April 30, 2018

How to Choose The Right Primer

Using primer during a paint project can make or break the quality of the finished product. A primer is an undercoat that acts as a preparatory coating put on materials before painting. The primer makes sure that paint adheres better to the surface, increases durability and provides additional protection for the material being painted.

Before choosing the right primer for your paint project, it’s important to first understand when it is and isn’t necessary.

When should I use primer paint?

New or completely bare drywall will soak up paint in no time. If you try to apply paint directly to new drywall, you’ll likely find yourself going over and over each section trying to get an even coverage. If your drywall contains mud joints, you will also notice different coverage in those areas versus the blank drywall. A primer will give a consistent coverage to your final coat.

Bare wood is also an ideal surface for primer. The pores and grain in the wood will soak up paint and will cause inconsistent coverage. Not to mention, wood takes longer to dry than other surfaces because the paint needs plenty of time to soak into the surface. So, it will adhere better if a primer is applied first.

Additionally, any sort of masonry should first be covered with a paint primer. Surfaces such as limestone, cast stone, concrete and brick often have white deposits, called efflorescence, form on them. Painting directly to those surfaces will cause inconsistencies in the coverage—inconsistencies that could be eased with a primer.

Finally, if you have a surface that is particularly odorous or stained, a primer is ideal. Water, smoke stains and damage tend to bleed through a finish coat of paint, as will stains like crayon, marker or grease. A stain-blocking primer will act as a first arm of defense against those stains and odors, which will allow the top coat to cover effortlessly.

When should I not use primer paint?

If you have entirely clean walls that contain no stains or odors that already has a coat of similar-toned paint, primer may not be necessary.

Also, if you are using a self-priming paint, a primer paint will not be required. Typically, a self-priming paint is thicker than regular paint. Because it’s thicker, it will form a thicker first coat. Of course, it’s always preferable to use separate paint and primer, but if the walls are in good condition, a self-primer can be used.

How to choose the right primer

There are different primer types of different surfaces, as discussed above. At James T. Davis, we offer Interior Primer, Exterior Primer, Metal Primer and Stain-Blocking Primer that can suit any type of painting project.

Latex Primer Sealer

  • Great on drywall or new wood
  • Enhances the performance of top coats

Oil-Based Enamel Undercoat

  • Should be used on wood when using an oil-based paint

Latex Drywall Sealer

  • Should be used on wallboard, particle board or wood surfaces
  • Dries quickly
  • Environmentally friendly

Oil-Based House Paint Primer

  • Primes and seals bare exterior or previously painted exterior walls
  • Resistant to moisture or mildew

100% Acrylic House Paint Primer

  • Adheres seamlessly
  • Ideal for acrylic topcoats
  • Is an antimicrobial product

Red Oxide Metal Primer

  • Great for iron-based metals
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors

Acrylic Metal Primer

  • Cuts back on rust
  • Adheres easily to galvanized materials

For a walkthrough of which primer to choose, view our tutorial video below.


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