Sherwin Williams Wall and Wood Shows Why Primer Still Rules
Many interior repaint jobs or do it yourself room makeovers can be done with no primer at all. Most pros would agree that paint manufacturers are putting out their top lines of paint with high enough quality ingredients these days to perform most functions required in repaint work, generally without much need for primer. Even if you are dramatically changing wall and trim colors, you probably don’t need to prime for coverage. Good paints can do that nowadays. It is in the arena of building new finishes on ceilings, walls, trim packages, windows, doors and cabinetry that laying the initial primer foundation is critical to long term performance and aesthetic endurance. And in our opinion, Sherwin Williams Wall and Wood is amongst the leaders of the class for priming raw surfaces.
Do Primers Even Do Anything?
Primers are formulated with binders that facilitate their adhesion to surfaces. While there are paints on the market that can stick to wood at an acceptable do it yourself, commercial or tract home finish standard, most professional wood finishers prefer that the first product put on their surfaces is designed to perform at a high level, and with no identity crisis.
Primers are built to stick to surfaces and encourage paints to stick to them…to be that critical link between substrate (wood) and paint. There are one can paint/primer products for situations when a lower standard is acceptable, or where just one can of product is preferred for convenience. We believe that our customers pay far too much for the features (trim, cabinets, doors, windows) in their homes for us to compromise on the initial paint job. You only get one chance to prime raw substrates.
We have been testing many waterborne primer options for the past few years, and they all come with strengths and weaknesses. One paint manufacturer exec told me years ago that every can of paint is a can of trade offs. If a formulation is tweaked in one area, there is a ripple effect in other areas. It is difficult for one can of paint or primer to excel in ALL categories.
Benefits of Sherwin Williams Wall & Wood:
- brushes, rolls and sprays exceptionally well
- dries fast (mfr says 2 hours to sand, we have observed less)
- dries flat (no hint of sheen)
- power sands and hand sands powdery smooth, doesn’t clump, pill or load abrasives much
- can be sanded intensively without edge burn or face punch through
- can get smooth and retain ‘tooth’ for topcoat adhesion
- can be abrasive on sprayer tips, resulting in premature wear
- doesn’t excel in hiding extreme wood grain bleed (maple, cedar/redwoods)/bad organic stains
- interior use only (not an all purpose int/ext product)
- viscosity/quick dry characteristics can challenge non-pro users in brush application but is forgiving of overlaps
We have used Wall & Wood extensively in combination with SW Cashmere and BM (314) Satin Impervo on several wood species, cabinet grade sheet goods and mdf panels with exceptional results in the context of interior trim packages. Wall & Wood with just one finish coat on top (by any application method) exceeds results we have observed with self priming paints in a two coat system without primer.
Are 3 Coat Systems Obsolete?
The primer question boils down to whether a 2 coat system is sufficient or not. The answer in many cases can be yes, and it is best achieved with a primer and a paint working together, rather than one can of paint trying to do the jobs of primer and paint at a high level. In a traditional primer and paint scenario (with proper product selection, prep and application), a third coat is rarely necessary for coverage. It is just an opportunity to create a higher level finish by sanding to a finer grit and building that hard/soft sheen that the best trim paints have always had. When the primer has done its job, it makes the job of the paint (and painter) easier. Two coats versus three is a simple matter of preference. If you are shooting for a two coat result on either new trim or repaint with radical color change, Wall and Wood is a very efficient option, given its body, dry time and coverage characteristics.
Despite the product name, we consider this to be a wood primer, and not a wall primer – unless the walls are made of wood. Retailing at about $40/gal, there are more cost effective options for the volume of material used in wall priming. However, for some trim repaint and most new trim finish applications it makes our short list as a foundational product in two and three coat finish systems that do not fail. This primer can be a critical component in high end finish systems that meet the aesthetic and performance expectations of customers with high standards. Over the past 3 years, this primer has quickly evolved into one that we purchase regularly for our most critical paint projects. If you try it, lay it on heavy and sand it well.
(disclaimer: no materials were supplied to us for the compilation of this review, it is singularly based on our experience as paint contractors and paying consumers of the product).
Here are some of our tips and criteria for those who are researching waterborne primer options. If you have used SW Premium Wall & Wood primer, or are considering doing so, please leave comments and questions below.