Let’s face the facts: priming all of your surfaces before painting can be a pain, especially when you’re working on larger projects. Often, homeowners wanting to repaint their property(ies) want to skip priming to avoid extra work, cost, and energy. Despite the pain of the process, it is a crucial step that will ensure your paint job lasts a long time and helps to avoid peeling, bubbling, and cracking in the paint. In some cases, you can get away with using a paint-and-primer-in-one product which consolidates the two steps of priming and painting into one. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it is often not a good idea to use these paint and primer products. Let’s take a look at when it is appropriate and effective to use a paint and primer in one.

What is the Difference Between Paint and Primer?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of whether self-priming paint works, and where it works, let’s first establish what exactly primer is used for, and how it helps a painting job. Primer is essentially a type of paint that preps a surface for a paint job. Primer helps to seal pores on a surface such as wood or drywall, and create a layer of adhesion that your paint will be able to last on longer.

Do You Have to Prime Before Painting?

As mentioned before, the purpose of priming a surface is to seal the pores in the material and create an even, adhesive surface for

 your paint. When you have a new, unpainted surface such as wood, brick/stone, metal, or drywall, it is best to use separate primer and paint products because the surface will be very porous and will not absorb a

layer of paint evenly. This inevitably leads to requiring more coats of paint to accomplish an even finish, wasting time and money. That’s why for a surface that has not been painted before, it is not a good idea to use the two in one product, because truthfully the paint-and-primer works more as a paint than a primer. These paints do not even include any type of primer. Needless to say, painting a new surface without priming is a big no-no.

Also, if your previous paint job is stained or damaged, you will not be able to effectively work around the issues with a self-priming paint because the paint will struggle over time to properly adhere to the surface, due to the contaminants in between the paint and the primer. The bottom line is that if the surface you are painting is previously primed/painted, or clean, then you can go ahead with a paint-and-primer-in-one, which can save you money considering the level of thickness to the paint can cover walls in fewer coats.

When Can You Use Paint-and-Primer-in-One?

There are seldom occasions where paint and primer is the best option for a painting job.  Self-priming paint works best for interior surfaces since the paint will not be exposed to varying conditions (i.e. rain, snow, sun rays, etc). Also, it will be most effective if your new paint job will be similar in color to the old paint. Otherwise, you may see the old color coat bleed through your new paint. The consistency of the self-priming paint is very thick, so it can cover most walls in just two coats when it would usually take three or four with a cheaper paint. Since these paints are often premium grade, it is easier to clean the finished coats if they ever get stained, and the finish looks much nicer than your standard cheaper paints. Keep in mind that if you are changing the color of a room drastically, it would be more efficient to use a cheaper primer on the walls beforehand, and then do two coats with the self-priming paint.