Can I Use Different Brands of Primer and Paint?

Mixing primers and paint from different brands sometimes scares us DIYers. We aren’t professional painters and we don’t know what’s possible. We want our walls and ceilings to look their best. But should you buy primers and paint from the same brand? What about paint brands that have no primer, should you apply them on primer from other brands?

You can use different brands of primer and paint together. Oil-based primers mix with oil-based paints while water-based primers mix with water-based paints regardless of the brand. You should not mix cheap primer with expensive paint as the result will look cheap as well.

Mixing different brands of primer and paint isn’t recommended by manufacturers. Still, it’s a routine in the construction industry as many brands don’t make primer anymore since they include it in the paint. Professional painters might need to use primer for top results.

Do I have to use the same brand of paint and primer?

You don’t have to use the same brand of paint and primer when painting indoor or outdoor walls. It’s only important to match the base of the primer to the base of the paint.

There are 3 types of primers

  • Oil-based primer
  • Latex primer
  • Shellac primer

Oil-based primers mix with oil-based paints – this combination is best for stain-blocking painting results

Latex primers can be mixed with latex-based paints – a best low-VOC combination

Shellac primers can be mixed with oil or latex-based primers – high-VOC but good for very quick drying time

Most interior and exterior paints already come with primer

One of the main reasons you should not be thinking about mixing paint and primer is the very good range of paint+primer out there. Both Benjamin Moore and Behr make paints that have primer in them and which may be applied in 1 coat or 2 coats with good results.

This being said, almost all professional painters use a thin coat of primer for the paint to stick rapidly and apply it on one 1-coat only.

As a result, you can mix any brand of good primer with paint for 1-coat coverage.

The type of primer you use is more important than the brand

Some types of primer might not be as good as any brand of paint. Simply put, you would not apply good paint such as Sherwin Williams paint with a cheap primer as it may not have the 100% sticking effect you’re after. Even more, a bad primer or a primer that’s badly applied will stop even the most impressive paint from looking the best when dry.

Cheap primers don’t go well with premium paint

This leads us to the most important point of this article. Cheap primers go with cheap paint. Only premium primers should be used with paint+primer mixes you can find today in your local hardware store.

Even more, premium paint might not need any primer at all.

Still, some brands make premium primers for premium paint. Not many know even Benjamin Moore makes premium primers. The company makes exterior and interior primers you can apply just before painting walls, bricks, wood, or other surfaces with Benjamin Moore paint.

The reverse is also true. You should not invest in premium Benjamin Moore primer if you use cheap paint that goes for $10 per gallon.

Premium primers (of any brand) might be the secret to a perfect paint job even with paint with primer

This being said, you can mix quality (interior or exterior) primers of any brand with any other quality paint brand.

The final results should be similar as the actual formulation differences between leading primers are small.

The problem with this solution is when you want a very specific result similar to those you see in home living magazines. You might need to test out the final results on a small surface and let it dry completely to see the final result.

Can you mix different brands of primer?

But what about mixing 2 different primers? You should not mix 2 different primers in a single priming coat as primers have different curing times. This means they take a different time to dry.

The risk of mixing different types of primers is not allowing for the primer coat to dry completely before painting. This leads to inconsistent painting results.

In the worst case, this might even require re-painting the entire surface with a single type of primer after stripping the old paint and primer.

Can I use an old primer with new paint?

You can use old primer as long as it hasn’t dried. Most types of primers last up to 30 days once open but they can dry even faster.

You can use an old primer with new paint if the primer you have is still not dry, moldy, or clumpy. However, new paint adheres best to a primer that hasn’t been open and subject to air contact.

When to buy the same brand of primer and paint?

Most situations should involve very good painting results. This means you may be able to secure top painting results when you use the same brand of primer with the same paint.

This is important as you may not see your money back if the results aren’t good, depending on the company policies of the paint brand.

Some brands offer a money-back guarantee whenever the paint results aren’t as good as expected. But this guarantee might be voided whenever you use a different brand of primer.

As a result, it’s best to specifically ask about cross-brand paint and primer used in advance if you’re shopping for paint at an independent store brand. Large retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s might not have any issue with purchasing different brands of primer and paint.


Should you even use primer? Lowes article

How to apply primer on walls? Home Depot guidelines