Family Handyman’s One-Coat Paint Test: Does it Work?

Do one-coat paint and primer brands really work? We put them to test in our homeLAB to find out how well they provide coverage.

The Family Handyman

Few people want the hassle of applying more than one coat of paint, but more often than not, you need to put on that second coat. Several paint brands, however, have high-end products that claim one-coat coverage. It seemed to us here at Family Handyman that this is may prove to be a little too good to be true. So we bought a gallon of Behr Marquee ($38), Sherwin-Williams Infinity ($37) and Benjamin Moore Aura ($72) to see how well they covered in one coat.

How we tested them

We painted the entire wall gray, but to see how the one-coat performs on darker and lighter paints, we also painted three white and black squares. We used a roller with a 3/8-in. nap for each paint.

Coat thickness makes a difference

How much paint you apply with your first roll makes a big difference. At first, we used a light amount of paint to test the one-coat claim and realized that for one-coat coverage, the coat needs to be a thick one. And it’s also important to consider other factors, like color, shade, quality and the roller you use.

Our Conclusion: One-coat paint is pretty great

We were impressed by how well the one-coat paint in the color we chose covered the black and white squares. The paints differed subtly, but all three brands covered the white and black squares well. We liked Benjamin Moore Aura for its ease of application, but they all completely covered the underlying color in one coat.