Blog Paint can of primer

Published on January 27th, 2013 | by Grant Barnard


Types of Primer – When and Why to use these different primers

There are so many primers on the market today. Its hard to know when to use the best one. Or when to use a primer at all. Now there is even Paint and Primer in One.

Why Use a Primer? – Simple. The primer allows for the top coat to dry like it was intended to. When the topcoat dries by the liquids soaking in to the surface, this pulls out the solvents in the wrong way and the paint dries too fast. Also the solvents that soak into the drywall typically damage the drywall. Primers meant for drywall don’t have solvents that mess with the drywall so much.

We split this topic into two sections. Different Types of Primers –and- Different Situations That Require a Primer.

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Different Types of Primers

  • Bonding Primer – Bonding primer is great for problem areas such as chalky paint that did not totally power wash off. The only place you should NOT use a bonding primer is when the paint is already peeling. Good bonding primers dry in a way that they grab onto and tightly grip the surface. If the surface is already peeling the boding primer will tear the peeling paint off more. This phenomena will happen with ALL cross-linked primers or paint. 
  • Tintable Primer – Tint is certainly not the best thing for any primer. Adding tint to primer makes it dry slow and perform poorly as a primer. We always follow the recommendations for amount of colorant and cut that in half. Remember that any good primer will seal the surface so the tinted topcoat will sit on top instead of soaking in. Thus it will cover better. Often times a heavily tinted primer will need an extra coat when an un-tinted primer or slightly tinted primer would do a better job.
  • Acrylic Primer – Acrylic primer is a very high quality primer and unfortunately will be priced the same. It will seal, fill in cracks, and bond very well. If you intend to use an acrylic primer remember that most very high quality primers will be acrylic primers. Previously mentioned bonding primer is acrylic.
  • PVA Primer – Poly Vinyl Acetate – This is an excellent primer that you can use on fresh drywall and fresh mud, especially with an expensive topcoat that you want more coverage without spending more money. PVA is generally ONLY works great for sealing a surface and dries slick. It does however take small amounts of tint very well and causes much darker colors with less colorant. I would not use PVA on my bedroom or bathroom walls but I would for a non everyday use type of room like home office and guest rooms due to the loss in durability compared to a high quality acrylic primer.
  • Alkyd Primer – Alkyd primer is best for water stains and ink stains. Alkyd primer is not a water based primer and wont clean up with water. Alkyd primers will block the hardest stains with a single coat. The major downfall to alkyd primer is that you will have a serious difficult time getting any type of smooth pretty finish over an alkyd primer
  • BIN Primer – BIN Primer is a shellac based primer and is alcohol based. BIN is best for blocking smoke damage but will block anything but certain colors of magic marker. However the substrate MUST be totally dry of water moisture. Remember to have the guy at the counter shake this product twice! This primer will bond to anything but is thin and hard to work with. Often time the finish of the primer will also need to be lightly sanded. BIN primer will also leave a perfectly smooth finish for your topcoat to also be smooth.
  • High Build Primer – (Undercoat) These are primers that are simply designed to fill in small cracks and holes. They are generally cheap per gallon but don’t go as far as a normal primer. One great example of a high build pime is Valspars high build primer. We apply it very thick and then pole sand the entire suface fo a beautiful finish.
  • Paint and Primer in One – This is not truly a primer and should not be used as one. Most of these paints are simply thickened with a very cheap thickening agent. Please Read Here for more information on the topic. 

Different Situations That Require a Primer –  

  • Water Stains – Water damage is best covered up by an Alkyd Primer. Try using this out of a spray can for best results. Apply with two or three very light coats so they dry more quickly.
  • Patches – If there is a ton of patch work the best thing is to use a PVA Primer on the entire wall. Or if you just have a few spots try a few light coats with Alkyd Primer in a spray can. They also make BIN primer in a can for faster drying.
  • New Drywall -The best primer for new drywall is an acrylic primer. This will seal the drywall so the solvents from the topcoat cannot penetrate and crack the drywall. If the drywall job was poorly done then one or even two coats of acrylic will do the job some justice.
  • Smoke Damage – Smoke Damage is best covered with BIN Primer. Remember to have the guy at the counter shake this up twice. PVA and acrylic primers will also work but take at least two coats to stop the smoke damage from coming through.
  • Chalky Areas – Any chalky areas will need to be power washed first using TSP. What doesn’t come off can be covered with an excellent acrylic primer. The acrylic primer will bond like glue.
  • Hardy Board (Composite Wood) – This is a topic of little known facts. Most will tell you to use any primer you want. NOT TRUE. Most solvent even in water based paints will destroy the glue that holds the wood together! We only use one primer from our paint manufacture PPG Porter paints. A100 Primer. Then we go with a higher quality topcoat 
  • Extreme Color Change – For going from a dark or bright color use acrylic primer. Most color changes, even somewhat extreme, can be handled by a PVA primer.
  • Galvanized Metals – Galvanized metal requires specialized primer usually water based.
  • Bare Metals – There are many choices here. Generally they are all oil based with the exception of a few water based primers that are just OK for metal. If there is any risk of rust a rust prevention primer is necessary.
  • Wood – Most paint manufactures make a good primer for wood. The primer should be high build so it fills in cracks. If you really need to seal it up good go with an oil based primer and be sure that the primer dries fully.
  • Drastic Color Change – Drastic color changes can be made usually with two coats of high quality paint however darker to lighter sometimes is impossible without a primer. Lighter to darker is doable with extra coats because the colorant from lighter colors will not soak into a darker paint like darker colors will bleed into lighter colors.

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About the Author

Grant Barnard started painting in 2000 and started Grants Painting in 2008. Originally doing business in northern Indiana, the business was moved to Indianapolis and Greenwood shortly after. Today the Grants Painting has blossomed into a reputable painting contracting company with an ever growing extensive website including our How To DIY Articles. Grants Painting covers all aspects of coatings and specialized in epoxy flooring, interior painting, exterior painting and cabinet painting.

  • Anonymous

    It is also the best and only primer for new drywall.(PVA)


    • Grant Barnard

      “cheap and ONLY works for sealing a surface” is what I said. A quality top coat and the surface completely sealed by the pva is the best option for the costs. The high quality paints of today work better when the surface is completely sealed. Any Acrylic primer will also seal the surface but why? unless you plan on a cheap topcoat. I never do. Thank you for your comment. Next time leave your website address for a link back to your site.

  • Dan

    If I paint exterior rusty metal after it has been scraped and sealed with kembond do I need to put a topcoat over it?

    • Grant Barnard

      Hello Dan
      It depends on how well it was prepped. If you had even the smallest amount of rust that made its way into the coating then you will want a topcoat for sure.

  • mary pepper

    Hello Grant,
    I am hoping you can help me. My daughter just purchased her first house, which is quite a fixer-up. The problem is the gentleman that owned it previously unfortunately was unable to care for himself, and many of the walls are urine soaked. I am wonder what you would suggest for a prep? Should she use the BIN primer? Should she wash the walls first with a TSP and then prime it? I want the rooms to be healthy for the grandkids. Thanks for your help

    • Grant Barnard

      Hello Mary.
      Well the obvious solution is to replace the damaged drywall areas. Otherwise you will have issues with the worst kinds of mold. If your not going to replace the drywall then I cannot give you any other suggestions than to soak the walls with pure bleach or a very strong pool shock solution(calcium hydroxide). However human waste IS what grows “Black Mold”!!!!

      • Aimee

        Urine is different from feces. Black mold can grow where pet or human urine sit on drywall but the reason is the moisture – urine itself shouldn’t be providing nutrients for mold growth but the wall substrate might when wet.

        • Grant Barnard

          Hi Aimee. Thanks for the informed response on this issue. We always love to inform the public with reputable information. If you would like to submit an article on the issue we would be willing to compensate you for that. Please email us at if you are interested.

  • Renata

    One living room wall painted over for color change (involving only neutral beiges). Problem: the paint used was old – bad – tainted; it was stored for several years in a plastic canister (from a veg protein powder drink) which the container was bubbling out. During and after the wall was painted it smelled like combination dead animal, vomit, cat urine, sour milk, mold/mildew, rancid fish, dirt = very smothering thick heavy toxic odor, unbearable. This lasted for about 5 months, has dissipated but re-activates in humid weather or when heat is on and windows shut for example. Considering using Zinsser BIN Shellac Based Primer Sealer and then paint. Also dealing with factors of household with persons with Chemical Sensitivity and several cats – do not want to make situation even worse.
    Kindly appreciate your best advice on how to repaint this wall in our apartment while maintaining all sanity. Thanks.

    • Grant Barnard

      OK. Well it kinda depends on several factors. Like how much work its worth to you and what your expectations are.

      Hello Renata

      A simple way would be to just simply two coat it. It will still probably leak through but not nearly as bad.

      A little harder would be to use an Alkyd or oil based primer and let the primer dry at least 24 hours. Then two coat. This sucks because oil primer is sticky and messy and ruins tools.

      A cost saving measure would be to use two coats of a PVA primer and then two coats of topcoat.

      PLUS. They also make paint scents that you can add to paint but they only last about six months.

      The BIN primer would work but man that stuff will burn the hairs right out of you nose!!! However the smell is gone very quickly as the paint drys. It also may very well take two coats because the alcohol will dissolve the nasty paint just a bit.

      Best of luck.

  • Renata

    Hi Grant,

    We were coming to the same conclusion too – probably just two-coat it, at this point.
    For sure – trying to avoid the BIN.

    Any recommendation on paint brand/type?

    Were considering Behr Premium Plus or some MPI X-Green option.
    (need Canadian options)

    (I would have tackled that old plastic canister of paint out of their hands
    …if I had known. What a miserable mess.)


    • Grant Barnard

      Well I cannot be sure of what is available in Canada. Im no fan of any Behr products. You defiantly need to use an acrylic paint which all paint manufactures have. Try Olympic, Pittsburg Ultra, or PPG.

  • Renata

    While considering various brands of acrylic paints – a relative just painted
    a room with Behr – so brought it to our attention and were interested in your professional opinion.
    So glad to get your valued input with all of this – certainly helps towards a resolution.
    Thanks Grant.

  • Douglas Johnston

    On an old, previously painted house that’s washed and scraped and that’s not chalking, must you spot primer? Wouldn’t application of a high quality, alkyd paint do as well?

    • Grant Barnard

      What type of paint can vary on what type of weather that your home endures. Basically primer makes everything better. Yes you can use a high quality paint and apply two thick coats. However why not spot prime so you wind up with a better job in the areas that receive the most abuse? Then apply two good coats and have a lasting paint job. Or, Yes if you want the easy way out then hit the bare spots with paint and then do a coat over everything but expect to be doing the same thing in 5-7years or less depending on your paint choice.


  • Bruce

    I am painting the interior of a house that had wallpaper. I peeled the wallpaper and under that is paint and under that coat of paint is another layer o different wallpaper. I am getting the glue from the original paper off now and unfortunately some areas ( very big ) where the paint is coming off from under the paper that I just pulled you can see very big sections of the old wallpaper. Also other areas that I am trying to get the glue off the paint is just bubbling up and peeling away. Once I have all the glue off. It seems I will have certain areas that are showing old wallpaper ( dark blue ) and some areas that are painted green ( that are chipping away over the dark blue wallpaper) and the top half is just painted blue which is no problem. They got a very light light grey (almost whitish) Behr paint and primer all in one. What should I do with everything before applying this. What primer would be best to cover the chipped paint and the dark wallpaper?

    • Grant Barnard

      Bruce, Id really have to see a picture of it to give you better advise. Plus what are your expectations? You can text a picture to (317) 800-4540.

      Paint and primer in one often can cause already peeling surfaces to peel more. You really want to seal it up the best you can. I might consider a pva primer and then a high build primer like Valspar High Build Primer. You can also mix powder 120 minute mud into an acrylic primer and then sand it down with a pole sander. The dark color bleeding through wont matter because you need a full prime and two coat anyway. You can still use that 2-in1 paint but you still need a primer coat(or two)

  • Chits

    Hello Grant,

    I would like to paint my mdf staircase. Can I use an acrylic primer on an new mdf staircase ? Will the use of an acrylic primer stop the squeaking noise of an mdf tread? I thought that the paint on the mdf might wear out over a period of time so decided to go with a carpet stair tread on it. Your advice is much appreciated.
    Thank you

    • Grant Barnard

      Thats a grey area because some solvents used in paint can attack the glue. Your never going to know for sure because unless its a toxic or hazardous solvents then the paint manufacturer doesn’t have to tell you.

      That being said. If it were mine, Id go for oil based primer that is sand-able(not all of them sand so easy) Then a porch and floor enamel(2 coats). The acrylic might be more dangerous to the glue because the glue is most likely water based so the same solvents being used is unlikely.

  • Sgt_Stash

    I accidentally bought the wrong kind of primer (CIL Tintable primer) and it is non-refundable. when I applied it, it went on clear and glossy when I was hoping for a solid white. So I was wondering if I can use it as a sealer for a light blue paint?

    • Grant Barnard

      Yes you most certainly can, Sgt Stash! LOL
      You could actually make them tint it to light blue or even add white tint. Most tintable primers will take at least 2 oz of colorant.

  • Amy G.

    Hi Grant,
    I really enjoy reading your advice and am hopeful you can expand just a bit on your advice to Sarah. We are re-plastering our bedroom ceiling and repairing some spots on the walls with Westpac’s Fastset 90. I am planning to repaint both the walls and ceiling when the compound is dry. We have no moisture issues whatsoever. Do you recommend PVA for this application? And does any plaster dust need to be damp sponged off? Thank you.

  • steve fish

    Hi, I am about to lay Gerflor vinyl self adhesive tiles on masonite underlay. The laying instructions, say use a PVA primer
    (to seal the masonite). Is this necessary?

    • I would do it if the directions say so. However, Id want to use something a bit more floor friendly and long lasting like BIN or Alkyd. At least use the PVA.

  • omar

    when painting steel siding do i use oil based ore latex primer and what finish do yyou suggest on exterior flat semi or high gloss

    • Omar. You cannot use a latex primer but you can use most high quality acrylic exterior primers. I would use Seal Grip Acrylic Universal from PPG but you could also use PPG Acri Pro 100 Acrylic Primer. PPG Speedhide also has a primer specifically for galvanized steel (6-209). Ive never used the Speedhide option but I would suppose that would be best.
      As far as the gloss level… Your always going to get a bit more out of the higher gloss. However with a good prime the flat will still last long, while still hiding small dents.

  • I have a wood fence that gets cold in winter and direct sun in summer. The paint is peeling and I got most of it off with wire brush and putty knife. It is old wood and most of it is now bare, but I can’t get it all off unless I perhaps sand blast. Do I need to sandblst or should I just get all I can off using the methods above. Would an acrylic primer work or should I use oil base before using the top coats? Thanks

    • Hey Fitz.
      Sand blasting would be overkill. You could use a solid stain if the wood is bare enough. Or for a bit longer lasting product try using the Acri Shield line of paint with the bonding primer and two satin topcoats.

  • lisa williams

    HI. I’m trying to paint an old dresser that has some type of dark oil stain on the top. I tried a 321 primer but the stain keeps bleeding thru. Please can you help with some advice?

  • Mary

    Grant –
    After plumbing work, I have a large patch (2×2) on a wall that is was skim-coated and painted (Behr Ultra, pale color) a few years back. With saved paint, I hope to do a reasonable job of painting over but understand it’s all about the prep. I note you mention PVA and Alkyd primers as options for a patch. But, as mine is sizeable patch, I ask if there is a preference for this situation. And, assuming I don’t need an alkyd primer, what do you think of KILZ General Purpose Interior or Zinsser Bulls Eye 1*2*3? Any guidance would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi Mary. Buy a spray can of Zinser 123 Waterbased primer. Its like 6 bucks at Menards. Here

  • hi grant,i bought aluminum-zinc alloy roofing sheets for a house am building.I now feel i need to roof with colored sheets,it will be a big loss to sell off these sheets and buy the colored ones.
    i have thought about spraying them with primer and paint but am not sure whether they will have long life as the pre-painted roofing sheets, i also don’t know which primer and paint to use.
    pls advice

    • Martin, Thats a super technical question. It really depends on how much work and how long you want it to last. Do you live in AZ or MI? Can you spray a finish on with HVLP or do you want to brush and roll? Plan on painting while its on the roof or off?

      Me. I would spray on a colored aliphatic urethane. Thats the only thing that will really hold up. Your looking at about $150 for 400 sq ft. Anything water based will be a joke and anything oil based will bake off the metal after a few years.

      Shoot me a call if you have any questions. 3178004540

  • Lorraine

    Hi Grant, we have just finished the inside of our screened in porch with v groove pine and I want to paint it white, I purchased porch and floor paint with the primer included. However I am wondering about the knots in the pine, I wonder if the paint with primer will seal the knots, or should I first use a coat of Zinsser BIN 2 on all the new pine and then top it of with the orch and floor paint with primer.

  • Lorraine
    No, BIN primer works well for knots but its really only for strictly interior application. You should use the alkyd version called cover stain. It has a gold label and is sold in quarts gallons or spray cans.


    I’m working in an older home that has wallpaper installed over non-sealed drywall (which is still in very good shape). The wallpaper has since been pulled off, but there are large patches very thin glue on the surface. I’ve tried to remove the glue but ended up gouging the sheetrock. Much of it came off and have sanded, and used topping to even out the surface. Is PVA okay to use to seal both the sanded topping and existing remnant glue patches prior painting with latex?

  • eileen ellison

    I just bought a 1650 sf condo in florida on the ocean. to my dismay i have found that the unit was occupied two owners previously by a heavy smoker– 10 years ago. There is a lingering smoke odor, most of which is going away. All of the walls were wallpapered, which we have reomved. the ceilings were popcorn and we had them removed as well. the ceilings are now smooth with drywall compound. I now need to prime. I am mostly concerned about odor, not stains. Which primer do you recommend for the walls? and for the ceilings? The floors were carpeted which we are removing and also replacing the entire kitchen. we are having the AC ducts cleaned as well as replacing the electric switches and outlets.
    There is so much conflicting advice out there…..
    thank you!!

    • Eileen.
      Well I think you have done enough. However, both oil and BIN(shellac) with both do the trick. I would suggest an oil primer even if its alkyd because it stands up to water damage better. So if you leave your windows open alot, the humidity will break down the BIN and may let some of the smoke damage come through.

  • darrin

    I have peeled wallpaper and a few spots tore the drywall exposing the brown paper. I painted with zinsser 123, then realized the advice is to use oil based primer, but I used water based. Will this work?

    • Well if it didn’t peel right up, you might just be fine. Do a few coats and let dry completely each time. The solvents in the finish coat can be stronger than the primer and will deactivate the glue long enough for it to release from the wall. Ohhhh. Interior painting with wallpaper… how fun. 🙂

  • Doyle Adams

    Grant- Just hung ( or had hung) 90 sheets of new drywall for gameroom. What’s your opinion of Kilz PRO X PVA vs PPG Speedhide 6-2. Tape and float is an average job with an “orange peel” texture on top. Thank you.

    • Doyle. Im not familiar with the Kilz but the 6-2 is a go to product for texture and raw drywall. Now it wont fill in anything, just seal it real good. If you want a little “fill in” and leveling, go with an acrylic universal primer.

  • just did a skim coat of joint compound over the new drywall I put in. The PVA is easy to peel off with blue tape. And the skim coat wasn’t dusty. It’s a small bathroom. What should I do? Apply another coat of a thick primer? Peel off PVA and use something else? Thanks

    • Thomas, Sounds like it may have been a moisture issue. Try another primer that is more tolerant to moisture like an acrylic. That should lock everything down.

  • Hello Grant
    I have started doing up old furniture. I would like not to have to sand first. Is there a primer that I can use to cut out this laborious job?

    • I would suggest sanding enough to clean it up a bit but after that you can use a new primer that we found called XIM uma.

  • Diane

    Hi Grant! Re: Drywall patch work in a large large home… I accidentally used a “pure white paint & primer in one” as my primer for all the mudded and sanded patches (there were a ton, that alone took me 4 hours.) Please tell me that it will work just fine and that when I paint the areas (with the original paint color of grey), it will match the rest of the walls just as good as if I had used a primer. Ack.

    • Diane. No, the wall will not look the same. You will at least need to spot prime the areas. Then do a touch up of the areas. Then paint the entire wall.

      • paul jorgensen

        Hi, two questions , we are remodeling my sons house and the painter suggested we use a poly acrylic primer versus the pva primer as it giver a harder service to the sheet rock and should then only require one coat of paint. What are your thoughts? He is recommending we use a good Benjamin Moore paint which you pay more for but he says will then only require one coat. What are your thoughts on this Thanks Much Paul

        • You will spend alot more but it will work. Even using their Ben Paint I’d still want two coats but on a lighter color, it will work.

  • Rose

    Hi Grant, we are painting over some old judges paneling. The gentleman at the hardware store advised me to buy latex Kilz. We got a full coat all over the room. The panelling is dark glossy solid wood, on all four walls, floor to ceiling. The primer is everywhere. And it definitely was not the right stuff for a glossy surface because as I try to apply a second coat of primer, the first coat is dragging in places. It really just wants to lift right off. This is extremely frustrating to say the least. I feel like we’ve got a major disaster on our hands and I am wondering what we can do to salvage this situation. What’s your advice?Thanks so much for your help!

    • Rose.
      Really sorry you got such poor advise. Kilz is kinda an urban legend but the legend is actually about the original oil based version.
      At this point you need to take the paint off and start over. More than likely a steamer or spray bottle with extremely hot water will take the entire paint coating right off without much effort but a ton of mess.
      Then sand with a harsh grit sandpaper like 40 or 80. You can use sanding sponges but then you’ll need some elbow grease. A handheld orbital sander will work great too. After that use an oil primer and just about any topcoat.

  • Cindy Ackerman

    I am caulking my exterior basement windows and am going to use the urethane caulk. what type of primer do I need. some of the wood has not been painted and some has. Also, do I prime after I caulk?

    • Grant Barnard

      Prime after usually. Use an acrylic primer.

  • NickyB

    Help! We’re trying to paint some stair banisters that previously had Formica glued on top…the paint sticks but the smell of the glue is awful and is still penetrating through into the house, despite 2 coats of PVA, 2 coats of normal paint primer/undercoat and 1 coat satinwood topcoat. Reading your post, not sure if it’s available here in the UK, but I wonder if BIN might work?? Thx for any guidance! Nicky

    • Grant Barnard

      BIN Always works well inside. Bonds well. However I wouldn’t put it over another waterbased primer. Test a small area first.

  • Jose barajas JOSEBARAJAS

    hey what kind of primer I need to primer the inside of the metal liner on my above swimming pool

  • Rae

    Hi, I need to know what type of paint and primer or sealer for non treated interior wood frame trusses for greenhouse?

    • Grant Barnard

      If you don’t want to use a separate primer, which would be best, you can use Pittsburgh Grand Distinction Exterior Paint and Primer. Still do two coats of semi gloss.

  • Sudheer Sirangula

    hello.what is the coverage area of metal primer per lit/1 coat?

  • Pankaj Grover

    hi, i just wanted to know whether there are any compatibility issues between various primers and different top coats ? i mean for instance if i am using an epoxy top coat, can i use shop primer , or zinc rich organic primer or do i have to go for an epoxy primer on my substrate (steel)? Is selecting a primer only a function of my substrate condition or does it also depends on what top coat i am applying to it

    • Grant Barnard

      With epoxies and urethane you need to be SURE that the coats are comparable. Read the manufactures suggestions and follow them to the word.

  • Shannon

    I have greenboard in my bathroom and can’t keep the paint from peeling on the ceiling (the whole way to the greenboard). It was new drywall and I don’t know if we used PVA primer. We did try sanding the areas and priming them with zinsser high hide primer, but it just peeled again. Any suggestions?

    • Grant Barnard

      Could be a moisture problem. Re mud and use an exterior primer.

  • rueben

    exterior is now fiber cement: sherman & williams sw6300 burgundy calls for P5: will the multi purpose latex work? thanks

  • Mark Tomory

    Thank you, Grant, for an unusually informative article on a poorly understood topic.

    My family is in the process of renovating our home for the purpose of adding insulation and replacing the old materials with ones designed to improve indoor air quality. To that end, we’re choosing products that meet OSHA and EPA requirements for GreenGuard Gold certification. (GreenGuard Gold is the same as GreenGuard Children and Schools; they just changed the name.) In a pinch, we’d settle for one that at least had no ingredients listed under Prop 65. Which leads me to my question:

    I’ve been looking long and hard for a primer to use on new drywall but so far I haven’t found a PVA primer that meets our ultra-low-toxicity criterion. Are you aware of any? If PVA is not an option, is there a next-best way to prime drywall? The topcoat will be milk paint.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  • Ginger Wright

    Very informative article. But I had a question. We are in the process of remodeling after a pipe broke and flooded the house a few months back. We bought pva for the new drywalled areas and remaining walls and bonding primer for the trim work. We just found old paint cans from previous homeowner, they had apparently used oil based paint on the whole interior. We have bought a ton of water based paint. What primer can you suggest that may help cover the oil based and prevent peeling when removing the tape from trim work, which is unfortunately what we are encountering now. Thanks.

  • Tanya Tatum

    Why aren’t you supposed to use zinsser bulls eye 123 water based primer on floors? Sticks to all surfaces supposedly.

  • kevin

    So I’m painting a basement I’ve used killz latex killz oil Sherwin Williams master bond shellac. Multipurpose primer. Everything that goes on separates right away. Paint that is on walls is behrs ultra with nanoguard. What is happening I’m so confused

  • Renee

    Can I use pva primer for old doors and trim? If I do what will happen?

    • David

      I have not used PVA on trim but I have used a latex with drastic results. Luckily it was only in a closet and I cleaned up the peeling latex and smooth out the trim before applying oil based trim paint. The results far exceeded my expectations. Ventilation in the area with one or more box fans and an open window with the addition of a respirator/mask is needed. Hate the smell but once fully cured it goes away. The door can be freed by pulling the pins and painted outside. Obviously I am not a pro as I wouldn’t have encountered the initial problems, but I am certain you can’t beat the results.

    • UncleRuckus420

      No ! Pva is the wrong product for the will peal ! PPg Seal Grip or Gripper if you want a waterbased product. Oil based prime is prefered by me ! If in a Voc regulated area buy qrts.. but only 100% oil. No hybrids! Test for lead and lightly sand the surface if there is no lead present. You just want to degloss the surface ! 3m 7447 Scotch Bright pads or 150 sandpaper should be ideal for sanding. Lightly sand primer and finish in between coats after coating has dried to a sandable or powder sanding strenth. Usually that takes longer than the recommend DRY TIME or Dry TO THE TOUCH recommendation. 1/4 nap for really smooth 3/8 nap for slight stipple. Use Pentatrol for oil Finishes and XIM LATEX Extendeder for water or hybrid finishes to eliminate brush marks. Water based coatings use a Wooster Alpha, Corna Cortez, or a High quality Nylon or Nylon/Poly brush. Oil Based use a Purdy White China Bristle brush. Hybrids use a Wooster Extra firm bristle brush.

  • Benny

    Can I use an acrylic primer coat and then use an alkyd top coat . Or will the alkyd coat just separate from the acrylic primer . Thanks any information would be helpful .

    • Grant Barnard

      Benny theres too many factors. Some would and some would not. I do know that XIM makes a urethane modified acrylic primer that is spec’d for an alkyd topcoat. Really you could use an alkyd hybrid trim paint and probably solve the issue that you are trying to solve.

  • Mike with the Silver Star

    Can I use an eggshell latex finish over a PVA primer?…This is new drywall….

    • Grants Painting

      Sure can. Sorry for the response.

    • sp


  • Neil Richardson

    Can i use some type of. Primer on a apoxy coated cement floor to install tile…?

    • Grants Painting

      Sorry Neil. Couldn’t tell you. However I’d look at XIM UMA primer or any other urethane modified acrylic.

  • Lyon Cab

    What kind of primer do I need to cover up a wall of permanent marker, crayon, pencil stains? Would you recommend a Kilz or Zinsser primer/stainblocker? Thanks in advance.

    • Grants Painting

      Thats a tough one because you’ll need two primers for the marker. Try CoverStain primer

  • Blumpkin

    Bought a house in the fall that contains a ton of wallpaper. I’ve got the wallpaper off and cleaned as much of the old glue up as possible; there are areas of drywall where the brown paper is exposed. What would be the best primer to seal those areas before applying mud to smooth the surface and then paint? Thank you for your advice.

    • Grants Painting

      Hey Blumpkin… Use BIN Primer or better yet use oil based primer that is the quickest drying that you can find.

      • Blumpkin

        So, would something like gardz or draw tite not be appropriate?

    • Grant

      Two of many reasons are that it will seal the surface better and the thicker application will sand down better. Primers that you mentioned will work but most successful professional painters will just choose a $20 gallon of oil primer from a big box store.

      • Blumpkin

        That’s good information. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

  • If you mention “bare metal” and oil paints, then you must also mention galvanised metal, for which oil/alkyd is a big no-no (saponification).

  • devlin

    What’s the best primer for veneer plaster, such as USG Diamond Interior Veneer Finish Plaster? It’s very high alkali, USG recommends using only alkali-resistant primers, but manufacturers don’t say much about alkali-resistance on their primers.

  • C kinney

    We moved into a home that I am assuming the painters did not use any or the correct drywall sealer on. Paint was flat. We put eggshell over the flat paint, and have differing and uneven sheen look. It is so weird! And ugly. How could we remedy this issue? Would we use PVA sealer on it at this point? Or something else? And what would be the step by step process of that?! (i.e. Do we lightly sand wall before)
    Thank you so much!!

    • sp

      I would suggest a heavy bodied primer at this point. It would fill in any minor imperfections, seal the wall and allow an even sheen to come back when repainted. No need to sand unless you have any really shiny areas. Not typical from an eggshell sheen. Any quality paint store will carry one.

      Once re-primed, good to paint. Again buy a quality paint, a heavier bodied paint with more TI02 in it makes all the difference in getting a consistent look, color an sheen. Hope that helps. SP

      • C kinney

        Thank you so much! So appreciated.

      • C kinney

        So what do you mean by heavy bodied primer? If I go into a paint store and say that I need a heavy bodied primer, will they know what I mean by that?

        • sp

          This would be a primer with a higher solids content. Otherwise called a high build primer. Any quality paint Store would carry this.


  • Aileen San Jose

    Hi can Epoxy Primer be an alternative for Acrylic Primer? thanks

  • Md Tloh

    What primer would you recommend on bare oak (stripped of stain) and grain filled to be topcoated with BM Advance? I have thought about BIN white primer shellac but am not sure. Thanks!

  • Marta

    Hi! I would like to repaint an older painted bookcase that always felt tacky – like it never fully dried. Is there a primer that will help to ensure that the new coat of paint will dry completely, or do I have to strip the bookcase of the old paint first? Thanks!

  • Lisa

    Any suggestions on the easiest way to cover 1970’s paneling. we are trying to sell our house and everyone hates the paneling. I can’t afford to replace it. A friend advised us to simply paint it.

    • Rae McCullough

      I had the same problem when I sold my house. The paneling was awful! When I did the math at the time, the expense of having people come in and hang all new drywall and do the finishing was just way too much. I bought a whole bunch of tape and spackle and joint compound and then primer and paint. I removed those dividers that showed that it was paneling and used small nails, a little larger than finishing nails to secure the panels without the divider covers. Then I learned how to tape and spackle. I did all of those cracks. ugh!! I ended up dropping the tape except for the cracks between the paneling, and just spackled the whole thing! Then I took a wall texture and made it a bit thinner than the usual peanut butter consistancy. Mine was more drippy, like pancake batter. I put it on like stucco sort of. I let it drip just a little bit and I used the large spackle knife to do a random sort of knockdown. I know it sounds weird, but when the light hit the different levels on the texture it looked really cool. For paint I used a darker taupe color (or cool beige) and a version of a white. The taupe was the base and then I learned a faux Bellagio paint technique (it’s sort of a feathering look done with a dry brush) The finished result looked amazing. I had so many complements on the paint job. Everyone wanted to know how much I paid to have all of that paneling removed. Couldn’t even tell it was still there.

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