6 Best One Coat Paints 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks
Everyone knows you’re supposed to apply two coats of paint if you want proper coverage. Before the paint, you have to apply a coat of primer. If you’ve ever painted a whole house or even just a room, you know how time-consuming this can be. Today, manufacturers have listened to our whining and have responded with products that cut the work down to a single coat. How do they do this? By combining a primer and a very thick paint into one product that can be applied at the same time.
While many paints claim to achieve one-coat coverage, our testing made it clear that not all products are created equally. To help you make the right choice for your own home, we’ve tried as many one coat paints as we could find and written reviews comparing our six favorites. All six were solid performers, but only the first three earn our recommendations.
A Quick Comparison of our Favorites
|Best Overall||KILZ TRIBUTE Interior Matte||
|Best Value||Montage Signature Eco-Friendly||
|Premium Choice||Romabio Classico Limewash||
|Prestige Paints Interior||
|Testors Aerosol Lacquer||
The 6 Best One Coat Paints – Reviews 2020
1. KILZ TRIBUTE Interior Matte Paint and Primer in One – Best Overall
Thick paint with a creamy finish and excellent coverage, the KILZ TRIBUTE paint and primer-in-one was our favorite of all one-coat paints we tried. Unlike some brands, the color we got was an exact replication of the color on the chart. We were also impressed with the 400 square feet that a single gallon covered. The paint was thick enough to give excellent coverage with just a single coat, drying to a beautiful finish.
KILZ stands behind their paint by offering a lifetime limited warranty. Thanks to the thick coat, we felt it was the most durable of the paints we tested. Once cured, it’s hard enough to resist scratching and basic impacts. For color samples, you can get 8-ounce containers of the colors you’d like. Alternatively, they offer peel-and-stick sheets as well. This is the option we’d recommend because the KILZ had a strong chemical odor that you’ll already be experiencing when you paint with it. We could get past this for the beautiful durable coat the KILZ provides, making it our top pick overall.
2. Montage Signature Eco-Friendly Paint – Best Value
Priced much more affordably than the KILZ TRIBUTE in our first position, the Montage Signature still provided a beautiful finish with excellent one-coat coverage. Few paints at this price managed it, which is why we feel it’s the best one coat paint for the money. It applied smoothly, free from drips and peeling. It’s very thick paint with excellent coverage. Nothing from beneath showed through after just one coat. That said, if you’re covering a very bright or dark color you may still experience some bleed through that will require a second coat.
When we first opened the bucket of paint, we noticed that it was no longer mixed properly. It must have been sitting for quite some time. If you’ve never experienced this before, it’s quite common and just needs to be mixed up very well. We got out the drill and a mixing paddle and mixed up the paint with it for several minutes, after which the paint was a great consistency and worked just fine. Montage Signature stands behind their paint with an included 10-year warranty. We think it’s the best value, which is why it’s our second-place pick.
3. Romabio Classico Limewash Paint – Premium Choice
If you’re looking for a unique vintage finish, the Romabio Classico Limewash paint creates a unique natural finish on brick and stone. It’s designed to be distressed once applied to give it a vintage feel and let the brick or stone underneath show through. What’s most interesting about this paint is that it can be completely washed off in the first five days! This is pretty unique and could be very useful if you’re unsure about the way you want your home to look. That said, it would be expensive to experiment in such a manner with this paint. It’s one of the most expensive options that we tested.
It’s only intended for stone and brick, but it can be used inside or outside. Even better, it can be applied by sprayer, but a brush is more common. The finish is meant to be organic and natural-looking. This is a unique look and a unique product, but we really liked how easy it was to apply and the ability to distress it or even wash it off.
4. Prestige Paints Interior Paint and Primer in One
Just missing our top-three, the Prestige Paints interior paint and primer-in-one is priced between our budget pick and top choice. While it gave a great performance, the finish wasn’t quite as luxurious as the products we ranked above. It had a very nice look, and the coverage was adequate. Prestige also offers an excellent color selection that we appreciate. However, the color match isn’t as accurate as we’d like and the paint we got didn’t match the sample.
As it is, this paint was very thick, which helped avoid drips and streaks, but it was too thick for our sprayer. Most people probably aren’t spraying their interior anyway, but this paint will need to be thinned down first. Of course, that thick viscosity is what helps the Prestige Paints line achieve solid coverage. We applied a single coat and didn’t experience any bleed-through. If the color match was more accurate to the sample and if the finish were a bit richer, this would have probably earned a top pick.
5. Testors TLACQUER Aerosol Lacquer Paint
Testors TLACQUER-1834 was a unique paint and different from the other one-coat paints that made our list. This lacquer paint has a clear-coat built-in to give it a wet look when dry. The paint underneath is metallic, making this excellent for metal surfaces. It comes in a spray can for easy and quick application with less cleanup required. That said, you won’t be painting anything large with a spray can. This is more appropriate for painting smaller items only.
Looking for a quick-drying one coat paint solution? The Testors paint dries in just 20 minutes, the fastest of any paint we tested for this list. It easily covered over everything beneath with no bleed-through. As far as coverage area goes, it was a poor performer. If you want to paint walls in your home, we suggest picking a product that comes in much larger quantities like gallons that can be applied by brush or sprayer instead of an aerosol can. For smaller items like models, furniture, art, etc., the Testors TLACQUER is a great choice.
6. Glidden 396926 Interior Paint + Primer
Glidden offers an affordable one-coat paint and primer product that didn’t give us quite enough coverage to earn our top recommendations. We had high hopes for it since Glidden is such a well-known name in paint. They have a great color selection, offering many shades of every color imaginable in every finish you need. In our testing, the colors were accurate to the samples we used beforehand. The harsh odor was less than pleasant, but it was something we could deal with.
This is a paint and primer-in-one product, so we expected to get single-coat coverage. We were applying it over a similar color, so there was no reason it shouldn’t have. Unfortunately, we needed a second light coat to get the finish we were looking for. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it makes the low price of the Glidden a little less appealing since it doesn’t stretch as far. In the end, we think you’re better off with the Montage Signature Paints that are in the same price range as the Glidden but offers true one-coat coverage.
There are plenty of paints on the market that are advertised as being one-coat paints. The six we’ve just discussed were the ones that outperformed the others in testing. Painting is a skill, and just getting the good paint doesn’t mean you will have a good experience with it. We’ve put together this short buyer’s guide that will make sure you’re prepared when you get started on your project. We’ve done a lot of painting throughout the years, and we’ve encountered every problem and made every mistake already. We’d like to save you the headache of repeating our mistakes, so hopefully, we can help you avoid them by reminding you of these important things to keep in mind.
Preparation is Key
Many problems that DIYers will experience during painting will be from poor prep work. All painters know that your finished product will only be as good as your prep. This is more than just taping off areas you don’t want to be painted. Good prep requires preparing the surfaces you’ll be painting. Paint needs a good surface to stick to, and if there’s dust, dirt, and grime when you roll it, you’ll be asking for trouble. The paint may not stick well which will cause peeling once it’s dry. The dirt and dust can also show up in the paint as little specks and uneven bumps. This will ruin the look of your paint and waste all the time you spent applying it!
Before you paint, clean each surface down. Most of the time, wiping it down with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust should be sufficient. If there’s a lot of grime covering it you may need to do more. If you’re painting metal, you may need to sand it down to give the paint a way to stick. For walls, they just need to be clean and free of oils, dirt, and dust.
If spraying, you still must do the overspray prep. You can use newspaper or cardboard to cover large areas that you don’t want to get paint on, such as windows or countertops. Tape can hold them down. It can also be used for getting clean straight lines on corners, around trim, or anywhere there will be a color change.
What Color are you Painting Over?
While many of the paints we tested will give you a true one-coat coverage, this will largely depend on what color you’re painting over. The more contrast between the new paint and the old, the more chance of seeing some bleed-through. For example, if you’re painting a light blue over a dark purple wall, don’t expect to get excellent single coat coverage with any paint. Even with very thick paint like the ones we tested, the contrast is too great, and the dark purple will very likely bleed through the first coat. Dark colors tend to cover light colors better than the reverse, but other issues arise with this. Since the light color beneath is so noticeably different from the dark color you’re painting over it, it will stick out like a sore thumb anywhere it peeks through. Often, edges have little slivers of the old color that barely show through. With a bright color beneath a dark one, you’ll spot these areas a mile away. If painting with a similar color to what currently exists, you’ll have an easier time getting better coverage. This is when a one-coat paint will truly achieve one coat performance.
How Will You Apply it?
Most of the time paint is applied by brush or roller, especially when painting inside. However, to save time, many professionals and DIYers alike will use sprayers. Since one coat paints are very thick by nature, they don’t always lend themselves to spray-on application. Many of the ones we tested would require being watered down to run through a sprayer. The problem is, by watering them down you lose much of the one coat ability that you purchased this paint for in the first place. If applying by brush or roller this won’t be an issue. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding which paint you want to use.
Many times in life, the old axiom “you get what you pay for” rings true. However, sometimes products are simply overpriced. Just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it’s good. The same is true in reverse as well; just because something’s cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t good. We found products with excellent performance that spanned a range of prices. Any of the paints we recommend perform admirably regardless of price. But know that there may still be advantages to the higher-priced paints.
The paint you choose right now is something you will have to live with for quite some time, so it pays to make the right decision. We’ve compared each of these six one coat paints in our reviews, but before you make the purchase, we’re going to summarize our recommendations so they’re fresh in your mind. The KILZ TRIBUTE was our top pick and the one we recommend the most. It gave an incredible one-coat coverage over 400 square-feet with a luxurious finish that was accurate to the color sample. The lifetime warranty just shows how durable KILZ believes their product is.
The Montage Signature Eco-Friendly Paint was the one we thought provided the best value overall. With a great color selection, an excellent single coat coverage with no bleed-through, at a price affordable for most homeowners, it’s easy to see why. Finally, for a vintage distressed look, our premium choice pick, the Romabio Classico Limewash Paint offers some interesting features. It gives excellent coverage while being very easy to apply and can be washed off in the first five days. All three products earn our top recommendations.
Featured image credit: Montage Signature InteriorExterior Eco-Friendly Paint, Amazon
- A Quick Comparison of our Favorites
- The 6 Best One Coat Paints – Reviews 2020
- 1. KILZ TRIBUTE Interior Matte Paint and Primer in One – Best Overall
- 2. Montage Signature Eco-Friendly Paint – Best Value
- 3. Romabio Classico Limewash Paint – Premium Choice
- 4. Prestige Paints Interior Paint and Primer in One
- 5. Testors TLACQUER Aerosol Lacquer Paint
- 6. Glidden 396926 Interior Paint + Primer
- Buyer’s Guide