Sherwin Williams Wall and Wood Latex Primer

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.

wall & woodPrimers 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.

Bottom Line:

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.





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  1. Jeremy E. Pointer says:

    I need to prim some wood trim that was finished with shellac about 112 years ago, I also have painted plaster walls that are patched with drywall and they need to be primed. I have cut the gloss off the shellac with sandpaper and everything has been washed with TSP. I was thinking about the wall and wood for my trim and the multipurpose for the walls. I would appreciate your thoughts.

  2. sherry eklund says:

    I’ve used this primer for all of my baseboards and trim, it’s always been fine. Recently, I used it on some redwood cabinets, sever bleed through.
    Do NOT recommend for redwood or cedar

  3. Herb says:

    I’ve used Zinsser Covestain oil based primer (2 coasts) and Sherwin Williams ProClassic Acrylic (Non Alkyd) to paint all of my cabinet doors. The proclassic is hard to paint, drips, but the finish is amazing.

    I have yet to paint the cabinet bases and frames. Would there be any advange to using the Sherwin Williams Wall and Wood primer over Zinsser Coverstain or for that matter, using SW Proclass Acrylic-Alkyd over Proclassic Acrylic ?

    I’ve read on SW’s website, a reviewer stated that the main differnce between the two Proclassics is that the acrylic alkyd finish is a “little bit harder” but you give up some of that “sprayed look” finish. And the reviewer also stated he used used the non alkyd version for painting trim and doors and the acrylic-alkyd version for painting cabinets.

  4. Josh Conard says:


    I recently removed and rebuilt the face frames and doors for our kitchen cabinets and reattached to the existing painted cabinet boxes. Everything above seems to say that the choice for bare wood (new poplar face frames, rails and styles; birch veneer plywood panels in the doors) would be Sherman Williams Premium Wall and Wood Primer.

    Would you recommend using the same primer on the end panels of the exisiting boxes that have already been painted and scuffed?

    Thanks for all of your help,

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Josh, yes, just be sure that you have done a good thorough scuff sand on them first. SW Multi Purpose Acrylic primer has what we consider to be best in class adhesion if you wanted to err on the side of caution.

      • Josh Conard says:

        Would the finish look different if I used different primers on the bare wood and the painted panels? Or should I just us the SW Multi Purpose Acrylic primer on everything?

  5. Ed says:

    Scott, Thanks for all your advice and teaching here and on the FOG. I have learned a lot from you.
    Question about SW Wall and Wood primer. Going to try spraying it via my Graco True Coat Pro II. Pretty thick stuff (have brushed it before). What tip size would you recommend. .015 or .017? Have a narrow .015 and would love to use it but concerned too small for such a thick product. Also, how much tip life would you expect on this primer (e.g., one gallon, 5 , etc.). Saw a comment about it being abrasive on tips.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hi Ed, I would recommend the 15, or even a 13 with some minor reduction. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. Let us know how the product works for you. We still consider it a “go to” product.

  6. Peter says:

    Scott, thanks for the review – very useful. What primer do you recommend for high-hide, high adhesion situations? I just painted old kitchen cabinets, (dark, varnished) and had to put way too many color coats on. Is there a wb product that does the trick?

  7. Brad says:

    I’m planning on re-painting some drywall that has been painted burgundy, in a bathroom. In your opinion would the Wall and Wood be better, or the SW Multipurpose? I’ve tried one coat of the Harmony primer on the walls already and it doesn’t seem to cover well so before I start with the paint (SW Duration Home), thinking of going over the Harmony primer with a better SW primer. Your thoughts?

  8. kevin zale says:

    Scott, what rounds-outyour short list of bare trim(poplar/mdf) primers. I use alot of B-M fresh start, seems to stick really well and sands good too.

    • Scott Burt says:

      Hey Kevin, in Fresh Start, I only use the 046 now. We used 023 in the past, and 046 is a much better product. Wall and Wood from SW is right up there lately. C2 has a really Sandable Acrylic Primer that is in the same class, but more difficult to get locally. These are the top 3 lately for acrylics. SW Multipurpose is handy to have around as an interior/exterior as well. For oil based, BM Underbody is still the one. In the acrylics, it is amazing how they do have some similarities, but also some real differences in how they work.

  9. Scooter we tried this primer last week on a repaint of some older oak. Super easy to work with, and sanded really well.

    Adhesion wasn’t a great as other primers, but I am sure that wouldn’t be an issue on bare surfaces.

  10. Great article, spot-on information about primer, Scott. Thanks so much for including a link to my recent article about primer.

    “Paint and Primer in One” – if nothing else it certainly gives us a lot to talk/write about. 😉

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