Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How To Use Primer

8ca46280, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

A while back, I took these photos because I get a lot of questions about priming, and I wanted to show you guys how I prime. There are two number one rules that you have to remember (which can be a little hard):

1. If the surface you're painting over is oil-based, you MUST use an oil-based primer on top (you can also use an oilbased primer if the surface is latex and you want maximum durability). From there, (after you are finished priming) you can either use oil-based paint OR latex paint. Oil based primer is generally known to be slightly more durable than latex primer, so if you are painting a weird surface like laminate or wood, you should use oil based primer. Also, if you are trying to cover old wood stain, use oil based primer, because it is an stain blocker. Sometimes, it'll take more than one coat to really keep that old stain from coming through.

2. If the surface you are painting over is a latex paint, you can use latex primer. From there, you can use a latex paint or an oil-based paint (basically, the moral of the story is that oil based paint or primer will go on top of anything, but it is a pain to use).

These are the tools I use when applying primer:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I use Chip brushes (cheapie ones) that I can throw away with oil based primer, because I don't want to worry about trying to clean out my nice brushes with mineral spirits. I also use a furniture roller with a foam roller cover.

You have to have mineral spirits when you are working with oil based primer. I use it to thin out the primer, and let it go on more smoothly. You'll also use it to clean any little drips or mistakes.

And lastly, you paint it on, but you are not so worried about making it pretty as you are coverage and making sure you don't have drips and "globs" that will show through your paint job. I always warn my clients that the primer job is never pretty!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Happy Priming! :)


  1. Dude you have posted a special tips for using primer and your two photos are so amazing which inspires to apply primer. I am really impressed to get this article. Thanks..http://www.howtotipson.com/

  2. So thank you so much for this info, but I have always wondered...

    You said, "If the surface you're painting over is oil-based, you MUST use an oil-based primer on top (you can also use an oilbased primer if the surface is latex and you want maximum durability)."

    My question is this, then: How do you know what the surface you're painting over is?

    In this specific instance, I am thinking of painting the baseboards of my apartment white and I'm wondering if I need to use an oil-based primer or not.

    1. well, if you try to paint water based paint over oil based paint, it bubbles away and won't stick. i'd suggest just going with oil!

  3. Is your counter granite or laminate? Also what are your prep tips/routine to prepare the surface for priming?

  4. Thanks for the primer tips I can never get it right when it comes that.

  5. I have always wondered how a professional would do it, thanks

  6. jennifer: you will know the surface when your paint beads up on top with latex paint. if it beads, it's an oil based paint, if it goes on smoothly, it is not. it looks almost like rain drops.

  7. sarah, these counters were granite. for preparation, i sand and use a deglosser.

  8. oh, man, you are getting alot of questions and I'm about to ask another! i have a really old piano with a slightly crackled stain on it- i was wondering if i could just paint over it (oil based primer) or if you think i should just strip it first... ? pianos are so weird to pick colors for and decorate around. have you ever painted a piano? just wondering :-) I love when you post your tips!

  9. hey jennifer,

    I have painted a piano, jsut recently! for some reason i forgot to take pictures of it, but yes, it can be done. i would not suggest trying to strip it - that could get nightmarish (i hate stripping). just prime it...there are some great tutorials on the internet for painting a piano - google it!! :)

  10. You need to get a Respirator mask yet?

  11. okay, thanks! i was really hoping you would tell me not to strip it :-)

  12. anon - YES I DO! I am really bad when it comes to those things. they are always such a pain, but i know that they are for my own good. i just need to get on it!

  13. I recommend the 3M R6211 respirator sold @ Home Depot.

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