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When to Use Primer for Your Interior Walls

When to prime interior walls seems to be a source of confusion for many people. It is sometimes viewed as a bothersome and unnecessary step in the painting process. However, there are many benefits to primer that can make the extra work well worth it. After reading this blog post, you will have a better sense of the benefits of primer and when to use it.


What Is Primer


Primer is very similar to paint in its appearance and consistency, and it is applied with a brush or roller the same way paint is applied. However, primer is much different than paint. Primer contains many solids and consists of an adhesive binder for the paint to help it stick to the wall. It can be thought of as a glue or sealant base coat that creates the foundation for the paint to be applied. Regardless of your painting experience level, using primer on your walls can greatly increase the quality of the finished product. Primers come in oil-based, shellac-based and water-based blends, however it is the water based primer that is most suitable for painting interior walls.


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What Primer Does


Priming your walls basically seals the surface of your walls and helps the paint adhere to the wall. It can reduce the number of coats of paint you will need and increase the longevity of the paint job, increasing the amount of time until you will need to paint again. So, priming actually cuts down on work in the long run. Specifically, primer:

  • helps the paint stick to the wall

  • provides a consistent base for better paint application, allowing you to do the job in less coats of paint

  • covers imperfections in your wall that would otherwise show through the paint

  • stops stains or other discoloring from bleeding through the finished product

  • enables the true color of your paint to show by eliminating the existing color

See the best interior wall primers here.


When To Use Primer


Priming your walls will enable the rich, true color of your paint to come through. Generally, one coat of primer will do the trick. For example, if you are painting over a wall in good condition or not drastically changing the color, one coat is primer should be just fine.


However, there are times that you will want to use two coats of primer. These times include:


When the surface of your wall is porous


You’ll want to use two coats of primer if the wall itself is porous. This means that it will absorb water or moisture easily. Brand new drywall, untreated wood, or a newly skim coated walls will all need priming. Primer will fill in drywall pores, help the paint adhere to the wall, and reduce the number of paint coats.


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When the surface of your walls are glossy


When the surface of your wall is glossy (including when the current paint is high gloss paint), it is difficult for the new paint to stick to it, even with multiple coats of paint. When your walls are glossy, use two coats of primer at a minimum. To ensure a high quality result, we also recommend sanding the surface. This will provide texture for both the primer and paint to stick to.


You are painting where there was (or is) wallpaper


You might be painting the wall where wallpaper has been recently removed. You might also be painting directly over existing wallpaper. Either way, the wall will be somewhat rough so you want to prime them. If they are very rough, we recommend sanding them before you apply the primer and paint.


You're painting over metal or plastic


In this case, you want to use a metal primer to protect against rust and will provide a solid base for future coats of paint.


If the surface of your walls are stained


Prime your walls if they have any stains on them. The primer will act to block off the stains so they do not bleed through the paint. It is also essential to fix the source of the stain. For example, if you have water stains that were caused by a leak, you want to fix the leak so that the problem does not happen all over again.


If the surface of your walls have an odor


Sometimes odors can get into the walls. This is particularly true of there has been strong cooking, pets, smoking, or other activities that can cause smells in the room. Primer can wipe out the smells and stop them from decreasing the quality of the paint job. The paint itself cannot eliminate the odors.


If the new wall color will be drastically different from the existing color


Primer is most essential when you are painting a light color over a dark color. You are sure to see the old dark color through the light new color if you do not use primer. Each coat of primer can save you from needing to apply several coats of paint. Consider using gray primer when you are painting over a very dark color.


Do primer/paint combos work?


A quick word about primer/paint combinations. Primer/paint is when the primer has already been added into the paint itself. Today’s paint/primers have come a long way and do a great job on providing coverage to the walls or other surfaces. However, be aware that although the paint company says one coat is all that is necessary, you will likely still need two. Also, if your walls fall into any of the categories above, you will need to use regular primer first, then the paint.


Painter Patch can ensure a quality paint job regardless of the condition of your walls. Our professional painters in the NYC area and beyond will get it done right every time. Click here to see our services and get free quotes.


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