Welcome to another installation of the “How Do I…?” Series. Today I will be talking primer, a necessary step when painting furniture. By the time you are ready to prime, your piece is either sanded or stripped, holes filled, hardware removed, wiped down. I am going to take you through the list of primer that I regularly use and what I like and don’t like about them.
Let’s start with the best actual primer on the block when it comes to the job of priming… Hands down, It’s Zinsser. When it comes to Zinsser, I only use Cover Stain primer. It does exactly what it says it will… covers stains! Not only is it the best product for preventing bleed through of stains (this happens especially with mahogany and cherry stains), but its adhesion is top notch. If your piece is merely lightly sanded, this primer will still stick well. It is an oil-based product so make sure you wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated area. It does tend to be a little “gummy” at times and can go on thicker than I want, but once dry it can be sanded lightly to smooth. The only thing that I really don’t like about this primer is the strong odor. Also, when humidity is high, it takes forever to dry! I won’t tell you how long, because that varies, but it once took 3 days for a coat to dry as it was so humid here.
Side note about oil-based primers: I do not keep turpentine in my home to clean my brushes after using oil-based primer. I actually wrap my brush in saran wrap and throw it in our spare freezer until the next time I need it. I usually keep a brush this way for about 4 months and then swap it out. Really, I do.
This primer, Kilz Clean Start is my new favorite. It is ZERO VOC!!!! That means it is totally safe to use indoors. Now of course, when all VOC’s are removed some quality is also lost. This primer doesn’t block stains very well, and the piece has to be thoroughly sanded or stripped for this to adhere properly. Since it doesn’t block stains as well, I usually just brush on my Zinsser on spots where I see stains or bleeding before applying paint. I do like the way that this primer goes on better than the previous 2. It is extremely smooth.
Benjamin Moore Aura Paint and Primer in One is another one of my more recent favorites. I find it to be the best paint and primer in one that I have used. Benjamin Moore has a selection of Aura colors, but you can get any of their colors in this style of paint. Again, you will want to make sure the piece has been well sanded before applying. It does seem to block stains almost as well as Zinsser, which I couldn’t believe! It also goes on velvety smooth. The only con is that if you are a first time buyer and not aware of it, it has a higher sheen quotient that other paints. So if you ask for satin, don’t be surprised if it looks more like semi-gloss. I did that once, and now I always get eggshell as I don’t like the sheen. It is not zero VOC, but it is low VOC. It can be a little pricier, but well worth it. It adheres well, covers well, and you most likely will only need 2-3 coats. If you are working with white though, I would still recommend a regular primer first.
Benjamin Moore Fresh Start is the best that I have found when using tinted primer. I use this and have it tinted when I paint red, navy blue, or any other dark colors. It has great adhesion and goes on nicely. I have tried other tinted primers and this is the best!! I often apply two coats so that the primer covers the piece entirely before painting. This will cut down on the number of coats of paint required.
That’s pretty much all I use when it comes to primer. I always brush it on, and I follow the grain of the wood and I keep my strokes long and even. When I plan to paint something white, I always use at least 2 coats of white primer just to eliminate having to do several coats of white.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me or comment below and I will do my best to get back to you promptly. Thanks for reading- I hope this was helpful to at least one person!