Primers are generally for one job, filling the surface in preparation for paint. This surface can be wood, wall, metal, or plastic. Once the surface is sealed then the paint layer can be applied with minimal bonding issues. Sounds easy right? But not all primers are created equal, so today we take a look at the wood primers
In this guide, we talk about 3 types of wood primers
The 3 main types of wood primers
1. Oil-Based Primers
Oil-based primers are best known for the versatility they provide. Unlike any other primers, these categories can be applied on numerous surfaces. Not only can you use them on wooden surfaces, but also on metal surfaces, and on surfaces that are porous. These primers are so good they can be used indoors or outdoors.
Additionally, they do an excellent job of concealing stains on surfaces. Oil-based paints are either alkyd made with synthetic oils or linseed made with natural oils. Of these two types, alkyds are preferable as they are less expensive and more rigid.
The dry time of an oil-based primer is affected by various factors such as humidity, room temperature, and ventilation rates. However, oil-based primers typically take 3 to 4 hours to dry to the touch completely.
Advantages of oil-based paints
- Withstands temperature variations
- Suitable for surfaces in constant contact with people since they prevent stains
- Suitable for trim jobs
- Takes a long time to dry
- Require mineral spirits and turpentine for finishing
- Difficult to clean
- Should not be used on masonry
- High levels of harmful (VOCs) Volatile organic compounds are released.
2. Latex Primers
This category of primers is water-based. These primers can also be applied for interior and exterior use on various surfaces such as wood, drywall, plaster, and painted walls. Latex-based primers are faster drying, less brittle, and more flexible than oil-based primers. Additionally, these types of primers emit fewer VOCs. These are best suited for woods not fully seasoned and wood having some dampness.
Latex paint primer usually dries in a few hours or less – usually 1 hour. If you’re working on a large project, you’ll need to use a hairdryer to speed up the process. You can also add an additive called Accelerator, making your primer dry faster. When it comes time to start painting, wait until your primer is completely dry before applying any paint. Never apply paint over fresh latex primer!
Advantages of Latex Primers
- Fast drying time
- Low to no VOCs
- Cleaning them is easier
- Healthiest options
- Ease of application
- multiple coats within shorter periods
Disadvantages of Latex Primers
- Sanding is often necessary
- Oil-based cleans better
- Not suitable for glossy surfaces
- Unsuitable for raw woods and unfinished MDF
3. Shellac Primers
This category of primers is best known for its stain-blocking capability. Although not as versatile as oil-based or latex primer, this category works best on had to adhere surfaces covering extensive paints, surfaces damaged by smoke or water, and can even cover smelly surfaces.
Additionally, they can cover stains from water, smoke, and wood tannins while preventing them from breaking the paint. This primer can be used together with the other two and applied on surfaces such as wood, metal, and plastics.
Shellac primers are not water-based; instead, they are alcohol-based and are designed to dry quickly. The Shellac primer dries quickly, allowing the second coat of paint to be applied in just a few minutes – usually 30 to 60 minutes.
- High adhesiveness
- Fast drying
- It can be used with both latex and oil-based primers
- Very easy to apply
- Most effective at blocking stains and smells
- Rarely requires sanding
- Less versatile compared to the other categories
- Smellier compared to the different primers
- Hard to clean off
- Unsuitable for highly humid interiors
- Not suitable for surface exterior applications
Conclusion on types of wood Primers
The type of wood primer you choose will highly depend on the project and intent. If it’s a surface blockage for paint prep any of the 3 can go but if you needed to block stain or previous paint then shellac is your best bet. Again wet wood is best with latex primers since they are water-based.
see our recommended ‘Best wood primers‘