How Do I Choose The Right Primer?

How Do I Choose The Right Primer?
How Do I Choose The Right Primer?

Choosing the right primer for your painting project and determining when to use it depends on the specific surface and conditions you’re dealing with. Here’s a general guideline that Master Painters of London Ontario uses to ensure that the right primer is used.

  1. Surface Type: Consider the material you’re painting. Common surface types include drywall, wood, metal, concrete, and previously painted surfaces. Different surfaces will or may require different types of primers.
  2. Paint Type: Check the type of paint you intend to use (e.g., latex, oil-based). Some paints require specific primers to ensure proper adhesion and longevity. Imagine you have a wooden exterior door that you want to repaint. This door was painted with an oil-based paint, and you now want to switch to water-based latex paint. Without the appropriate primer, you might encounter adhesion and longevity issues. Master Painters of London Ontario, recommends Zinsser Cover stain for this example.
  3. Surface Condition: Assess the condition of the surface. If it’s in good condition, you may not need a primer. However, if there are stains, patches, or repairs, a primer can help even the surface and ensure uniform paint coverage.
  4. Stain Blocking: If you’re dealing with stains from water, smoke, or tannins in wood, consider a stain-blocking primer to prevent these stains from bleeding through the paint. Master Painters of London Ontario recommends a Shellac primer for these stains.
  5. Adhesion: If you’re painting a glossy or non-porous surface, such as tile or laminate, use a bonding primer to improve paint adhesion. Master Painters of London Ontario always recommends Benjamin Moore’s Insl-X® Stix®for these surfaces.
  6. Mildew or Mold: In areas prone to moisture, like bathrooms or basements, use a mould-resistant primer to prevent mildew or mould growth. Master Painters of London Ontario recommends an oil-based primer like Zinsser Cover Stain for wet areas.
  7. Peeling or Chalking Paint: If the existing paint is peeling or chalking, it’s essential to use a bonding primer to ensure the new paint adheres properly. Master Painters of London Ontario always recommends XIM Peel Bond for these situations. 
  8. Colour Change: When making a drastic colour change (e.g., going from dark to light), a tinted primer that matches the new colour can reduce the number of paint coats needed for coverage.
  9. Sealing Properties: Some primers have sealing properties that can help prevent odours or stains from seeping through the paint, which is useful in kitchens or rooms with strong odours. Master Painters of London Ontario always recommends Shellac primers for these areas and situations.
  10. Outdoor Projects: Exterior surfaces, such as wood siding or metal fences, benefit from an exterior primer designed to withstand weather conditions. For durability, consult with Master Painters of London Ontario to deduce what would be best for you. The advice is free. Call us 226.998.6336.
  11. Dry Time: Consider the drying time of the primer, especially if you need to finish your project quickly. Shellac dries in an hour, while an oil-based Cover Stain takes four hours to dry.
  12. Compatibility: Ensure the primer is compatible with the paint you plan to use. Most paint manufacturers provide recommendations for suitable primers. Master Painters of London Ontario always recommends reading the paint can label. Everything you need to know in this instance is right on the label.

In general, using a primer is recommended in the following situations:

  • When painting new, unpainted surfaces.
  • When switching from oil-based to latex paint (or vice versa).
  • When the surface is damaged, uneven, or has stains.
  • When you want to improve paint adhesion or durability.
  • When you need to block odours or prevent stains from bleeding through.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and product labels for the specific primer you choose, as they provide essential information on application and drying times. These guidelines will help you choose the right primer and use it effectively in your painting project.

Discover the expertise of Master Painters of London Ontario. We specialize in interiorexterior, and spray painting services. Visit us at to learn more.