Self-priming paints, are they for the pro, or just marketing hype?

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Paul Schmidt Schmidt & Co. Painting and Decorating Chicago, Illinois
These products have a small place in the professional arsenal, but I prefer to use a dedicated primer to avoid any future failures. Ninety-five percent of the time, I’m selecting a primer with characteristics that best suit the substrate I’m painting. Primers have become task-specific, after all.

When I do use self-priming paint, it is mostly on exteriors. I choose a highquality formulation, usually Aura from Benjamin Moore, when working with a dark color, mostly so that I don’t have to get a primer tinted. This is only whenthere are limited primer needs, such as small-scale scraping and feathering. If there’s a significant amount, I’ll have the primer tinted as close as possible.

My go-to paint is Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select, but I stock multiple primers in my vans – Stix, Gardz, B-I-N, Cover-Stain, Fresh Start, etc. – for all the various situations we may encounter. Each excels at a specific task, but none is a “do it all in every situation” primer.

I rarely use paint-and-primer-in-one products on interiors. I stay with Stix, because it is an incredible bonding primer. I’ll use it when I don’t need any stain-blocking characteristics. Otherwise it’s the tried-and-true Cover-Stain, and then paint.

Adam Fox Fox Design and Paint Southlake, Texas

Paint-and-primer-in-one shouldn’t be used as a one-coat system. Many of the DIY paints in the box stores don’t readily provide that information as they are targeting homeowners instead of the professional painter. Professionals understand the concept of still needing multiple coats to achieve the correct film build for protection and/or optimal sheen. Most pros seem to understand that it is best to use a dedicated primer or sealer and then the appropriate topcoat for most surface coatings.

Certainly, however, it is possible to use a paint-and-primer-in-one as a topcoat over a traditional primer. For residential repaints of walls, ceiling and trim, that is the safest way to install a two-coat system with a paint/primer product – as long as there is no substrate failure. In those cases, I would use a dedicated spot prime system that is formulated for the surface at hand.


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