To Prime, or NOT to Prime…

At times when working on the act of painting our homes, whether exterior or interior, it is not unusual to feel our inner Hamlet cause us to ask the head scratching question “To Prime, or NOT to Prime” as to whether something should be primed or not primed prior to applying a finish coat.

As with many things, the answer is, “it is situational”.

Prior to even thinking about priming, the surface in question should be properly prepared.

The surface should be prepped to the point where the surface is sound (free of any peeling paint or unwanted surface inadequacy) and clean (free from dirt, dust, etc.).

Assuming the surface is ready to go, we must now determine as to whether or not to “prime” it. LOPCO Painting

Primer is an invaluable resource in the painting systems all around us.

It is the first product that is often applied to whatever surface it is that we are painting.

The main purposes of primer are to:

– Seal the surface it is being applied to and to help the finishes applied over it to appear as even and consistent as possible

– Prevent bleed-through of anything that may more easily be trying to force its way through the finish coatings on top of it if primer were not in place to block it from doing so (examples: wood tannins, graffiti, tobacco)

– Enhance bonding qualities of the surface it is being applied to, i.e. – super slick metals, glass, glossy layers of previous coatings

Knowing this, it is probably easy to see why when painting there may be a question as to whether or not to use primer, and furthermore, if priming, what type of primer to use.

In all of the years that I have been in the painting industry, a simple rule that I have always lived by when coaching someone through when they are deciding to prime something or not is simply if there is ever any doubt, then prime it!

Technically, if a surface is sound, there is not a prevalent concern of something bleeding through the finish coat, and it is “dull” enough to accept a paint coating, then there really is not a viable need to prime the surface, particularly with today’s technologies.

It would be exceptionally rare to prime a surface that didn’t really require primer and to subsequently realize some type of detrimental effect while doing so.

The greater worry would be of not priming a surface which absolutely required it.

To better illustrate…

– If you do not prime a bare plaster surface, peeling issues could come about down the road and massive inconsistencies of a cosmetic nature will be visible in the short term

– If new red cedar – even new pre-primed red cedar – is not properly primed prior to finish coating, cedar bleed will most certainly be an unsightly phenomenon that will have to be dealt with down the line

– If old oil-based interior trim finish is not correctly primed prior to finishing it with a waterborne coating, then it is most likely just a matter of time before the paint coating directly applied to it is triggered by some sort of minor surface abrasion and begins to peel off “in sheets”

Obviously, example after example can be listed.

Priming a surface that does not necessarily need it, will most likely lead to a circumstance of “no harm, no foul”.

Neglecting to prime a surface however that necessitates it to be primed, can lead to an annoyingly frustrating time in correcting something that could easily have been avoidable if the proper primer approach had been taken from the beginning.

While there is always the “default” act of asking your local paint dealer or calling a paint manufacturer helpline to run the question by them, really things are quite simple…if there is any doubt, prime it!

Then simply determining which primer is the more appropriate to use is the only real item that would need to be figured out.

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