What is Primer? | Types Of Primer Used In Construction

Primer is an undercoat sticky, flat paint without any pigment that is designed to adhere well, and it provides a consistent foundation for the top layers of paint.

If a surface is not coated with primer, you will likely need more paint coats for adequate coverage, and the paint may not stick as well to the original surface as it would to the primer.

The main purpose of primer application is to achieve a polished and professional look to the material. Primers also help to seal any porous surface and prevent the material from absorbing paint by making a barrier between the paint and material. It also helps in preventing cracking and chipping of the paint layers.

primer paint on wall

There are different types of primer available in the market. But one must consider the primer based on the surface, material to be applied.

Types Of Primers Used In Construction

There are mainly three types of primer that are used in construction:

  1. Oil Based Primer
  2. Latex Primer
  3. Shellac Primer

Each type of primer comes with pros and cons, which we will discuss below in detail.

1. Oil Based Primer

Oil-based primers are the most preferred primer and have been used for decades. Oil-based primers work well with oil and latex paints making them more versatile for application on various surfaces.

Oil-based primers are most recommended for materials like Wood, Steel, other metals, and surfaces with existing paint, such as interior and exterior walls.

Pros Of Oil-Based Primer

1. Oil-based primers are excellent at withstanding temperature fluctuations. And they provide a flexible surface that prevents the paint coats from expanding or contracting due to temperature variations.

2. Oil-based primers are best suited for areas with a lot of hand contact(possibility of getting stains) Because they help prevent stains.

3. Any porous wood surface can be sealed using oil-based primers, and these types of primers are used to prevent tannins from bleeding through the paint product.

4. Oil-based primer is suitable for unfinished wood, previously varnished wood, and heavily weathered wood.

Cons Of Oil-Based Primer

1. Oil-based primers require a well-ventilated work area and protection kits during application as they produce significant VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

2. The drying period is too long; they take around or more than 24 hrs.

3. Cleaning oil-based primer is difficult from painting equipment.

4. It is not a great practice to use Oil-based primers directly on masonry. Surfaces of raw wood, raw drywall, patched walls, and rough or stained surfaces are the most ideal for this type of primer.

2. Latex Primer

Latex primer is a water-based acrylic primer, and it is a healthy alternative for those concerned with VOCs(volatile organic compounds).

Materials like softwood, bricks, and concrete are ideal for this primer type as the water base helps to provide a thin and even coat before you apply paint.

These are the best choices for painting spaces for children or occupants with breathing problems. Latex primer is used either with latex paint or acrylic paint.

Pros Of Latex Primers

  • The drying time of Latex primers is faster than the oil-based primer, Usually taking 3 to 4 hrs, and these are more flexible than oil-based primers.
  • Latex primers can cover repaired areas and make them even surface.
  • Latex primers do not produce volatile organic compounds and provide a healthy environment.
  • Latex primers are water-based; hence, they are easy to clean off from paint supplies or equipment.
  • Latex primers provide a more durable paint finish than oil-based primers.

Cons Of Latex Primers

  • Staining and poor coverage on the surface are the main disadvantages of a latex primer.
  • Latex primer is not preferred for hardwood and metal surfaces
  • Latex primers give excellent cracking resistance.

3. Shellac Primer

These types of primers are the most preferred for interior paint works. These are excellent in preventing stains and severe water and smoke damages to walls. It is used for wood, metal, plaster, plastic, etc. Shellac primer is mixed with oil or latex paints and used on surfaces.

Pros of Shellac Primer

  • Shellac primer is a fast-drying primer among other primers as it only takes 1 hr to get dry, and it is highly adhesive.
  • Shellac primer is used to seal wood knots, pitch pockets, and stubborn tannin bleeding.
  • It has optimal stain-blocking qualities.

Cons of Shellac Primer

  • The main disadvantage of Shellac primers is that they are not as versatile as latex or oil, and they produce more harmful fumes.
  • They require that you use denatured alcohol(tinner) to thin them and clean applicators.

FAQ’s On Primers

1. How many types of primers are there, and what are those?

There are three types of primers: 1) oil-based, 2) latex-based 3) shellac-based.

2. What are volatile organic compounds?

Volatile organic compounds are chemical compounds that have high vapor pressure and low water solubility. These chemical compounds can relate to the number of the sample’s molecules in the surrounding air and make the air volatile.

3. What will happen if I don’t use a primer?

Painting directly onto a material surface (especially wood surfaces) can cause paint absorption by the material. This is a bad practice, and you’ll end up going over your surface again (and again, and again).

After some time, peeling off paint takes place, which means you will need to redo the painting again. Primers help you to achieve a smoother surface. So it is always recommended to use primer for long-lasting results.

4. What type of brush should I use?

It all depends on the type of primer you are using. In the case of latex primer, synthetic brushes are recommended, and in the case of oil primer, natural brushes are recommended.

5. How to prepare the surface before applying the primer?

The surface must be cleaned entirely with a cloth to clear dust without cracks or holes.

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