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Self Priming Paint

Can There Really Be Such a Thing as Paint and Primer Together?

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Self Priming Paint

Self Priming Paint

Photo Illustration (c) Lee Wallender, Licensed to About.com
Self-priming paint...is it ready for prime-time?

Everywhere you look, paint manufacturers are advertising self-priming paint--as if this burden of priming has finally been lifted from homeowners' shoulders.

Scoff all you want. Perhaps you've probably never painted a house? For a homeowners holding down a day-job and living a life on top of that, exterior house paint can take weeks or months. Imagine ripping away one layer of that project, and how much time you might save as a result.

At the end off the day, let's face it: everyone hates priming. Often the obstacle isn't so much the added work as it is the fact that primer is not color. Painting the color coat is instant gratification; priming is drudge-work that eventually gets covered up.

Why Prime Before Painting

Priming is necessary when dealing with bare surfaces, whether wood, metal, drywall, or masonry. You will also need to prime when you are worried about wood-bleeding, gloss, grease, or other areas that make paint-adhesion difficult. While you always do want to clean the surface as much as possible and roughen up those glossy areas, the surface still isn't perfect for a top coat. Primer helps bring the surface closer to perfection.

Two Dirty Secrets About Self-Priming Paint

As with any advertising initiative, this notion of self-priming paint is a bit of a misnomer. The truth is that you still need to prime; the difference is that the paint itself is the primer.

Thus, you are not eliminating the need to lay down two coats (minimum) on bare surfaces. What you are eliminating is the purchase and application of separate primer and paint.

Another noteworthy aspect of self-priming paint is that it is thicker than normal, non-priming paint. It has a higher "build," meaning that in its dry state it builds up a thicker layer than regular paint or primer. Most self-priming paint, despite the heavier consistency, should still be capable of being run through a paint sprayer without thinning.

Consider Using Self-Priming Paint When...

  • Re-painting the same color.
  • Painting new drywall.
  • Painting your interior.
Does your house have significant house paint problems? Consider using conventional primer instead.

But Does Self-Priming Paint Save You Money?

Self-priming paint is usually restricted to the more expensive premium paint lines. So, if you do have a surface that requires priming, consider these thumbnail estimates.

Self-Primer x 2: Apply coat of self-priming paint at $25 per gallon. Let dry. Apply second coat of self-priming paint. $25/gallon again. For an exterior requiring 20 gallons of paint and primer, your tab is $1,000.

Primer + Paint: Or, apply coat of primer @ $12/gallon. Dry. Apply coat of exterior acrylic-latex paint, non self-priming, @ $17/gallon. Splitting primer and paint quantities down the middle (10 gallons each), the grand total is $290. Even being conservative and rounding up to $500, you're still spending a lot of money with the self-priming option.

In the first scenario, you are using expensive, tinted self-priming paint as your primer vs. less expensive real primer. After all, tint is another factor that drives up paint costs. Cut out tint and you can shave down your painting costs.

Brands of Self-Priming Paint

Most paint manufacturers still do not expressly put "self-priming" on the front of the label. The self-priming quality is usually mentioned secondarily. To confirm, you can usually find technical specifications for paints on manufacturers' sites.
  • Sherwin-Williams Duration®
  • BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Paint And Primer In One
  • Valspar Ultra Premium
  • Benjamin Moore Regal® Select High Build Exterior Paint

Quick Tip

Exterior house painting--when you hire a pro--can cost $10,000, $20,000, and easily more. But if you take on the prep work yourself, you can bring that number down significantly.

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