Choosing the Best Drywall Primer
Whether you're priming water-damaged walls, changing paint colors, or painting brand new drywall, using the right primer is key to a successful paint job. Primer forms a foundation layer on walls that improves paint adhesion and enhances the uniformity of your paint finish.
My go-to primer brands are Sherwin Williams and Zinsser. Sherwin Williams primer is only available at their paint stores, while Zinsser products are available at multiple paint and home improvement stores. Zinsser, without a doubt, has the best selection of primer available for just about any painting project imaginable.
In this article, I focus on the primer I've used from Sherwin Williams and when to use them.
All-In-One Paint and Primer Confusion
Why not use a paint-and-primer-in-one from Sherwin Williams instead of a dedicated primer? Isn't that enough? Paint-and-primer-in-one is thicker and covers better than cheap, watered-down paint, but the paint usually won't block tough stains or seal brand new drywall. In fact, all-in-one paint and primer doesn't actually contain primer. The paint is simply thicker for better coverage.
The coverage is definitely better than cheap paint, but paint-and-primer-in-one isn't always the best option for color changes. In certain situations, like painting red over white, or white over really dark colors, it's usually better to use primer because it performs better for those color changes. A single prime coat can save you from having to apply multiple coats. The per gallon cost of drywall primer is cheaper too than premium paint.
The Top Sherwin Williams Primer for Walls
I've used several paint brands in my painting career, including Benjamin Moore and PPG, both of which I really like too, but Sherwin Williams is what I've always used the most. Like the Zinsser brand, which have awesome products like Cover Stain primer and BIN, Sherwin Williams has great primers for drywall.
With the huge selection of Sherwin Williams primers available on the shelf, a trip to their store can be confusing for someone without any experience working with these products. In this article, I'm recommending the best products I've used in my painting career for priming and when to use them.
Painting Projects That Call for Primer
- Painting over wallpaper
- Water and smoke stains
- Bare drywall and wood
- Painting light colors over dark colors
- Drywall repair patches and skim-coated walls
Not all wall primers perform the same or are formulated for the same purpose. There is primer for sealing walls and blocking stains, improving paint adhesion, and helping with coverage.
Make sure the product you choose can do what you need it to do. For example, using latex primer over smoke and water stains won't do anything to block the stains. For that, you need to use a solvent-based primer. Choose a specialized or multi-purpose primer for your specific needs.
Sherwin Williams Drywall Primer (PVA)
Drywall Primer, a PVA (polyvinyl acetate) coating, is my go-to for priming and sealing brand new drywall. Don't paint right over your new walls without priming them first. Bare drywall is very chalky and porous. Painting directly over that will result in an uneven and rough paint finish. Bare drywall absorbs paint like a sponge too, resulting in more paint consumption and more rolling.
Using this product on new walls seals the surface for a superior paint finish and easier paint application. Only one coat of this product is needed, but it should be rolled to work it into the pores of the drywall.
- Cost: The primer is reasonably priced around $28 per gallon for the flat finish it comes in. The price is less than a gallon of quality paint.
- Quality: Rolling a good quality paint over new walls primed with this product is a lot easier than if it were bare. Paint, as well as the primer itself, rolls on as smooth as butter. The product smooths out the surface so it's no longer chalky and spongy. The primer also hides the drywall mud along the joints.
- When to Use it: Prime new walls and drywall patches with this product. You can also use this product for masonry. I've only used it on drywall.
PrepRite ProBlock Latex and Oil-Based Primer
One coat of the latex PrepRite ProBlock maximizes the color and sheen of your paint finish and allows light colors to cover over dark in usually no more than two coats. The primer rolls on easy and dries in a couple hours to a slightly smooth finish that makes cutting-in and rolling a lot easier.
I've used this product multiple times over the years, including a recent project where I primed and painted dark blue walls in a foyer a light cream color. With one coat of this white primer, two coats of Duration paint in a matte finish covered perfectly.
This product also works well as a transition coat when painting over glossy walls. With a good sanding and one prime coat over high gloss walls, new paint forms a much stronger bond than if you were to paint right over it unprimed. Don't do that.
Painting Over Smoke and Water Stains
The oil-based version of ProBlock, not the latex one, works great for covering water and smoke stains on walls. I keep a spray can handy to use for spot priming on wall and cabinet painting projects. It's an excellent sealer. Painting over wallpaper? This oil primer is also a good surface sealer for that.
- Cost: The retail price is around $47 per gallon for the latex version.
- Quality: Application and paint coverage are very good. The oil-based version dries in 30 minutes. The smell is bad, but goes away soon after drying.
- When to Use it: Use the oil-based version for priming problematic stains, or for painting over wallpaper. You can also use it on wood, including cabinets. You can top coat it with any paint. Use the latex version for color changes, covering drywall patches, or as a bond coat between glossy walls and your new paint.
Final Thoughts on Sherwin Williams Drywall Primer
The Sherwin Williams primers mentioned in this article are products I've used the most, but they have several others that serve different purposes. Their Premium Wall and Wood Primer is also a good product I didn't mention, but I've used it a couple of times on walls with success, as well as their White Pigmented Shellac, which is basically the same as BIN white shellac.
The one drawback to Sherwin Williams is the majority of their products are exclusive to their stores, so if you don't live near one, you're out of luck. In that case, I would check out primer from Zinsser and Kilz. You can find products by either brand in just about any home improvement store.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Matt G.
Matt G. (author) from United States on August 30, 2020:
Danny from India on August 30, 2020:
Lot of nice features, nice posting Matt.