Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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When to Prime Before You Paint

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Is it always necessary to prime before you paint over a previous paint job? -Cedric

Hi Cedric,

Unless the surface is unfinished or you’re switching between types of paint—such as oil based woodwork being covered by latex paint—you don’t have to prime before painting again.

  • If the surface is dirty or greasy, clean it thoroughly before painting.
  • If it is glossy, it’s a good idea to dull it first with sandpaper or a liquid deglosser.

For more information on priming, see A Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primer.

Danny



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16 Comments on “When to Prime Before You Paint”

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  1. kt Says:
    March 7th, 2009 at 9:15 am

    what about going from a chocolate brown to a yellow? does it matter what the pigment darkness of the old and new paint colors are?

  2. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    March 9th, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Hi KT,
    It is harder to cover over darker or bright colored paints than more neutral ones, so be sure to use a primer than contains a lot of pigment in it such as those made for hiding stains. If the color shows through after the first coat of primer, apply a second one before topcoating. For more information on primers, check out our article A Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primer.

  3. Judith Hauser Says:
    October 23rd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I have oil-based paint on my trim and walls … I can’t get a straight answer from my paint store about which Kilz primer to use so I can use latex paint. Even the Kilz website didn’t answer this question. Is there another brand that would do the job?

  4. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    October 24th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Hi Judith,
    Even though some latex primers say they can be used over oil-based paint, I prefer to use an oil-based primer, such as Zinsser Cover Stain, over oil-based paint. Also, proper preparation of the surface you are painting (cleaning, sanding, and wiping off any dust) is as if not more important than the type of primer you use. You can find out a lot more about the different paint primers and how to use them in our article Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primer. Good luck with your project!

  5. Beth Heringer Says:
    April 16th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I want to paint our pool deck with a semi-transparent concrete stain. What suface preparation do i need to do? The concrete is 13 1/2 years old and in good shape. I have a pressure washer. Do I need to apply muriatic acid wash to etch it first? Do I need to prime the concrete and will this change the final color of the stain? It is a colored concrete and I am fine with an uneven finish.

  6. Carole Linkiewicz Says:
    October 2nd, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I encountered a problem when I began painting my bathroom ceiling. The surface of the ceilgin was a rough, stucco-like material (not the popcorn type). As I applied the water based ceiling paint with a roller, the ceiling material began peeling off in chunks. I called the stoire where I purchased the paint and they told me that I would have to scrape down the ceiling and I did that. I called the paint manufacturer and the tech support person i spoke with said that the water based paint had wet the rough surface, which was probably loose. My big concern is that the rest of the ceilings in my home have the same surface. The tech support person said that I could prine the ceilings with an oil or shellac based primer (non-water based) to stabilize it. Do you agree? I thought the shellac based priner might be the better choice–maybe faster drying and easier clean-up than the oil based. What do you advise. I would really appreciate your input on my dilema.

  7. K.Eldridge Says:
    October 24th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I have a sheet rock, painted ceiling in my shower, shortly after each paint application,showers and steam ( I do have an exhaust fan in ceiling) the ceiling starts chipping and peeling. How do I stop this from happening?

  8. s doyle Says:
    March 16th, 2012 at 9:37 am

    How long after I prime the ceiling can I put the finish coat on it ?

  9. S Parson Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I am repainting 50 year old wood cabinets in my farmhouse. After sanding down to barewood, I have had difficulty with raised grain. After applying a water based primer the first time, I read that I probably should have used an oil based primer. Down to bare wood again and primed again in oil base and now I have the same raised grain.

    What prevents the raising of the grain? I don’t really know what wood I am working with, but given this was a built by owner kitchen originally, I am guessing 1950′s inexpensive but durable whatever was available. Although the sides of the drawers are plywood, the faces are solid wood.

  10. Bev Says:
    April 30th, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Do you mention bathrooms anywhere, should they always be primed and does the paint and primer together work for a bathroom or is it better to use primer and then paint?

  11. Wendy Orchard Says:
    April 9th, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I have primed & spray painted my kitchen range hood, but it’s the wrong colour, so I re-painted it with a water based paint. I plan to do a second coat. I didn’t prime it again though – I just painted over the spray paint. Should I prime it before applying the second coat?

  12. DLC Says:
    July 29th, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    How can you tell the difference between latex and oil based paint?

  13. david gibbs Says:
    September 4th, 2014 at 2:14 am

    I want to spray water base paint onto oldish furiture if I clean the piece with sandpaper the paint still does not hold and will scratch off

  14. Sheila Says:
    September 30th, 2014 at 12:36 am

    I have wooden garden futniture which I would like to paint an antique ivory colour. ( It will be used under roof after painting). Is it really necessary to use a primer or can I just sand it down and then paint it. Not so young anymore and has to do it myself. Cannot find anyone to do it for me. Please help!!!

  15. Anna Larsen Says:
    October 12th, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I am painting some out door buildings that are either bare wood or badly weathered and I used an oil based exterior primer worked very hard on these and now people say if I use a latex paint it will chip?? What paint should I use over the top I really want to do this right because I ‘ve worked hard?? I thought oil based primer was the best for bare or very weathered wood please help me!!!

  16. chris Says:
    October 27th, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Just bought a home and walls are white. I am going to paint them a light brown. Do I need to primer and if so can I use the primer and paint in 1?

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