Danny Lipford priming wall paneling with a paint roller.
Danny Lipford priming wall paneling.

Priming before painting has two purposes: to increase bonding between the surface and the paint, and to hide stains and dark colors so they don’t bleed through.

It’s important to prime before painting:

  • Unfinished wood, plywood, particleboard, or MDF
  • New drywall or plaster
  • Water stains on ceilings
  • Knots in wood that have bled through the paint
  • Dark or bright paint colors

Primers are available in water-based, oil-based, and shellac-based. Use special stain blocking oil-based or shellac-based primers when painting over knots, water stains, or dark colors. Latex (water-based) primers can be used on new drywall and wood.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: The most common questions I hear from people about painting have to do with primer. When do you use it and what kind do you use?

Primers chiefly serve two purposes: they promote bonding and they mask color or stains. Now, anytime you have new wood or drywall, the first coating on it should be a quality primer. This seals the pores of the materials; and, at the same time, creates a surface that is ideal for later coats to bond with.

Primers aren’t made to be durable, but they do help make the more durable coating stick. Stain-blocking primers do just what the name says. They block stains created by wood resins, water, and other materials from bleeding through both themselves and the topcoat.

If you’re painting a ceiling that has had a leak in the past, primer—preferably one that is shellac-based—is a must to prevent those brown water stains from reappearing in the new coating.

Editorial Contributors
Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More