The Full Lowdown on Primer: Necessary or Not?

Attempting to paint certain surfaces without first applying a coat of primer is a recipe for disaster. Something that applies to exterior and interior painting projects alike, for which primer is almost always essential.

Also referred to as primer paint, primer serves a whole bunch of invaluable purposes. Its main job is to ensure optimum adhesion between the surface material and the paint. It also ensures a smooth and even finish, while ensuring the true color of the topcoat shines through.

The long and short of it is therefore simple – primer makes for a better result.

But does this mean that there are no instances whatsoever where you can skip priming entirely? If not, how much primer should be applied to pave the way for a lawless finish?

Colorhouse: GLASS .02

One, Two or Three Coats of Primer?

The number of coats that need to be applied will be determined by the type of material you are painting. Not to mention, the condition of the surface at the time.

A few basic examples to illustrate how different numbers of coats of primer are often needed:

  • One Coat—suitable for new drywall, raw wood, subtle color changes.
  • Two Coats— suitable for damaged drywall, stained walls, rusty metal.
  • Three Coats or More— suitable for wood paneling, bold color changes.

For the most part, what you need to think about is the potential for the surface material to absorb the paint you plan to apply. Materials like finished wood and metallic surfaces present a low absorption risk, therefore requiring less primer.  By contrast, untreated drywall and unfinished wood soak up paint like a sponge, so you’ll need to apply at least two coats.

Likewise, the smoothness and evenness of the surface should also be taken into account – primer playing an important role in creating a smooth and even surface to paint on.

Something else that needs to be considered is the color of the paint already on the surface of the material. Lighter-colored paints call for fewer coats of primer, but it’s rarely advisable to skip priming entirely. If the color of the paint on the material is dark, bold or bright, you may need additional layers of primer to ensure the subsequent color is displayed properly.

If in doubt, the general rule of thumb is to go with two coats of primer, just to be sure.

Do You Really Need Primer? 

Technically speaking, there are instances when you can get away with skipping primer. However, there are almost no instances where primer doesn’t contribute to a better finish. You don’t necessarily have to use it, but you could be compromising the quality of the result if you don’t.

In which case, the short answer is yes – you really do need primer.

But what’s important to remember is how priming surfaces before painting can actually save you time, effort and money. Far from an additional job that will slow you down, it could significantly speed up the whole process.

This is due to the fact that what normally calls for three or four coats of paint could be accomplished or bettered with one coat of primer and two coats of paint. By priming the surface before painting, you’re simplifying the painting process in a big way.

Not to mention, making it so much easier to come up with a flawless finish to be proud of.

What Primer Should I Use?

As is the case when choosing paints, you need to select primers in accordance with where you intend to use them. Whether it’s an exterior or interior painting project needs to be factored in, along with the type of surface you’ll be painting and the type of paint you plan on using.

For example, if you will be using oil-based paints, you’ll need to pick up a suitable oil-based primer. Water-based primer being the better choice when using water-based paints.

Always check the packaging and consult the manufacturer’s guidelines, in order to assess the suitability of paint primer.

Call Anytime for a Quote…

If you’d prefer to have the pros handle your interior or exterior painting jobs, we’re standing by to take your call. Homm CPS is proud to offer a comprehensive range of home painting services of the highest quality, with bespoke solutions available to suit all budgets.

Contact a member of the team at Homm CPS anytime to discuss your requirements in more detail, or drop us a line by e-mail and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.