Benefits of Using a Primer When House Painting

If you decide to repaint your house, you might wonder if a primer is really necessary or if you can simply apply paint right away. You may be tempted to skip this step—after all, prep work is already a tedious job, and you may want to go straight to painting after it. However, using a primer has several benefits that can make your painting project smoother, more appealing, and longer-lasting. 

Benefits of Using a Primer When House Painting

Let’s explore why incorporating primer into your painting routine is a smart move for achieving the best results.

It makes the paint stick better.

One of the key benefits of using a primer is enhanced adhesion. Primer creates a stable, uniform surface that paint can stick to more effectively. Think of it as the glue that binds the paint to the wall. Without primer, the paint might not adhere as well, leading to peeling and uneven coverage.

For example, if you paint directly onto a surface without primer, you might notice the paint chipping or flaking off sooner than expected. With primer, the paint adheres better, resulting in a smoother, more durable finish.

It seals the surface.

Primer also plays a crucial role in sealing porous surfaces like wood and drywall. These materials can soak up paint unevenly, leading to a blotchy appearance. Primer acts as a barrier, preventing the paint from being absorbed too quickly. This ensures a more even application and enhances the longevity and durability of your paint job. 

By sealing the surface, primer helps protect it from moisture and other environmental factors that could cause damage over time. This means your beautifully painted walls will look great and stay intact for longer.

It protects against moisture.

Using a primer provides excellent moisture protection, especially for wooden surfaces. Primer creates a barrier that prevents moisture from seeping into the wood, which can cause swelling, warping, and rot. This protective layer helps maintain the integrity of your surfaces over time. The long-term benefits of this moisture protection include preventing damage and extending the life of your paint job, so you won’t have to repaint as often.

It improves coverage. 

Primer is also fantastic for improving coverage, especially when dealing with dark colors or stains. It acts as a base coat that can hide these imperfections, making it easier to achieve an even color with your topcoat. This means you’ll need fewer coats of paint to get the desired look, saving you both time and money. By requiring fewer coats, primer helps make your painting project more cost-effective and efficient.

When to Use Primer

Hand holding brush painting wall

While primer offers many benefits, there are situations where it might not be necessary. For example, if you are repainting a wall in a similar color and the existing paint is in good condition, you can often skip the primer.

But primer is crucial if you are painting in these conditions:

You’re painting over dark colors

If you’re painting a lighter color over a dark surface, primer helps to cover the dark color and ensures that the new paint color appears vibrant and true. If you decide to skip primer when you want to switch from dark to light, it’s harder to achieve the color you want. 

You’re painting over wood surfaces.

When painting wood, it’s essential to apply a primer first. Wood has a grain that absorbs moisture, and if you paint directly on bare wood, the grain can swell, causing the paint to pucker, wrinkle, or peel. Primer creates a watertight seal, preventing this moisture absorption and ensuring a smooth finish. It also protects the wood from moisture and prevents stains from bleeding through the paint.

Also, painting directly over wood grain can require multiple coats to hide the grain. Using a primer first helps to cover the grain, reducing the number of paint coats needed for a solid, even surface.

You’re dealing with cracks and stains.

If your walls have cracks, stains, or other imperfections, applying a primer is essential. Primer helps to fill in and conceal these flaws, creating a smooth, uniform surface. This makes it easier for the paint to adhere properly and look even. Without primer, the imperfections might show through the paint, resulting in an uneven and less professional finish.

You live in a high-humidity area.

Using a primer is crucial for protecting your walls in areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens. High humidity can cause paint to peel and mold to grow. Specialty primers are designed to resist mildew and moisture, providing extra durability in these challenging environments. This helps maintain the integrity of your paint job and keeps your walls looking fresh and clean for longer.

You’re painting a new drywall. 

New drywall is highly absorbent, which can cause paint to appear blotchy and uneven. Applying a primer first helps to seal the drywall, preventing it from soaking up too much paint. This ensures a consistent and smooth finish, making your paint job look more professional and saving you time and effort in the long run. Primer also helps the paint adhere better to the surface, enhancing the overall durability of the paint job.

Types of Primers

A worker is painting the walls of the house with a primer using a paint brush.

So, if you have determined that you need a primer, you need to know what kind to choose. There are three main types: oil-based, water-based, and specialty primers. Each has its own unique uses and benefits.

Oil-based primers

Oil-based primers are great for blocking stains and covering wood knots. They are ideal for surfaces like wood, metal, and previously painted surfaces. They provide a strong seal and excellent adhesion, making them perfect for high-traffic areas and surfaces that require durability.

Water-based primers

Water-based primers, also known as latex primers, are easy to clean up with soap and water. They dry quickly and have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making them a more environmentally friendly option. These primers work well on drywall, plaster, and softwoods. They are a good choice for interior projects and areas with low moisture exposure.

Specialty primers

Specialty primers are designed for specific situations and surfaces. For example, primers are formulated to block odors, resist mold and mildew, or adhere to glossy surfaces without sanding. These primers offer targeted solutions for challenging projects, ensuring the best results in unique conditions.

Choosing the right type of primer for your project can ensure better adhesion, coverage, and protection, leading to a more professional and long-lasting paint job.


Before you paint using your preferred color, it’s important to decide whether you need a primer. A primer enhances adhesion, seals porous surfaces, protects against moisture, and improves coverage, making your paint job more durable and cost-effective. And before you use a primer, it’s important to choose the right type so you can ensure your surfaces are well-prepared for painting.

For the best results and a professional finish, consider hiring experts like Custom Painting, Inc. Our experience and expertise can help you achieve a beautiful, long-lasting paint job. Call Custom Painting, Inc. today at 925-686-0903 or message us to get started on your next project!