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

Coat Of Paint

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/21/2021

Any experienced painter can tell you that there are a lot of things to consider when tackling a new paint job. One of the biggest concerns is how many coats of paint it will take to achieve the desired finish.


A coat of paint is another term for a layer of paint. Typically, a paint job will consist of one or more coats of paint. 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 if needed. Sometimes, a final or finishing layer is applied, often referred to as the top coat, clear coat, or finishing coat.

How Many Coats Of Paint Do I Need?

How many coats of paint a job will require is typically determined by a few different factors. 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).