Painting is the final step in most home remodel and new construction projects. Well painted and properly finished walls can be the best design feature of any room, however, when finished poorly, it offers quite the opposite effect.

The success of a well painted wall starts with a good paint primer. In new construction, it is the first layer of coating that is applied to sheetrocked and taped walls prior to painting. Brand new drywall is very porous, and with taping may have inconsistent surface textures.  Priming new walls will even out the surface and prevent your paint from being absorbed into it. Primer can also afford you a first look at your painted new sheetrock walls. Even though they may have looked perfect before primer, they may show some additional imperfections that can be addressed before the paint is applied.

Overall, primer is used to seal the surface and improve paint adhesion. It also provides a neutral base that allows for color accuracy. Meaning a previous paint color may still peek through the new color if your walls are not properly prepared and primed before painting.

Even when repainting an existing wall, paint primer is an important step in the painting process, as it seals the pores of the surface, covers any stains or markings, and can provide a smoother layer for the new paint to bind to.

Dark colors look great, and can offer a rich design. They are striking and definitely make a statement, however, as trends, décor and your tastes change, they will require a little more prep work in the future. If you are going from a very dark color to a very light color it is suggested that the first step is to cover them with a high quality, high hiding primer. This will save you the hassle of applying five or six coats of paint and ensure the old color doesn’t affect the new one.

If the existing paint on your walls is a high gloss or enamel paint, it will be hard for new paint to adhere to. You will definitely need a primer specifically made for those types of surfaces, but may also require a light sanding to help bond the primer to the wall.

Stains from old water damage, smoke from cooking, nicotine or candle stains will also require primer – typically an alcohol or oil-based primer designed for those types of stains. It will seal the stains so they do not leak through the new paint – a water-based primer will not provide sufficient coverage. Before you start priming, make sure that any leaks or causes of the stains are fixed so that they do not ruin your new pain job.

If there was a fire previously in the home, or if the homeowners were smokers, had pets or often cooked strong-smelling foods, the walls may have soaked up and retained those odors.  A high-quality, alcohol or oil-based primer can seal and eliminate those odors and prevent them from returning.

Over the last few years, self-priming paints have made strides and offer better coverage than paints without a primer. It reduces the cost of labor and can be a good alternative, especially if you are painting on a similar color or putting a darker color over a light one. However, it is important to know that although paint manufacturers advertise that these paints offer one coat coverage, it is not often the case and you may need to consider the alternative – a separate coat of primer and separate application of paint.

When you decide to take on a painting project, don’t rush.  Take the time to look for water stains, moisture, oil, odors or stains on the walls and ceilings. Speak with a professional about your specific project to understand the type of primer, paint and painting materials that should be purchased. Priming your walls prior to applying paint can provide just the right start to your successful project.

When painting your home, it is always best to consult with your local paint store professional who can recommend the best type of supplies for your painting project. As with all home improvement projects, make sure you consult with and hire a licensed, insured, experienced and reputable company.

Peter & Julie Monzi, Owners – Shamrock Paints & Decorating Center

(718) 981-1616 (North Shore location) * (718) 966-9500  (South Shore location)