How to Tint Paint Primer Yourself

When painting, it’s a good idea to tint the primer the color of the finished paint to reduce the number of coats needed. While a paint store can add colorant to the primer, you can also tint the primer yourself by adding some of the colored paint to it. Make sure the primer and paint are compatible before mixing the two together.


  1. Just let the store do the tinting of the primer. The miniscule amount of paint you can add to the primer will make a barely perceptible change. Normally up to 2 ounces of pigment can be added per gallon and not affect adhesion. The pigments are ultra saturated and can make significant changes to the saturation and hue to all but the most intense/saturated colors. To be more direct adding paint to the primer is a rather stupid idea and I advise against do so.

  2. I bought 2 gallons of whit primer and when they tinted it for me, it came out 1/2 the color I wanted.
    How can I tint latex white primer myself.
    Please be precise.
    GOD bless and thanks a lot.

  3. Looking for primer that goes on pink (or different shade) but dries white. Issue is walls with significant amount of joint compound. Thus, putting white primer on white compound sometimes leaves spots unprimed, or missed. Too late when applying topcoat to discover missed primed areas.

  4. Only primer I saw goes on pink dries white is a fire retardant primer.
    Was latex (?) from one of the drywall companies,National Gypson, Gold Bond, I think, sold in five gallon buckets. Surprised me, we used it to prime
    plywood sheets used indoors for a construction barrier.

    When using paints from more than one container, you should mix both containers into a a larger container, straining as you do it. This is called “Boxing the paint” . This applies more to finish coats, but is good to do otherwise.

    Industry standard is to tint primers (when asked to tint them) is to 1/2 value of finish coat. This is good because:
    * At 1/2 value, you can see “holidays” or missed/un-primed or areas on substrate because it is darker/lighter than what you are painting, but not as dark as your finish coat, you can see what you are doing. If you use light and look at wall on an angle as you go along/finish.
    * Now you have added a depth of color to finish as opposed to a primer that you have to cover instead of one helping you.
    * You can buy “Universal tint” to tint your own, read on it, BUT those tints
    are permanent!! They get on anything by itself, it does NOT dry. They are not cheap if you buy big bottles of it. So unless you plan to do a lot of testing and measuring for a big project, it is not worth it to custom tint your own color. You need a number of colors and in the large size, it adds up.If you do, you need to make sure you have enough for all the coats you need to make your substrate look good. Write down the formula and how you measured to colorants and don’t lose it! A flat finish could use 3 coats depending on color. And at least 3 if finish coat has a sheen/gloss to it.
    * when you use primer, you can see if they make a primer in the sheen you want, there is a small amount of colored/specialty primers out there.
    *When you use 1/2 tint primer, you can now patch any thing you see with
    Durabond/ready mix , it will dry white, you can see it to sand/prime the patch now.
    * You can use Universal tint in oil varnishes, be careful of the outcome
    of using too much colorant.
    ** I use Universal tint in Exterior Light Yellow,Exterior Medium Yellow or Raw Sienna. I use Durabond (powder you hand mix with water) or RaedyMix ( Pre mixed joint compound in 5 Gal. bucket). I put amount to work with in my “Mud Pan” mix it to consistency, add just enough colorant to be able to see my touch up patches over primer/1st/2nd coats. Best is Light Yellow whenever possible, and not to heavy on the amount, most color will cover the sanded patch.

  5. Add:
    ” You need a number of colors and in the large size, it adds up.If you do, you need to make sure you have enough for all the coats you need to make your substrate look good.” I mean you should make more paint than you need to cover any issues of repainting something twice. Unless you measure your colorants well, each time, you might not get to finish you are looking for. I didn’t mean you had to buy a lot of colorant.
    A rack of 12 normal size colorant is over $ 250.00

    When using tints, you CAN tint what you have already own. But you can’t take the tint out when it’s in !

    When using tints, if you feel you must go that way, you can buy BASES that will accept and carry your color. If I remember there are five bases or three. Three I think. The higher the number base the darker it will take the colorant.

  6. Is there any way to take a random color interior latex paint and make it white (essentially remove or re-tint it white) ? I have some extra one coat latex paint I want to use as a primer for a project.

  7. @George …. Short answer: No

    Little longer answer:
    A primer is formulated to bind to the surface of what you are priming/painting, and to be “soft enough” to let the finish paint have the best chance to bind to that primer coat. Never to be used as a top coat,always painted over with at least one coat of finish paint to protect the primer coat from erosion/wear.
    A finish/top coat is not formulated to be a primer, it is formulated to wear down and save what you are painting.

    Long answer:
    Paint is meant to deteriorate, esp. outside paints. The higher the sheen, the better protection you get. It “washes/wears” better, it lasts longer. But, the higher the sheen the more imperfections you will see in the surface you are painting when light shines off it.To fix/patch something, requires priming and the 3 coats to make it look good again and match the rest. Higher sheen paints, as they give up their “lives” for what you painted, will “efflorescence” , which can be unsightly,depending.Say you have an exterior wall w/windows, you paint the wall white in gloss(latex or oil) and you paint the window casing/frame green. As the exterior paint finish gives itself up protecting the walls/window, you will eventually see some green smears on the white walls, the green paint is easy to see over white as the window paint, form exposure to the sun etc, wears down and rain washes the old paint away.
    To do a job that will have a chance to last, you need to do it right. A finish paint is formulated to weather or have certain properties that are different than a dedicated primer. A primer has different ingredients in it that makes it not only adhere to the surface your painting, but the primer is made to have a surface that your finish coat can grip onto. Specific primers are almost self explanatory,ask at a paint store that sells paint as it’s only business. But as I said, they are made to be painted over, primers when dry enough for a finish coat, tend to be matte in finish, and rough so the finish coat can grab a hold onto the primer coat. Multiple finish coats, two being a minimum depending on the surface etc, but three coats of finish paint with light sanding on the primer coat when dry,and a light sanding in between the first and second finish coat, with a damp rag wipe down and a vacuum of the work area between sanding/painting, you will get a good surface that will last and be better off if/when you have to wash the surface(wall,ceiling,windows etc.) or let it wear. The finish paint is made to degrade to save the surface of what you painted. The higher the gloss of finish paint, the more likely you will need a 3rd coat for the painted surface to look good while looking at an angle to the wall with a light source you can hold and move as you look to see if you missed painting anywhere [called a “holiday” in painters terms] as you are finished painting and the surface is wet, so you can see where there might be spots of dry paint showing through compared to where it is wet.
    If I remember my color theory, no way to make white….other than to add enough white until it was white again. Which would be silly,costly and a waste. You would have to add the same brand/line/finish of paint,but in white.If you could truly wipe out the colorant when you painted something, not sure. “Whites” are also formulas, not just in…say, “Off white/Pearl white etc.” All whites,even pure whites have colorant formulas. Don’t use paint for what it was not intended for, don’t use primer for finish paint, don’t use finish paint for primer, don’t mix the two and think you have the market cornered on a new product, your product will fail the test of time, quick.

  8. I have almost 4 gallons of paint (2 interior, 2 exterior). So, here is what I would like to do: Buy a pint of the color I want to use, and mix with the white (above). The exterior is for the trim around the windows, (etc.). The interior is flat white
    for the trim on the inside or use on the wall. Can I just purchase a small amount of the color I want and mix it with the existing white paint. I am really cheap, and I use just about anything lying around to do construction. I always tell my neighbor, don’t throw that away, I can make something out of it.

    • Hi, Tony. We’re always looking for homeowners to call into our radio show and ask questions directly to Danny and Joe. We’ve reviewed your question and shared it with our radio show’s producer.
      Thanks for writing!

  9. You can use universal colorant to tint primer. Zinsser recommends .5oz per qt. If it’s a water-based primer or paint, you can use acrylic paint to tint. Recommendations there are more fuzzy (2oz-6oz for a quart).


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