Decorating Ideas

When Do I Need to Use Primer Paint?

an image of a dark blue painted room

At first glance, adding primer paint to your walls might seem like a laborious and unnecessary step, but there’s several good reasons for it. Whether it’s helping your paint last longer without retouching, or simply needing less coats, it’s far more helpful than it first seems.

  1. How many coats of primer will I need?

    The amount of primer you’ll need will depend on the walls you’re priming for. As long as your wall is in good condition, and you’re not making a big colour change, you should only need a single coat of wall primer. If it’s looking a little rough, or it’s a very dark colour – then you might want to increase it to two coats.

  2. When do you not need to use primer?

    Excellent condition walls: If your current walls aren’t showing any signs of wear and tear, and already have a painted or latex coating, then you shouldn’t need to add primer.

    Similarly coloured paint: Painting over paint that’s almost identical – say white on white – probably won’t need primer either.

    Paint with primer in: Some modern paints have gone the extra step of combining primer and paint in one – saving you the trouble!

  3. When do you need to use primer?

    Poor condition walls: If your walls are having trouble with mould, smoke or water damage, primer is the perfect solution for covering it up, as it’ll stop anything showing through once it’s painted over.

    Wallpapered walls: Whether you’re leaving the wallpaper on or if stripping it off has left your walls looking rough, popping a coat of primer paint on first will leave it smooth as silk before the top coat painting starts.

    Rooms that get humid: Wet rooms and bathrooms are more prone to leaching and mildew, so adding some primer gives your walls an extra layer of protection against damp issues.

    Preparing a fresh surface: Brand new walls, whether they’re wood or drywall, love to soak up paint if they get the chance. Thankfully, a single coat of primer will stop that happening.

    Covering up darker shades: Have you ever tried painting a light colour over a darker wall shade? Preventing your wall colour from poking though is as simple as adding primer, especially if you’re trying to lighten your room.

    Sticking to tricky surfaces: It can be difficult to get paint to coat metal or plastic properly, but a specialised metal or paint primer can lay the foundations for a perfect paint coating.

    Cutting down on imperfections: Chalky, dusty, powdery or salty (from an alkaline PH) walls will leave unsightly flecks if painted directly. Instead, wipe your walls down and add a layer of primer first.



Writer and expert