Can I Use Base Paint Without Tint?

By Mandy Moss

You’re walking through the aisles of a hardware superstore looking at stunning new colors, but you walk a little further only to notice other options, such as primer, tint, base, and a myriad of other options that you’ve never even heard of before.

There are many overwhelming questions someone new to painting may have such as using base paint without tint.

Consider this as a comprehensive guide that will help you navigate this new step in your life!

To achieve correct final color and strong coverage, paint must be tinted before application.
Can I Use Base Paint Without Tint?

What Is A Base Paint?

Essentially, the base is a painting medium that is manufactured specifically for mixing painting colors, or in other words, is a “base” meant to welcome additives.

There are several different types of this specific paint, each of which produce a different end result.

  • Clear bases are used when mixing a darker color is desired,
  • White bases are used for mixing lighter colors to produce more vibrant hues.

Bases are placed on a spectrum level of Base 1 through Base 4.

Base 4 is designated for deeper and more intense colors because it allows for more room in the paint can for the addition of tint colors, whereas Base 1 is more base paint than it is tint color, which instead produces lighter or more pastel shades.

Is base 1 paint white? Yes, Base 1 paint is a white or off-white base paint

No matter what, the base chosen should be reflective of whatever resulting color is desired. The closer and more descriptive the match between the base and the tint, the better the end result.

Bases also help distinguish how resistant to wear and tear and how durable washing or scrubbing a paint color will be.

There are also accent color bases that are formulated and pre-tinted to help bring out the maximum richness in the desired color.

NOTE: Some companies use names as opposed to numbers when distinguishing their paint bases, such as labelling the bases as “white,” “pastel,” “medium,” or “deep/rich.” 

What is a Tint?

A tint is simply the color additive you would incorporate into the base in order to achieve your desired color. Tints are extremely concentrated, and how much or how little tint is added greatly affects the dynamic range of the end color result.

Though it is possible to tint paints yourself, the process is often arduous and includes non-base additives, which often results in difficulty ending at the color you want.

NOTE: I highly recommend get paint tinted in-store for faster and more convenient service. This works by selecting your color and having an employee choose the appropriate base to input into a machine where a color code is punched in and your desired color is mixed in seconds.

Can I Use Base Paint Without Tint?

Of course, it’s possible, especially if it’s an accent color base, which would give you slightly more color than if you used a non-colored base.

However, the result won’t be concentrated and will end up looking dull or un pigmented. Even if your goal is white or cream walls, a tinting additive is necessary to boost that pigmentation so white/cream is the true, readable color.

Depending on the base used, there may be no visible pigment at all, or covering up an existing color would fail due to the high chance that the old color will bleed through the un-tinted base.

KEEP IN MIND: If strong, bold coverage is desired, then bases are always better off being tinted first.

Paint without tint could be a viable option if you’re just trying to refurbish an existing color, or make touch-ups on a wall that has been scratched or scuffed.

This is a simple and more cost-effective solution than mixing a whole new gallon of paint, or going out of the way to color match when you just need a quick fix.

Also, Paint without tint for almost any other project, may not be the best or most efficient choice, seeing as it would take more time and labor due to the fact you’d have to lay several coats down just to cover up color bleeding or faded non-pigmented patches.

Here is my personal experience when I used white base paint without tint:

  • The paint will dry to a plain white or off-white color without extra tinting pigments. This may be desirable in some specific cases.
  • Untinted white base generally provides less hide and coverage compared to tinted paints. More coats may be needed to achieve opacity.
  • The color white will appear dull, flat and lack vibrancy without tinting additives to increase pigmentation. It may look uneven.
  • When covering existing colors, untinted white base may require multiple coats to prevent the old color from showing through.
  • For touch ups, untinted white base can work to cover scuffs and scratches rather than color matching entirely.
  • If using white base for large jobs, inconsistencies in the white color may appear patchy due to variations in the base itself.
  • Primer adheres better when applied over tinted paint rather than bare white base in most cases.

What Happens If I Use A Base Without Tint On Accident?

Without knowing much about paint, or the differences between bases, tinted paints, or primers, it’s easy to make the mistake of using a raw base on accident. If that’s the case, don’t panic, for there are steps you can take to assure your walls get the color and coverage you need.

The first thing to do would be to let the coat of the un-tinted base dry completely so that when you add new color, they won’t mix and cause a larger problem.

  • If you’ve only used a little of the un-tinted base, you could return to the store, explain the mistake, and have it tinted on the spot.
  • However, if you’ve already used a majority of the un-tinted base, your only option may be to buy new paint, this time making sure that it’s tinted properly.
NOTE: Painting over the completely dried initial un-tinted base with your new tinted paint should be painless, and you shouldn’t see any issues during the new application.

In Conclusion:

To summarize this article, yes, you can use base without having to tint it first, however, the result will be undesirable and will create more issues.

It’s always smarter to get your paint tinted to expedite both consumed labor and time, making less work for yourself in the long run by applying for the correct coverage at the start. To put it plainly, a base without tint will not give you complete coverage, so always tint your paint wisely!

Related Questions

Though some bases may seem white in nature, they are not the same as white paint. To be a true white paint, tinting additives are necessary, otherwise, the base will be thinner, un concentrated, and lacking in any sort of color, making the paint undesirable for full coverage or large jobs.

Tints are available in many varieties, including both liquid and powdered epoxy additives, and come in a large array of colors. Tints can be applied to paints in the plants in which they were produced (in-plant tinting) or as previously stated, in the stores most customers buy their bases (point-of-sale tinting).


Though DIY paint tinting is possible, food coloring is not a viable option when choosing to tint your own base paint. This is because the chemical properties of food coloring do not properly bond with the base paint’s molecular structure, therefore causing streaking and uneven, unblended tones. Only dyes, powdered epoxy, or pre-tinted latex or acrylic paints are suggested when tinting your own base.

The paint product is a base paint that requires colorant to be added in order to produce the final desired color.

For the best results, the base paint must be taken to a paint retailer to have computerized colorant dispensers add the precise tint formula to match the color you want.

Yes you can use white base paint without added tint, but it is not recommended for most situations.

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