How to Color Latex Paint

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Mixing a dark color into a light one helps you create a custom hue.
Mixing a dark color into a light one helps you create a custom hue. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

To change the hue of any paint, including latex, you combine two or more colors. Latex is a water-based paint that contains a resin. This makes it a viable option for many projects. Whether you're painting the walls of your home or sprucing up wood furniture, latex paint is durable and easy to clean. The only requirement for changing the color is to marry a darker shade to a lighter tone. Adding color to latex paint will give you the freedom to find a shade that best fits your needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint stir sticks
  • Tint colors
  • Plastic cups

Stir the lighter-shade paint thoroughly with a paint stick after you've opened the can. You may find white or off-white paint is the best option for the base color. White will naturally lighten the darker shade, but any light color will work.

Add a small amount of the tint to the base paint. For tinting, you can use another latex or acrylic paint, or color from a tint tube. Tint tubes are products designed specifically for changing the color of a base paint. Read the directions on the tube to make sure it is compatible with latex paint. If you use a second latex paint, add 1/2 cup at a time. Mix the paint well, using a clean paint stick. Dip a disposable plastic cup into the dark shade and transfer the paint into the container holding the base color.

Mix the darker color into the light base, using the paint stir stick. Stir continuously until the two hues blend together.

Paint a small section of the surface you are working on. Let the paint dry. If the color is still not quite what you want, repeat the process. You may use the same tint or add a second one. Work with just a little bit of tint at a time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Selecting a light-colored base paint and adding a darker hue is not the only way to mix colors, but it is the most efficient. In theory, you can mix any colors together to change a tint. However, selecting one light and one dark helps you to anticipate the final color, especially if you use white as the base.
  • Always use separate stir sticks and cups when working with more than one tint.
  • Home tinting works best for small projects. For larger jobs, it might be wise to let the paint store create your custom color. It is difficult to match custom colors perfectly if you're doing the tinting by hand. A paint store will be able to produce several gallons of the same color. At home, you may find developing the same hue twice in a row is difficult. There may be a slight shade variation.

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