The Beginner’s Guide to Wall Primers

When it comes time to remodel your home, it may seem that your to do list stretches on endlessly. Between choosing materials, hiring a contractor, and finding time to see your vision completed, you may feel like remodeling is an impossible task. All of the carpet samples, paint swatches, and contractor sketches are likely running together in your mind. However, some decisions can be made easier than others, like which types of wall primer are best for you. For something as simple in the remodeling process as paint, there are a handful of types of wall primer that you can choose from. Here is a simple guide to help you pick the right one.

Bonding primers. You will want to invest in bonding primers if you are painting a surface that paint does not adhere to easily. The bonds formed by bonding primers prevent paint from coming off.

Oil based primers. Oil based primers will prove to effective on a variety of surfaces, from wood to metal to interior walls. Oil based primers can be followed up with latex paint or oil paint, and are very effective in concealing stains from nicotine, water, or other materials. This primer is best, however, for porous surfaces like unfinished wood, and should be left for significantly longer to dry than other primers.

Latex based primers. Why is latex in paint? Well, latex based primers are a water based alternative to oil based primers. They are quick to dry and can be used on nonporous surfaces that oil primers would not be effective on. Due to a latex based primer’s flexibility, it can be used on drywall and interior walls that have patches or repairs, because it smooths out uneven surfaces. However, latex based primer is not as effective at hiding away stains as oil based primers are. Latex primers can be washed away with water and generate less fumes than the oil based alternative. These fumes, called volatile organic compounds (VOC), can be harmful to the human body in prolonged periods of time. For this reason, latex based paint is the best low VOC paint.

Shellac primer. If you have some serious water or cigarette smoke damage to the interior walls of your home, shellac primer is the way to go. This type of primer is the top performer in concealing interior wall stains, and can even seal in the smell of smoke and mildew. Shellac primer can be used on a spectrum of surfaces, from wood and plaster to metal and plastic. However, using shellac primer comes with drawbacks: this type of primer emits the most severe of fumes, and must be thinned with denatured alcohol.

Of all the types of wall primer that you pass on the shelves of your local home improvement store, there is one particular type that will serve you best, whether you are just painting the drywall in your brand new home or covering up a crayon masterpiece in your youngest’s bedroom. You can visit the manufacturer’s website of the brand of primer you are considering, or talk to a paint professional to help you pick the types of wall primer that will best suit your needs.

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