Do I Need a Primer? When Should I Use a Primer?

Knowing when to use primer can be tricky

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is: “Do I need primer when I paint?” and the honest answer is: sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t! Today, we’ll share a few primers we regularly go to and explain the scenarios in which we would use them.

Basic, straight to the point and gets the job done

Kilz 2 Blue Label Water-Based Primer

This primer is tried and true, and one of the most popular choices for priming. It’s a general primer that’s multi-purpose, and it can be used in any number of situations.

A primer like this will be somewhat stain-resistant and is great for covering up and touching up small spots. It’s not the best for water stains, but we do use it for minor stains. We mostly use it for covering up a really dark wall that you’re looking to lighten up.

It can also be used for covering up small patches of drywall or for smoothing and blending an area of your exterior where maybe a few boards have been replaced.

do I need a primer

Easy-to-apply primer that covers BIG stains

when should I use a primer

When you’re covering up water stains, you’ll want to use something oil-based like Sherwin William’s ProBlock Primer.

This comes by the gallon, but it also comes in a spray paint can, which we love not only because of its wide output but also because of the can’s design which makes holding that spray button down a lot easier on your finger. That may sound silly to list as one of the benefits of this product, but believe that if you’re painting all day, it makes a difference!

Good for cabinets and varnished wood

do I need a primer

Zinsser Cover Stain Primer is oil-based, stain-blocking, and adhesive that bonds really well, so we mainly use this on cabinets or homes that have a lot of heavy stains (it will cover cigarette stains).

It adheres really well to varnishes on cabinets or board and batten, giving it a really soft, smooth look.

Our painters love working with this one because it makes the sanding part of the process so easy. While water-based primers can get gummy when sanding, this oil-based Zinsser stays nice and fine during and after getting sanded down.

priming-cabinets

So do I need a primer before painting?

In most cases, probably not! Most of the paints on the market today will cover your walls in one or two coats; the two coats that you’ll need anyway, whether or not you prime. There are times, like the instances mentioned above, where you will want a primer, like covering rusted metal, varnishes, or woods or just to paint over a super dark color. There are many options to choose from, so we’ll cover more in a future post. When it comes to your everyday, basic paint job to cover a wall in your house, you won’t need to begin with a primer.


What about 2-in-1, combination paint and primer?

We also get a lot of questions about 2-in-1, paint and primers, that come as a single product. There’s a lot to say on this, so founder Steven Montgomery and General Manager Allan Alarcon expand on this topic in this episode of Paint Talk.

Are you ready to add some color to your house?

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