Is Primer Needed? When to Use It Before Painting

Is Primer Needed

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Primer is sold with paint at stores, and it sometimes can seem like it’s always needed. However, it doesn’t have to be used in some cases. When something in the home needs to be painted, there are a few questions homeowners can ask themselves to determine if a primer is really needed. If not, it’s okay to skip the primer and get right to painting.

What is Being Painted?

The surface being painted can dictate whether primer is needed. For instance, the paint for cabinets typically includes a gloss finish, which will resist new paint coats. Sanding can help, but primer will be the best way to make sure the new coat of color really sticks to the surface. Try sanding a little, then using primer for the best results. If the surface is unfinished or has a low-sheen finish, it may have enough grip that the primer can be skipped.

Does a Dark Color Need to be Covered?

Going from dark to light without primer is going to mean tons of coats of paint. The darker color is going to be seen through the lighter color until it’s covered up enough, which means buying a lot more paint than expected. Primer, in this case, can help homeowners save money by covering the darker color and creating the right base for the new color. For really dark base colors, it may be necessary to use multiple coats of primer, but this will make sure it is covered completely before the painting begins.

Is the Surface in Good Condition?

If the surface is clean and in good condition, a primer may not be needed. However, if there are any issues with the color looking splotchy, with stains on the surface, or other problems, primer can provide a better base for new paint. The primer evens out the various imperfections and covers any stains thoroughly so they won’t show through when the paint is applied. Primer not only helps with adhesion but also helps to smooth out the surface, so the end result looks a lot better.

Is the Surface Porous?

A porous surface, like unfinished wood, is going to soak in any paint that’s applied. This ends up leaving the paint looking splotchy unless there are enough coats to even everything out. Instead of adding more coats of paint, start with a primer. The primer fills in the pores of the wood, creating a smooth and even surface for the paint color. With primer, it’s possible to significantly reduce the number of coats needed to create the perfect look.

What Room is Being Painted?

In high-moisture areas like the kitchen or bathroom, preventing the growth of mold is crucial. Primer is able to help with this, as it provides another coat on the wall that can act as protection for the surface below it. The primer helps to thoroughly cover the wall, so moisture isn’t able to penetrate, and mold won’t be able to grow.

Has the Surface Been Repaired?

When painting walls, if the surface has been patched, a primer may be beneficial. The patch is not made from the same materials and looks a little different from the wall, so the difference can show up after the painting is done. Primer evens everything out, covering the patches so they won’t be seen once the wall is painted.

Primer isn’t always needed, but it can be difficult to tell when it should be used and when it can be skipped. Use the questions here to think carefully about what is being painted and determine if primer will be needed. This way, if it’s not needed, it’s possible to skip it and save a little time and money.