Different Types of Primer Paint

The primer as the name itself suggests, the primary layer that ready to receive paint. It is nothing but paint without pigment. It lays the foundation for your paint job and increases the durability of paint. Ultimately, it will enhance the life of paint film. It is applied to both the interior as well as the exterior surfaces. Therefore primer is absolutely necessary before painting.
Applying primer before paint coat will provide extended coverage to paint and also may provide a smoother finish appearance. It exists in many forms and serves a variety of functions.  There uses around your home are limited only by the surfaces that you want to paint.
There are various types of primer available in the market. When you use a primer for different surfaces, you should understand which types of primer are available and what they are intended for.

Primers are available in oil, latex or shellac based. Each types of primer paint consists various properties and uses. That will solely depend on the surface conditions and environment.

01. Oil Based Primer:

Oil based primer is suitable for both interior and exterior application. It is mainly used for wood work, i.e. new wood, painted wood, dry wood, etc. It can be used on metal surfaces as well.


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  • Oil based primer is commonly known as alkyd primer. This primer is suitable for both oil and latex paints. During temperature variation, a final coat of paint film either expands or contract and oil based primer has tendency to remain flexible after drying. So, when temperature variation occurs this characteristic of oil based primer is very helpful.
  • It requires mineral spirits for thinning and cleanup but they are great on providing barriers to keep the wood bleeding through.
  • Oil based primers are good “Stain Killers” and prevent stains from showing through your new coats of paint. They are good for blocking stains on your walls from ink, nicotine and water.
  • The drawback of oil based primer is that they are often slow drying, generally 24 hours or more. It release high amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can be harmful to people if in high concentrations and for prolonged exposure.
  • It shouldn’t be directly used on masonry.

02. Latex Primer:

Latex primer is the best option for interior and exterior surfaces including drywall, plaster, masonry, woodwork and painted metal.


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  • Latex primer is also known as an acrylic primer and basically, it is water based.
  • It is more flexible, fast drying, water soluble and less brittle than the oil based primer. It also comes with low or no VOC compounds, making them a healthier alternative to oil based and shellac primer.
  • Latex primer is useful for woods having slight dampness. These types of primer paint are sometimes also useful for semi-seasoned wood.
  • It provides a great flexible finish with excellent cracking resistance and is recommended to use on bare wood.
  • Before applying it, make sure you try it first in a small area to see if they raise the grain. Use of interior and exterior surfaces including woodwork and see if they raise the grain.
  • The drying time is lesser than oil based primer – generally under 3 or 4 hours.

03. Shellac Primer:

Shellac primer is almost good for interior paint jobs and used as a spot exterior primer. It is excellent for blocking stains, works well where there are severe water and smoke damage to walls. Also, it is good to use on wood, metal, plaster, plastic, etc.


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  • Shellac primer is fast drying and highly adhesive. Denatured alcohol is used for thinning and cleanup.
  • They also can be used with both oil and latex paints.
  • The drawback of using shellac primer is that it is not as versatile as latex and oil based primer.
  • The drying time of shellac primer is usually under an hour.

Hence, choose the right primer according to the different type of surfaces, i.e. masonry, metal, wood, etc. It will increase the durability and quality of your painting. With the right types of primer paint, your house paint can last ten years or even longer.

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