How to Know What Primer Is Right for Your Residential Painting Project

calander Feb 20 , 2022 user-icon Nash Painting

Applying primer prior to painting helps you achieve the best-looking and longest-lasting results. Primer is an initial coating that provides a buffer between the bare underlying surface and the incoming paint. These three-part substances may be white or tinted, and they come in oil-based, latex-based, and shellac varieties. As you might imagine, each of these different types of primer is optimized for particular purposes, so it’s crucial to know which product to purchase before applying it. Here’s how you can figure out which type of primer is right for your next residential painting project.

How to Pick the Right Primer

Mind the Material You’re Painting

Most home painting projects involve a variety of different surface materials, such as drywall, wood, metal, and more. The different qualities of these unique materials should partially inform which type of primer to use on them. For instance, oil-based primers tend to work well on bare wood, metal, and surfaces with pre-existing coats of paint. Latex primers, on the other hand, tend to fare best on unfinished drywall. Shellac primers are also commonly used on wood, metal, and even plastic surfaces, and they tend to dry faster than their oil- and latex-based counterparts.

Are You Painting Indoors or Outdoors?

The type surface you’re painting isn’t the only factor in primer selection – where you’re painting also matters. Interior and exterior painting projects require different approaches to priming and painting due to environmental differences. When painting interior surfaces, you won’t have to worry about the outdoor elements and their negative effects. That said, you will have to consider the fumes that a given primer may emit and how they might affect the well-being of everyone inside. Conversely, fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are less of a primary concern when painting outdoors, but you must consider how sunlight, rain, wind, and other factors will threaten your exterior surfaces.

Because latex primers are water-based, they don’t give off harmful fumes or VOCs, making them optimal for interior projects. Oil-based primers are generally preferred for exterior painting projects since they do contain VOCs, though they can also be used on interior surfaces with the right precautions (e.g., good ventilation/air circulation, limited amounts, etc.). As for shellac primer, this type is also best for interior projects, as it can lose its integrity when exposed to direct sunlight.

Is it Always Prime Time?

It’s worth noting that, while priming your surfaces is never a bad decision, it’s not necessary in every scenario, especially in regards to interior painting. If an interior surface has been previously painted and is in decent condition overall, the existing coating should serve as a durable enough layer on its own – you’ll just want to gently clean and sand it before applying a fresh coat. As for exterior painting, it’s always wise to prime before painting as an added measure of protection against the elements.

Other situations that call for priming include:

  • Painting a brand new, bare surface
  • Painting a porous surface
  • Painting a deteriorated surface
  • Painting over a darker color
  • Painting over a glossy finish with a flatter finish

When in Doubt, Ask the Experts

Still not sure which primer is right for your home painting purposes? Experts like the ones at Nash Painting can help with that. We’ve served countless homeowners across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN, helping each and every client select products that help them achieve the outcomes their properties deserve. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!