Can You Use Paint as Primer?

Painting a home is an elaborated task that’s expensive and time-consuming. This process also requires skill.

Having friends that painted walls, a fence, metal, or wood without primer is not necessarily a valid reference point in painting without a primer.

You cannot use paint as primer. Paint is a finishing coat made for pigmentation and durability. Primer is used for adhesion. Professionals still apply primer even with paint and primer in one.

Primer isn’t white paint. It has pigmentation so that you see where you apply it but it has a primary bonding role.

Here’s why you cannot use paint as primer.

Paint doesn’t have the adhesive capacity of primer

Painting a surface directly isn’t possible when it comes to the best results. Some surfaces such as wood, plaster, and sheetrock always benefit from a good primer.

Furthermore, even if you manage to coat the surface in paint you will still experience paint chips or ripping paint in time. Primers are the bonding agent between the surface and the paint.

You can’t use paint to seal surfaces

While modern paint does a better job on uneven surfaces, primer can quickly seal different types of surfaces.

You should always caulk before painting to seal all gaps so that paint adheres properly. Primers can seal up surfaces you haven’t perfectly caulked or it can hide caulked surfaces and make them as adhesive or as bonding as they need to be for the final coat of paint.

The sealing capacity of primer is tied to its adhesiveness. It can seal an area better than a finishing coat such as paint.

Primer seals with white pigments while paints have a decorative final coat purpose

Primer might seem just diluted white paint but this isn’t the case. Additives in primer make it stick to many surfaces immediately while paint will not stick on all surfaces immediately.

It’s always tempting to use the same color of paint as primer. However, you will notice that paint doesn’t adhere to surfaces as well.

Primer adheres to surfaces immediately. Even cheap primer can adhere to surfaces properly when applied with a simple roller.

You can also use a brush to coat the surface about to be painted in primer. A half-decent attempt will be fine since primer is more forgiving given it sticks to surfaces better than paint.

Paint and primer in one may be a better solution

Modern paint is now made as paint and primer in one. Many brands offer the promise of a single coat painting or a maximum of 2 coats of paint.

This is why the question of even using primer comes into place.

There’s a clear tendency for paint manufacturers to make paint and primer in one as they try to simplify the painting process.

Paint might fail when applied without primer on sheetrock, wood, or metal

Some say they prefer to apply 2 – 3 coats of paint whenever they use colored paint instead of using primer.

This solution might work on some materials and in some cases. However, it can seriously limit the durability of paint.

You cannot expect painted surfaces without primer to last more than 5 years. Chipping paint is one of the issues that’s due to arise within this timeframe. Some of the longest-lasting paint jobs are base don primer first.

Paint may dry sooner than bonding

One of the overlooked topics of skipping primer is the time it takes for paint to bond and dry. Modern paint is made to dry within hours.

This short drying time might not be sufficient for paint to bond to the painted surface. As a result, any present moisture within the painted surfaces means the paint hasn’t bonded completely and that it will chip sooner or later.

In other words, paint doesn’t bond properly when it’s already dry. Even if paint has some bonding agents these are as prevalent as in primer.

You aren’t actually saving money

Applying up to 3 coats of good paint is considerably more expensive than applying 1-2 coats of paint.

You need to apply extra coats of paint if you decide to use paint as primer. Up to 3 coats of paint are common whenever you decide to use paint as primer.

This drives up the final cost of the paint job. Long-term costs are also impacted by using paint as primer.

You have to paint more frequently whenever you skip primer.

Professionals still use primer

It’s always worth learning from the best when it comes to painting, which is a skill.

All contractors still use primer. The worse nightmare for contractors is to have to repaint the walls or the surfaces which wastes their time and money. They want to get the job done correctly the first time.

Professionals always use primer, even when using paint and primer in one.

Sure, there are many good paints today such as Aura which has got the nickname of ‘the paint that needs no primer’.

But contractors cannot risk a bad job, especially since they have a binding contract when it comes to large jobs.

Can I use ceiling paint as primer?

Ceiling paint has a special formulation when it comes to adhesiveness. It can be used as primer on walls. The same wall should not be primed with ceiling paint and primer, however.

Combining ceiling paint and primer in certain areas of the same wall can lead to a different final paint look.

Ceiling paint can be used on its own as primer on a certain complete surface such as one wall.

The advantage of ceiling paint is that it limits the number of paint coats you apply, just as primer. It also ensures paints stick better.

You can apply ceiling paint and 1 paint coat in a combination that resembles primer and 1 paint coat for the best results.