Serving the Commercial Painting Market

Rick Watson, Director- Product Information & Technical Services

Primer Isn’t Needed Anymore, Right?

in Paint Innovations

With the proliferation of “paint and primer in one,” it can seem that paints today are engineered to do it all, making primer irrelevant. However, primer is often an important part of customer satisfaction with the job.

By Rick Watson

Here are the facts

  • There are times when you do not need to prime.
  • There are times when you do need a primer.

When to use a primer

So, when is a primer not needed? When painting over similar type (latex to latex) of existing finishes that are clean, dry, dull and in sound shape, you may not need a primer.

Examples of when you need a primer include: To promote adhesion, or block stains, or fill porous surfaces like concrete block, or resist alkali and efflorescence… and on and on.

Most importantly, many of these “paint and primer in one” products recommend a second coat (and maybe more) to achieve complete coverage, performance and satisfactory results.

Try applying a satin or semi-gloss “primer and paint in one” over a porous surface like unprimed spackling, joint compound, or wood. Even after three coats, you can’t achieve the quality finish of a premium primer and topcoat.

Bottom line

You can sometimes “get by” with satisfactory results when using these products as a primer and finish paint.

However, the best quality finish will be achieved with the use of the appropriate premium primer.

Do it right the first time and get the finest quality finish your customers demand. The right primer for the job should always be your first recommendation.

About the author

Rick Watson, Product Information, Sherwin-Williams, writes the Ask Your ProPartner™ column for PPC (Professional Painting Contractor) Magazine. Got a question for Rick? Email him at

This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of the Sherwin-Williams CommercialPro newsletter. Get more business-building tips and info on products, services, discounts and project solutions on the Sherwin-Williams contractor website.

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