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  • Carlton Clark

How Many Coats Of Primer?

With any painting project, it can be a little stressful with all the rules and steps to follow. But one pretty common questions is:

“How many coats of primer do I need?”

This is a very good question because in some situations you'll need 1 coat primer and other times you could need up to 2-3.

Imagine spending the money and time to put 4 coats of primer on, when you didn’t need any at all.

Through this article, were going to dive deep into exactly how much primer you actually will need. So whether it’s your first paint job or you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll finally figure out the long-awaited answer.

When To Use One Coat

Using one coat of primer is the best situation. Not only will it save you a bunch of time. But it also keeps the project affordable.

Slight Change in Color:

When there’s a slight change in color you will only need one coat of primer. (e.g. The wall is tan and you’re painting it white)

Glossy Paint:

If your previous walls were painted with oil or latex, you will only need one coat. Keep in mind that it’s important to know for sure before you paint as latex paint will not stick to an oil enamel surface. If necessary give your local contractor a call and see what their opinion is.


You will only need to apply one coat of primer if the primer has stain blocking power. The number of coats will also depend on the type of stain. It’s vital that you know what primer to get or it could completely ruin the project costing you money and time.

Green Board:

Greenboard is water-resistant drywall. Its commonly found in bathrooms, kitchens, or any places that might have humiliation or water build-up. This will only need one coat of primer as the primer can easily cover the drywall and give you a great canvas for the new paint.

Paint & Primer In One:

When you purchase a paint that advertises a paint & Primer in one. You’ll likely only need one coat of primer before you apply the 2-in-1 paint & primer. Keep in mind if you have a very dark color you might still need an extra coat of primer.

Dry Wall:

Priming directly over drywall is one of the best ways to get a great look. This is more common in new homes but sometimes if you’re remodeling. When painting directly over drywall, it will only need one coat of primer.

Painted Wood:

When painting over painted wood you’ll only need one coat of primer. This is because of how well the primer adheres to the wood. It’s still important to scrape off tas much of the previous paint as possible. This will help the primer and new paint stay on much longer.

Unpainted Wood:

Unpainted wood is just like painted wood. You’ll only need one coat of primer. This is great to hear for anyone that's looking to do an affordable yet quality paint job.

When To Use Two Coats

Painting Over A Dark Color:

When you paint over a dark color such as brown, black, maroon, etc. it's going to take more coats of primer. This is because the primer won’t be able to completely eliminate that dark shade. For example, if you have a dark brown wall and you put one coat of primer. The final paint job will have a much darker shade than when you first bought it. This can ruin the entire project and even cost you some money.

Unfinished Drywall:

When you’re painting over finished drywall there will be no issue. But when it comes to painting unfinished drywall, you'll come across a few issues such as bubbles, blotches, and just not absorb correctly. Again, this will ruin the entire project, so either applies multiple coats or finish the drywall to save time.

Looks Like It Needs More:

One way to see if you need primer is if it just looks like there’s not enough. A good priming job you won’t be able to see much of the previous color but if its too thin you'll easily be able to see the old paint job. This is a great and easy way to get the right amount of primer.

General Rules For Primer

When priming, the most important thing is that you have enough on there. This is one of the situations where it’s better safe than sorry.

If it looks like it needs some extra primer, it won’t hurt to throw some more on there.

Primer acts as a canvas for the paint. This is key to have a perfect, high-quality paint job. It can be a lot of extra work, but it’s necessary if you’re looking for quality.

Final Thoughts

All in all, priming can be a tedious task. And truth is, everyone wants to skip it. But it's better to just commit and get the job done.

Priming sets up for a great end result that will be worth the extra work.

When it comes to deciding how much paint is necessary, the key things to look for is just the eye test. If it looks like it needs more then add more. But in general, the list above will get you exactly how much you need.

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