Choosing the right primer can have a major effect on the overall look of your finished paint job. You can’t just grab the first primer you see because different surfaces can require different types of primer. Understanding when you need to prime and what type of primer to use will make it more likely the paint will dry smoothly with an even color and last as long as possible.

When Primer Can Be Skipped

The first thing is to understand when you can skip the primer. This is the case when an experienced painter is covering up paint of the same type that’s still in excellent condition. An inexperienced painter may want to use primer even then, as it will make uneven strokes less noticeable and be more likely to hide some mistakes commonly made by those with less painting experience.

When to Use Colored Primer

Most primers come in white, but sometimes it can be a good idea to choose a primer that can be tinted to turn it gray or a color similar to that of the paint that will cover it. This is particularly the case when the new paint color is drastically different from the old paint color or if you’re going to paint the room a very dark color. Using a tinted primer can make it so that you need fewer coats of paint.

When to Use Oil-Based Stain-Blocking Primer

In certain situations, a stain-blocking primer is necessary to keep stains from being visible through the paint and help block odors. Use oil-based versions when trying to cover odors or stains from water, nicotine, rust, smoke, wood tannins, or other water-based sources. These primers are also a good idea in areas that are moisture-prone or prone to mildew, when painting high-tannin woods like cedar, and after patching plaster walls.

When to Use Water-Based Stain-Blocking Primer

Water-based stain-blocking primer is best for covering up crayon, ink, scuff marks, grease, and other solvent-based stains. These primers, also called latex primers, may not be as good at covering other types of stains as oil-based stain-blocking primers. However, water-based primers have other benefits, including being easier to clean up and being available in low- or no-VOC formulations. You can also use them on soft woods, drywall, galvanized metal, concrete, and brick.

When to Use a Regular Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primers are smellier and harder to clean up, but they have their uses. They should be used to prime MDF if it isn’t pre-primed to prevent swelling and to prime new interior bare woods so that the paint dries more evenly and the wood grain doesn’t raise and show through the paint. Oil-based enamel undercoat primer is the best bet for woodwork that’s been painted before.

When to Use Drywall Primer

As you’d guess from the name, a special drywall primer-sealer is best when working with new drywall to help keep the seams of the drywall from looking different from the rest of the painted area. This primer will also minimize the appearance of scuffs, ridges, and pockmarks in the drywall. If the drywall is smooth, you can sometimes use self-priming water-based flat paint and skip the primer altogether.

When to Use Exterior Primer

Unless the surface of the home’s previous paint job is in excellent condition, you need an exterior primer. If the outside of your home is wood, using 100-percent acrylic or latex exterior primer can make the paint job last longer as long as you properly prepare the wood first. Power wash the siding, clean off mildew and dirt, and sand the surface. Opt for latex bonding primers for laminates, plastic trim, and galvanized metal.

When to Use Other Specialty Primers

There are special primers for painting metal so that it is less likely to rust. There are wood primers that help prevent bleed-through from tannins, and epoxy-fortified primers to help paint stick to brick, concrete, stucco, and other types of masonry. Block fillers help fill small holes in concrete and cement that have textures and make the paint adhere better.

The professionals at Paul Schubert Painting Inc. will know just the right type of primer for any job you’re considering.

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