A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer – Hometalk

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer – Hometalk

I recently had lunch with a good friend Polly who was keen for some tips on painting a pine bed for one of her boys. She had read the makeover of my pine bookcase here and was inspired to do something similar herself. I was chuffed! Brilliant … send me some photos … what better way to spend a long weekend! One question she asked was whether to use a paint primer first. This got me thinking … when do you need to prime before you paint and when is it ok not to? Here is a simple beginners guide when to use a paint primer.

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

What is a Paint Primer?

A paint primer or undercoat is one of the last steps in preparing a surface for painting.  Applied before the paint, it creates a bond between the surface and the paint. Using a primer creates a smooth and consistent layer for the paint to bond onto.

Using a paint primer can help:

  • the paint adhere to the surface properly
  • enhance the durability of paint
  • seal the surface and stop bleed through of oils and waxes
  • create a smooth and lasting finish
A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

We like to use Taubmans 3 in 1 … sealer, primer and undercoat

When do you need to use a paint primer? 

1. Furniture

When painting laminate furniture … the answer is definitely yes! You’ll need a specific primer or undercoat for laminate. This will ensure the paint adheres to the surface properly and won’t peel off. This goes for painting any type of laminate surface.

When Paul and I first painted the laminate kickboards in our kitchen (in an attempt to soften the prevalent brown features) we painted straight onto the laminate. Then spend the next morning pealing the paint off in great plastic strips in order to prime first and then paint.

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

For the laminate, we used White Knight Grip Lock Primer … can also be used for enamels, ceramics, fibreglass, glass and ceramics.

When painting wood furniture I would also as a general rule use a paint primer – particularly if I’m painting pine furniture such as my bookcase. A primer will help prevent any bleed through of varnishes or oils. I also use a primer on furniture which has a factory polyurethane finish, such as my Ikea Junior Chair.

There are, however, paints on the market which do not require an undercoat or primer first. I have started using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) see here and here, which requires very little prep before use, including an undercoat. Chalk paint is generally used to achieve a shabby, rustic look – often distressed with sandpaper at the end. However, I’m planning to try out ASCP on a laminate tall-boy in my bedroom and intent to apply a primer undercoat first. I would love to hear from anyone who has used ASCP on laminate without priming first … any tips greatly received!

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

2. The Interior

I don’t prime my interior walls before painting. The current paint work is in good condition (no cracks or peeling etc) … just a little tired looking. So far painting straight over the existing paint has served me well.

I recently picked up a great tip on painting over larger holes and cracks patched with a filler or drywall compound. Using a primer on these areas before you paint will help avoid a blotchy finish. A primer will seal the patch so the paint won’t sink in and look dull. To match texture, prime with a roller, feathering out the edges.

See here for more great tips on painting walls, including feathering please.

However, when it came to painting the trim and doors, Paul and I used a primer first. These features were left in their natural brown state, freshened up each year with a new coat of vanish. Using a primer helped seal the wood and prevent bleed through. Painting the trim was our first DIY venture and a great learning curve, which you can read about here, including a couple of tips we picked up along the way.

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

3. The Great Outdoors

I recently painted our garden fence and gate and chose a good exterior paint which contained a self primer. There are a great range of exterior paints on the market, designed for practically every surface (and the harsh Aussie sun). If you’re planning to paint the exterior of your house, I would seek advise from your local paint shop.  We’re lucky at our local Bunnings Warehouse … their staff are very knowledgable and always happy to help. Painting any exterior part of your house is not something you want to redo in a hurry!

A Simple Beginners Guide: When to use a Paint Primer

For our garden fence, we choose Dulux Weathershield in Woodland Grey

Paul and I are starting to think about painting our front step. I’m not sure what type paint we’ll need, but I’m confident there will be a product perfect for concrete!

For some more great painting tips, I’ve put together a board at Hometalk with 17 helpful tips for painting anything and everything!17 helpful tips for painting anything and everything!

Do you have any tips on using a paint painting you’d like to share?

Linking up to:

Metamorphosis MondaySomething to Talk AboutTutorials & Tips Link Party, Made by you MondayShow and ShareInspire Me MondayShow & TellProject Inspire{d}The Gathering SpotTweak it Tuesday, The Scoop, One Project at a Time, Do Tell Tuesday, Talented TuesdayWow Us Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Work it WednesdayCreative SparkCreate It Thursday, Your Turn to ShineHome Sweet Home, Weekend Retreat, Handmade Hangout, The Painted Drawer Inspiration, The Pin Junkie, Catch as Catch Can, The Inspiration Gallery, What to do WeekendsAwesome Life Friday, Foodie Friday and Everything Else, Shabbilicious Friday, Show and Tell FridayLink Party Palooza, The Pretty Pintastic PartyFrugal FridayBest DIY Projects and Recipe PartyA Morning Cup of Joe!, Found and ForagedSaturday Share Fest, Saturday SparksSkip the HouseworkBouquet of TalentSnickerdoodle SundayDIY Sunday ShowcaseSilver Penny Sunday, Sundays at Home, That DIY Party, Frugal Craft HomeJune Before and AfterYou’re Going to Love it June,

10 responses

  1. We didn’t use primer on our walls either, we have had some peeling off though. I guess we should have, I thought primer was just to stop the paint from soaking into the surface so you used less paint. I didn’t realise it would help the paint stay on.


  2. These are great tips!! I generally follow these same rules, which is good! Lol. Thanks for linking up at the Talented a Tuesday party!


  3. Great post! I used to have to use primer all the time but now use the Paint and Primer in one for latex. I have painted directly over laminate on a piece in my daughter’s room and it stuck! No issues and still looks good! Thanks for linking up to The Painted Drawer!


    • The all-in-one paint and primers are great. I’ve only used one for the outdoor fence. Will keep my eye open for one to use on furniture! Thanks for stopping by 😀


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