Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Primers


Primers are inexpensive undercoatings that smooth out uneven surfaces, provide a barrier between porous surfaces and certain finishing coats, and allow you to use an otherwise incompatible paint on a bare or previously painted surface. For flat paint finishes, the primer can be a thinned-out version of the paint itself. But that's often more expensive than using a premixed primer, which contains less-expensive pigment, dries quickly, and provides a firm foundation or "tooth" for the final coat of paint.

Latex primer has all the advantages of latex paint -- almost odor-free, quick drying, and easy to clean up -- and is the best undercoat for drywall, plaster, and concrete. Don't use it on bare wood, though, because the water in it may raise the grain. For raw wood, it's best to use an alkyd primer.

Not what you're looking for? Try these helpful articles:

  • House Painting: Ready to tackle a house painting project? Gather helpful tips on both interior and exterior painting in this home improvement article.
  • House Painting Tools: Before taking on any painting project, make sure you have the tools you'll need to do the job well. This article will help.
  • Painting Interiors: Learn the essentials of painting walls, doors, and everything inside the house on this page.
  • Latex Paint: Find out which painting jobs are best suited for latex paint in this article. 
  • Alkyd Resin Paint: Learn when to choose alkyd resin paint for a particular home improvement project in this article.

More to Explore