The Essentials of Priming When Painting

Recently I added yet another source of income to my entrepreneurial empire, “house flipping” with my brother who has been successful for over three years now, and I have to say that if hard work is truly its own reward, wow, am I ever in for a big reward!

All that aside, one of the major tasks that we took upon ourselves was the the painting of the entire interior of the home to freshen and brighten it up. This has been very fruitful for my brother and his wife during their rehabs, and comments from actual as well as other potential buyers have always included comments about the “nice paint job” inside the home.

Part of the learning curve for my brother was how to prep properly, wow, say that three times fast, I can’t even spell it without messing it up let alone say it correctly. Anyhow, priming became something he learned the hard way about and now I have to tell you he has sold me on how necessary this step is to achieve the beautiful end results he has been able to get better and better at each time he takes on a rehab. What I was not prepared for was just how many available different priming options there were, so when I became a partner in his latest project, during one of the many Home Depot runs we had to make, I decided to ask some questions of their “experts” and found out some very interesting things I think are worth sharing.

First, just exactly what is primer? Well, primer is a base coat that serves many purposes in the painting process. It can provide a smooth, even surface so paint applies itself uniformly , creating a consistent color. Primer can also block stains from seeping through as well as keep dark colors from “bleeding” through a lighter color new coat of paint. The correct use of primer can even keep you from using words you will probably regret later by keeping wallpaper from becoming permanently attached to drywall, making it virtually impossible to remove.

So, whats that you say, everyone knows these things about primer, maybe, but did you know that primer generally falls into one of four categories, which from there are broken down further into actual best possible uses? I thought not, so read on to learn a little bit more about the wonderful world of primers.

The four categories are as follows; “drywall or bonding primer”, which is designed for NEW drywall applications and made to specifically adhere to the drywall paper to create a great surface for painting. Next up, ” enamel undercoat primer” which is a very good, but basic primer with its primary benefit being to ensure an even color tone. “Stain blocker” primer keeps whatever is being covered, darker colors, stains, smoke damage or anything else from seeping through and altering the new paint color or coverage. Last but not least, “rust inhibiting” primer is used primarily outdoors and is usually oil-based.

So there you have the four categories, which now are further broken down by formulation, and best applications. For instance, “shellac based” primer smells very strong and requires a denatured alcohol cleanup. When being used indoors, proper ventilation is essential and its most effective use is as a stain blocker which makes it good for water damage situations. “Oil based” primers is the next best alternative to shellac primers and is made with linseed oil. Everyday paint thinner or mineral spirits will clean it up and is also a strong smelling item. After being correctly applied, it becomes a great base coat for latex paints. Finally, there are “latex” primers that don’t have th strong smell and clean up easily with soap and water. It is a good option for home with children or those that have difficulty breathing as its odors are low impact.

Okay, now you know what types of primer are available, so the next question obviously is, “when do I need to prime?”

Easy answer, it should be any time you are painting as priming, in whatever form you choose, will ultimately help to cover imperfections and ensure uniform color coverage. Certain colors after they dry will show imperfections prominently in a wall that has not been primed as opposed to one that has. Going from a dark color to a light color can be a nightmare of seeming endless coats of paint that by adding the simple step of priming would have save you a boat load of time and effort.

The bottom line is priming isn’t the “sexy” part of painting. When you are painting a room and you complete a first section or two that fresh color can give you a rush of accomplishment, whereas a coat of primer simply suggests that there is more work ahead, sad but true.

There you have it, the basics to primers and when to use them. Part two of this series will be some actual tips on the prep before priming that makes priming even more effective. I hope this article “wet your appetite” for more, stay tuned.

SOURCE: Delmo and John, the handy guys at Home Depot who took the time to point things out. (Article inspirations come from the just about anywhere)

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