When do I know to use a primer for my project and how do I pick what to use?

Unfinished surfaces:

  • For raw woods, you need to seal the wood so that it doesn’t soak up your paints and cause your coat to look uneven. (As a bonus, it will also cover dark spots and knots in the wood and not allow them to show through your paint.) An oil-based primer works well on sealing interior woods and also provides a smooth surface that allows your paint to adhere.
  • For unfinished drywall, use a PVA primer to cover joint compound and provide a smooth surface for your paint.

Stained surfaces:

  • Oil-based primers work best on water-based stains, such as inks, foods and smoke.
  • Water-based primers work best on oil-based stains, such as grease, lipstick and crayons.
  • Shellac-based primers work best for stains that come from severe smoke or water damage. They also keep stains from producing odors.

Previously painted surfaces:

  • If you’re painting lighter color over a dark color, use a quality primer to cover the darker hue and provide a nice, light surface for your topcoat. Two or more coats of primer may be necessary depending on the color you’re covering.
  • If you’re painting a darker shade over a lighter shade, use a tintable primer. This provides a good surface for your topcoat, while also preventing the old color from bleeding through.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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