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how many coats of primer on new drywall?

harvester's picture

I am spraying primer on an entire house that I am building for myself (since '05!) My sheetrock guy suggested that I spray and backroll at least two coats on all the walls to eliminate any problems with being able to distinguish the paper from the mud.  He thought the texture of the roller napp would do a better job of hiding the variations between surfaces.  Another long time contractor suggested that I spray 2 or even 3 coats of primer, since spraying lleaves less paint on the surface.  I am new to using the sprayer but it seemed that one coat of primer went on pretty well.  Should I spend the money and time to apply a second coat, or would that just be overkill?  Do most paint contractors spray and then backroll primer?

(post #82791, reply #1 of 33)

I don't know about spraying, but I asked at a paint store about how many coats of primer (when rolling it on) and the guy said more than one is a waste of time and material. Many people, including the builder I often do painting for, don't understand what primer is and how it is supposed to work--it is not as pigmented as top coats, (unless you get "high hiding primer") so it is somewhat translucent. It is not made to cover (again, unless you buy "high hiding") so it will not cover bright colors to prevent them from showing through the top coat. For first coat on drywall, I am a big fan of PVA primer. It helps seal, so there is no apparent difference between drywall paper and areas that received drywall joint compound when you go on to apply the top coats. (Sometimes the drywall that doesn't have compound will take paint differently than the areas that do.) That's my story anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

(post #82791, reply #3 of 33)

Thanks, I think I will stick to one coat.  How about backrolling, I have read that it will help the surface absorb the paint and adhere better, but isn't the drywall paper very porous?   Wouldn't the paint soak in a bit on its own?

(post #82791, reply #4 of 33)

Maybe I am doing something wrong but. New drywall, Spray 1 coat of a good grade of PVA primer, no backroll, I have had to many times in rolling primer that I pull up a piece of mud. Then I knock down the nubs and such with a sanding pull, wipe down and roll Top coat.

Some of the newer paints are just to thick to push threw an airless!!

Or if I spray the topcoat, I backroll after spraying the top coat. I feel a better grade of primer is more important than a better grade of top coat!!!

I save my more worn out tips for priming, unless they spray fingers, new drywall sucks up lots of paint.


that my story and I am sticking with it!!


(post #82791, reply #5 of 33)

I already primed the whole house with out backrolling it, so I am glad to hear that someone has had good success with it.  I used Behr new drywall primer.  Behr Paints got the best reviews in a recent consumer reports test, so it should be a good paint. 

(post #82791, reply #7 of 33)

I used Behr new drywall primer.  Behr Paints got the best reviews in a recent consumer reports test, so it should be a good paint. 

So you're in good shape.  I've recently used that primer on new drywall and found it worked very well.  It has adhesive in it which pulls the top coat right out of the roller sleeve, making it possible to finish with one carefully applied coat. 

You should definetly back roll the top coat, to get the best coverage and appearance.  I'd continue with Behr, for best compatibility between the primer and top coat.

(post #82791, reply #9 of 33)

Thanks, I already  bought the Behr topcoat paint.  I'm from the hudson valley too.

(post #82791, reply #14 of 33)

I'm from the hudson valley too.

I lied..a little.  I'm currently in Golly-4-knee-ya with On-old and Maria. 

Where's your stomping grounds?


(post #82791, reply #25 of 33)

dutchess county


(post #82791, reply #29 of 33)

Western Orange.

(post #82791, reply #20 of 33)

I recently painted a gallon of Zinser fastprime, ran out and switched to Behr drywall primer. The side to side comparison was amazing. The Behr goes in the trash.

(post #82791, reply #21 of 33)

The Behr drywall primer isn't meant to cover as much as it is meant to make a bond between the drywall and the topcoat. 

I was suspicious of it too, until I began rolling the top coat and found how well the adhesives in the primer were working to make a great finish.


(post #82791, reply #23 of 33)

Well, I hope I didn't come across as a paint snob. I always figured PVA primers were all pretty much the same.

On my own house, I leave the ceilings primered without a top coat (you can come over and try to pick out the ones that are primer only, dare you) That's where I really noticed the difference between Zinnser and Behr.

When it comes to interior latex, I have always had a hard time telling the difference between brands. A lot of paint is advertised as "one coat coverage", but how many non-pro painters are capable of painting in one coat? It's not like you can walk into a completed house and say "wow, nice off white, they must've used Ben Moore" or "Gee, that paint looks like ####, must be Glidden".

Back to primers, the main thing is getting enough on the walls so that the mud doesn't show through. If you can do that in one coat, then that's all you need.

I had a guy working for me who came to me and said that all the studs were shadowing through his paint. When I looked at it, what he was seeing was the stripes where the taper had been spotting his screws 16" oc. My guy had been way to shy on his primer, and you could see every bit of mud through two top coats. I've heard the only cure if that happens is to go back and prime with oil, though I have never tried that.

(post #82791, reply #24 of 33)

The big difference in paint quality is how much pigment is in the paint.  The pigment is the expensive component so some companies market low price and others market better coverage and longer life.  In most cases, the more you pay, the more pigment is in the paint.  

This information came to me from a paint store manager who I met on vacation, far from his home state. 

(post #82791, reply #28 of 33)

The Behr drywall primer isn't meant to cover as much as it is meant to make a bond between the drywall and the topcoat. 

From what I've been told, that is true of all primers--that's what makes them primers, except for the "high hiding" primers, as I said, which have lots of pigment (titanium dioxide). My favorite "high hiding" primer has that in the name and I bought it at Lowes. (Seems like "Ultra" is in the name too) That stuff is great when you want to, say, paint over hot pink or lime green or something that practically glows in the dark.

(post #82791, reply #30 of 33)

For new drywall the guys at our BM paint store turned us onto USG First Coat primer.

One coat coverage and no ghosting between the taped joints and raw paper. Great coverage and reasonable priced.

(post #82791, reply #10 of 33)

Defintly back roll or just plain roll, hides the sins.


(post #82791, reply #12 of 33)

What are the "sins?"

(post #82791, reply #13 of 33)

Any small imperfections that my wife didn't point out!!


(post #82791, reply #31 of 33)

"Behr Paints got the best reviews in a recent consumer reports test, so it should be a good paint. "

Better read that again.

Behr PaintS where not tested.

A Behr paint was tested.

A-holes. Hey every group has to have one. And I have been elected to be the one. I should make that my tagline.
. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #82791, reply #32 of 33)

Most of the house is now painted.  Its looking great.  Thanks for all the advice everyone.  I ended up spraying and then  backrolling.  Even with darker colors I am getting great coverage with a single coat this way.    Despite the "Cheap Paint!"

(post #82791, reply #19 of 33)

I've started to use an alkyd (oil-based) primer on new drywall or very old plaster because i've been having problems with my finish coat of latex paint peeling off.

I read about PVA primer in this thread and since I have never heard of it, did a google search and came up with this article about primers:


Edit:  sorry Danno, replied to wrong post.  It was meant for OP.


Edited 6/14/2008 7:44 am ET by Chucky

(post #82791, reply #2 of 33)

I've never heard of or saw anybody do more then the one coat of primer. Probably for the reasons that Danno gave.


(post #82791, reply #6 of 33)

I got ready to paint new drywall a long time ago and I thought to myself
"why not just use those gallons of leftover white paint?"

So I did that and in the bathroom when we showered and the walls got wet, the paint bubbled and peeled off

I learned my lesson that a coat of primer is necessary

All I've ever done is one coat of primer

(post #82791, reply #8 of 33)

one coat, no backroll on the primer.

spray and backroll the paint.




when you are up to yur knees in gators, make gatorade     

(post #82791, reply #11 of 33)

Am I backrolling for the texture?  Because the flats sprayed surface looks pretty good to me...

(post #82791, reply #17 of 33)

Not for texture, for even coverage and sheen.

Depends on the paint, the level of gloss in the paint, and the texture (or lack of) on the wall.

Spray a coat of paint on one wall, see what you think.

My painters (high end homes) always back rolled when they sprayed color, but, honestly, they mostly just rolled, no spray, when it came to the color coat.

Said it made a better job.




when you are up to yur knees in gators, make gatorade     

(post #82791, reply #15 of 33)

If you sanded then sprayed right on top of the dust, backrolling would have been a good idea. Since you're already done I guess my point is moot, except for anyone else that runs into this. If there is dust on the drywall the primer needs to be worked in, lest it just lay on the dust and peel off later, or maybe sooner.

Also, backrolling helps to assure you don't leave any holidays (areas that didn't cover well).

Behr is garbage. I hope it works out okay, but I'd switch off to B. Moore or Sherwyn Williams or something else for the paint, especially if you're using rich, heavily pigmented colors. I wouldn't use Behr if they paid me to take it.


Cheap Tools at
See some of my work at

~ Ted W ~

(post #82791, reply #16 of 33)

Yes. I like Ben Moore because the SW store is always closed when I'm free.

But -

In ignorance I painted the entire interior of my house with Behr, and now that the paint is on the wall, it's fine just the way it is.

(post #82791, reply #26 of 33)

I did dust down the walls pretty well.  Why do you think Behr is such garbage?


(post #82791, reply #27 of 33)

My 3 experiences with it...

I used it to prime some patches I did with easy sand 90, let it dry over night so it was plenty dry. Homeowner had Behr primer and insisted I use it, so I did. When I put the paint on it all started peeling right down to the compound.

A customer bought some lighter color Behr paint to repaint his dark maroon color living room. I figured I'd better prime with PVA (Sherwin Williams brand) or the old color might bleed through. Still, even with the primer, it took 4 coats of the Behr to cover it.

Yet another customer bough Behr, a dark beige color. I stirred that stuff till my arm almost fell off, but it still kept leaving oily streaks everywhere. He returned it and I matched the color with, I don't recall but I thin Benjamin Moore, primed the Behr with Kils, and repainted everything. The Benjamin Moore (?) went on like silk, covered the Kilz in 2 coats, and was a pleasure to work with.

There is possible a fourth but I don't recall off hand. A customer bought some Home Depot brand of semigloss for their trim, which I'm pretty sure was Behr. Using my finest trim brush I could not apply that stuff without leaving a grainy texture. And there wasn't anything semi about it. It was just plain shiny. But like I said, I don't recall if that was Behr, but I think it was.

Bottom line is always the same. You get what you pay for. I've changed my policy some years ago and do not allow the customers to buy the cheap stuff, because I'm the one who has to make it work.


Cheap Tools at
See some of my work at

Edited 6/14/2008 6:58 pm by Ted W.

~ Ted W ~