8 Times to Never, Ever Skip Paint Primer

Is it really worth the effort and expense to prime before you paint? Absolutely. A primer preps the painting surface and seals any stains so that the paint adheres well, and you’ll get the smoothest, cleanest finish possible. Read on to find out why you should never skip priming before painting.

  1. You’re Painting Latex-Based Paint Over Oil-Based

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    Prime Before Painting Latex Based Paint Over Oil Based

    You know the saying that oil and water don’t mix? Well, the adage holds true for paint. Latex paint, which is water-based, won't adhere well to a wall that's already been covered in oil-based paint—unless you prime first.

    Related: 10 Brilliant Hacks for Your Best-Ever Paint Finish

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  2. You’re Painting Over a Skim Coat

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    Prime Before Painting Over a Skim Coat

    A skim coat is a thin layer of plaster or drywall compound that’s applied to smooth out the surface of a wall. This material is porous, which means it soaks up a lot of paint. To reduce the amount of paint required to cover the wall evenly, you should always prime a skim coated surface before applying color to the wall.

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  3. You’re Painting Over Unfinished Wood

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    Prime Before Painting Over Unfinished Wood

    Bare wood is among the trickiest materials to paint. The natural fibers in the wood absorb a lot of paint, and variations in the wood grain can create an uneven finish. So, for the best results always prime unfinished wood before you paint.

    Related: These 8 Home Makeovers Prove the Power of Paint

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  4. You’re Painting Over a Darker Color

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    Prime Before Painting Over a Darker Color

    Dark interior paint colors have been all the rage in recent years but when the trends change, you'll want a coat of primer. Painting a light color over a dark color requires additional coats of paint to keep the old color from showing through the new shade. You can cut down on your work (and your costs) by priming the wall before you paint.

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  5. You’re Painting Over Wallpaper

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    Prime Before Painting Over Wallpaper

    Yes—in fact, you can paint over wallpaper. But you shouldn’t attempt it without priming first. On the other hand, if you’ve already removed the wallpaper, you need to prime the wall to correct any nicks or flaws sustained in the wallpaper removal process, in order to achieve the smoothest final finish possible.

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  6. You’re Painting Brand New Drywall

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    Prime Before Painting Brand New Drywall

    Fresh drywall soaks up paint like a sponge, and the mudded joints take paint differently than the bare drywall between the joints. Translation? Without a coat of primer, you're looking at a splotchy paint job. Applying primer prior to painting drywall will give your finished wall an even, clean look.

    Related: 10 Unusual Tricks for Your Easiest-Ever Paint Job

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  7. You’re Painting Masonry

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    Prime Before Painting Masonry

    Masonry and brick are very porous surfaces and soak up lots of paint. On top of that, masonry surfaces have a high pH, which makes it difficult for paint to adhere. So, it’s best to prime masonry or brick prior to painting it.

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  8. You’re Painting a Surface That’s Stained

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    Prime Before Painting Stained Wall

    If the wall you’re painting has had water damage or is stained in other ways, you need to prime before painting. You may even need to use a stain killer primer to ensure unsightly spots don’t bleed through your paint job.

    Related: 7 Top Tools for No-Mess Painting

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