Choose a Good Interior Primer


Applying specialized interior primers before the finish paint can produce a smoother, more pleasing, appearance. A paint primer’s main purpose is to seal the surface thus ensuring the greatest adhesion of the finish paint. Yet a good paint primer can do much more, affecting the final appearance of the paint.

Three Types of Interior Primers are on the Market

Alkyd, also known as oil base paint primer, is reduced with mineral spirits. This primer is usually applied to wood trim, doors and windows. Alkyd primer can be used to prepare many metal surfaces for paint.

  • Alkyd paint primers can have stain blocking capabilities.
  • Dry times range from 1 hour to overnight.
  • Alkyd primer is easy to sand, allowing you to produce a ultra smooth surface.
  • Alkyd paint primers can create a strong bond allowing any type of finish paint to be applied.
  • Alkyd primer can be applied with a natural bristle brush, roller or airless sprayer.
  • Clean up with mineral spirits only.
  • A major drawback is the smell that can linger for several hours.


Acrylic, also known as latex paint primer, is reduced with water. Modern acrylic primers have become the foundation of the painting industry.

  • Acrylic primers can be applied to many surfaces including wood trim, doors and windows, MDF, paneling, plaster, masonry and many plastics.
  • Acrylic can be top coated with any type of paint.
  • Many acrylic primers have stain blocking capabilities.
  • Acrylic has the added advantage of quick dry times, typically 1-4 hours.
  • Acrylic primer can be applied with a synthetic bristle brush, roller or airless sprayer.
  • check”>Clean up with mild soap and warm water.
  • An additional advantage is the lack of a bad smell, as compared to oil base primers.


Pigmented Shellac primer is your third choice. This type of interior paint primer is reduced with denatured alcohol and has incredible adhesion capabilities.

  • Shellac primers adhere well to wood, metal and most plastics.
  • Shellac dries fast allowing sanding, or finishing, in less than an hour.
  • Shellac primers can be applied with natural white china bristle brush or roller.
  • Clean up is with denatured alcohol.
  • While it has a strong odor, it dissipates quickly.


Many surfaces benefit from the use of interior primers. In order to select the right primer, you need to identify the surface. This will help you decide which primer type will work best.

This is a small list of surfaces and recommended type(s) of interior paint primers available. This is a general list of recommended interior primers only; before purchasing any primer, consult with your local paint store about possible alternatives that can be used.

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