Decided to tackle the job of painting my new house solo, we have 2800 sf on two floors with the entire second floor as vaulted ceiling. First step drywall primer. I tried to find some reviews on different drywall primers and failed, so hereâ€™s mine.
I â€œtestedâ€ six different types of primer from three stores in my area, depending on what was on sale, and how well each one worked. All were water-based primers, some were advertised as â€œstain-blockingâ€ and some advertised as â€œPVAâ€ primers. All were applied over clean drywall with a Purdy White Dove roller cover.
Zinsser 1-2-3, $16/gallon in 2.5 gal. pails.
Kilz 2, $11/gallon in 2 gallon pails.
Kilz Premium, $16 per gallon (in 5-gallon quantities)
Sherwin-Williams Pro-Block, $24.95 per gallon, on sale from $34-something. A five gallon bucket was a bit over $140. (!)
Glidden PVA Primer, $7 per gallon in a five-gallon bucket.
Behr Stain-Blocking Primer (purple label), $16/gallon in a five-gallon bucket.
First one was the Glidden. It was barely adequate and did not cover any marks on the walls (pencil, marker or otherwise) made by the construction crew or myself. When stirred, whipped up into almost a froth, almost like milk or cream. Very thin. A Sharpie marker line could not be covered by this stuff at all.
Second was the Kilz Premium. I had a full unopened gallon left over from another project. It covered well but was thick as glue and left a lot of runs. Did not cover Sharpie but covered pen/pencil lines.
Third was S-W ProBlock. Very smooth, thick and excellent coverage, very â€˜whiteâ€™, almost as good as a premium flat white wall paint. Still did not cover Sharpie. I later found out that nothing short of two coats of the best primer would cover Sharpie marks. Bottom line â€“ donâ€™t make Sharpie marks on your drywall, even if it helps the electrician.
Zinsser 1-2-3. Decent primer, not as good of a stain-blocker as I expected, did not roll on very smooth, very difficult cleanup. They still must have some strange ingredients in this stuff that require ammonia to be used as cleanup, and it probably shouldnâ€™t be used in an enclosed space without some significant air flow. (Probably none of these should be.)
Kilz 2. Somewhat of a disappointment, only covered marginally better than the Glidden. Otherwise very similar to the Zinsser 1-2-3. A BIG step down from the Kilz Premium.
Behr. The most recent one we tried turned out to be a surprise. Excellent coverage, equal to the Sherwin-Williams. This was the only one that would cover Sharpie in two coats. Rolled on very smooth, easy cleanup (but it dries FAST â€“ you might need to do a bit more cleanup getting dried paint off your tools), this primer looked like a premium flat wall paint (finish paint) right off the first coat.
So, it seems from the (limited) results I got that you get what you pay for, to a point. The Glidden is a cheap paint and I donâ€™t mean that in a good way. I think they have a stain-blocking primer as well, but given some past experiences with Glidden paints and the PVA primer, I wasnâ€™t taking the chance. The Kilz and Zinsser, products marketed as stain-blockers, are adequate and acceptable. The 1-2-3 was probably the best of the three but the odor and cleanup was a pain. Sherwin-Williams paints seem to be very good, but at ultra-premium prices, itâ€™s not worth the purchase. Iâ€™m not a contractor so I canâ€™t take advantage of the huge discounts they give to the trade. Ben Moore, California, Muralo, Valspar and Pratt and Lambert are also available to me in this town, but none of them were a more expensive paint than the S-W. I used the Ben Moore on a renovation five years ago and was not particularly happy with it, so I stayed away this time.
The Behr paint was by far the best primer, and the biggest bang for the buck. I still have a decent amount of painting to do in the basement and I will not hesitate to get the Behr primer again. Home Depot also sells a Behr PVA primer, which if itâ€™s anything like the Glidden PVA, I will avoid like plague.
So, hope this helps someone, anyone, make a new drywall primer decision.
A footnote â€“ I decided, with the success of the Behr primer, to use the Behr Premium Flat Enamel wall paint, and it is fantastic paint. Easy on, easy cleanup, goes on smooth, no problems at all. Itâ€™s not quite one-coat coverage, but itâ€™s really close. I used a sage green in one room and it is hard to find spots that were thin. Second coat will have a bit of Floetrol added to reduce brush and roller marks and allow it to smooth out a bit. Iâ€™ve seen a lot of negative comments online about Behr paints and I have to say â€“ I canâ€™t agree â€“ this is excellent paint.