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Best Drywall Primer

Pnut's picture

Do any of you have a recommendation for a  primer for drywall???  If so:

  1. What is your favorite for interior rooms?

  2. What is your favorite for bathrooms?

Latex paint will cover the drywall....



(post #66312, reply #1 of 14)

If it's new drywall, any PVA will do. If it's going over existing paint, I've always had good luck with Kilz 2 latex, except over oil paint or bad stains. In that case use Bullseye 123 (I think that's what it's called).

Jason Pharez Construction

   Framing & Exterior Remodeling

Jason Pharez Construction

    Framing Contractor

(post #66312, reply #2 of 14)

This is new drywall--dumb question:  What is PVA?

(post #66312, reply #8 of 14)

Used USG First Coat on my house,purchased at a pro Drywall store- it came highly recomended by my drywall installer (now there's a story), so I tried it. Don't know if I got a bad batch or what but it was Absolute Disaster!!!!!!!!!!!Ended up re-priming with some product from Big Box and it did fine.

(post #66312, reply #9 of 14)

As for the barmill comment... I wouldnt agree.

I would use a PVA water based on most conditions.  Just make sure the primer you use is recommended for drywall.  If you want names, both SW and Ben Moore have good primers specifically for drywall.

In addition, I usually recommend trying to use primer from the manufacturer that you are using for a topcoat.  Manufacturers test using there own products, so they will work best together.


(post #66312, reply #12 of 14)

Does Zinsser 1-2-3 rate as DW primer? Zinsser recommends it. Based on another thread going on in Techniques, it seems like it would be worth priming even if I decided to use a self-priming paint like Zinsser Perma-White.

(post #66312, reply #13 of 14)


Zinsser would qualify as a drywall primer, but for most applications is a bit of over kill.  123 is a whited shellac.  The solvent is denatured alcohol.  It is great to block stains, and moisture for baths, or to use to prime wood for tanin bleed or to cover knots.  Its not recommended, but I have successfully covered oily wood with it as well. 

Standard drywall primer is latex, and the solvent is water.  Primer is different then topcoat because it has more binder, or "glue" in it, on the flip side it can look thin because where there is more glue, there are less solids.  This is perfectly normal.  As Sue stated it is easier to sand because the glue makes the paint more brittle than gummy.

If a paint is considered self priming, I guess I would trust it.  I have only used one of these once and it was an exterior job.  Its been a few years and still looks good, but I didnt go on the property.

As for the shellac prime, it is a bit more caustic for fumes because it has alcohol, and it would be more costly compared to PVA, but it is what I would refer to as a Stainblocking primer. 

Edit:  shellac is easy to sand like latex, but oil based stainblockers are ballistic. 


Edited 5/26/2005 10:45 am ET by zendo

(post #66312, reply #10 of 14)


Please explain your disaster... interested in the specifics, we usually can trouble shoot the problem.


(post #66312, reply #11 of 14)

It was thin and milky and drippy and hard to work with but it also left globs of stuff on the wall. And after it was painted over, when blue, brand-name painter's tape was used, even for just 10 minutes, the tape pulled everything right off. We found the top primer sold at Porter Paints to be really good.

(post #66312, reply #4 of 14)


It's not too late, it's never too late.

(post #66312, reply #5 of 14)

PVA is polyvinyl acetate.  It is a type of polymer added to some primers.  Its purpose is to seal the surface more effectively than a finish coat would.

For bathrooms I nearly always us Zinsser Mildew Proof Bathroom Paint satin.  It is self priming.  It dries fairly quickly and forms quite a tenacious film, so it requires a little more practiced technique to apply.  It provides a beautiful finish that is also easy to clean.  It comes in white (which I use for ceilings) and can be tinted (which I do for walls).  Pay attention to the instructions to use only 75% of the normal tint, because it comes out darker than latex paints.  It cleans up with water.

(post #66312, reply #6 of 14)

"Sheetrok First Coat" and above all "Tuff-Hide"..both by USG.  Just did a drywall job where the owner used an organic primer with Zero VCO and it cost $157.00 for 5 gallon pail..came out nice.

(post #66312, reply #7 of 14)


What's the problem? Once it's painted, why does the primer matter? It's interior, after all. Is there a pool there? This could only be a thread to end quickly.

(post #66312, reply #14 of 14)

I am not a painter, but...........

I like Benjamin Moore "Fresh Start".  Listed for interior/exterior use.  Came highly recommended by the Ben Moore staff.  Flat surface, good tooth for top coats.  Water clean up.  1 hour or less = dry to touch / handle gently; 3 hours to topcoat in good weather - I always overnight.  Sands well after 3 hours if you need it. Seems to dry quicker on the brush than on the wall -- I rinse brushes hourly, less if priming on a warm, dry, day. 

Also joint compound adheres well for those pesky drywall finishing gliches which seem to magically appear only after priming.  Reprime compound touch ups.

Have used it interior and exterior both, would not hesitate to use it in a bathroom.  Seems to hold up very well outside, I primed three new porch posts, and due to circumstances beyond my control, they were exposed to the weather for a year -- primer did great.  I washed the posts and reprimed after a year because the BM guys said I should.  But the primer showed no effects of the year's exposure.


Edited 5/26/2005 4:08 pm ET by JTC1

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