Why Does Paint Change Color When Wet?

Paint changes color when wet if it’s not completely cured. Oil paint tends to change color in contact with water or moisture when it’s not completely dry. Specific paints might take weeks to cure completely, especially when used in cold weather.

Oil paint that is used in cold weather can change color in contact with water or high air humidity. Since it takes weeks to dry completely paint tends to absorb moisture changing color temporarily or permanently if in permanent contact with high moisture or water.

Some paints are specifically made to be one color for application and another color after drying. This type of paint often found in ceiling paint categories is ideal for seeing where you paint better.

Why Does Paint Change Color When Wet?

When water gets in contact with paint that isn’t completely dry it tends to darken the color. This is temporary if the water exposure is limited or permanent with repetitive exposure.

Paints that are easy for water to penetrate are typically those that change color the most. However, good quality paint should not change color when in contact with water for a short period.

Oil-based paints are notorious for problems such as changing color when applied during the winter. If you plan to paint your patio an oil-based paint might not be ideal, particularly as it takes longer to cure.

Oil-based paints have taken even 2-3 weeks to completely cure. While you think this paint is dry it’s not completely cured below surface level. Any outdoor painted surface that is painted in low weather should be completely sealed from rain or snow until dry (typically at least a couple of weeks).

Is color-changing paint good or bad?

If the paint reverts to its original color there are few reasons to be concerned about. However, if the paint is not completely dry and rain keeps pouring on it within the first few days of application it will darken and stay that way forever.

Paint that changes color can also be good. For example, you know that high humidity might cause your paint not to cure completely and you should avoid the painted area when you see it darker than normal.

Does wet paint look darker or lighter?

Wet paint tends to look darker. High humidity in the air might cause small changes that aren’t easily visible. However, puddling water on paint that isn’t completely dried is going to darken the paint considerably.

4 Causes of Changing Paint Color When Wet

Not all paints change color when wet or when in contact with water. If you see your paint darkening when wet it’s typically a sign of the following issues.

  1. Paint applied in cold weather

Most types of paint aren’t made to be applied in cold weather. Some paints such as Pittsburgh Paint and Benjamin Moor paint can handle low weathers just above the freezing line. However, most cheap paints just aren’t made for the job.

What happens when you paint in cold weather? Paint dries slower, considerably slower. It also doesn’t adhere well to the painted surface and it starts to chip away from the first year of application.

  1. Too many coats of paint

Some people paint 3-4 coats hoping the paint will be more durable. But this makes it lose breathability and it also takes the paint longer to cure. For all of those thinking about which types of paints are best, the best answer is those that require one coat only.

  1. High curing time – low-quality paint

Some types of paint take a long time to cure even when applied in the summer. Oil paints are notorious for this as they can take 3-6 days to cure even in hot weather. As a result, you should only be prioritizing the types of paint that are best for your painted surface, especially outdoors where conditions such as temperature can’t be controlled.

  1. Thick oil-based paints that aren’t breathable

Even good oil paints can take a long time to cure. Make sure to only use oil-based pants where necessary as there are now better solutions, especially for home use where you need surfaces dry as soon as possible given people are living in your house.

Homes with children are the best example of where not to use oil-based paints. These take a long time to dry and kids might want to run on that newly-painted patio or on that newly-painted garage door sooner than possible.

Final words

Paint that isn’t completely cured darkens in contact with water. This darkened area can be temporary if both the paint and the water dry out or permanent if water or moisture penetrates the paint multiple times before completely cured.

You can avoid paint changing color when wet by allowing it to cure properly. It can take up to a few weeks to cure paint when applied in cold weather.

Wet paint can also come in a certain color to dry in different colors. Premium ceiling paint is pink when wet and it dries to a white color. This is a special mixture that aims to make painting the ceiling easier since painters can see the covered areas better, especially when already painting over a white ceiling.