Self Priming – Is This a Good Idea with Most House Paints?

In recent years there has been a proliferation of “self-priming” paints hitting the market.

Very few products can be considered self priming and most normal paints are not a part of this category. Primer plays a very important role in providing a stable foundation for the house paint. Why? Well, the short answer is that priming first produces a more attractive and durable finish.

Primer and paint are two completely different products! Paint is designed to provide color and varying degrees of shine. Primer, on the other hand, is specifically designed to prepare a raw surface to be painted.

Characteristics of a Good Primer

Interior and exterior primers have similar characteristics; the only real difference is that exterior primers are formulated to withstand the elements, whereas interior primers are used in more sheltered environments.

Primers bond to the substrate, creating a more uniform surface for the paint to adhere to. They also act, to some extent, like a glue, holding together questionable surfaces and preventing further deterioration. The slightly rough surface of a good primer allows paint to “grab” the surface and adhere better. It can be sanded smooth, which is difficult or impossible with many types of paint (especially glossier formulations). Because the paint bonds so well to primer, a correctly primed surface will last longer than a self primed one.

Primer, especially if it’s tinted, will increase the coverage of your paint. Self-priming is no bargain if it means applying four to seven coats to achieve an even finish.

Finally, primers are unparalleled for blocking stains and even odors in drywall and wood. The last thing you want is for an ugly water or smoke stain to appear- but this is virtually guaranteed if you use self-priming paint.

Why Do Manufacturers Sell Self-Priming Paints?

Painting is a time consuming process, and many individuals are eager to skips steps when they can. Producing two-in-one products caters to this mindset. If saving time is that important to you, a single coat of self-priming paint might well produce a “good enough” finish. However, if you look closely at the label, most self-priming products encourage the use of a primer as well. The remaining few require two (or even three!) coats before the lifetime warranty will be honored. Not really a time saver, is it?

Only a handful of specialized, industrial finish paints, are truly self-priming. These include floor epoxy and Direct to Metal, or DTM, finishes. These, too, provide better results when paired with an appropriate primer.

The bottom line is that proper preparation, including priming, before painting is the ONLY way to achieve a professional-quality finish. Skimp now, and you’ll pay later.

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