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Before You Buy: Understanding Paint and Primer in One Product

If you're a homeowner, you know that painting your home's interior and exterior can be a major undertaking - taking up valuable time and leaving you with a never-ending to-do list. But what if there was a way to strip away one process component and free up some time? That's where self-priming paint comes in. Combining the primer and paint into one product allows you to skip the priming step and get right to painting. This saves you time and removes some of the stress and labor involved in traditional painting. In this guide, we'll provide an overview of paint and primer in one product so you can make the best decision for your DIY painting project.

So What Exactly Is Self-priming Paint?

Paint and primer in one product are designed to seal, adhere and protect surfaces while providing a good base for the topcoat. Most brands contain two parts: a bonding primer and the paint color of your choice. This combination helps create a durable finish that lasts longer, has better adhesion, and stands up to everyday wear and tear better than traditional paints. This type of paint is most commonly used on new construction or trim, while traditional paint is typically used for walls and ceilings.

What Are the Advantages of Paint and Primer in One?

The benefits of self-priming paint are numerous. First, you save time by not having to prime the surface first. This is especially useful if you are in a hurry or lack the proper primer. Additionally, it provides better adhesion and protection than traditional paint. It is also less likely to fade over time and can handle more wear and tear without showing signs of damage. Finally, because this paint contains primer and color, you don't need to buy separate products.

Why Should You Consider Primer?

Many homeowners dread priming; it is an essential step that must be completed. While painting the color coat can provide instant satisfaction, priming ensures the paint job's longevity. Not only does it prepare the surface for paint, but it also smoothens out imperfections and enhances the adhesion of the paint. Without priming, the paint may peel or crack over time, leading to the need for repainting sooner than expected. Additionally, primer helps paint resist dirt and stains, ensuring a longer-lasting finish.

When dealing with problematic surfaces that do not adhere well to paint, priming prior to painting is often required. This is particularly true for the following types of surfaces:

  • Unfinished drywall

  • Masonry

  • Raw, unfinished wood

  • Porous bare surfaces

  • Uncoated metal

Many other factors, like wood bleeding, glossiness, and grease buildup, can make paint adhesion difficult. It might not be perfect even if you clean and roughen up the surface. That's where primer comes in. Think of it as a mediator between your base layer and your top coat. Primer helps create a smooth, flawless surface for your paint to stick to, even in the trickiest of situations.

Self-Priming Paint Better Build and Coverage

Self-priming paint is a game-changer in the painting industry. With its thicker consistency, it achieves a higher build, which means that after it dries, it forms a thicker layer than regular paint or primer. The benefit of this is that fewer coats are needed to achieve the desired finish, saving time and money. Another advantage of self-priming paint is that, despite its heavier consistency, it can still run through a paint sprayer without thinning. It's truly amazing how this innovation has made painting more efficient and hassle-free.

Situations Where Primer May Not Be Required

Despite all its advantages, primer isn't always necessary. In some situations, using self-priming paint is better than applying a separate primer and then painting on top of it. For instance, if you're dealing with minor surface imperfections or stains that don't require an additional coat of primer beforehand, self-priming paint can help conceal them more effectively. Also, self-priming paint may be the only option if you work with nonporous surfaces, such as metal and glass, since primer won't adhere well to these surfaces.

Determining When Self-Priming Paint is Appropriate

The right time to use self-priming paint depends on the surface's condition, what type of project it is for, and how much time you have to spend on it. Generally speaking, self-priming paint is an excellent choice if you want a quick finish that can handle everyday wear and tear better than traditional paint. It provides good coverage in one or two coats while protecting your walls from damage. But if you have more time and money to spare, then using a separate primer before painting may be the best way to go. Here is a list of situations when you should use self-priming paint:

1) Re-painting:

Self-primer paint is a great option to consider, particularly when you want to stick with the current color of your wall. When you choose to use the same color as the self-primer paint, you can avoid the hassle of color bleed-through. This means you won't have to worry about the old color seeping through the new coat of paint and messing up your fresh look.

2) Repairs:

For minor surface repairs and touch-ups, self-primer paint is a fantastic option. It will provide enough coverage to patch up the areas without applying primer beforehand.

3) High Traffic Areas:

Self-primer paint is a great choice if you're working in a high-traffic area that needs extra protection from wear and tear. Its thicker coating helps to resist dirt and stains, ensuring a longer-lasting finish.

4) Interior and Exterior Projects:

Self-primer paint is suitable for both interior and exterior projects. It offers protection from the elements, making it perfect for outdoor surfaces like siding or decks. At the same time, its thick consistency can provide good coverage over interior walls that have sustained damage over time.

Can The Use Of Paint And Primer In One Result In Cost Savings?

When it comes to self-priming paint, it's important to note that it's restricted to the more expensive premium paint lines, which immediately drives up costs. This means you can't go cheap with self-priming paint, even on a per-gallon basis.

Consider These Thumbnail Estimates:

Applying two coats of self-priming paint at $25 per gallon each. The cost adds up quickly with an exterior that requires 10 gallons of paint and primer per coat, totaling a hefty $500. While the convenience of not having to apply a separate primer may seem appealing, it's crucial to weigh the cost against the benefits. Ultimately, it's up to the individual to decide if self-priming paint is worth the extra expense.

Primer and Paint:

For just $290, you can easily tackle this DIY project with a 10-gallon split of primer and non-self-priming acrylic latex paint. Apply a coat of primer at $12 per gallon, allow it to dry, and then apply the exterior acrylic latex paint at $17 per gallon. Even if a second coat is needed, the grand total would only come to $460, still saving you money over the self-priming option.

Self-Priming Paint Brands

For those looking to upgrade their painting experience, some high-quality self-priming paint brands are on the market. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Valspar Ultra Premium

  • Sherwin-Williams Duration

  • Benjamin Moore Regal Select High Build Exterior Paint

  • BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Paint And Primer In One


Self-priming paint can be a great way to save time and hassle, but there are some important factors to consider before purchasing. Evaluate the surface's condition, what type of project it is for, and how much money you're willing to spend on supplies. If you decide that self-priming paint is right for your project, you can rest assured knowing that several top-notch paint brands are on the market.


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