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To Prime or Not to Prime?

By on May 27, 2012 in Products with 89 Comments

 

behr ultraThis is a big topic in the residential paint world lately.

The fact of the matter is that “self priming” paints are really nothing new. They have just been marketed recently in new and more creative ways. Benjamin Moore Regal, the old stuff of ten years ago, had self priming characteristics, and it said right on the back of the can that it could be used as its own primer on raw sheetrock or patches. That was ten years ago. It was more of a convenience thing historically than a celebrated best practice.

The current generation of paint lines from different manufacturers have taken that handy little tidbit of performance info and stamped it right on the front of the cans. Some manufacturers have taken great liberties with the marketing of this concept, bordering on Decepticon-like tactics. There is a good bit of reading between the lines, and “well they don’t actually say…” associated with some of these products. This is all why I thought it was appropriate to do a little testing and share the results here on bloggingpainters.com.

On my own blog, I have been looking at primers pretty closely for the past couple of years. Never from the perspective of whether or not they are necessary, but more looking for the best and most efficient performance, regardless of application method.

Bench test of Behr Ultra and Sherwin Williams Duration

For this round of “paints that don’t require primer” testing, I decided to run two brands next to each other on the bench. The paints are Behr Ultra and Sherwin Williams Duration. Some contractors around the internet have shared glorious raves about the miracle of Behr, and of course Duration has also had its share of love and hate cast upon it in recent years, often related to its price point versus performance. I even saw one contractor do what was promoted as a significant and unparalleled testing of the Behr line, which basically amounted to praise of the paints leveling characteristics on 18″ trim samples. Most paints level pretty easily over 18″. Thats not conclusive testing. Both lines of paint, Behr Ultra and Duration, claim to not need primer.

This is where fine print and semantics come into play. If you read the Ultra and Duration cans, they are recommending that the paint itself be used as primer. Here is my question: why would would anyone pay a premium price for a paint to do a job that a lower or equivalent priced primer is made specifically to do?

I have spoken with many paint manufacturers directly, and most will acknowledge that there is only so much that can be stuffed into a single can of paint, from both a chemical and a performance standpoint. Even if a paint is capable of priming, what is being saved by doing it with one product? None of them are claiming to do it all in one coat, and in most cases it really takes 2-3 to get to a professional standard in terms of sheen, aesthetics and thickness. These things start to come off like jacks of all trades, masters of none. Good at being primer, good at being paint, but not excellent in either discipline. It is a very subjective business.

The Results

In this bench test of Behr Ultra and Duration, I applied two coats of each to raw cedar. I waited a week and then sanded both in sections at 80 and 150 grits. I also scratched and scraped on them pretty heavily. You can see the results in the attached video. Also, as the Ultra can claims to kill knots as well, I did a knot test on the product, on a piece of knotty pine – 3 coats were applied over the knots. The results were not so good.

I chose to put Behr Ultra on the bench with Duration because Duration has been one of the premium benchmarks for the past few years in the arena of paints that can prime. While Ultra comes at a lower price point, it is still a $30+/gallon can of paint.

Ultra appears to be marketed by Behr as their best stuff. While it probably is the best they have, it strikes me as more parallel with the lower to mid lines offered by Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, which are also surprisingly good these days. Ultra would be a great paint for homeowners and diy because it is easy to use, and it really is a good paint. Some of the marketing about it suggests that it will be a life changing experience. I guess time will tell, but in this quick glimpse, it didn’t show any remarkable innovation. Regardless of paint and/or primer systems, on bare wood it still takes 2-3 coats regardless of product to achieve a professional standard. But still, like most premium lines from most manufacturers, Ultra is a good paint. Surprisingly good actually, but it does run some of the risk that other products have been pinged with, which is marketing that promises an experience that no product really delivers.

My biggest criticism of Ultra is that when sanding, it doesn’t powder up very well. It forms tiny, sticky little pills that are hard on abrasives. Most other premium trim paints form a fine powder when sanded through a range of grits.

The concept of paint and primer in one can is tempting to homeowners and contractors alike. I guess it is human nature to look to eliminate steps where possible. The biggest value would be to the homeowner who would rather just deal with one can of paint instead of two. Not so much an issue for most professionals, though. We see it all the time in real life and on the internet – the desire to streamline the prep/prime/paint process. There are actually many ways to do this without compromising. Shortcuts for their own sake often come with a cost because they usually involve skipping a step that would be best not skipped.

If a minimum of 2, and at times 3, coats are needed regardless of brand or system, the results in my experience are always better if the initial coat is primer. And that includes extensive experience with Aura and Duration. In my opinion, regardless of manufacturer or line promoting self-priming paint, primer is still the best insurance for aesthetics and performance…at least for the time being.

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Scott Burt
Scott Burt owns and operates Topcoat Finishes, Inc. in Vermont, writes the monthly "From the Field" column in American Painting Contractor, and blogs prolifically at www.topcoatreview.com. Google
Scott Burt
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  1. You’ve made some very good points Scott. I personally would never use a product marketed as “Paint & Primer in One” on bare drywall or bare wood. There are all kinds of specialty primers for different tasks. All primers have their place; whether it’s for bonding, stain blocking, sealing or corrosion resistance. Most paint manufacturers have at least one product labeled “Paint & Primer in One” nowadays and I have tried almost all of them. One of advantages I see when using “Paint & Primer in One” is when repainting walls that have been previously painted with a builder’s flat paint. I really don’t see the need of priming the walls unless there is a problem like water stains, smoke, nicotine, etc. Every time I have encountered a problem that involves peeling, it is usually due to the lack of primer. Ultimately, I do believe priming is the most important part of the preparation process, and because problems vary from project to project… having one universal product for everything is simply impossible.

    • Scott says:

      Edgar, I agree. Not a fan of paint on any raw substrate. Used responsibly, they can be really helpful products. Ultra is good paint, and that should be enough. All the hype that goes along with it is a little odd.

    • Tom Norman says:

      I’m concerned about one thing:
      How do I get the same incredible results I got 30 years ago on my 100 year old house. How can a water based primer do the same job?

      Here is what I did: I sanded to bare wood, then primed and painted. (3 stories up). I have not repainted most of it since then: incredible.

      I painted with an oil-based primer that included linseed oil. It was a product of Brodugan in St. Louis Missouri.

      They later were purchased then by Sherwin-Williams. I talked with Bob Brod about 5 years later. I told him my results with the old standby of linseed oil added primer. He told me they had used linseed oil in their best primers but it had been disconnect discontinued by Sherwin-Williams (probably for cost as I recall.)

      I was told at the time 48 hours for drying oil was important. Because it was drawn into the dry wood and prevented it from cracking.

      Now I have another house and have sanded to bare wood the five to twelve inch 105 year old trim. I’m using ELMERS WOOD FILLER MAX to fill in the cracks and crevices.

      But no where has anyone said anything to me about oil based primer with linseed oil added except negative reviews and 5 ounces max added per gallon if used.

      . So my question is, don’t I have to have oil which soaks into and conditions the wood as it dries, as a conditioning undercoat even as one uses oil on leather boots to condition before putting a top coat?

      Doesn’t the wood need something to not just seal it but condition and protect its first layer of surface cellulose grain to not just cover it with “plastic like latex” but to seal it to last for years?

      (Linseed oil used to be used in window sash putty and it dried as hard as wood).

      I am nervous that all my work is going to set me up for having to repaint every 7 to ten years.

      So I sealed with the oil primer with linseed oil added and then applied the latex top coat 30 years ago?

      My philosophy was to use the best paint possible. How has Latex developed to treat wood better than oil?

      I understand the cost and convenience advantages of fast dry latex primer to save time but not the paint chemistry breakthroughs.

      So it doesn’t ring true to me.

      After priming per above …then I applied the one coat latex. (FYI:The latex I used was called one coat Super hide top coat of BROD DUGAN.)

      • Scott Burt says:

        Hi Tom, these are great questions. The industry has pretty much shifted in the past 5-10 years. Or, we should say the manufacturers have, which (long story short) has been driven by epa regs. Linseed oil based products went out a while ago and were replaced by synthetic oils – the alkyd era. And even that is quickly being ushered out. All that said, the performance of the old generation oils were a two edged sword. Penetrating the wood was great for protection from the outside in, but caused a lot of failures from the inside out. Because they didn’t breathe, moisture escaping the wall cavities of homes were able to push primer and paint right out of wood from the backside (and of course, no one was backpriming in those days). This resulted in older homes peeling right down to bare wood on pretty large scales. Oils also had a history of becoming brittle and inflexible over time. On the bright side, latex primers are flexible and while they don’t penetrate like oils, the good ones do have extremely good adhesion qualities, and they breathe. I made the switch years ago and have not looked back (and I had used oils all my life). The primary reason that latex has developed to work better than oil is because manufacturers stopped investing R&D funds into oil based products years ago and put those resources into creating latexes that can perform at that level…just in a different way. And you are correct, it is chemistry.

  2. Todd says:

    I would love to see a video of a monkey painting cottage cheese on a 18 inch sample board.

    • Scott says:

      Me too! lol. I do poke fun at myself and others who make claims based on small horizontal testing. I’ve never been one to lay paint out on small samples and base statements on it, but it sure is an easy way to grind on them and see what they are made of. The video in this was just one batch of the overall footage in messing around with the sample pieces. The sanding did bother me. I tried several different abrasives and the result was the same regardless of brand or grit.

  3. Pat says:

    I have always been under the impression that the behr campaign “primer and paints” is not really aimed at raw substrates, but more for changing colors or painting walls where its been some time since the last coat.

    From my experience it seems that most homeowners just assume you always prime prior to painting regardless of what your painting. This in my opinion was why it turned out to be such a great marketing tool for Behr.

    For me all raw substrates get primed with the correct primer except when I’m going to use solid color stains.

    Pat

    • Scott says:

      Pat

      That might have been part of the intent, but that message is not clear at all on the can. It specifically instructs users to prime raw substrates with the paint.

  4. I never thought that much of Behr semi gloss. It is a good trim paint, but no miracle worker. I bet there are close to a dozen really good trim paints on the market right now. Each has its own different handling characteristics, but none which are mythical.

    I would like to put it up against a new trim paint I was able to try last week in Raleigh.

    • scott says:

      Tommy

      Thats part of the problem I have with the marketing and promotion of these things as well. There is nothing about this that is going to “change the way you paint”. Its good paint, as you mention, in a field full of many good paints. I find Ultra to be parallel with Ben, also a good paint at the same price point. Nothing wrong with that. But, no miracles in the can.

      • Mike Balducci says:

        When referencing paint and primer in one vs. seperate primer and topcoat, their are other features of Behr’s Ultra (paint/primer in one) that my customers value. Even if I use a seperate, job specific primer on raw substrates, the Ultra paint has double the mold/mildicide protection, covers in fewer coats (especially darker, deep base colors) and is a more technologically advanced, scrubbable topcoat that will hold up better with repeated washings over time

  5. Tim says:

    Thanks Scott. You confirmed and articulated what I have been thinking for awhile. Thanks for doing the tests.

  6. Good article Scott! I have a question for you about hardi-plank or other fiber cement exterior siding. We have primed some homes that were raw fiber cement siding and other homes we have just applied two straight coats of paint on. What are your thoughts on this subject? To be honest we mostly can’t tell the difference. We painted some town homes 10 years ago with the old Glidden/ICI Fortis – their top of the line at the time. And the town homes still look pretty good! A little faded, but not in bad shape at all. And we just applied two coats of the Fortis with no primer. We have also painted a couple homes with primer and one coat of SW Duration. Again it has had great results. I am curious what you think about coating fiber cement.

    Thanks again for the great article!

  7. Don Johnson says:

    Hello, What a great article on priming first. With dark red rooms and dark chocolate rooms, brighter paint seems to change the ambiance most and even create and emotional uplift. When done, the room appears much larger just from the painted walls alone. For more information about painting interior and exterior homes, check out http://www.chandlerhomepainting.com Thank you for the great article on priming!

  8. Andres M says:

    Scott, this is a great article. I’ve always encouraged customers to use these products when re-painting but never on bare surfaces without a primer.

    • scott says:

      I think that was initially the intent of the manufacturers in putting out “paint and primer in one” type products. Of course, consumers (and contractors) have taken great liberties (shortcuts) with the concept.

  9. I agree with the point of why use an expensive product for prime coat when a primer DOES what its supposed to. And as far as primers go, Glidden has 2 very good ones that are not expensive..the PVA for raw drywall and ive dound Gripper to be outstanding on a variety of exterior surfaces from metal to concrete. In chicagoland..for over 3 winters..no callbacks on any job done with this product..regardless of topcoat brand of finish.. and i use SW. BM and Behr all the time.

  10. Very helpful stuff… thanks for the info

  11. Dave says:

    I want to thank everyone for the great advice in this article and comments. I built a 9′ cornice box out of poplar for our living room window. I already had Behr Premium Plus with Primer Semi-gloss and Kilz 2 Enamel Primer. So I was asking myself to prime or not to prime? After reading this, I primed with one coat. Followed by a light sanding and 2 coats of semi-gloss. Wow, it came out beautiful! I was totally shocked how the primer raised the grain of the wood but also sealed it. I am definitely not a pro, just a weekend warrior so advice like this really helps. I also finally understand that primer and paint are not the same and the importance of priming before painting new surfaces. Thanks again!

  12. Jess says:

    Not sure if this is open to non-pros, but I have a question: Where can I get primer-less paint? I bought Behr last year and could not figure out why it was sooooo awful. It was dry, and I nearly ran out of paint for a very small room. I then realized it was paint+primer, which I had not requested.
    When I painted my daughter’s small room a couple of years ago, I primed with a tinted primer and then painted with a mid-rangy Benjamin Moore. It was more expensive, but I had nearly half a can left because it covered so well.
    Last week, we drove out of town to get Benjamin Moore for my mom’s new house. She ran out of her paint before even making one round through her bedroom! She’s not a pro, but the woman paints and repaints all the time. She then realized she’d bought paint+primer, and called to find out how to get the good (old) stuff. The guy told her that’s pretty much all they carry, thus not making it worth the drive or the price.
    I looked up Valspar because we have a Lowe’s nearby — same thing.
    We don’t mind priming first, but we’d really like a return to that smooth final coat. The other feels to us both like painting with chalk. Benjamin Moore used to be our go-to paint. Any other recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!

  13. Chris Haught says:

    Hi Jess, thanks for posting, yes nonpros are welcome here! Hopefully a few of our BM users will chime in, but I know there are options. I use mostly Sherwin Williams and there are plenty of “non primer” choices. You mentioned that it is a new house, does that mean new to her or New Construction?

  14. Pat says:

    Hi Jess,

    Just wondering what was the name of the Benjamin Moore paint that your mom used where she ran out of paint in her bedroom? That can help to determine the recommendations I might have for her.

    Thanks

    Pat

  15. Jess says:

    Thank you so much for your responses! The Benjamin Moore was Royal Select. Fortunately, there is a Sherwin Williams right by me. And my mom’s house is new to her — early 90s, I think. We’ve gravitated toward Benjamin Moore in the past because the company makes great colors. I’m hoping Sherwin Wms can match. My mom didn’t have any luck matching a yellow she chose.
    So, because everyone here has been so kind, I’ll throw another one at you. My son LOVES orange. The only thing he requested upon our move was an orange room. Someone told me to never paint a room orange because it can never be covered again. I’m thinking never may not be the right word, but I’m guessing it’s difficult because I’ve covered red and yellow before. Any tips for painting over it when the time comes? It was his only request — I feel I must oblige. Thank you again for being so helpful.

  16. Scott says:

    Jess, orange is a reversible condition. Worst case, you might have to use a primer and then two coats of good paint, but its fairly common practice. Red is worse to make go away. Some of the deep blues too. Not a problem.

  17. Jess says:

    Thank you, Scott. Sherwin Wms Cashmere in orange, it is!

  18. Gloria says:

    Hi, I just stumbled on your blog looking for reviews of Sherwin Williams’ PRIMERX. I live in an old historical row house that is 200 years old. The siding is poplar. The paint was taken down to the wood when we bought it. Then it was primed and painted. We have had it repainted several times. We are getting ready to repaint it again now. We are using Duration from Sherwin Williams for the topcoat. Since we have had some problems with peeling and due to the really old siding, I am really interested in using PRIMERX. My painter will properly prep it first, but I think the literature sounds interesting for worn surfaces. Any input you could give me would be greatly appreciated. My painters will start prepping the siding this week.

    Thank you!
    Gloria

    • Scott says:

      Hi Gloria, sounds like you have done the research, and you have good painters who prepare surfaces properly. Insufficient prep is where alot of people go wrong. The only thing I would add is to just make sure that your painters follow the mfr specs for application and observe recommended dry times before applying Duration over the primer. Good luck!

  19. Johnson says:

    Thanks for sharing such a deep and comprehensive article on priming. Really appreciate this stuff.

  20. This is a very well written article, and the in depth bench test between Behr Ultra and Duration really makes me lean toward Duration. Thanks for such a helpful review.

  21. I have been painting for 35 years and have seen the “two in one” come and go many times. You should have been testing it on unprimed drywall compound and i think you would find it to be not recommended in both instances. There is no acrylic to my knowledge that will block tannin acid such as in any wood. As it has been a rule that’s been passed from generation to generation You must always prime before you paint other wise you end up with a mess in a very short period of time. Here’s a good example
    http://art-faux.com/fauxpaintingideas/to-prime-or-not-to-prime/

    • Chris Haught says:

      Thanks for stopping by Arthur, that is an incredible example of paint failure, thanks for sharing that!

      • Thanks Chris, yes it’s one of those things when you think you have “Seen it All” that something like this pops up. The thing about this it wasn’t that the paint had failed or that it was a poor quality (Ben Moore) it was that it was the fault of the application and the applicator. The dust from sanding the drywall was never locked down with a PVA primer or dusted off and the painters just sprayed right over it and didn’t care. This wasn’t one of those scenarios of “You get what you pay for” because I also saw the change order and the price they paid for the upgrade. Many homeowners have gone through this during the boon. It’s really heart wrenching when I come across this with my clients.

        • Chris Haught says:

          Yes, you are right, should have said prep failure! Thanks

        • Mike says:

          Hawaiian Mike here;
          I thought I must have been off-base when I first thought of it, but turns out I’m not the only one who has thought of using a different approach to priming Drywall. This guy sounds like he’s done a ton of research, and makes a tremendous case for using Gardz as the prime. Here’s the link: http://www.jackpauhl.com/jack-pauhl-drywall-primer-guide/#more-11148
          I’m gonna try this in the next day or two on a new job. BTW This guy is pretty amazing. Paints like a demon; fast, accurate, poetry in motion. Wish I could paint like that!

      • Your quite welcome Chris, I look forward to coming back

  22. Scott says:

    I agree, Arthur shows an excellent example. I think there are some painters putting up that kind of paint these days that may end up with similar issues down the road. It is just not a chance worth taking.

  23. Just happened across this site and you have good strong articles, well done! I am always steering DIY homeowners away from the 2 in 1 paint products. I tell them it’s only 50% as good as the real thing…don’t waste your time or your money!

  24. Ralph Heine says:

    i have 3 houses with concrete siding that have faded bad in 3 years using 2 coats of Duration .Looks like the factory primer on the siding wasn’t sealing the siding.Any help?

    • Ralph, I would definitely contact your Sherwin Williams rep and have them look at it.

    • Berry says:

      I’d like to know how the Resilience might hold up on the siding? I recently painted a house with pre-primed hardy board siding, as well as a restaurant (concrete walls). The finish came out spectacular, but I haven’t gave much thought to 3-5 years later. I always go through SW when trying something new and follow their recommendations to a T because I am a fairly new business.

    • Ralph concrete is a lime product and if not primed and prepped properly it can fail pretty quickly because of the PH balance may have been too “hot” when primed and will actually “burn” through the paint. Personally I don’t trust any factory primed product especially a cementous type substrate Hard telling how long the siding sat in a boneyard exposed to the elements which will break down primers quickly as they are not meant to be left for any amount of time with out a finish coat. A rule amongst professional paint contractors is no longer than 90 days other wise reprime Doesn’t matter how good the quality of a top coat is it’s takes a good sound undercoat to make the topcoat work as it should. My bet would be it’s not the Duration that failed here it was the undercoat. Oxides are usually used for exterior paints for concrete colorants however some darker colors will fade quickly and your paint store rep should have warned you about this if this is the case. Sherwin Williams (as in most paint stores) has exterior primers for concrete substrates and one that I have used is a nice product which comes in a “pigmented” and “unpigmented” version called Lox-On which I used for “Stucco”. I would recommend using this after pressure washing the chalky surface which is probably now evident at this point. You can check this simply by rubbing your hand across the surface and if you have a chalky residue on your hand then this kind of prep must be done before repainting (Ask your paint store rep). As a sidenote always use a professional quality paint from your paint store and stay away from the Big Box stores when needing a professional quality product, unless of course you like painting every few years. I have been painting professionally for 35 years including decoratively, and artistically (fine art, murals, etc). Although I have retired from contract painting I still live by the same rule……Prime before Paint….even if the substrate is a preprimed material….Peace!

      • Chris Haught says:

        Thank you Arthur, great response and I agree, we have always reprimed preprimed Hardi! Appreciate you taking the time to respond in such detail.

        • Your welcome Chris, I look at it this way,what good is knowledge and experience if you don’t share it with others. It’s how I roll 🙂 all I ask is for others to check out and use the share buttons on my blog as well. This is a great blog Chris you should consider self hosting and taking ownership of it yourself. Hostgator is the best and they can help you with this. Using WordPress.org format is much more powerful and total freedom to do what you want for about 10 bucks a month. This is what my blog is http://art-faux.com
          DIY chatroom I’ll check out but I think I am already a member there also

          • Chris Haught says:

            Thanks Arthur, appreciate the compliments, I do own and self host the site with Hostgator. If you are interested in the history of BP, check the about tab in the upper left. That being said, it’s really not “my blog”, but the community’s, we have a great group here that keep the wheels turning! Like you said, what good is the knowledge and experience if we don’t share!

        • Ralph Heine says:

          thanks for the info.S W hasnt responded.They say the lab is looking at the sample.

  25. Gary says:

    Where can I post a question like this?

    I recently repainted my bathroom with a roller. When I tried using a brush to cut in
    around the ceiling and corners, the semi-gloss white paint appears to be a different
    color but same paint as wall. I then bought a new brush but same result. I
    then bought one of those paint pads that more evenly spreads the paint, but
    still can’t get a good color blend. It still appears the border is a darker
    color. Any suggestions?

    • Gary this is the beauty of signing up and following blogs as people will get an email of “new entries” when they are posted.There are a couple of reasons why this is happening and it’s called “Flashing” or at least that’s what I call it and it’s common amongst, eggshell, satins, semi gloss, gloss, acrylic paints. Basically you have two different “textures” that are left behind by each tool. A roller will leave a “stipple” and a brush leaves brush marks which will reflect the light differently making the paint appear as a different color. The other reason could be the ceiling could be throwing a shadow onto the wall or reflecting a ceiling color. which is not much you can do about this. especially if the walls have been painted the same way over the years. One remedy I have seen work is to cut and roll the wall “wet into wet” using the roller horizontally as your are cutting in with the brush as tight to the ceiling as possible without hitting the ceiling, then roll the wall while the paint is still wet. Unfortunately it takes a little longer and you have to do each wall individually but it does help. Reason being that the roller will leave a more stippled texture over the brush mark but like i said if it has been “built up” over a number of coats through the years. (Crown molding will also reclect light and shadow onto the wall also. Another term for this problem is called “ghosting” now that I think about it.

    • Chris Haught says:

      Hi Gary,
      We are always happy to answers readers questions here, and it looks like Arthur gave you sound advice! Another resource you might find helpful on your projects is this site, DIY Chatroom. Thanks!

  26. Robert says:

    Great advice, definitely a question I have asked myself before.

  27. Marilyn says:

    I am in the process of painting all of my interior doors, woodwork and kitchen cabinets of our 1980’s home white!! Everything has been previously stained and varnished a medium stain. I was told by the Home Depot Sales Person that I can just rough sand (to cut through the surface of the varnish) the woodwork/doors, wipe down with a tack cloth, and use two coats of Behr 2 in 1 satin primer/paint! It sounds like a dream – am I dreaming that the results will be good?? 🙂 I would love to know what you pro’sthink o f this, or if you have ever tried it. I have since met someone else that says they do this all the time for woodwork.. Thank you!

    • I would do an adhesion test before painting everything first, then proceed at your won risk. Most likely if the previous stain is an oil base it will “bleed” through the acrylic over time just like the tanin acids do that you see in new construction homes that are painted with acrylic semi-gloss paint. What I mean by this if you have ever seen a newer homes trim work you will notice yellowing or stains appearing in odd places on your door jambs base boards, crown moldings etc. This is because the wood was not primed with a stain sealing primer (if primed at all) Will Behr and Home Depot guarantee the results including the costs of the labor to “fix it” when it fails? Not likely. My 35 years of experience says to sand and prime the areas with a bonding stain blocking oil base primer then two coats of a quality oil base semi gloss top coat for doors and trim, For cabinetry I would use a conversion varnish or lacquer. There are catalyzed acrylics for cabinetry that are very good also which are being used today and spray very nicely through using a cup gun. This product is being used today in both the auto and cabinet industry today but you would still need to seal the existing stain color with a compatible under coat. On the other hand my inner shortcut trouble maker who escapes his straight jacket every once in a while says to “Go For It!” but he’s a real basket case and I am always bailing him out of trouble, lol Word of caution Behr Paint takes a long time to cure fully and will stick to itself remarkably well so if you use it on your cabinets be sure to install the “door bumpers” to prevent this. Oh one more thing to remember is un catalyzed acrylics or top coats don’t clean very well and can not be cleaned with solvent based cleaners such as most house hold cleaners, Good luck and have fun, Give me a shout a couple of years from now and let me know how that works out for you…..Peace!

  28. Marilyn says:

    I want to mention, we are gutting the house, so I will be spraying the woodwork, not brush painting!

  29. Marilyn says:

    Arthur, you scared the bejezus out of me!! I should probably return my untinted Behr. So the primer you would recommend would be like a Kilz Oil Based? And the topcoat a…?? Help me with some good brands that won’t kill the budget. Also, I have no idea what you mean by “conversion varnish or lacquer” for white cabinets. Help me! I am spraying everything, does this make a difference. And also, I am doing Satin trim. I don’t like SHINE! I thought I knew a little about paint, but ehhh. I guess not. And, I do like your inner shortcut guy – he does seem like trouble though! 🙂

  30. Didnt mean to scare you Marilyn and actually I call my inner guy something else and would not say it in a public forum. It would have been politically incorrect and would have offended others most likely lol. Oil base Kilz is a great stain blocker and I have had great success with it on new construction, however it is not a good bonding primer and is very high in VOC’s and if you haven’t sprayed it before or use to using it this way it probably wouldn’t be a good idea unless your willing to risk it. S.W. makes a great water base bonding primer B51 W50 but it is expensive. Purchasing paints that are specifically designed for what they do are not inexpensive so you really need to ask yourself “How often do I want to repaint?” and figure the labor costs in the period times when it comes to repainting is how I explained it to my clients. If your willing to pay the labor costs three times in a ten year period then buy the cheaper stuff. I you only want to paint once every ten years then pay for the good stuff. I would even do a labor cost comparison for them and the majority of the time they would choose the good stuff. Paint is cheap when you compare it to labor. In my decorative arts business I use $80.00 a gallon paint for my base coats which is not sold in paint stores. Before retiring I have always used the Sherwin Williams Pro Classic oil base on all my trim work. It’s very durable and scrubbable. Being that it is basically an impermeable paint it cleans very easily of handprints, dirt. etc. and for stubborn stuff you are able to use “denatured alcohol” without breaking down the paint. When using acrylics for trim you don’t get this luxury because the acrylics are porous and meant to “breath” so they don’t resist handprints very well and can not use solvent based cleaners ( or “denatured alcohol”) because they will break down the paint and actually rub the finish off. The more “sheen” you have the more durable the paint, i.e. semi gloss will clean better than satin and so on. I have used the Pro Classic oil on cabinets as well with success but again it is not going to give you the durability that a “factory finish” will give you.( conversion varnish, lacquer etc.), If you don’t have experience with these topcoats I would suggest getting a professional to at least shop spray the doors and drawer fronts for you and spray the cabinet “boxes” with the Pro-Classic. At least this way you will have something that will last for years just be sure they can match the color. Sherwin Williams also makes these paints so it shouldn’t be a problem and a good cabinet shop shouldn’t charge you a ton of money just to spray the parts. Just make sure that what you use as a primer is compatible with their topcoat. Oil base paints spray differently than acrylics (ask your paint rep) and I always sprayed my trim with at least two coats of finish, remember what I said about my “short cut guy”, and you must let the first coat dry a full 24 hours before spraying the second, for a great looking glass like finish. However if you have never sprayed or have experience in the process you need to do all your test spraying on old doors or panels to get a feel for it. Spraying is an art and you can get runs and sags easily if you are not versed in the sequence (pattern) of spraying such as always spray your “leading edges first” and so on.
    I could write a book on this subject alone and why I retrained a new employee (“sprayman”) my techniques before turning him loose on a job regardless of his experience because I did not allow anyone to remove doors from the jambs. In fact I taught me crews to use “shields” to keep overspray off the walls. Shop vac all the floors and then lay down clean cardboard for base boards to keep the dirt off of them and many other common sense tricks of the trade But then you have “production painting” where no one cares and just do what’s called “Blow and Go” “get in get out” or the “Gitt’er dun” mind set…..lol

  31. Good post..lots of good info for people

  32. Great article. Some great points were made. We always stress to our customers to go with a primer for a first coat as the final result is always better and more durable. Check us out at http://www.propainterstoronto.com

  33. joeythieme12 says:

    Can you tell me if it ok to paint a deck with primer and then paint or just use stain? Which normally lasts longer?

    • Arthur Art-Faux Designs says:

      Joey if you are staining an exterior deck for the first time it is not recommended to prime it first as the stain has to bite into the surface. However you should ask your local paint representative at your local paint store and DO NOT go by what they tell you at any of the big box stores. The All-In-One kind of paints I would not trust. Due to the fact you really don’t give us much detail I can not answer that question reliably without knowing the details of your climate and what kind of substrate you are staining.

    • ecorenovators says:

      Hi Joey
      It depends what the result you expect, However, I recommend you if its not in good shape, first prime it and then pick a good exterior paint and paint it.

  34. Jeff says:

    Nice points Scott it really helps us in understanding primers, what and when to do priming.

    Also we have lots of ideas that can help you answer some of your painting questions. Thanks

  35. Great info about Behr and all-in-one paints. Would like to see if you have any tests with Benjamin Moore paints?

  36. KIm says:

    Very, very disheartened and disappointed that I didn’t do my research on Behr products. We have painted our entire house with this crap product and now I have to worry constantly about anything touching my walls because as soon as anything is leaned against them or a scratch is made I can grab hold of the corner and peel the paint off like it’s rubber – and that’s exactly what it feels like rubber! It actually strecthes like plastic wrap. I need to know if I paint with a decent product, over top of the crap Behr will this stop the peeling?
    And does anyone have suggestion on what to paint my exterior doors with? I tried the Marquee Behr brand and it’s the worst – it will not stick to my door!!

    • Chris Haught says:

      Hi Kim,
      Sorry to hear you have had such a bad experience. On the interior, would need a few more details, what kind of prep? primer? which line of Behr? to be able help. I wouldn’t put anything over peeling paint. I would suggest you visit your local Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. For exterior doors, I like Sherwin Williams Emerald. Please come back and let us know how it worked out.

  37. i’ve always done primer. seems to work better than not.

  38. mikey jones says:

    Ultra is a great paint but not meant to prime everything, Any bare wood that is susceptible to moisture you must use a 123 type oil product then cover with ultra, all other previously painted surfaces and preprimed surfaces use ultra on. the results will be amazing. unfortunately the doofus writing this article could not articulate that.

  39. Barry Payne says:

    I have a question for you. I am renovating an older home (built 1940) and have peeling paint on ceiling in master bedroom, and all over in original bath. I have scraped the loose paint and patch which encompasses about 1/3 of the ceiling in the bedroom. To me, it appears that at some point, a latex was applied directly over an oil base some time ago – many coats over peeling level which, in some cases, is going back to original plaster surface. Question: Should I use a bonding primer, THEN re-texture the patches, prime again, then paint? I want to do it right … and not do it over.

    • Yes Barry you should use a good primer and most likely you’re probably correct about the oil prime as this is what was used back then However in the majority of the homes painted that long ago the paint contained “lead” and now are required to have a special removal and disposal process which can be even more work unfortunately so be sure to keep that in mind the next time you do this. Yes you should use a “bonding primer” if you are going back to acrylic base paint. I have always done it as a rule and can save you a ton of work later on

  40. Sue Williams says:

    I bought Behr Premium Plus, primer and satin paint in one. I let one coat dry and then lightly sanded for a second coat. And the color changed from a melon or caramel color to a bright yellow. Why did sanding change its color? Will this stop as the paint ages or will it always turn yellow when it gets rubbed?

    • Art Morehead says:

      I dont think I have ever seen this happen I would take it back as something doesnt sound right to me. I for one dont use the cheap stuff just because things like this happen with the big box stores

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