Some novice painters may have trouble deciding what type of primer to use on their project. Others may question whether primer is even necessary, preferring to skip right to the paint. For most projects, primer is a necessity and can make or break a paint job. By failing to prep your walls carefully, you're sabotaging your own work before you even begin.
Primer offers numerous benefits when it comes to prepping walls. It helps seal porous surfaces, keeping them from soaking up excess paint. This not only makes the painting process faster, but also can keep you from wasting money on materials. By smoothing and evening out the surface, primer helps create a better quality paint job, and allows paint to last longer than it would on unprepped walls. It can hide dark stains or colors on the existing surface, which would eventually show through your new paint, and even helps to balance out PH levels in surfaces like drywall and brick. Left untreated, these out of balance PH levels can break down your paint, causing drying and cracking [source: Crowder].
While priming is important for a good paint job, it's just as critical to choose the right primer. Oil-based options are the most versatile, and can be used indoors or out. They're a good choice for covering up wallpaper, graffiti and any type of texture or color. Water-based latex or acrylic primers are the most affordable options. They produce smooth results that resist peeling, but often don't work well on textured or outdoor surfaces [source: Ferris]. For walls that have been damaged by smoke, a shellac primer is the only wall to seal in the smoke odors, whether from cigarettes or fire. This product is one of the more expensive options, but is one of the only effective ways to prep smoke-damaged walls.
Primer can be applied with a roller, brush or sprayer depending on the area to be covered, as well as its texture. Be sure to choose paints that are compatible with the primer you've chosen.
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