Prime Time for Latex Primers

Written by on January 27, 2012 in Exterior Products, Interior Products, Primers with 13 Comments

no oil
Will the Contenders Please Step Forward…

I know I am not the only one who likes oil primer performance on new trim but has lost that lovin’ feeling about using them. The odor, the dry time, the silica dust, and the thinner cleanup for starters, make me want to see more latex primers. There are, literally, many headaches associated with the use of oil primers, paints and solvents. I have been making noise since around 2008 about this with manufacturers.

With modern paint formulations as advanced as they are, there is just no reason why we can’t have waterborne or latex primers that don’t make us feel like we just lost part of our life at the end of the day.

Let’s face it, the industry may never fully embrace the concept of self priming paint performance on wood and walls. That said, I am encouraged that some of the major manufacturers are putting R&D dollars into better primer technology development, and I am pleased to have been (and continue to be) dragging these products out onto jobsites for real world testing opportunities by pro painters, and providing direct feedback to manufacturers about how things really work outside the lab.

Latex Primer FAQ’s

Is there one latex primer that can do it all?

Is it better to use a few different latex primers as substrate specialists?

Can we build a completely waterborne 3 coat system in the field that is as good or better than an oil system in both aesthetics and performance?

If so, could this be more profitable than plodding along with the same cost suckery of oils, thinner and lost time?

Can they spray as well as brush or roll at a high level?

How do latex primers sand?

These are some of the questions that we are getting to the bottom of as we wrap the Primer Roundup.

Results will be posted throughout 2012. Here’s how KILZ MAX weighed in.

Scott Burt

Scott Burt is a contractor and freelance writer whose column "From the Field" has appeared in American Painting Contractor magazine (www.paintmag.com) since 2008. His writing and projects also appear in other print and digital venues. This site is an extension of Scott's publication work, and he encourages readers to leave comments and questions about articles published here. Hope to hear from you!

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  1. Tommy Johnson says:

    Also wanted to add I don’t like the slow cure-recoat time for advance. Its like using long oil.

  2. Scott Burt says:

    Some of these wb primers are getting close to oil performance, more than ever before. We will be showing some of the sanding/powdering results we have been getting, which is one of the indicators. When they powder instead of clumping, they are moving in the right direction. Also, we will be starting a round of working with Advance primer very soon. Looking forward to seeing the latest in modifieds. Thats an interesting technology.

  3. I would love to find an easy sanding, high build acrylic primer that has the same enamel hold out that good oil primers do.

    I haven’t found one yet. In fact I have found there isn’t anything that comes close to having the qualities I listed above.

    • Hve you tried Benjamin Moore Advance primer. It is a waterbourne Alkyd. We have had good results in our limited experience with this new product.

      • Tommy Johnson says:

        I have used advance primer a couple of times now, and it is great. However Tannins blocking is poor, which means a solvent solution is needed on knots.

  4. Great article, When I started in this business 25 years ago, oil primer was the end all. But, it did stink and made homeowners a little sick. It is a shame that the powers that be cannot duplicate the performance of an oil based primer in a latex application.
    In my shop right now we have Peel Stop, Shieldz, Guardz, Fresh Start and Stix. All are great at something or a few, but not everything. I still need BIN 1-2-3 for fire jobs and water marks.

  5. Dan Frost says:

    Hey Scott,

    As always, there is so much to like about your reviews. The set-up photos, the topics, the writing…..Good stuff all around. I could not agree with you more about oil primer and the lasting health affects! That being said, I do miss the performance, that is until I found some alternatives. Now, I will be honest, I have not tried the Sherwin-Williams primer, but I plan to in the near future. Our primer of choice varies on what we are priming and the application method. For n/c jobs on bare wood we apply two coats of C2 2010 sandable primer. It sprays really well,levels well, dries quickly, is water-based, sands easy, and sets up for a top coat of oil or latex really well. We also use California Grip-coat when priming cabinets and other hard to grip, glossy type surfaces. On older ceilings that have a history of difficult adhesion we usually prime with Zinsser Cover-Stain oil primer.
    Obviously is water damage or stains are visible we will use two coats of Bin alcohol base primer.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Dan. Always great to have your input. Honestly, the C2 sandable is right up there at the top of the pile, the limitation on our end in testing has been availability. Maybe I should get in touch with Dan S at Phillips. Any new F tools?

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