. For instance, trying to paint a bright red wall with white paint will likely require more than one coat. In this case, “one coat paint” speaks more to the thick viscosity of the paint than to the actual result.
Our Top Picks
The products below were chosen using several criteria, including the important factors mentioned above as well as the price and overall quality. Check out this list to discover some of the best one coat paint products to update the interior of your home.
Because it has a low-VOC percentage that doesn’t pose the same risk as a standard paint product, this one coat acrylic paint product is a great option for bedrooms, hallways, dens, and other areas around the home that are difficult to ventilate. The paint comes in an 8-ounce bottle, 1-quart can, 1-gallon can, or 5-gallon bucket with five finish options, including flat, matte, eggshell, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. The ultra pure-white color cannot cover in just one coat unless it’s being used on a white wall, but it can be mixed to make a wide range of colors with more thorough coverage.
One gallon of paint covers up to 400 square feet of wall, with some consideration to the surface porosity and the color difference, such as the difficulty in covering a dark or patterned wall with light-colored paint. The paint requires about 24 hours to properly cure, at which point it becomes more durable and resistant to mold and mildew, allowing it to be cleaned regularly with soap and water without ill effect.
A quick paint job is one of the best ways to update the decor of a home without spending a lot of money. This inexpensive one coat paint product is great for high-traffic areas like trim, baseboards, kitchens, and bathrooms because it has a high level of durability that isn’t susceptible to wrinkling, bunching, cracking, or peeling while being cleaned.
The latex interior paint and primer combination is also resistant to moisture, mold, and mildew, helping to protect porous materials, like drywall, from microbial growth and water damage. It comes in a 1-quart, 1-gallon, or 5-gallon can with 1 gallon of paint providing between 300 and 400 square feet of coverage. This paint also has a low-odor and zero-VOC formula, making it a good choice for rooms that are more difficult to properly ventilate.
The premium KILZ TRIBUTE one coat paint and primer combination has superior coverage that makes it easy to cover up old, faded, and chipped paint with just one coat. The paint comes in a 1-quart or a 1-gallon can that can cover up to 400 square feet and has a 100 percent acrylic formula. This means that this one coat paint is water based and has a low number of VOCs, making it a great option for painting small bedrooms or basements where the ventilation may be poor.
This one coat paint comes in more than 20 colors and shades as well as four finishes, including flat, matte, eggshell, and semi-gloss. The paint has a quick dry time of just three hours but still requires about 24 hours to fully cure. Once cured, the paint is scrubbable and resistant to mildew, mold, and stains.
Mold, mildew, and water damage can be a problem in kitchens and bathrooms, but this water-resistant, antimicrobial one coat paint won’t fade, peel, or become a source of mold growth after being subjected to showers, baths, changing temperatures, and high humidity levels. The combination paint and primer has an advanced stain-resistant formula that can be cleaned and scrubbed without damage or staining.
While the acrylic one coat paint comes in an ultra-white color, it can be tinted to provide a number of color options. This paint product also features a range of finishes, including satin, flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss in 1-gallon, 1-quart, or 5-gallon sizes. Once the paint has fully cured in about 24 hours, it becomes durable enough for regular cleaning and medium to hard scrubbing.
The ultra-white color palette of this one coat paint is a great choice for trim, baseboards, doors, and ceilings and is available in a range of sizes, including 1 gallon, 1 quart, or 5 gallons. The interior paint is also available in flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss finishes so that the best level of reflectivity can be selected without having to find a different product.
This combination paint and primer is made for durability and long-lasting protection. Once the paint has fully cured, it’s resistant to flame, mold, mildew, staining, and moisture. The latex paint is also strong enough to withstand hard scrubbing and won’t fade, flake, wrinkle, or shift so that the walls, trim, or ceiling can be washed regularly and still retain the vibrant ultra-white color.
Choose from four finishes, including flat, matte, eggshell, and semi-gloss, depending on whether the one coat paint will be used in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, or anywhere else around the home. This interior paint comes in 1-gallon and 1-quart sizes so that the correct amount can be selected instead of a significant quantity of paint being left over.
The acrylic one coat paint has a low-odor and low-VOC formula that makes it easier and safer to paint small spaces, though proper ventilation should still be a primary concern before starting. The paint dries to the touch in about eight hours and fully cures in about 24 hours, at which point the paint can be washed, scrubbed, and cleaned without it chipping or fading.
FAQs About One Coat Paint
If you still aren’t entirely certain about which paint to use, read below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about one coat paint and how it’s used.
Q. Can you apply one coat paint over other paint?
One coat paint can be applied over another type of paint, though to ensure that the old paint doesn’t show through, it’s important that the one coat paint has a similar or darker color.
After all, even one coat paint will require more than one coat if you are trying to paint a black wall with white paint.
Q. How do you match paint to existing wall color?
There are several ways to match new paint to an existing wall color:
- Estimate the color with nothing but your eyes.
- Use a paint-matching app that will store a picture of the wall color and provide results from the selected manufacturer.
- Take a picture of the wall color. Even without an app, this is a highly effective way to find a similar paint.
- Bring a paint chip to compare to new paint color options.
- Hire a professional color matcher.
Q. Can I paint without a primer?
You can paint without a primer using one coat paint when repainting a wall or ceiling. If the intended surface is a new wall or ceiling, it would be beneficial to use a drywall primer and one or two coats of paint for proper wall protection.
Q. How do you apply one coat paint?
One coat paint can be applied with a roller or with a paintbrush just like standard paint. For full one coat coverage, be sure that the paint is going on thick instead of trying to squeeze every drop of paint out of a dry roller.
Q. How long does one coat paint last?
One coat paint lasts about 10 years. This is standard for interior paints, though some may last up to 15 years before the paint begins to chip or fade and the walls need to be repainted.