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CHOOSING THE RIGHT PRIMER


Priming is a very important step in the painting process, because it provides the foundation for the finished paint job. If paint, no matter how expensive or high-quality, is applied to a poor surface, the finish will come out terrible and start to peel and flake in no time. The purpose of primers is to turn that poor surface into a great surface for painting on.

How do you know if your surface needs a primer? If it is unpainted, if it is peeling, chipping, or chalking, or if it is incompatible with the type of paint being used, then it needs a primer.

So which primer or primers are right for your project? It depends on the surface being painted. Let's take a look at all the different kinds of primers and their uses. On a basic level, you could say there are three different kinds of primers - alkyd/oil base, acrylic/latex, and tinted shellac. Primers can also be divided into exterior and interior primers. All of these divisions can then be further divided into more types.

Alkyd/Oil Base

Alkyd/oil base primers are reduced with mineral spirits. They also have a very strong smell, so take caution not to inhale too much of it. Always use plenty of ventilation when using indoors and be sure to take frequent breaks of fresh air.

Now let's take a look at the different types of alkyd/oil base primers:

Universal primer/sealers - Just like the name implies, this type of primer is formulated to work on just about any surface. It also makes a good sealer for woods with high levels of tannin. If you are on a budget, and have a variety of surfaces that need priming, a universal primer is the way to go, and will do a good job. However, if you can afford it, it's still always better to use a primer specially designed for the surface you are priming.

Stain Blocking Primer - This primer is also useful on a wide variety of surfaces, with the added benefit that it is designed to seal in many types of stains, such as water, nicotine, crayons, wallpaper, and wood tannins. They are also fairly inexpensive and are fast drying.

Wood Primer - This type of primer is excellent for both interior and exterior unpainted wood surfaces. It needs a lot of time to soak into the wood, and thus it dries slowly. For woods that are very porous, you may need to apply two coats.

Enamel Undercoat - This type of primer is used for surfaces that will be painted with an enamel paint finish. Traditionally, this includes most of the interior woodwork, such as the doors, trim, baseboards, and casings. It dries very quickly and requires two coats before sanding.

Metal Primer - Universal primer for metals. Usually quick drying.

Galvanized Metal Primer - When priming galvanized metal, you will need a primer specifically designed for it.

Acrylic/Latex

When choosing an acrylic/latex primer, make sure to buy one that uses 100% acrylic resins, instead of one with modified resins. It will cost more, but is well worth it.

Now let's look at the different types of acrylic/latex primers. There are acrylic versions of universal primers, stain blocking primers, and enamel undercoats that we already covered in the alkyd section, so we won't go over those again. The rest are:

Masonry Primer - These are specifically designed to protect the finish from lime burn, discoloration, and efflorescence. They are used for properly cured, unpainted, or new, concrete, masonry, stucco and plaster surfaces.

Block Fill - These primers are specifically for new or unpainted concrete blocks. They can be used on both smooth or split face concrete blocks.

Tinted Shellac

Tinted shellac is a great interior primer whose main use is to seal in severe stain damage. You can use alkyd or acrylic stain blocking primers to seal in most stains, but for severe water stains, and especially for nicotine stains, tinted shellac is the way to go. It dries quickly and the smell will dissipate quickly as well.

To bring everything together, we will now list a wide variety of surfaces and the recommended primers for each. We will divide the list into exterior primers and interior primers.

EXTERIOR PRIMERS

Aluminum - Acrylic Galvanized Iron Primer, 100% Acrylic Primer/Sealer

Asphalt-Tar - Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer, 100% Acrylic Primer/Sealer

Brick - Acrylic Masonry Primer

Cedar-Redwood Siding & Trim - Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer, Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer

Chalky Stucco-Concrete - Acrylic Masonry & Stucco Sealer

Chalky Wood Siding - 100% Acrylic Primer-Sealer, Alkyd Wood Primer

Concrete Block (Cinder Block) - Acrylic Block Fill

Concrete & Stucco - Acrylic Masonry Primer, Acrylic Masonry & Stucco Sealer

Fiber Cement Board - Acrylic Masonry & Stucco Sealer

Galvanized Metal - Acrylic Galvanized Iron Primer, 100% Acrylic Primer/Sealer

Iron/Steel/Wrought Iron - Alkyd Rust Inhibitive Primer, 100% Acrylic Metal Primer

Masonite Siding-Trim - Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer, Alkyd Quick Drying Primer

OSB Siding - Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer

Pine - Alkyd Wood Primer, Acrylic Wood Primer

Plywood - 100% Acrylic Primer-Sealer, Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer

Rusty Nail Heads - Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer, Alkyd Quick Drying Primer

T-111 Siding - Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer, Alkyd Quick Drying Primer

Treated Lumber - Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer, Acrylic Stain Resistant Primer


INTERIOR PRIMERS

Aluminum - Acrylic Galvanized Iron Primer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Brick - Acrylic Masonry Primer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Ceramic Tile - Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Concrete - Acrylic Masonry Primer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Concrete Block (Cinder Block) - Acrylic Block Fill

Cured Plaster - Acrylic Masonry Primer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Drywall-Gypsum Wallboard - PVA Wall Sealer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Glossy Paint - Acrylic All Purpose Primer, Alkyd Enamel Undercoater

Grease-Crayon-Lipstick - Pigmented Shellac, Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer

Iron-Steel-Wrought Iron - Alkyd Rust Inhibitive Primer, Acrylic Metal Primer

MDF - Alkyd Enamel Undercoater, Alkyd All Purpose Primer

Minor Smoke Damage - Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer, Pigmented Shellac

Minor Water Stains - Alkyd Stain Resistant Primer, Pigmented Shellac

Paneling - Acrylic Enamel Undercoater, Alkyd Enamel Undercoater, Acrylic or Alkyd All Purpose Primer

Plywood - Acrylic Enamel Undercoater, Alkyd Enamel Undercoater, Acrylic or Alkyd All Purpose Primer

PVC-Misc. Plastics - Acrylic All Purpose Primer, Alkyd All Purpose Primer, Pigmented Shellac

Severe Smoke Damage - Pigmented Shellac

Severe Water Stains - Pigmented Shellac

Stainless Steel - Acrylic Galvanized Primer, Acrylic All Purpose Primer

Unpainted Wood Trim - Acrylic Enamel Undercoater, Alkyd Enamel Undercoater, Acrylic or Alkyd All Purpose Primer

Varnished Woodwork - Alkyd Enamel Undercoater, Alkyd All Purpose Primer

Wallpaper-Priming Over - Pigmented Shellac

Wallpaper-Priming Under - Acrylic All Purpose Primer, Pigmented Shellac

Waterproof Gypsum Wallboard - Acrylic Enamel Undercoater

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