four paint brushes applying four coats of paint to a white background.

Coat Of Paint

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/1/2021

FAT Paint Studio

Whether you’re redoing your living room or you’re renovating your bathroom, getting the paint just right will probably be one of your biggest priorities. Any experienced painter can tell you that there are a lot of things to consider when tackling a new paint job. For example, one of the biggest concerns is how many coats of paint it will take to achieve the desired finish. As with most things in DIY and home improvement, each job has its own unique set of requirements and achieving a great finish requires a bit of knowledge and some preparation.


A coat of paint is another term for a layer of paint. Typically, a paint job will consist of one or more coats. The first layer of applied paint is sometimes referred to as the primer coat and often requires a special type of “primer” paint. Whereas, the first layer of visible paint is referred to as the first coat and the second layer is referred to as the second coat, and so on. Sometimes, a final or finishing layer is applied, often referred to as the top coat, clear coat, or finishing coat. The number of coats is often determined by the base of the surface, the complexity of the desired outcome, the environment of the space to be painted, and the type of paints to be used.

What Situations Require A Second Coat Of Paint?

The number of coats of paint a surface will require is typically determined by a few different factors. Some paint jobs may only require one coat. Most jobs, however, will probably require two or three coats, including the primer (if needed). Here are a couple things to consider before you get started:

  • One of the first things to consider is your desired outcome. To achieve certain looks may require the use of a primer coat and/or a finishing coat (top coat). Whereas, other paint jobs may only require a single coat of paint, especially if you are using the same color.
  • Another consideration may be the space that you are painting. High traffic areas or areas with a lot of moisture may require tougher paints, which may also require primer coats and/or finishing coats (top coats).