The not so Complex Truth about Paint Adhesion

Written by on July 7, 2013 in Interior Products, Primers with 4 Comments

paint adhesion

Don’t Mistake Cutting Corners for Cutting Edge

My June 2013 “From the Field” column in APC magazine discussed the concept of paint adhesion – a topic that is rather confused and misunderstood in this day and age of paint products. On the one hand, the “old school” approach to using a 3 coat system on new surfaces, which involved primer and two coats of finish, regardless of substrate, is set squarely against the sometimes manipulated interpretation of paints and primers “in one”.

To set the record straight, I am amongst the painters who believe that in the majority of repaint situations, whether walls or trim or ceilings or all of the above, in most situations it is not necessary to use primer to achieve paint adhesion when painting over existing paint. And in most situations, two coats of paint will do just fine, when painting over paint. I don’t think many of us are arguing that point.

However, when that concept gets stretched to apply to ALL painting situations, that is where some of us throw a flag. It is no secret that this whole paint and primer in one idea is nothing new. I have cans of Ben Moore Regal from 15 years ago that suggested that the paint could be used as a primer on small scale drywall patches and skims. In recent years, though, this idea has been interpreted and twisted to the questionable conclusion that primer is no longer needed at all.

If this were the case, I can assure you that no paint manufacturer would waste time and energy producing primers, when pretty much all of them have paints that fit the basic “paint and primer in one” criteria. Enough of us have seen paints fail as primers, and primers fail as paints, to know that they really don’t belong in the same can. But, there are still plenty of painters and homeowners who will go merrily along pushing that envelope and compromising paint adhesion along the way.

Anyways, to read more of the particulars about why primer and paint are still better off in separate cans, please CLICK RIGHT HERE to read my article in American Painting Contractor magazine, June 2013.

Please share any stories you may have, better or worse, about the whole experience of “paint adhesion” as it relates to primer, paint, and primer/paints in one.

 

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About the Author

About the Author: 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! Scott's Google Profile .

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  1. Spatter says:

    Primers are cheaper though..which is why I can’t see them discontinuing ‘em altogether, even with these 2 in 1 products. In fact these 2 in 1 products seem to be more expensive than regular paint- which doesn’t seem worth it to me for most projects. One coat of paint actually makes more sense in most cases.

    Is it just me, or have the paints actually gotten more expensive and yet more coats are required? ;-)

    I have used exterior latex solid stain as a “primer”. Didn’t have any problems, at the time or years worth of weather later.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Pretty much agreed on all counts, Spatter. Most of us who have been around for awhile know what we are looking at in a can of paint, or primer, or paint and primer in one. My colleague, Todd, puts it well: Paint and primer in one is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the peanut butter.

      • Gerry Zak says:

        Interesting-your very negative comments about “paint and primer in one”. Do not know what paints specifically you may be referring to, and I will assume that you have found out by experience that they do not work well. However, that is not the case with all of them. My company regularly paints new housing . Most of the time we use the primer plus two topcoat system. But twice now we have used the ” paint and primer in one system” , with no primer, and with excellent results. In one whole house we used Behr “premium plus ultra”, two coats on bare gyproc and drywall. On the walls with high spectral reflectance we did a light third coat. In another house we used Moore’s “Aura”. Again, two coats without a primer worked well. In the case of the Behr paint, because of the lower labor costs,the cost to the customer was somewhat lower than the traditional system.

        For over 20 years I have been testing primers and paints for resistance to peeling- on a fence on my property. When Sherwin Williams ‘ Duration’ appeared, I was skeptical- it was supposed to be self-priming, and carried a life-time warranty against peeling. So I started a test, and observed it for three years. The results were not just good-the paint withstood the weather on old weathered, minimally prepared wood far better than any other paint or primer I had come across! For several years now I have been using a similar product ( a stain blocking, self priming, modified elastomeric) made by Pittsburg Paints- “Timeless”. I do not know – there could be similar products out there.

        • Scott Burt says:

          Thanks for sharing, Gerry. I agree about Duration, we use it alot. Aura as well. And several other lines. The category of paint and primers in one, I consider many of them to be very good paints. I think the category is very misunderstood. There are no “wonderpaints” in the group. My company has had to fix way too many failures as a result of misunderstanding of the category, that is why I try to be clear with readers about how those products are best used, and where they are a little compromised. Thanks for the tip on Timeless, will keep an eye out for it. Cheers.

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