How to Use One of the Trickiest Paint Colors in Your Home
Two experts weigh in on decorating with black paint.
Updated Dec 27, 2022 8:35 PM
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The idea of painting a room or even just one wall black is intimidating, especially because the cardinal rule of making your space feel bigger is to steer clear of dark hues. But once you get over the mental hurdle, it’s anything but scary. Black paint can be cozy, transportive, and, in some instances, quite welcoming and warm. So how do you implement the color without overpowering a space? We tapped two experts at PPG to clear up some frequently asked questions. Here, senior product marketing manager Jenny Burroughs and senior color marketing manager Dee Schlotter share their top tips for painting with one of the most dramatic hues.
The Number-One Rule to Painting Walls Black
Jenny Burroughs: Priming is key when moving from light or medium colors to black or vice versa. Some homeowners may be hesitant to paint walls black because it is thought to be more difficult to paint over later; however, with proper priming, it can be covered rather easily. A gray or deep-hued base primer is recommended if you want full coverage in fewer coats.
The Gist on Undertones
Dee Schlotter: The indigo undertones of PPG’s Black Flame make it a cooler black, while warmer blacks pull red and brown undertones. Both cool and warm blacks are anchors for other softer colors. For example, a cool tint serves as a great anchor for trim and doors against colors like Olympic Paint’s Burnt Red and soft blues like Glidden Paint’s Arctic Blue.
The Finish That’s Hot Right Now
Burroughs: Matte finishes continue to rise in popularity this year, particularly with kitchen appliances. As this trend continues to expand, there has also been a rising interest in using flat paint sheens to achieve the same luxurious matte finish on walls in the home. For high-traffic areas, higher-sheen products like eggshell and satins offer more durability. They can withstand repeated cleaning and touching, so we recommend using in a playroom, a kitchen, and bathrooms—rooms that are exposed to a lot of activity. Flat finishes are excellent sheens to hide imperfections and can easily be touched up, making them a great choice for either ceilings or dining room walls.
The Technique Pros Swear By
Burroughs: When applying paint to a roller, ensure it is sufficiently covered in paint. Then roll in 3- to 4-foot sections at a time in a W motion. Move quickly to maintain a wet edge in each of the sections. To finish, run the roller down the wall from ceiling to floor without adding pressure to the roller handle in order to even out the stipple and blend each area together. For any touchups, use the same type of applicator that was used when the paint was originally applied, as well as paint from the same bucket to ensure the finish and color are both uniform to the original coat.
The Trick to Pulling It Off in a Small Space
Schlotter: No matter the color you select for your small space, utilizing one color for all the walls makes it look larger. Additionally, repeating colors in a room at least twice creates a unified flow and makes your space feel more open and cohesive. By using your wall color at least one other time, either in a rug or a small accent piece, you’ll not only pull your style together but make your room appear more spacious.
The Surprising Place to Use It
Schlotter: When thinking of nursery decor, your mind may automatically go to soft pinks and blues and whimsical pastels, but over the past couple of years, nursery colors have become much more mature. To add instant sophistication to your baby’s space, pair it with a pale pastel on the ceiling and an off-white trim.
There are endless possibilities to integrate this classic hue into your home, but here are a few suggestions:
- Modernize your kitchen by incorporating black matte lower cabinets with upper open shelving to add elegance to your cooking space.
- Paint your wainscoting black and the wall above a nuanced neutral to infuse a room with drama while maintaining a cozy atmosphere.
- Color helps to corral clutter—paint the back of shelves black and exhibit your white or pale collectibles in front.
- Who says ceilings have to be white? Draw the eye upward with a chic black ceiling paired with a beautiful light fixture. These elements are sure to command attention.