Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primer

Priming the exterior of a house

Primers are specially formulated paint products that are used to prepare surfaces for the finish coat of paint. Their most important job is to adhere to the substrate while creating a uniform surface that is ready to receive paint.

Primers also act to seal pores in wood and other permeable materials as well as to prevent stains, knots, and wood tannins from bleeding through. When properly applied, primers can make your paint job last longer and look better.

When to Prime

Every unfinished surface—including wood, drywall, metal, and concrete—should be primed before painting. While it can be tempting to skip this step, the results are almost always disappointing. Paint applied to unprimed surfaces tends to peel, crack, and chalk more than paint applied to properly primed surfaces.

Previously painted surfaces may not require priming unless you’re switching between oil-based or latex paint, or the existing paint is failing. Always scrape and sand any deteriorating surfaces before applying primer. Remember, your paint job is no better than the preparation that goes into it.

painting window sill

While it used to be necessary to apply oil-based primers over oil-based paint and latex primers over latex paints, many primers today allow you to switch between them as long as you prepare the surface properly. When painting over interior oil-based woodwork with latex, be sure to sand or degloss the surface first, then paint with a bonding primer before topcoating with latex.

Painting over multiple layers of oil-based paint on the outside of older homes with latex paint can cause adhesion problems, so in that situation, you’re better to continue using oil-based house paint.

At first glance applying primer may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it actually saves money as well as time. A good coat of primer improves paint’s hide, or ability to cover, reducing the number of coats that are necessary to achieve a smooth finish. Primers can be tinted to match the paint color. Tinting improves the primer’s hide and smoothes the transition between primer and topcoat.

Cans of different paint primer on shelf at home center

Types of Primers

Primers are available in oil, shellac, or latex-based formulas. Each type has differing properties and uses a different solvent for thinning and cleanup. Choosing which type to use is largely a matter of matching the primer’s characteristics to the project at hand.

Oil Primers

oil primer

These slow drying primers release volatile organic compounds in the air and require mineral spirits for cleanup and thinning. They produce a very smooth finish that does the best job of filling pores in bare wood while not raising the grain. Oil primers also provide a good barrier to keep tannins from certain woods from bleeding through.

Oil primers are good to use for:

  • Unfinished wood.
  • Previously varnished wood.
  • Redwood, cedar, or other woods that tend to bleed tannins.
  • Heavily weathered wood.
  • Over existing paint that is failing due to chalking or cracking.

Latex primers

latex primer

These fast drying, water-soluble primers have come along way in recent years and are now available in low and no-VOC formulas. Latex primers are not as brittle as their oil or shellac-based cousins and provide a more flexible finish that is resistant to cracking. This makes them suitable for priming bare softwoods, though test them first to see if they raise the grain or allow resin to bleed through.

Latex primers are the best choice for unfinished drywall, since they act to even out the texture and sheen between the wallboard and joint compound. They also allow water vapor to pass through, which can make them less likely to peel.

Use latex primers on:

  • Unfinished drywall.
  • Bare softwoods like pine.
  • Masonry such as brick or concrete block.
  • Galvanized metal, after proper cleaning.

Oil/Latex Paint Test

If you’re not sure whether the existing paint is oil-based or latex, wipe a small area with a clean rag saturated with denatured alcohol, paint deglosser, or non-acetone fingernail polish remover. If the paint is oil-based, it won’t be affected. If it’s latex, some paint will come off on the rag or the surface will become tacky.

Pigmented Shellac Primers

primer shellac

Shellac-based primers are fast drying and use denatured alcohol for thinning and cleanup. Though smelly and difficult to use, they are excellent at blocking stains and preventing bleed through.

Shellac primers should be used to prime or spot prime:

  • Water, smoke, and rust stains.
  • Knots, pitch pockets, and stubborn tannin bleeding.
  • Wood, metal, plaster, or plastic when you need a fast drying product.

Application and Clean Up

All primers should be applied to clean, dry, grease-free surfaces. It is a good idea to lightly sand surfaces—followed by wiping off any dust with a tack rag or damp cloth—before applying primer. If the primer leaves the surface rough, lightly sand and dust it again before applying the finish coat. For best results, paint surfaces within a week after priming.

Make sure you have adequate ventilation when using any paint product. This means that there should be no more of the fumes in the room than if you were working outside. If opening the windows and using fans isn’t enough, wear a mask or respirator. You might also want to consider using one of the new low or non-VOC latex formulations when painting indoors.

For more information on specific primers, visit the Kilz and Zinsser websites.

Further Information


  1. Shellac-based primers are fast drying and use denatured alcohol for thinning and cleanup. Though smelly and difficult to use, they are excellent at blocking stains and preventing bleed through.

  2. Can I apply an oil-based sealer over a coat of latex paint and two coats of latex primer? I am painting an antique dresser, and the tannin in the wood seems to be bleeding through.

  3. Hi Pam,
    I’ve had similar problems in the past, and while I can’t speak for every brand of sealer, you can prime over latex paint with Zinsser B-I-N (a shellac based product) and Cover-Stain (an oil based product). They also both come in spray cans if you just need to spot prime a few spots.

  4. I plan to paint a bedroom and noticed the current paint has little cracks you see when you look closely. The prior owner may have had wallpaper prior to the current paint…would cracks indicate the walls weren’t cleaned well after removing the wallpaper?

    Is the best solution to prime before repainting?

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Thank you.

  5. I used an oil based primer to prime the walls in my bathroom. I didn’t realize how much mess it would make. How do I clean the primer that has splattered on the tub, and toilet?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

  6. I have an exterior deck. Built with preserved wood, 4 years ago. It has been sealed with Thompson’s Water Seal twice. The last time 2 years ago.

    I wish to paint the top, side rails, etc. (not the deck floor) white. I have been told to prime with exterior oil based primer then top coat with exterior latex.

    Any suggestions?

    Thank you

  7. The laminate on our kitchen cabinets is coming off I guess it’s old. The contact cement underneath appears to be dried out and seems to come off easily when sanded. I’ve tought about removing all of the laminate and then priming and painting the wood. (There’s actually wood, not particle board underneath the laminate). Do you have a suggestion for a primer/sealer and paint combination?

  8. I have a problem exterior window that gets scorched by the sun and blowing rain and snow. I have completely stripped off all layers of paint.
    Instead of using oil based primer could I use a solid color
    oil based stain and then use a gloss oil paint?
    Any suggestion?

  9. I have a bed that I used polyshade stain and polyurthane on and I would like to paint over it with white Kiltz paint.The bed is a cherry color. Would I have to use a primer to keep the cherry color from bleeding through? Tell me if I can paint over stain

    • Hi Nancy,
      That will depend on the temperature, humidity, and particular product you’re using. Some can be painted over in as little as an hour, while others will need to dry overnight. Check the directions on the product you plan to use for more information.

  10. I am painting over doors and trim that were painted with oil 12 years ago, I lightly sanded, primed with Kilz 2 and applied one coat of Dunn Edwards latex semi-gloss. I is now peeling off like I didn’t do any prepping. What do I do now!
    Do I have to sand it all off now or is there something I can just paint over the Kilz 2 with?
    A very frustrated and tired homeowner!

    • Hi Dorothy,
      If possible, you’re probably better off removing it, being sure it’s sanded enough to take the gloss off, then repriming with an oil-based primer.

  11. I primed a painted ceiling.I roughed it up with sandpaper,
    cleaned it off. Primed it,I felt it needed a second coat.
    I noticed a bubble, it looked like a big boil. Should I sand
    the area and reprime it? Thank You, Bill

  12. I am painting the outside of my house. The paint is flaking and bare wood is showing. I am going to use a lightly tinted primer. Why do I have to paint over it? It looks nice the way it is. Can I leave it with only the primer and forget about the paint? I live in Oregon where it rains a lot.

  13. I am a professional painter and want to know if anyone knows of any waterbase primer that will not raise the grain of wood. Or at least one with minimal raising.

  14. We’ve just painted a ceiling with oil-based primer over a wall-papered ceiling and a coat of paint. It look as though Home Depot misinformed us about the primer. The guy said it was okay if the primer was transparent in areas but I’m seeing shadows now when I walk in the room from a certain direction and it looks like a dirty ceiling. Can we reprime and paint that? Thanks if you can answer us.

  15. We painted our ceiling that had a water spot with Zinsser oil based primer. After it dry we painted the whole ceiling with ceiling paint. But the very next day after the paint is dry the spots that we use primer cannot be cover up with paint no matter how many time we paint it. What had gone wrong? What can we do now? We really desperate for an answer. Hope you can answer us please.

  16. I would like to verify that I can use an oil based primer under a latex paint ( exterior) in a high humidity, tropical environment? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Robert,
      You can use an oil based primer under a latex paint, but if it’s very humid, it will take a long time (probably days at least) to dry. If possible, I would wait until the weather is less humid before painting with oil based.


    • Hi Lynwood,
      If you’re trying to match the color of the primer to the color of the finished coat, you should have the paint store add colorant to the primer to tint it closer to the final color rather than mixing the primer and topcoat together.

  18. I live in Florida. I primed the house a year ago. Do I need to re prime the house before I paint or can I pressure wash it before?

    • Hi Nikk,
      I assume you’re talking about the outside of a house. If you primed it a year ago and didn’t go back and topcoat it with exterior paint within the time period recommended by the paint manufacturer, you would probably need to clean it thoroughly and reprime before painting, since primer should be topcoated within a set period of time. Your best is to contact the company that made the primer and see what they recommend.

  19. I want to paint a deck that has been stained redwood. I have tried to pressure wash it but the stain will not come off. Can I prime with oil based primer and then paint it?

    • Hi Gary,
      Most deck stains penetrate into the wood to some degree, so pressure washing will not take remove all of it. While you can paint a previously stained deck, if the beading effect of the stain has worn off and it has been cleaned thoroughly, I wouldn’t recommend it, since exposure to the elements will probably cause it to peel and blister after a year or two. Instead, clean the deck with a deck cleaner, allow it to dry thoroughly, then recoat it with a waterproofing deck stain. To find out more, watch our video on How to Clean and Finish a Wood Deck. If you do decide to try and paint it, you should clean the deck and allow it to thoroughly dry, then use a stainblocking oil based primer. Good luck with your project!

  20. Our stairs are thick pine stained dark. A lot of the color has worn off and I’d like to paint them dark grey or black with the risers white but don’t know where to start. The handrail definitely needs sanding before I do anything but the steps are really worn down – I doubt they ever had any polyurethane over the stain.

  21. I have cabinet doors in my garage that are peeling and cracking. They are plywood, painted white and 14 years old. I have tried to sand off all the loose cracking paint. I have worked hours. I can not get all the paint off. It is smooth though as I started out with rough sandpaper then fine. Can I paint over the spots where I could not get the paint off? I would use the 1-2-3 primer then a high grade latex house paint.

    • Hi Sandy,
      You can paint over the old paint, just be sure that if the original finish was oil-based (see test in article above), you use a primer first that will bond to it, rather than just latex paint. Good luck with your project!

  22. Hi Danny, I own an 1897 home, shingle and clapboard siding;harsh weather-southern exposure, rain, snow. Has been painted before– I think more recently, 15yrs?, with a latex or acrylic type Pittsburg brand paint. Original indications of the dark green, lead based paint Am not taking the old completely down to bare wood but as much as possible and feathering. Yes, paying attention to removal. Am using half tint exterior oil primer, covering all clapboards, including bare wood, then a topcoat of SW Duration. Is this appropriate?
    Is there a better brand for harsh weather–thanks for input –love your tv spots–

  23. Hi – We have three windows with wood frames that face E and get strong sun in the summer and plenty of snow and rain the rest of the year. The paint on them is peeling off in large sheets. The last time they were painted was at least 5 years ago (before I moved in).
    1) Is there any way of knowing what kind of paint it is?
    2) I have a painter coming to repaint the frames this weekend. He says he’ll scrape where needed and just paint over the rest. Sound okay?
    3) What type of paint should I buy? Is oil the best option when you don’t know what the current paint is?

    • Hi Hannah,
      Make sure the painter does a thorough job of scraping off ALL the loose paint, and any remaining old paint has a good bond to the surface before repainting. At a minimum the painter should prime all the bare surfaces before topcoating, and given how it peeled in the past, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prime all of it. You can find out more about primers, as well as an easy test to see if old paint is oil or latex, at Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primer. Oil paint tends to peel more than latex outside, so I would go with a latex primer and top quality latex paint. Good luck with your project!

    • Hi Lori,
      It’s always a good idea to clean (to remove any wax, furniture polish, or dirt) and lightly sand surfaces with fine sandpaper (180-220 grit) before priming. Sanding will make the surface smoother and allow the primer to adhere better to glossy surfaces.

  24. I am going to repaint the exterior of my garage. I didn’t match my house exactly when I had the paint mixed last year. I am just lightening it slightly. When I painted it last year, I primed it and then used a latex house paint. Will I need to use a primer again when I repaint? I am again using a latex house paint. There is no chipping needed.

    • Hi John,
      You don’t need to prime your garage again to add another coat on top of what is there, just prime any spots that have peeled or chipped (in your case, it sounds like you don’t have any). Just be sure it’s clean before painting and you use the same type (oil or latex) of paint that you used before. Good luck with your project!

  25. The first time we primed and painted our smokey popcorn ceiling it took many gallons of primer to block the stains. we are painting again will it take as much primer this second time?

    • Hi Annie,
      An unpainted popcorn ceiling will soak up a lot of paint when you first prime it, but once the first coat has dried, subsequent coats should take much less. If you already primed and painted your popcorn ceiling, you shouldn’t need to prime it again (unless it has developed smoke stains again or the existing stains bled through), just apply another coat of the ceiling paint on top of what is there. Good luck with your project!

  26. Just the back of old house has lead paint alligatoring and peeling. The painter scraped off some not all. He wants to use a tinted oil based primer and oil based solid stain. Will this paint job last? Is this the correct way to do this? Should we replace the siding and then paint?

    • Hi Cathy,
      It’s hard to say how well your paint/stain job will hold up without actually seeing it and knowing more about the existing siding. Both oil-based and latex products can perform well, though oil-based tends to peel more, since it’s impervious to water vapor coming through the wood from inside the house. For that reason, latex is usually the exterior paint of choice these days. Both solid stains and paint can hold up well, but the condition and material of your siding can make a big difference in whether it peels or not. Consumer Reports magazine (and their website, if you subscribe to it) regularly reviews exterior paints and stains, so you might want to check them out for particular brands. Most libraries subscribe to Consumer Reports and keep back issues of the magazine if you don’t have a subscription. Good luck with your project!

  27. We are having the same problems as “tired home owner” above. We painted a ceiling stain with zinnzer primer. Now we can not cover it with ceiling paint. HELP Please!!

  28. I have someone paint my ceiling with an inexpensive latex-based paint. Some spots were showing thru and he then went over them with water-based Kilz. He repainted and still the spots were showing. He then hit the spots up with an oil-based kilz. Painted again and showing dark stains. Went to the paint store and the clerk advised me to buy oil-based primer (Sherwin Williams) and to paint the entire ceiling. Now…I have an much bigger problem as there are many dark spots coming right through the primer throughout my living room and dining room. Don’t know if I need to have the ceiling sanded completely down to the sheet rock or if I need an entire new ceiling. Please help!

    • Hi Cathy and Cyndee,
      Make sure you’re using a stainblocking primer. I’ve had good results with Cover Stain from Zinsser to stop stains from bleeding through. It’s an oil based product. Given all your problems, I’d try rolling or spraying a coat on the entire ceiling.
      Good luck with your project!

  29. We are painting kitchen cabinets. We sanded the first doors down. Primed with a primer supposed to be better (and more expensive) than kilz. Applied the paint (latex) and let it dry then repeated. Now there are tiny bubbles forming in the paint. Could this be wood polishing bleeding through? If so, how do we prevent it? Should we change to an oil based paint? Help!

    • Hi Tony,
      I’m not sure what would cause bubbles in the paint, but if the defects look like small craters, it’s probably fisheye which is caused by contamination of the surface usually from silicone found in furniture polishes (grease from cooking could cause it, too). If so, it’s hard to eliminate. You would need to clean the surface thoroughly with solvents then try again.

  30. Hello Ben,

    I have a new fir screen door that I was going to finish with stain and varnish but decided to paint. I had water based stain (analine dye) on it already (no varnish)and painted over with Zinsser 123 primer with the intention to topcoat with a latex. Some of the stain bled through the first coat of primer. Should I use Bin (Shellac base) or the Zinsser oil based primer to cover the stains before the second coat of primer? Not sure if I can put oil based primer over water based primer. Thanks.

    • Hi Dan,
      You should be able to put either a shellac or oil-based primer on top of the latex primer to stop the stain from bleeding through. Good luck with your project!

  31. My living room was painted a dark color with latex paint. I want to change the color and re-paint the walls. I have latex paint in the color I want. my problem is that I accidentally used oil-based primer on top of the previously painted wall… can I just paint the wall with latex paint now or did I really mess up?

    • Hi Kelsey,
      You didn’t mess up, primer is formulated so other paints will adhere well to them, so it’s fine to put oil-based primer over latex paint then apply another coat of latex paint on top. Where you can go wrong is trying to paint over glossy oil-based trim enamel with latex paint. If you don’t sand and prime the oil-based enamel first, The latex paint won’t adhere well and can chip and peel easily. Good luck with your project!

    • Hi Jess,
      Read the instructions on the can to be sure, but generally you can apply an oil-based paint over a latex primer, though personally if I’m planning on topcoating with oil-based paint, I would use an oil-based primer as well. Good luck with your project!

  32. Just moved into first house two weeks ago, ready to start painting, at least a few rooms. Specifically two small children’s bedrooms that unfortunately have painted aqua colored stars as a border in one room and what can only Very described as multi colored twister circles in the other! Both room’s walls are white with the above mentioned border treatment, stars and circles are about 5-8 inches hifh. Help with our colorful problem!

    • Hi Wayne,
      I would try sanding the border decorations down a bit with a sanding block and medium (120 grit) sandpaper to smooth the surface, then prime over it with a stain blocking primer to keep the colors from bleeding through. Good luck with your project!

  33. How many coats of Kilz Clean Start should be used? I’m covering over a wall of dark, dark green. I’ve applied one coat and it didn’t cover very well. Not sure, since it is a sealer, if one coat will be enough or if the wall should be completely “WHITE” before painting.

  34. I have oak cabinets im trying to refinish. They were previously painted with paint. I have removed most of the paint however some paint still remins in the corners and crevases of the wood. When i try to stain the wood, The stain (im going dark) is not coating those spots well, where the residual paint is. I was going to try some more liquid type paint remover to remove some more paint. Is their a primer i can put on the wood and then stain on top of that. I would like to see a more even finish. What can I do?

    • Hi Flo,
      Wood stains are designed to penetrate into the wood, rather than cover over a nonporous surface like paint. For stains to work properly you need to remove all of the old finish and sand the surface down. There are some finishes available that are basically a lightly tinted varnish, such as Minwax Polyshades, that can build up color on top of the wood, but the more coats you apply, the more opaque the wood grain will become. Good luck with your project!

  35. i just removed wallpaper from a bathroom and noticed that the adhesive from the wallpaper is still on the walls, dry but still on. Should the adhesive be washed off/removed before I prime, or can I apply primer over the surface as is?
    Would latex or oil/shellac be the choice?

    • Hi John,
      It’s a good idea to get as much of the wallpaper adhesive off the walls as possible before refinishing. You can spray on a wallpaper remover to take it off. If the walls feel rough after they are dry, sand them lightly with medium sandpaper (120 grit) until smooth before priming and painting. If there is no residue or staining from the wallpaper glue on the walls, latex wall primer should be fine. Oil or shellac based primers have much better stainblocking abilities, so use on of them if you have residue still on the walls that might bleed through. Watch our videos on How to Remove Wallpaper and Removing Wallpaper to find out more. Good luck with your project!

  36. i just used kilz original primer on a portion of my closet…i really like the way it looks right now and don’t want to paint over it. it smells pretty strong in there. is there any problem with using kilz just as a paint, and also how long until the odor wears off?

    • Hi Heather,
      The smell will go away over time, but you might want to consider a low or no VOC primer and paint in the future to reduce the smell and improve your indoor air quality. Primer is not formulated to be used as a final topcoat and should be painted over. You can find out why in our article Can Primer Be Used as the Finish Coat When Painting. Good luck with your project!

  37. I am wanting to paint my already painted vinyl shutters on the outside of the house. The salesman sold me an oil based primer..and then for the top coat, latex paint meant for metal and wood. Now I’m beginning to get scared that the latex won’t hold good..or that it will bubble and I’ll get into a mess. Am I doing the right thing?

  38. I’m so confused! I want to repaint my oil-based glossy kitchen walls and I suspect from the previous owners really bad paint job that they used shellac in the paint to make it stick to the walls.
    I have previously painted my livingroom oil-based walls by sanding them, using TSP and Kilz(original?)primer and latex paint, but the paint chips off like I didn’t prep at all!

    I basically want to repaint the entire house…in which every wall contains oil-based paint and I’m wondering what I should use to prime with so that I can paint latex throughout. As I have breathing problems, the least amount of chemicals…the better.
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hi Jay,
      While I haven’t tried all the primers, I’ve had good luck with Cover Stain from Zinsser when painting over old oil-based paint or to block stains from coming through. It’s an oil-based product, which means it has a higher odor (open windows and put fans in the windows for plenty of ventilation) and harder clean up than latex, but it does a good job. Before painting, use the denatured alcohol test to be sure you’re really painting over oil-based paint first. If the old oil-based paint has already been painted over with latex, you might as well use latex to recoat, since the already existing bond between the oil-based enamel and latex will be the one that will fail, not the bond between the latex recoat and new latex paint. Good luck with your project!

  39. I would like to paint some red iron posts on a newly built carport. what type of primer and paint should I use? I want to protect from rusting. what do you suggest?

    • Hi Judy,
      If by red iron you mean the posts came preprimed with a red colored primer, then all you have to do is topcoat them with a quallity oil-based or latex exterior paint. If they aren’t preprimed, use a wire brush and mineral spirits to remove any rust, then use a primer made for metal with a rust inhibitor, such as Rust-Oleum metal primer. Good luck with your project!

  40. What would be the best primer to use on a new unfinished bathroom cabinet? I want to achieve a nice smooth finish and I plan to use a latex paint over the primer.

  41. I installed a Exterior door last fall. It was starting to get cold so I didn’t paint it. I am getting ready to paint it now, but it appears as if they used Latex Primer and I want to use Oil Based Paint. Is there any concern with me using Oil Based Paint over the top of Latex Primer? Should I apply an Oil Based Primer first?

    Thank You

  42. If it is raining outside and the temp is in the 60’s F, is it ok to prime bare wood siding in the garage prior to hanging at a later date, or will this cause the primer coat to not be as successful as it should be due to the high humidity?

    • Hi Donna,
      Read the application directions on the can of primer to see what the manufacturer recommends. Personally, I’d wait for better weather, at the very least it will take the primer a lot longer to dry, particularly if it’s oil-based primer. Good luck with your project!

  43. we have an old 800sq ftdeck, mostly redwood with some doug fir repairs. The deck is low to the ground (about 2ft). It had previously been stained and/or painted with lots of the wood bare. Last spring we pressure washed it, let it dry for a week in hot weather, then painted it with an oil base primer, followed by a latex exterior paint. Within a few months over the summer and more into the winter, the oil primer started peeling off and cracking. What to do now? If it wasn’t such a daunting task to take it all down to bare wood again, I’d stain it. But about 60% of the paint is still holding well. Should I clear off all the loose paint and then re prime with latex primer that can stand the expansion and contraction of the wood better? thanks for your assistance

  44. Just applied a coat of Valspar Multi-purpose Primer on my kitchen ceiling. It was a white flat latex and looks great with just the primer on it.

    Can you leave primer unpainted or is it necessary to cover it with a latex final coat?

  45. I decided to paint the dark wood paneling in the den. First, I sanded and cleaned the paneling. Second I applied a oil base Primer and then painted with a latex paint. After painting with the latex paint, there was bleeding coming through the paint and I repainted it again. The same results occured with the bleeding throuth the paint.
    I next bought a quart of Zinsser 1-2-3 water base primer and spot primed the bleeding spots on the wall. The same bleeding through the primer happen again.
    Can I spot test with the Zinsser Bin schellac primer over latex paint to see if it will stop the bleeding through the paint. I am open for anyone who can help me with this problem.

  46. I have an old brick building with many, many layers of oil paint. The paint is failing badly. I have powered washed it to the point that I can’t get any more paint off, but there’s still some of the old oil-based paint on it. The advice above is conflicting — oil primer is best over multiple layers of exterior oil paint. Latex paint is best over brick and masonry. I need advice on how to handle this situation.

  47. Do I need to prime in the following situation? I plan on repainting the exterior front and back metal railings at my house. The metal railings have always been painted black using Rust-Leum protective enamel (oil based). A few rustspots and some chips have appeared since the railings were last painted by a handyman in 2006. The Rust-Oleum instructions for preparation state to remove loose paint and rust with a wire brush (or sandpaper), clean with soap and water, then apply the paint. No mention is made of priming. Is priming necessary?

    • Hi Eugene,
      Metal paints vary, some require a separate primer and others do not, so I would follow the instructions on your Rust-Oleum paint can, though it wouldn’t hurt to spot prime it first with a Rust-Oleum metal primer before topcoating it. Good luck with your project!

  48. Hi, I understand that painting with latex should happen when temperatures are <50 F for at least 24 hrs after paint is applied. But what about priming? Is that also constrained by these temperatures? What happens if it freezes the night after the priming was applied?

    • Hi MCVDP,
      Since paints can vary, you should read the label on your paint to see what the manufacturer recommends, but the general recommendation for both primer and topcoats is that the air and surface temperatures should be over 40° F when applying oil-based paint and over 50° F when painting with latex. I would hold off if the temperature will be falling before the paint has time to dry completely. You can find more information in our article onTemperature Range for Painting Your House. Good luck with your project!

  49. Hi, I am in the process of painting an old banister in my home. It has a very thin coat (I can actually see it wearing away in spots) of what I think is varnish. If I sand the banister really well can I use a latex primer before I paint?

    I plan to do the same thing to my kitchen cabinets. Can I use a latex primer or do I need to use an oil based primer?

    Thanks for any advice you can give me!

    • Hi Katie,
      While most latex primers say they can be used over oil-based paint and oil-based finishes such as varnish, I’ve always had good luck using an oil-based primer, such as Zinsser Cover Stain in situations like that. Be sure to clean your kitchen cabinets thoroughly before refinishing to remove all the grease and grime. As a final step, I like to wipe cabinets down with mineral spirits on a rag (be sure you have lots of ventilation, and turn out pilot lights first) to remove any remaining grease, then go over it with a clean, dry rag and allow it to dry before priming. Good luck with your project!

  50. I notice, checking with Google, that there are an unlimited number of advice sites regarding painting over oil based paint on inside walls with acrylic paint, but nothing about how well applying oil based paint over oil based paint works out.

    • Hi Joe,
      Painting over existing interior oil-based paint (such as oil-based enamel on trimwork) with more oil-based paint poses on problems. Just be sure to clean and lightly sand off the gloss first to aid with adhesion. You wouldn’t have to prime it if you’re painting over oil-based paint with more oil-based paint, though if you do, use oil-based primer as well. Good luck with your project!

  51. We are working on an extreme fixer-upper we purchased. The previous owner had (rumor has it) as many as 40 cats. The smell has been overwhelming. We have removed the affected sheetrock & floors and painted studs with oil-based Kilz and that has gotten most of the smell. This past weekend I primed woodwork and doors with B-I-N – Shellac Primer and that seems to have helped remove the residual odor. However, we won’t be ready to actually paint rooms and woodwork for several weeks. Do I need to re-prime the doors and woodwork or can I just paint over the primer that is weeks old?

    • Hi Alysa,
      Check the instructions on the can or primer company website, but as far as I know you should be able to paint over interior primer that only a few weeks old. Where you run into trouble is exterior primer that has been exposed to the elements for a period of time. Good luck with your project, sounds like a mess!

  52. I’m planning to paint my basement floor, which was previously painted before I bought the house. I am trying to cover up a slight pet odor left by the previous owner’s pet. Would you recommend using a shellac based primer with an oil based paint? Thanks for your help!

  53. I have a house built in the ’70s’ which has paneling with a smooth surface and some knots. We want to paint it an off white color. Please guide us on type of primer: shellac, oil or latex based (recommend a brand) must I sand? Is there a particularly good type of paint that will produce an attractive long lasting finish? Also, do you recommend flat, semigloss or egg shell top coat? Oil or latex? Thanks

    • Hi Paul,
      Any of the stainblocking primers should work, but I’ve had better results with an oil based primer covering over knots and other stains than with latex primer. I like Cover Stain from Zinsser, though being oil-based, clean up and odor are more of an issue than with latex. You should clean the surface and sand or degloss it if it has a gloss finish before priming. I would use a latex wall paint for the topcoat. I prefer an eggshell or satin finish, since it stay clean better than flat paint but isn’t so shiny as to show defects like semi-gloss or gloss. You might also want to check out or video on How to Paint Paneling. By the way, the painter we featured in the video is using a latex primer on paneling. Good luck with your project!

  54. Hi, I’m scraping the popcorn off my ceilings, starting with the garage to get experience and figure out which method works best. I’m thinking ahead on the primer but need to know what brand and kind to purchase. Thanks so much, Margaret in AL

  55. I just painted my hall closet with low odor water-based primer. However, now that the hall closet is dry I still smell the odor from the primer. Now I am afraid to put anything in my closet because I don’t want my towels smelling like paint/primer. How do I get rid of that smell? Should I let my hall closet air out more? Thanks Jay in IL

    • Hi Jay,
      I would leave the door to the closet open, with a fan in the opening to circulate air, and allow the primer to dry thoroughly for a few days before painting over the primer with a finish coat of paint. When you topcoat over the primer, use a no VOC paint such as Freshaire Choice paint, which is available at The Home Depot. We used it in our house, since my wife is very sensitive to odors, and it worked great with almost no smell at all. Good luck with your project!

  56. I have patched up a bunch of holes in my wall with plaster and was wondering which primer to use to give my wall a smooth appearance before I paint. I want to make sure that the sanded areas from the plaster are well hidden and that the whole wall is uniformed. Please advise with the best brand and model (sku) to use. Thanks

  57. Hi. We just finished a room in our basement. Our daughter colored all over the walls (on the bare drywall) with Crayola washable markers. We primed with a latex primer and the marker seaps through so we then did touch ups with an oil based primer and it still seaps through. The paint person at Home Depot says that is not going to work and everything is going to peel because we used two different primers and we should sand the whole thing down and use oil based primer on the whole thing. Sanding down and entire room just doesn’t seem feasible. What can we do to fix our problem? There are a few spots still showing the marker and I want to make sure half the room doesn’t start peeling

    • Hi Tamra,
      I had a redwood door that bled through the latex primer, so I reprimed it with an oil-based primer after it had thoroughly dried. The oil-based primer blocked the stain and adhered to the latex primer, so you should be able to prime over it, but I would read the directions on the primer carefully and/or contact the paint company that made it to find out for sure. The wax in crayons can be hard for any primer to cover, so make sure you’re using a stain blocking primer. If all else fails, try spot priming the marks with shellac based primer (it’s stinky stuff!). Good luck with your project!

  58. I am painting my cabinets to give them a refreshed look. I need to prime them before I paint them. How can I safely prime my cabinets indoors? Could I possibly tape plastic blocking off the rest of the house to keep the fumes from other parts of the house? Will fume leak through the plastic? Is there an other alternative to the strong chemical primer?

  59. I primed a newly drywalled bathroom with shellac primer. It went on like water, did not cover and had to reapply Olympic low voc primer which i had tinted to properly cover walls. Now there is a very pungent odor in the bathroom coming from the walls. It has been 3 days and it still smells very bad. What do I do? Still need to put on final coat of latex paint. Please help.

    • Hi Lisa,
      Shellac-based primer is smelly stuff, but the smell should go away in a week or two on it’s own. It’s also by nature pretty thin, since shellac is applied in thin layers so the alcohol in it will evaporate properly.

  60. I just primed my bathroom cabinets (wood with laminate interior) with a latex paint. I then read this and many other articles that recommend using an oil based primer on laminate surfaces – can I use a shellac based primer directly over the latex primer or will I not get the bond that I need?

    • Hi Erin,
      Primer serves two main functions: it provides a good bond between the surface that is being painted and the primer, and it gives a good bond between the primer and topcoat of paint. In the case of latex primer over a slick material, like glossy oil-based enamel paint or plastic laminate, there will probably not be a very good bond between the laminate surface and the latex primer. Adding a layer of shellac-based primer on top of the latex primer won’t help, since any dings will break the bond at its weakest point, between the latex primer and laminate. You could test the bond between the latex primer and laminate by scraping the primer with a fingernail or applying a piece of tape and pulling it off in an inconspicuous spot to see if the primer adhered well. If the primer easily peels off, your best bet would be to strip off the primer and start from scratch with an oil-based or shellac-based primer. If the bond between the laminate and latex primer is okay, then just topcoat with your finish paint, since the bond between the latex primer and topcoat should be fine. Good luck with your project!

  61. I am planning to paint the Pilings which support my house. The Pilings are unpainted 8 x 8 pressure treated lumber and have been in the ground for 12 years. What is the best type and brand of ecterior grade primer for this application?

  62. My husband and I just bought our first home and have begun the process of painting and are becoming quite frustrated. We have sanded and cleaned the walls. We have primed them using a latex mildew resistant primer (we live near the ocean).We have taped using an expensive tape that supposedly prevents bleed through. After the six hours the directions on the primer say to wait, we paint our latex top coat. Our problem is that the primer peels off with the tape as does the top coat. We have tried waiting a half hour to peel off the tape and that did not help. We waited only five to ten minutes to peel the tape and the same thing occurred. We also tried taping and removing it after only priming and the primer peeled off. We would really prefer to not have buy oil based primer, but if that is the best option, we will do it. We also bought an edger that should prevent us from having to tape the edges at all, if it works. We would really appreciate any advice on how to fix this aggravating issue. Thank You!!!

    • Hi Jeanne,
      Sound like you have a very weak bond between the old surface and the new primer. It could be caused by a surface that wasn’t clean (particularly if it’s in a kitchen and has a grease film on it), or a surface that was too slick (latex primer doesn’t bond as well on a slick surface as oil-based), or painting over oil-based paint with latex primer (see test in article above to find out). I know some latex primers say you can paint over oil-based, but in my experience latex primer doesn’t bond nearly as well as oil-based primer. Regardless, I wouldn’t tape on new paint until the paint has thoroughly dried (at least overnight). Since you’ve already painted with a latex primer, there’s not much you can do other than not use tape and paint carefully, or strip the surface and start over again with an oil-based primer. Good luck with your project!

  63. Hi there….

    I am sanding down my front door to bare wood. I want to do what will cover the best and last the longest. I have a Zinnser 1-2-3 primer for exterior and interior latex paint, but am debating going to get some oil based. Will I notice a big difference in the longevity of the paint job and the smoothness of my latex paint over it? ( I am going to use Duramax I believe).

  64. I just purchased a home and am re-rocking the ceillings, is there a primer I can use on new dry-wall as well as old painted walls that have been magic-markered on? I want to use a product that I can spray the entire house (walls and ceillings)at one shot.

    • Hi Mike,
      You’ll need a good stain blocking primer to cover over markers on the walls, and while there are some latex stain blocking primers available, I’ve had better using oil or shellac based primers to cover over stains, neither of which you would want to use to on all the walls or new drywall. Your best bet would be to spot prime the marks on the walls, then prime over everything with a latex primer (assuming the wall were previously painted with latex paint). Good luck with your project!

  65. I am having the interior of my house re-painted (ceilings/walls), the walls are in good condition, with latex paint. I have 3 painters telling me I don’t need any primer, just 2 coats of paint, but I have one painter telling me I should use primer first. Is it necessary to prime between if you are painting with latex, on top of latex?

    • Hi Catherine,
      You do not need to prime if you’re painting over latex paint with more latex paint. If the existing paint has a high gloss, you might want to lightly sand off the gloss before painting. Good luck with your project!

  66. I am getting ready to paint new drywall. Will I be safe in using the new paint that has primer mixed into the paint, or should I first use a primer and then paint? I plan on using latex paint for easy cleanup. Any advice would be much appreciated as I am getting different answers from the paint stores I have talked to.

    • Hi Sharon,
      I haven’t painted with the new primer/paint all in one, so I can’t say how well they work; but either way the first coat will act as a primer to seal the surface, then you should apply two topcoats if you want to be assured of complete coverage. Another option would be to tint wall primer close to your final wall color so the topcoats will cover better. Good luck with your project

  67. Hi, we bought an older home, the previous owner painted water-based latex over oil-based paint without primer. I did not know that before I painted the bathroom, the paint just peeled off. I have tried several primers, but the paint still peels off or chips off when bumped. Help, what to do now? Do I need to sand off all the water-based paint and then primer before painting?

    • Hi Kathleen,
      I have the same situation in my house as well. The problem is that the weak point in the paint bonding is between the oil-based and latex, so no matter how good a job you do bonding to the latex, it’s still going to separate beneath it. The only way to fix it, is to remove the latex paint down to the oil-based by stripping or sanding, then lightly sand the oil-based and prime it with an oil-based bonding primer (like Zinsser Cover Stain), before topcoating it with oil or latex. Good luck with your project!

  68. I just finished priming my daughter’s bedroom. I used the Kilz-2 latex primer over a bright yellow Behr flat enamel latex interior paint. My problem is that the yellow color can be seen through the primer coat. I tried putting on a thicker coat (I was using a roller), but it started to show some runs/drips, when I lightened the coat, I can see blotches of a very pale yellow through it and some darker marred areas where her furniture had been rubbing the wall. Do I do a 2nd coat of primer, or do I go ahead and paint the walls with possibly 2-coats of paint instead (Behr flat enamel latex interior paint again)? The new paint will be close in the value of the wall color with the primer on it, but a little more toward the green family of colors. Please advise…thanks!

    • Hi Viv,
      While quality wall paint would probably cover the remaining yellow, I’d put another coat of primer on first just to be sure. Two light coats of paint are always better than one heavy one. Good luck with your project!

  69. I just finished priming some dark stained woodwork with a water base primer, but it is not doing a very good job of sealing and color from the stain is bleeding through. I’m hesitant to apply a second coat thinking that it will just bleed through that as well. Would applying a pigmented shellac (Zinser BIN) over this primer stop the this bleed through. How longshould I let the let the water base primer dry before applying the shellac.

    • Hi Dave,
      I had the same problem with redwood bleeding through a water based primer. After it had dried thoroughly for a couple of days I coated it with oil-based (Cover Stain) primer, and it adhered well and stopped the bleeding through. My guess is that shellac based primer would do okay over latex primer (once the latex has dried thoroughly), but I would read the instructions and perhaps even contact the manufacturer to be sure, since alcohol is the solvent for both latex and shellac based primer. Good luck with your project!

  70. My wood garage door was accidentally primed before applying the stain. How do I remove the primer and stain again. Please help, I do not want to make mistake again.

  71. Hi,

    The doors in the upstairs floor of my 1916 Prairie Craftsman home were originally varnished. Previous owners painted over the varnish with oil and then latex paint which is now chipping off. How can I remove the chipping paint without damaging the varnish underneath which is actually really beautiful? Thanks!

  72. I recently purchased a home. The walls are painted green with latex paint. I was told that I don’t need to prime the walls, is this true? Do I have to prime white walls if I am painting them white?

  73. I have plaster walls that have been previously painted on. I have tried painting over some of the walls in one room with a latex paint and have now put 4 coats on and still can see through to the last paint job. What type of primer to I need to use? Also, what other types of preparations do I need to do the walls prior to painting? I have a lot of rooms left to paint!!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Erica,
      Unless your walls are a very bright or dark color, or you have stains on them, one coat of a quality, stain blocking latex primer should followed by two top coats of wall paint should do it. If not, try a coat (or two) of either a quality, oil-based stain blocking primer (such as Zinsser Cover-Stain) or a shellac-based stain blocking primer (like Zinsser BIN) followed by two top coats of wall paint. Good luck with your project!

  74. Howdy, I have recently acquired a piece of mtn property with a 10 yr old manufactured home in excellent condition except the owner was a heavy smoker. What primer do you recommend to cover the nicotine stains and prevent bleed thru on the topcoat? The textured ceiling and walls are not painted- just the regular wall materials found in manuf homes. I plan on using BEHR paints for the top coat. Thanx in advance.

    • Hi Ken,
      If it’s an unpainted textured ceiling with smoke stains, you’ll probably need to use a shellac-based primer to cover it and reduce the smell. If the texture dissolves on the roller when you try to roll it, then you’ll need to spray it. If not, I’d try rolling it. It will be too hard to clean the roller, so I would use an inexpensive one with a fairly long nap, then throw it away. Shellac-based primer is smelly stuff and flammable, so open up all the windows, turn off pilot lights, and put a box fan in the window. Good luck with your project!

  75. Excuse me….I forgot to ask….would you recommend spraying or roller application of the primer to either the ceiling or wall surfaces? TIA again.

  76. Okay I read through every post thus far but I’m still stuck on my situation. We purchased the house last October in the Chicagoland area. The house is a rehab and has two exterior decks; one being a pool deck and the other is the main house deck (19 x 15 with an 8 x 8 bumpout). The main house deck was old and stained a solid ugly chocolate brown. Now as the weather has begun to slightly warm, the oil-based stain on the floor of the main deck and the handrails is chipping off in places and is down to bare wood. When we bought the house, we were hoping to lighten the color up to maybe a regular brown vs. super dark brown. From what I understand, the easiest way to fix this would be to scrape off what we can and sand the edges and then apply an oil-based primer. Give it a period of time to dry (say a couple days) and then topcoat it with an oil-based solid color stain of our choice? My concern is if the original stain was chipping away, is there the possibility that we may be in the same situation come next spring; either in the same areas or areas that didn’t chip away? As well, with this situation, is it best to continue with the oil-based products or should we switch over to water-based (Chicagoland area)?

    • Hi Jason,
      You are correct in that the paint or solid stain on your deck may well peel off in another spot in the future, just like it did in the places you repaired since the weak bond is between the wood and first coat of paint/stain. Other than sanding the deck down with a drum floor sander and starting from scratch, you’re probably stuck with fixing new spots every year. As far as oil-based vs. latex stains/paints go, oil-based generally does a better job of protecting the deck but has a tendency to chip and peel more. Good luck with your project!

  77. I am remodeling a 1930s farm house and have kept three rooms ceilings the original tonge and grove pine boards. the problem is i want to repaint them but they have an old shellac shiney stain and i am not sure what i can use prime the wood for a latex based cover. i am getting too old to stand on a ladder and hand sand approx. 600sf of ceiling. any ideas on a primer that will bond to shellac?

    • Hi Rod,
      You’re best bet would be to prime your shellac finished tongue and groove ceilings with a stain blocking, shellac-based primer (such as Zinsser B-I-N primer), then topcoat with latex paint. The next best choice, which is easier to apply, would be to prime the ceilings with a stain blocking oil-based primer (like Zinsser Cover-Stain), before topcoating with latex paint. Good luck with your project!

  78. Hi, my apartments painted my restroom with oil based primer and then with latex paint . It’s been a week and it smells really bad and when you take a shower its very strong . What can we do to get rid of that ugly sent I can’t stand it anymore plus iam pregnant so please help .

  79. Hi i am currently painting a ceiling for someone else it has a yellow stain on from water leaking through i have painted this and its still showing through i have also sugar soaked it but still no signs of going what is the best way to get rid of this stain. many thanks gemma

    • Hi Gemma,
      Try painting it with a high quality stain blocking oil-based or shellac based primer. Good luck with your project!

  80. We just finished our basement and primed the new drywall. We don’t mind the look of plain white primer. Do we have to put paint on top right away? What consequences could we face? Although it is a fairly dry basement, it will be humid at times.

  81. Hi, I have a question similar to Desiree on 4/6/11. I painted one wall and an archway using oil based primer (my error). The smell is overwhelming and it has been 7 days. Can another primer (water based, low/no voc) be painted over it to “seal” the odor? And can it trap the toxins that are coming into the air?How long could it potentially take to fully cure and for the odor to subside? I have a two year old and she has been confined to the bedroom so she’s not exposed to the fumes. Thank you so much in advance.

  82. Hi, Last year we remodeled our three porches, we used pre-treated railing.Also, tongue and groove {we didnt think was pre-treated) we primed with a good latex primer and painted using a oil based porch paint(A very well known brand). It is already peeling up,even the primer; its not adhering to the new lumber we used. What can we do to repaint and not have this happen again in a couple months? Thank you!

  83. We are refurbishing a 20 year old kitchen with “pickled” wood cabinets (Very popular in the late 80’s) I have read about “deglossing”, sanding , priming and am totally confused. The cabinet fronts are solid wood, some side panels are a very thin veneer of a wood looking material . Our kitchen is very big and don’t want to make a huge mistake. I have 30+ doors and about 18 drawers. We’re painting white.Any tips?

    • Hi Annie,
      Before painting your kitchen cabinets, start by making sure you’ve removed all the grease and dirt from the surface. Next, sand the cabinets lightly with fine grit sandpaper to remove any gloss and help the primer to adhere, and wipe the cabinets down with a tack rag to remove any dust. Then prime the cabinets (I prefer an oil-based primer on woodwork, such as Zinsser Cover Stain) with a high quality, stain blocking primer. If the surface of the primer feels rough after it has dried, sand it lightly with fine sandpaper and wipe off any dust. Finally, apply two topcoats of high quality enamel paint (either oil or latex).
      Good luck with your project!

  84. We’re getting there! Thank you! I’ve degreased, sanded, primed, one coat of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo low lustre acrylic enamel. I’m going to lightly sand and on to second coat. Thanks for help!!

  85. I just purchase a home and the owner painted the family room dark blue. I want to repaint it to an eggshell white colour. I went to Home Depot and they recommended those 2-in-1 primer and paint combo. I’m old school and thinking of buying a separate can of primer and a separate can of paint. I don’t know what type of paint the dark blue is. What type of primer should I buy, oil/latex/shellac? The eggshell white I like to paint is just waterbase, not semi-gloss or satin. I want to keep things simple.

    Thank you.

  86. I would like to know if I can use Kilz on a bathroom door and frame before painting. The bathroom door has privously had wall paper on it. Pls. Help

    • Hi Carleen,
      You can use a primer like Kilz on a bathroom door, but you need to remove all the wallpaper adhesive first so you’ll have a smooth, hard surface to apply the primer to. Good luck with your project!

  87. I was wondering if I painted my new dry walled ceiling with the zinsser brand bullseye 123 latex dark tint primer if I really had to wait 7 days to apply my latex paint over it? It seems like a very long time to have to wait between coats and if I have to could you explain to me why exactly.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Brenda,
      I read the technical bulletins on both Bulls Eye 1-2-3 and Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus, and don’t see where it says you have to wait 7 days to topcoat over it. It says you can recoat in 1 hour to overnight (depending on if you’re covering over stains or not), and that tinted primer will take longer to dry (it doesn’t say how much longer). It also says that the primer will reach full adhesion and hardness after 7 days, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait that long to topcoat over it. You can find out more on the Zinsser site at http://www.rustoleumibg.com/images/tds/ZIN_TDS_BE_123%20with%20MPI_10_15_10.pdf
      Good luck with your project!

  88. I have a few gallons of Kilz Interior Acrylic Latex Paint and would like to use it up on the interior of an outside shed. The finished project doesn’t have to look good, I just thought it might help to protect the wood and brighten it up some. Will this paint work or will it peel?

  89. I am thoroughly disgusted with Zinser Bin 123. The guys at the paint store recommended it to cover old water stains on a ceiling. After application and drying I painted the ceiling with Valspar Premium ceiling paint. Now there are shiny strips where the 123 was applied. I’ve gone over them twice with the ceiling paint and they still keep appearing. The product did cover the stains but it is almost uglier now. Any remedy for this?

  90. I hired a painter to refinish the wood frames of the sliding glass doors. They were originally oil based stained and then sealed polyurethane. The painter applied a very dark stain while I was away and I want to know if it can be removed and the lighter stain that I purchased used in its place. I would like an answer from you all since I no longer trust this painter.

  91. I sanded and used oil primer..2 coats.. on an old wooden varnished garage door then painted with dark good gualit latex exterior paint. It bubbled when weather turned moist later in fall.
    What to do now???

  92. Staircase, started with carpet, pulled off, then after sanding and cleaning, used a Stain on every other step. Failed to remove all of Stain so it was Tacky.Took Mineral spirits rubbed down. Discovered spots all over stairs that the Stain did not adhere to, must be a poly that I didn’t know was there.And the stairs were alot less tacky but not completely dry either.So decided to switch to paint. Applied oilbased primer that said will hide the Stain. Very thick. Applied one coat to the stairs without Stain dried quickly, But the stairs with Stain still kinda tacky..it’s been drying x 5 hours, will the tacky go away? If not can I paint a latex based paint over and will that dry ok, or will it be tacky too? Air Cond going with fans constantly…Any and all help much appreciated. Thank You

  93. Pine sap (I assume) stains are bleeding through my attic onto the ceiling below leaving ugly yellow/brown looking stains. Any suggestions?

  94. Used silicone to go around windows on river cabin…then found out can’t paint. However, I’ve read using CoverStain a possible solution. Waaay to much to remove, etc. Am open to suggestions!!!

  95. I have been sanding my wood garage all summer and now it’s fall and the weather hasn’t been good to prime/paint…I waited too long to paint. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion as to whether or not I should prime/paint my garage now in the fall (I live in Ohio) or wait until spring and leave the bare wood exposed….or can I just prime now and leave it until spring to paint…please help

  96. Hi,

    I have had a tenant renting the lower level of my house who had a cat that did urinate on the carpet and possible baseboard ( will be assessing that ). Pretty sure it has not wicked onto the painted sheet rock at this time. However, I have been told sheet rock can abosrb the urine odor despite not being damaged by actual urination. If the sheet rock has not been damaged due cat urination, is there a paint and/or method of painting that will lock in any potential cat urine odor the sheet rock may have absorbed? Thanks for your suggestions and advise!

  97. Need to prime a lot of wood on two 100+ railroad cars. I have heard that a 50/50 solution of the finish paint and mineral spirits make an excellent primer. Have not decided what kind of finish paint to use. On the caboose we used a standard oil base primer and DTM coating on raw poplar.

  98. I re-painted a metal double railing inside my home I just bought two weeks ago and it still feels tacky to the touch as if the paint has not dried completely.But the bottom rail is completely dry-the top still feels tacky. I am not sure what type of paint was already on the railing. Can you tell me why it has not completely dried and what can I do to help it dry?

  99. We have been taking off wall paper that was put on the walls with out primer or paint when the house was built. Needless to say the paper underneath eithe bubbles or tears in many places. I’ve read we should cut out the bubbles and prime before put on the compound . Should we use an oil base primer for this? I’m wondering if a water base primer may make the paper too wet and bubble more layers of the paper.
    Also, once the spots are patched should we use an oil or water base primer?

  100. @ Jenny

    bit confused in your description i take it your not taking off the old paper before (compound) replastering over the existing wallpaper

    My suggestion would be to strip the old wallpaper completly with steamer

    you could use an oilbased primer (undercoat) would be a cheaper option this would stiffen the old paper and give a half decent work suface but why do that when you can strip the walls of all old paper it may seem like a mammouth task but trying to replaster over old existing paper is always risky and i would consider non negotiable Strip the walls

  101. The painter used kilz primer on the walls and then painted them. They are leaving off an odor, only way I can describe the smell is it smells like new carpeting. How can i get rid of the smell?

  102. I am starting a painting project on new walls I was offer a tinted primer in a beige shade for free….I have selected a light green and a light grey for the finish color will the tint in the primer really effect the final shade of the color. Or should I forgo the savings and use white?

  103. I am painting an old particle board cabinet that has a glossy finish. I was instructed to use the Zinnser 1 2 3 (oil base)by a friend. When I got to the hardware store, I was instructed to use the water based/latex stuff.

    How long do I have to wait after I primed before I can paint with my latex paint? I can’t seem to find an answer. Can it be painted before the “fully cured in up to 7 days” (whatever the means).

    It is very dry here this time of year.

  104. Like Faith, I primed drywall with Kilz Clean Start Primer, and then painted with BEHR Ultra Premium Plus Low VOC flat latex paint. After 8 weeks the room smells like damp paint — although it is quite dry. The dried paint and primer on the outside of the cans smells fine — but a test board I painted with both primer and paint smells terrible. There seems to be a chemical interaction — any ideas how to solve the odor problem?

  105. my daughter purchased home recently,and she had wood fence set up, she painted outside of fence without primer, inside of wall is still bare, is there something she can do to the outside wall she already paint? Or it is too late?

  106. I have very old bedroom furniture that has no paint on it. Just original varnish or whatever they used back then. I do not want to strip or sand. All I want to do is put ONE coat of something (no paint) on it. Furniture polish doesn’t seem to be the trick. Thank you!

  107. I painted my daughter’s room with Behr Premium Plus Ultra over 2 months ago and the walls smell really bad (like ammonia or cat urine). I contacted Behr and they sent me Kilz Max primer to seal the odor. After applying 2 coats of the primer and then 2 coats of new paint, the odor is still coming through the walls. I’ve been told the best primer to use for odors is shellac, but I’ve also been told that wallboard or drywall is porous, so the fumes will eventually come out on the other side of the walls or into the attic and make my whole house smell (which is already happening). I believe this would be true with oil based primers as well. I’ve also been told if shellac primer is used on the interior of exterior walls in a humid climate, mold could grow inside the walls. What are your thoughts on this? This paint job has become very expensive.

  108. I’ve been using Mad Dog for years now and it really works well up here in Minnesota with our crazy weather! haha Anyone else use this stuff?

  109. Help! I am trying to paint some wood stained bookcases and have sanded them and spray painted primer using Zinsser white. Now I’m ready to paint but there’s a white powdery coat all over the bookcases. I’m trying to damp wipe and vacumn this powdery stuff but I don’t understand why this is….did the primer not take? I also damp wiped after sanding so it’s not that. Help

  110. My husband accidently painted an interior wall with acrylic indoor/outdoor patio deck paint. He didn’t read the label. My concern from everything I have read is about the smell/ fumes. Many online say the smell lasts a while. Is there anything we can do? Will simply painting over it once it dries work? Also since it is really meant for concrete and we painted a wall, what will happen? Thanks for your help!

  111. Hi I bought a mobile home, 12 yrs old, and the previous owners smoked so so so much, even the cobwebs were nicotine stained. we wiped the walls down with 409 and then primed, used Kilt 2 latex but started with Bullseye 123 water based primer. in both cases the walls after only a few days of application seem to scratch down the decorative (and yellow stained) walls. We had to use 12 gallons to get the walls and ceilings white, please tell me it wasnt a waist and i should have used or did something else. any ideas????

  112. Hi,
    I primed the oil based trim in my living room with Kilz2, as recommended by the local Lowe’s then painted it with a semi-gloss latex paint. Even after 2 coats, it looks awful?? The walls in the room look fine, but that was latex over latex and they are painted in a flat finish. It would be crazy to try sanding though all of that…any ideas of how to fix this room and avoid this problem in the next room?

  113. I painted my front door with a oil based black paint. The door is facing east with a strong sunshine in the morning. Because we have a storm door on for winter time, it creates a chemical smell with the sun hiting it. This smell goes through the house and I am scared its harming us. I don’t know if this smell will continue when summer arrives and we put on the screen door which may allow air to calm down the smell. I open the door until the sun moves to the south. I can’t keep doing this every morning. Any suggestions on what to do?

  114. Bathroom painting job….
    I peeled off wallpaper. There is latex paint under the removed wallpaper. I will be filling in a few nail and screw holes with plaster. Correct me if I’m wrong…
    Sand and clean the latex paint down to aid in the adhesion of kilz oil based primer (used to seal walls from moisture). Then use latex paint over the oil based primer.
    No need for oil based primer because the walls are already “protected” from moisture because of the old latex paint already there. Just sand and clean the walls before applying new latex paint.
    Use latex primer over old latex paint before applying new latex paint. Just sand and clean walls before applying new latex paint.
    Another method I haven’t listed….


  115. I have two cabinets that are oak (oak finished) wood and then the sides, shelves, etc. are a laminate to imitate the wood of the doors. (Cabinets are open with shelves at top and doors on bottom.) What type of primer is best to use prior to painting? I want to paint the units high gloss white and use in a closet. What type of paint is best to paint for durability and looks after priming? Should any type of top coat be put on the paint?

  116. Can I spot prime my ceiling with spray shellac for smoke stains that wont wash off ? I am going to paint it with semigloss latex and primer combo. Just so I can wash it in the future from the wood smoke and road dust.

  117. I am currently doing a project for the interior of my car. i prepped everything correctly the only thing is that i accidentally used a primer that was meant for wood and metal wood and fiberglass surface. this is a sandalble primer. the name of the primer is called Dupli-color Sandable primer. should i proceed with the project and sand it then paint the base coat over it or get another primer that is specifically for vinyl and plastic?

  118. hi im repainting my garage.it is a centerblock i guess it has mortar joints.i took off all the paint should i use oil primer and oil paint or latex oil and pain.wich one will hold up the longest? i live in Cleveland and i heat the garage in the winter.?? Steve

    • Hi Karen,
      The comments section at the bottom of each post on our website is for visitors to give feedback and communicate with each other. While we read all the comments submitted, we are not able to respond to each one or answer individual questions on a regular basis. If you have a home improvement question, you can send it to us at https://todayshomeowner.com/radio/ask-questions/ and it may be answered on our Today’s Homeowner radio show.
      Thank you for your feedback!

  119. I want to apply primer to new porch railings, the weather is 84 and humid. Will anything happen to the primer in humid weather?

  120. Have sanded down and painted stained wood door frames with a stain block primer but stain is still coming through after two coats of primer, can anyone help please

    • Hi Debbie,
      I’ve had good luck with Zinsser Cover Stain oil-based primer over stained wood. I haven’t had nearly as much success with latex primers. If the stain still comes through an oil-based stainblocking primer, try using a white pigmented shellac-based primer.

  121. I am going to paint some paneling in the home we just purchased. It seems to have a coat of polyurethane on it and its just basic paneling not stained underneath the poly. I know I need to sand it, but do I used oil based or latex primer? And can I use latex paint over an oil based primer?

    • Hi Martina,
      I prefer using oil based primer over an oil based varnish, which is what most polyurethane is, but some of the new latex primers can be used over oil based finishes as well.
      Thank you for your interest!

  122. Handyman just painted bathroom for the second time (first time he remodeled bathroom because of water damage, the paint either peeled or wiped right off).
    Every time the shower is on the walls start dripping with yellow. Anyone know what that is- or what to do about it? The walls also have started to look like they are dripping paint (when wet) and have spots of wet paint- when it was painted over a week ago- any ideas?


  123. Contractor painted new pine interior doors 3 coats of laytex semi-gloss without priming them first. My research tells me this was the wrong thing to do. Should they now be primed and repainted to have good, long lasting results before they are hung?

  124. Hi,
    I was sold Kilz Original Interior Primer and Rust-oleum Professional High Performance Protective Enamel as the top coat for an EXTERIOR job. Is that really the right way to go? This is a large project (27 windows) – I want to do it right the first time, but the salesman suggested putting a tiny bit of tint in the primer to make it easier to see (the original paint is white as would be the primer and top coat). I don’t think they will let me return tinted primer – should I replace it anyway due to the labor in the project? Also is the Rust-oleum the right choice (it is not tinted)?

  125. I bought a primed fiberglass entry door but did not paint it immediately. Now it has set in dirt on it, and I am ready to paint it, but need to clean it first. How do I clean it to paint? I will be using Valspar primer
    & paint in one.


  127. My front porch has been stained and painted over. The paint is peeling off and it looks real bad. I would like to paint it over this spring could you tell me what to use to paint it and how to prep it. Thanks for your time. Linda M.

  128. My question is, if painting or staining your garage floor which product is the best to last and not be affected by driving your car on it, I have been told not to use paint that the heat from the tires will make it come off. To use epoxy paint. How about using stain? Will it hold up on garage floors? We are senior citizens and want it to last as long as we do.

  129. I am restaining cedar windows that have peeled and cracked in some small parts due to exposure to the elements. Most parts of the window are protected and are still in good condition. Should I sand the whole lot so that the new stain is consistent or will I be able to blend it in the new stain if I use the exact stain that was origionally used. I just dont want to do any damage to the windows by coarsely sanding them if I dont have too.

  130. I want to paint over my interior doors and trim. They have never been painted. Looks like the finish on them is a shiny orange shellac. The house was built in 1950. Do I have to remove the shellac before painting, and should I use a latex or oil primer?

  131. My home has a cement finish to the siding. Because there were several blisters in the paint, we scraped the popped places off, then painted it with paint that had the primer in the paint. Now there are spots that have ‘popped’ again. What can we put on under the paint to make it stay. I lasted about 10 months before some of the blisters popped.

  132. I am painting 40 year old wood cabinets. Lowe’s sold me Zissner Bonding Primer and Valspar high gloss latex. I cleaned and sanded my cabinets. Lowe’s “pro” recommended a sponge roller for my cabinets. (I took a door in for reference.) However, I have a texture when I paint and let dry after following Lowe’s instructions. I’m beneath amateur. Any help is appreciated. We have 28 cabinet doors in our old farm house and family scheduled here soon.

  133. I used an oil-based primer over Melamine that was painted on the walls. The primer dried very bumpy. I think I should give it a light sanding, but then what. First coat of paint or another coat of primer?

  134. I have been trying pint samples with eggshell finish. I tried a color on a wall then primered over it after 2 days. The primer did not adhere to the eggshell. It dripped and ran. When I tried to smooth over with a brush it clumped and left an uneven and bumpy surface. Then I tried to primer over it again and really noticed how bad it is. Should I try to sand it. How long should I wait to sand?

  135. Is it possible to put a second coat of eggshell paint on in an hour. It feels dry to the touch and we are ina rush due to a reunion. Will it harm anything?

  136. I put Zinsser latex primer only over the places on the wall where we were trying dark colors (walls are off white and will be painted about a shade darker.) Do I need to prime the entire wall before painting? Will the places primed over the dark colors look different when I paint if I don’t prime the entire wall?

  137. We are trying to repaint our bathroom walls. We’ve been told by the previous owner that the reason for dark spots emerging is that they painted latex paint over oil based paint. Could this really be the case and how do we fix it?

  138. we have some dark stain on our kitchen cabinets and we sanded them down and washed them down, and painted over them with a semigloss paint and now its bumpy and sticky, what can we do to get a smooth surface?

  139. Please need advice asap. I am in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets. I was told it was OK to use water base primer. I bought Zinnser water base primer which I have already used on the bottom cabinets. I am now reading in many pages it would have been better to use oil base primer. Can I repaint with oil base primer on top of the water base primer?

  140. Hi I need some help! We recently purchased a very expensive wallpaper and got a person (professional) to fit the wall paper on the wall. The day he came to check out the job i asked him if preparation was needed. He said no .. he came put the wall paper up .. result the wallpaper has yellow stains along the edges and joints .. he said is not his fault but we asked other professionals and apparently he was supposed to prep the wall with a pigment sealer.
    Whats the reason we got this yellow stains on the wallpaper?
    thank you!

  141. I have 1890 house with tongue and groove wood wall that has old dark varnish or shellac finish, probably going back the full 125 years. Finally changing after 20 years of continually touching up nicks and scrathes with stain, etc.; also want to lighten up the dark hall. I’m painting it light color of other hallway wall and of adjoining rooms. Will use quality acrylic, low lustre washablke paint.

    Not sure what stain cover, primer-sealer, undercoat to use. Unless the current varnish or shellac will bleed, I don’t think there are any bleeding type stains, but not sure because wall is dark anyway. I have lightly steel-wooled with medium grade and washed with sugar soap.

    I have been advised locally (Sydney, Australia) to use oil based stain cover such as Zinsser (Rustoleum) or equivalent. Is this best approach for covering very dark color and for best durability of new paint? Thanks.

    • Bob,
      I’d say you’ve gotten good advice. I’d use an oil-based stain blocking primer. I’ve had good luck with Zinsser Cover Stain. I’d test it on a spot first. You also could use a shellac based stain blocker, but they’re harder to use.

  142. In a bedroom we had a design painted on a wall using acrylic gold paint. I have tried 3 coats of a latex primer and it still keeps bleeding through. Suggestions?

    • Hi Herb,
      Try using an oil-based or shellac-based primer. They do a much better job of preventing bleeding than latex primers.

  143. My painter mixed the leftover latex primer with the latex paint. I don’t know why he did that. Wanted to know if it would be safe to store that and use it on any small jobs in future or it is now a waste and cannot be used ?

  144. If i want to apply white cement putty then apply oil based primer and after that i want to apply waterbased paint & PU paint also. So is it possible??? what is life expectancy??
    Also PU paint is washable with water??

  145. Help! I just purchased a condo that was a flip home and realize some of the poor painting job is worse than I thought. It appears that someone painted a vinyl paint over the oak stained stair rail and wood work. The paint is peeling off in sheets. I have started removing all of the paint just using a scraper. It comes off easily. However, I am having trouble removing the paint in the nooks. I would like to stain the oak darker but need to get all of the vinyl paint off. Do I need to use a heavy-duty paint remover or is there something that is a light duty that will just remove the vinyl paint and not totally strip the wood?

    Problem 2: It appears they also put vinyl paint over doors and the door paint is peeling off in chunks too. Does that mean they had oil-based paint on the doors? Do I have to take all the doors down, remove paint, sand and start over? Ugh!! 🙁

  146. Good info. However, in California oil-based primers are banned and we cannot get them. Trying to prime a redwood fence has become nearly impossible.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the Today’s Homeowner community!
      TH community members helping other TH community members — we love it. 🙂

  147. We renovated two years ago and recently discovered exterior paint that wasn’t primed. In addition, paint was applied over some mildew. How can I address and fix these problems?

  148. I wanted to use BIN shellac-based primer on wood paneling I am planning to paint. The problem is a family member has COPD and couldn’t take the smell. Is there anything comparable to this product that would be safe to use for people with compromised breathing?

  149. Hi, we are buying a cottage that has varnished old pine paneling. I love the whitewash look but I’m told since its been varnished, it would be too much work to do. So, I would like to paint them white if that were the case. What is the process to prepare and paint these orange dark boards. I’m lazy by nature but this is right on the Atlantic Ocean and really want a beachy bright look. Thanks. Any suggestions of paint and types and the process would be appreciated. I wanted to hire a painter but my husband says if we buy it.. I’m doing it 🙂

  150. Dear all,

    For the very first time I am going to try to paint a bookshelf. It is made of plywood grey white colour and the surface is very smooth. I want to colour it red. Do I need to sand it and what colour of primer I need to use?

    Moreover I want to make a tree paint (red wall has white tree kind of concept) in one side of the shelf. Should I directly draw it on the wall or i should cut the shape on a paper and paste it on the wall…..then paint it?

    1) All walls originally painted with latex paint. Blue wallpaper sizing applied to bottom half of wall prior to wallpaper application. Looked great!

    2) Now child grown-time for change. Wallpaper, backing and glue removed using Downy/H2O and scraper. BLUE sizing removal an issue. Have scraped for hrs and removed a lot. Tried lightly sanding, but walls still tacky/blue. How much more of this sizing needs to be removed prior to painting? What kind of primer can be used? Remember half of the wall was not wallpapered. I’ve been told to use an oil based primer, but can that be applied over latex paint and can latex paint be re-applied over an oil based primer?

    I thought latex primers would reactivate the sizing. I would prefer to use latex products if able (asthma) but I want a beautiful room,too with no peeling,etc. I’m very particular and at the moment very CONFUSED . HELP!!! THANKS!

  152. Hi I have a big back porch that I want to stain. The wood is treated but I have a problem! I have big oil stains in a few places (car oil)! And I can’t find anywhere how to get it up or how or what will cover this? The stains are about a year or more old I’ve tried degreaser…. Any help will be appreciated

  153. Help! I just realized I used drywall primer on my kitchen cabinets after I worked really hard getting them ready to paint!! I used tsp, sanded and wiped them down. Can I buy another primer and use it on top of the drywall primer? Did I totally mess up?

  154. I am planning to paint two things that I’m certain will need primer: 1) a varnished, older wood dresser and 2) walls in a previously painted room that has a lot of water stains. Would the shellac be best for the dresser and the cover-stain best for the wall? Or would the shellac suffice for both? Thanks!

  155. I have honey oak cabinets that I sanded lightly and primed with an oil based primer. I then painted the cabinets a espresso color with latex paint. I have already had chipping that has exposed the primer coat, which is white. What do I need to do to make sure that the latex paint adheres to the oil based primer???? I did use floetrol, which is a paint additive to minimize brush strokes. The primer adhered to the wood, but the latex is not adhering to the primer. It has been a few months since I painted them, and I just had two big chips on a drawer this week. Can you tell me what I did wrong and what I need to do to correct it?

  156. I just got back from painting my kitchen cabinets at my new house. I accidentally used floetrol in my alkyd (oil) based paint. it went on really well. Are my cabinets ruined? I used an oil based primer and sanded that down, then mixed the floetrol with the oil based paint. I would have used penetrol but for some reason I thought the paint I was using was latex.

  157. I just purchased new knotty pine wood to build a piece of furniture. I planned to shellac and clear coat it but now the wifie wants it painted with no knots showing through. is this possible. please provide suggested names of materials and procedures. thank you in advance for your advise.>>>bill

  158. Hi, I stripped my cupboards of the varnish and sanded them. I then used zinsser 1•2•3 primer for all surfaces. It says took wait a week to cure. How do you feel about that and was it a mistake not using the oil primer? Please help!! I’m new to doing stuff like this and I’m not finding answers anywhere

  159. Good for you! Glad you found something great and that works well. This is the better solution for some people to paint their needs – and that is okay, too!

  160. Hi.

    I’ve got wooden cabinets in my kitchen painted grey which I want to repaint brown. Think it would be better if I prime them first. So I found the primer that I suppose will be suitable. That’s ‘KILZ Original.’ But maybe one of the Zinsser primers mentioned in your article would be a better solution?

    • Hi, Bert,
      We can’t provide individual product recommendations due to the constantly changing inventory, and the fact that our comments last ‘forever,’ but we encourage checking your local home center, asking thorough questions and ensuring the product matches your needs.
      Good luck!

  161. Can I paint a decorative frame with Plaid’s “Liquid Leaf” after priming it with Stix water-based primer?

  162. I need to cover up an interior wall, that I recently painted, which came out too dark. Can I apply primer before it’s fully cured? Or do I need to wait I used latex paint, in eggshell, and painted the wall about 24 hours ago.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here