An “Old Soul” Zero VOC Latex Drywall Primer

Written by on July 8, 2013 in Products of Interest, Uncategorized with 9 Comments

Drywall primerHow refreshing in this day and age of wonder products to find a drywall primer that is totally VOC compliant, but without all the marketing hype or pomp and circumstance of “gonna change the way you paint”.

I think we all, including the manufacturers themselves, can see that there have been too many backfires and “oopsies” to go chasing down the road of unrealistic expectations anymore. All it does is piss people off. I also think most of us in paint contracting have been kind of dreading what certain products would look like in VOC compliant formulations. Drywall primer would be one of those.

Why it Would Suck to be a Drywall Primer.

drywall primer

Primer is dry in this photo.

In the grand hierarchy of products, drywall primer has the thankless and not so glorious job of just being there. Under everything else. Holding the whole show together, that critical bridge between substrate and the colorful finish that everyone will ooh and aah over. Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 Zero VOC latex drywall primer does it the old fashioned way.

Here’s how it shook down in real world, on the job (as in real, paid on the job, job). We shot 25 gallons straight out of 5-ers, unstrained, unthinned, over the counter stock in super hot and humid weather in a residential remodel project on level 4 drywall ceilings and walls using a Graco 395 Ultra airless with a 517 tip. A boiler plate set up.

[Related: Video footage of ProMar 200 being sprayed]

We selected ProMar 200 for the project because we had used ProMar 400 in the past with really good results. Our local Sherwin Williams has plenty of inventory, so availability is never an issue, and our contractor cost of $22/gallon made it a pretty easy choice. Often times, paint products that we write about are manufacturer supplied for testing. This was not the case here. We purchased, over the counter, on the Topcoat account. That said, your cost may vary (in either direction) based on your own volume of purchasing, but I would have to guess that even at a lesser discount, it would still be a good value, given the results we experienced.


drywall primer

Some of the walls in the house were satin finish. Paint covered really well.

As above, conditions were hot and humid. All 25 gallons shot through the 395 Ultra with no issues, and all of it backrolled and sealed evenly across the paper facing and the taping joints of the drywall. It is worth noting that ALL primers perform best when properly sprayed and backrolled. It takes two people working closely together, one spraying and one backrolling, to get the best results. It is best for the primer to still be wet when backrolled, and 50% overlap of 18″ roller passes (3/8″ nap) is the best practice for this and most drywall primers.

ProMar 200 dried really well for us overnight. We were able to pole sand at 150 grit the very next morning, and it was perfectly dry and sanding to powder. At that point, we commenced with ceiling spraying and the wall cut and roll sequence.

25 Gallon Conclusion: “It’s not what you sprayed…”

drywall primer

Tip: Backroll primer while it is wet, using an 18″ roller and 50% overlapping passes.

This is not a review. Spraying 25 gallons is really not enough to make a conclusive analysis of the product. Our readers know that we put a lot of miles on products, and revisit the results for as much as 18-24 months in many cases before declaring something a review. This could be more like a “preview”, because I am sure we will use this product again.

That said, if you are looking for a VOC compliant latex primer that will make you feel the same as when you spray Super Spec 253 or any other reputable drywall primer, Sherwin Williams ProMar 200 is absolutely worth checking out. Much bang for the buck. While 0 VOC is the future, this primer will remind you of the classics.

And as always, remember the old saying: “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”. Only in our case, as pro painters: “It’s not what you sprayed, it’s how you sprayed it.” Use this product as it is intended to be used, and you will get the same good results with it that we do.

What makes the craft of painting so challenging to so many who attempt it is that the only thing standing between the products and the desired result is you. That is the craft of painting.

[Related: Craftsmanship in Paint Contracting]

Anyone else have experience with this product? Please leave a comment below.


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  1. An Easy Airless Spraying Rig: Graco 395 Ultra : Topcoat Review | July 15, 2013
  1. Mike says:

    I’m about to do a big room with new drywall and may just give the 200 a try for both primer and paint. This of coarse will be decided after I take a look at the work. If the texture isn’t good, I might use a thicker primer designed to hide imperfections. Anybody wanna come and spray for me while I backroll? 🙂

  2. We’ve been utilizing SW Promar200 primer for 4+ years and could not be happier with the results. Our primary concern/need with drywall primer is that it bites in exceptionally well on the mud lines so we don’t get tape pulls. Because the trim & door package in almost all of our custom homes receive a shop-like finish with Benjamin Moore Collection alkyd, we mask everything, this means that we have a lot of linear feet of tape resting on those mud lines. Promar200 never gives us tape pulls.

  3. Drake says:


    I’m curious if you’ve used the Ultra Spec 500 that Benjamin Moore has now. It’s a lot like the old Super Spec, but zero VOC. It’s another that’s not really marketed as “going to blow you away” but seems like it could be a decent workhorse. As I mentioned in another topic here, I’m a Ben Moore vendor, so I’m always looking for the strengths- and weaknesses- of my own products. If you’ve used it, I’m curious how you feel they compare. Best regards,


  4. Scott Burt says:

    Great, Mike! Let us know how it works out for you.

  5. I swear by this product!
    Great SW Product.

    Painting Artist, Inc.

  6. Chuck Perry says:

    Great write up. I do use 200 and (to a lesser extent) 253. I also tend to use a lot of Zinsser Product. I also agree 110% that back rolling is absolutely necessary for proper adhesion and finish. I see a lot of painters doing the ol blow and go and have it fail when the dust from new drywall lets go.

    And so far as an unrelated update… I have used my Ultra Nova on three jobs and so far so good. Still miss my 1990 Super Nova but sometimes ya gotta move on and go with the times….maybe next year I might get a smart phone! lol

    • Scott Burt says:

      Haha, Chuck, sounds like you are keeping up just fine. Thanks for the feedback…the more pro painters who are passing along best practices, the better for everyone. Keep us posted on life with the Ultra Nova! Hope you are having a busy summer.

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