Typically, when you want to paint your house, you need to go through a few steps to prepare the walls to accept the paint. You’ll need to clean your walls so that the paint will adhere to the walls and not to dirt. Sand the walls to create a rough surface for paint to adhere. Apply a coat of primer, allow the primer to dry, and then sand the primer lightly. At that point, you’re ready to apply your layers of paint. Primer makes it easier for paint to adhere to the walls as well as covering up any base colors. It’s especially useful if you have dark walls and want to paint them a light color. Primer will prevent that dark base from showing through.
However, many newer paints have primer included in them. That promises to save time and money. Is paint with primer as good as a separate layer of primer?
Primer is a type of paint that is made with a high amount of resins. Those resins bind the primer to the walls and help coat porous surfaces. Wood, for example, is fairly porous. If you paint bare wood, some of that paint will be soaked up by the pores in the wood. Primer will plug those pores to allow the paint to adhere better. That’s especially true for drywall as well.
If you see advertising for paint with primer, you should know that’s more advertising than reality. Paint with primer goes by several names. It can also be called all in one paint, self-priming paint, or no-priming paint. They’re all the same; they’re not actually paints with primers built in. They’re just thicker paints. Since they’re thicker, they dry thicker and leave a smoother finish than you would get with a standard paint and no primer.
Which Is Better?
If you have peeling or flaking paint on the exterior of your house, you will likely need a primer. Paint peels and flakes because it isn’t adhering to the walls properly. That could be due to moisture, motion, sunlight, or a combination of those things. Primer will help alleviate that.
Furthermore, paint plus primer won’t actually save you a lot of money in most cases. In fact, it could end up costing you more. That’s because you’ll likely need to apply multiple coats of paint. Paint with primer is oftentimes more expensive than buying separate buckets of paint and primer. Two coats of more expensive self-priming paint will be more expensive than one coat of primer and one coat of standard paint.
In conclusion, if you’re painting over existing paint that’s still in good shape, self-priming paint is probably fine. If you need the best possible coverage, primer is still the way to go.