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A painter applying primer on an exterior surface.

Primer: Everything You Need To Know

by Krista York

Primer is a key product in any paint project. Priming helps prep, seal, and protect the surface, which results in a better-looking interior and/or exterior project. Primers work well to seal in stains, create a smoother, more leveled finish, and will assure higher adhesion between the top coat and the surface. 

If you’re like most homeowners you do not want to use your time priming, and I can’t blame you. From an outside perspective, primer may just seem like another layer of paint. However, priming and prep work is essential to creating a beautiful finish. Now, let’s look at when priming is necessary and when it is not. 

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Why You Might Need A Primer

Priming before painting is often necessary when dealing with problem surfaces that will not handle paint well. You should use a primer in the following scenarios:

  • Raw unfinished wood
  • Raw drywall
  • Masonry
  • All bare surfaces that are not porous
  • Uncoated metal or plastic
  • Water stains and other types of stains

You may also want to prime if you’re concerned about a darker color bleeding through, glossy areas, grease, or any areas that make paint difficult to adhere to the surface. 

When Priming Isn’t Necessary

If the area being painted is a clean, dry, low porous surface that’s in good condition then priming isn’t necessary. Typical spaces that do not need priming would be a dining room or a bedroom. You can skip priming if:

  • There are no stains or marks on the walls
  • The current and new colors closely match
  • Painting over previously painted surfaces

Don’t Trust Paint and Primer Combos

A can of ColorPlace Ultra paint and primer.

Paint manufacturers like to brand their products a “paint and primer in one” product, but don’t buy into the myth. Simply put, this is just a fancy marketing tool to make a product stand out. Sadly, the average consumer is led to believe that these two-in-one products are the same as priming PLUS painting. Most of the time, the only thing that has changed is the label. This is a clever move as most DIYers want to save steps and keep the project as simple as possible.

The best analogy is 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. Yes, a 2-in-1 will clean your hair, but shampoo and conditioner functionally do different things to your hair. While you might be satisfied with a 2-in-1 solution, you will have better results with a separate shampoo and conditioner. The same is true of paint and primer. 

In reality, most of these products don’t even contain any primer. They usually just add a higher concentration of solids to make the paint thicker, so it’s more likely to hide the previous color of paint. Don’t fall prey to this myth. Call a professional painting company that uses high-quality products to help you complete your job so that it looks beautiful and is long-lasting. 


To learn more about paint products, check out our reviews of some of the top paint products. You can also learn more about color choices, like what colors are best for bedrooms. If you’re ready to have work done on your home, fill out the form below for a free estimate from Heritage Custom Painting. You will want to submit your request quickly because our 2022 schedule is filling up quickly. 

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