Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

November, 2005

Paint Changes Color

Q. I just painted my grandma's van and I can't figure out why the paint looks like it's the right red color in the can but sprays out of the gun orange. Can you please help me?

A. Are you sure that you properly mixed the paint? Sometimes the good stuff, the solids settle to the bottom of there can and what you apply to the substrate (surface) is not homogenous. You should shake, stir or mix the paint for at least 5 minutes.

You should never compare the color of wet paint with that of dry paint. Sometimes some of the lighter weight pigments rise to the top of the paint can and you get a false impression of the true color.

The degree of gloss of the paint also makes a difference. The same paint can look very different when you view it at different gloss levels. For instance, what looks like a dark gray or almost black paint in the can might dry to a much lighter gray, especially if it is a low gloss paint where the lights reflects off of the pigments on the surface of the dry paint.

Another cause of your problem might be the substrate, or the color of the paint underneath. If you apply red paint over a white primer you might get a pink appearance. But if you apply two or more coats of the red, the color that you observe will not be influenced by the color of the surface below.

These are some of the reasons that might explain your problem.

Best wishes,

Ron Joseph

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