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Interior primer selection

First, thank you for providing this valuable resource for exchanging information.

I'm going to be repainting a room that is currently a high-sheen white latex (walls) and an oil-based trim, and would like to solicit feedback concerning choice of primer.

(Note: I've already read the many threads here in the community forums that concern the issue of painting over high sheen/glossy finishes in addition to other informational sources for preparation.)

Briefly: the top-coat will be an off-white such as Behr Ultra's Linen White in a satin finish, and the trim Behr Ultra semi-gloss (white).  I was originally going to prime with Glidden's Gripper but felt it made sense to first ask whether there might be a better choice.  For example, Zinsser White Bulls Eye 1-2-3* (link below) seems to be mentioned frequently.  Killz is another... 

Glidden 1-gal. Aquacrylic White Primer and Sealer  (Model #2001)
Zinsser 1-gal. White Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Interior/Exterior Primer and Sealer (Model #2001)

Which primer is superior for priming glossy walls to increase adhesion of the top-coat?  And what makes it a better choice than the other?

* Strangely, the TDS for Zinsser White Bulls Eye 1-2-3 recommends against the use of TSP:

"... If unsure of cleanliness, always wash surface with an appropriate ammoniated cleaning solution or solvent (do not use TSP as a cleaner). "



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Posted 2013-08-26T23:52:03+0000  by Tape Tape



You are somewhat unique, a homeowner who actually reads the labels and does his homework!


Both Gripper and Zinsser 1-2-3 excell at bonding to slick surfaces. I don't think you would be disappointed in either. I have tested  most of the water based primers Home Depot sells on slick surfaces and would give the edge to Gripper. Zinser, however,  1-2-3 does tout that it will adhere to slick surfaces without sanding.


The reason TSP is shunned is that if washing greasy or oily surfaces, it forms a soap like residue. This is why TSP should be thoroughly rinsed if used. There are other cleaning products on the market, such as Dirtex or Soilax, which claim they don't need to be rinsed, at least when it comes to simple wall washing. I used Dirtex granular for years and never had a problem with it.


Were you painting over a high gloss oil painted, there would be more concern with adhesion and you would have been well advised to use an oil based primer, even if the finish coat were to be acrylic / latex. TSP is used on oil paints because it will literally dull the surface, giving better adhesion.


There is always the option of scuff sanding the existing finish , howevr, acrylic paints don't generally sand well. They have a somewhat gummy surface which tends to clog the sandpaper.


Hope this has helped

Posted 2013-08-27T03:50:22+0000  by ordjen

Hi Ordjen,


Thank you very much.  I appreciate for your feedback.

ordjen wrote:

Were you painting over a high gloss oil painted, there would be more concern with adhesion and you would have been well advised to use an oil based primer, even if the finish coat were to be acrylic / latex. TSP is used on oil paints because it will literally dull the surface, giving better adhesion.

Note: both the walls and trim are glossy, but only the trim is oil-based.  I would use an oil-based primer were it the walls.


Would it be advisable to have the primer tinted when transitioning from white to off-white?  How about painting bare wood?  More generally, where on the color spectrum does tinting the primer become preferred? :-)

Lastly -- and I realize this may be impossible to answer without fully knowing the details-- would you expect a single coat of primer followed by single coat of paint to be sufficient?  From what I've read, Behr Ultra typically requires two coats, but that's without a primer.  I ask because I'm about to buy paint and having difficulty determining the amount of paint to order.  I don't trust the manufacturer's coverage figures even with huge



Posted 2013-08-31T01:04:44+0000  by Tape

Ultra samples.JPGTape,




Since you seem to be especially concerned with adhesion, I am attaching a picture which shows two coats of Ultra Semi-Gloss Interior Acrylic Enamel which was painted directly on gloss poly-urethane varnish without a primer. This is a sample used to demonstate Ultra's great adhesion to a hard, glossy, oil finish. To test adhesion, no sanding or dulling of the varnish was done, however, in the real world, dulling the finish through sanding or deglossing liquids is highly advisable. After literally scraping at the paint film where it meets the varnish hundreds of time with my fingernail, the paint continues to hold. I also hit it with the tips of my fingernails to show that, even though the pine wood dents, the panit continues to hold.


Note that the Ultra, "Ultra Pure White" straight out of the can covered the strong wood tone and dark red paint beautifully in two coats! Any additional tintng to an off white would even increase the covering ability of the Ultra.


A couple quick hints for working with acrylic paints such as Ultra: don't over brush them! Acrylic paints set very quickly. They are trying to flow out and form a skin within a couple minutes. If you keep brushing it, thinking that you will lessen the brush marks, you will actually degrade the finish. Brush it out quickly with a quality synthetic bristle brush and then leave it alone! As you can see on the above photos, the Ultra flowed out beautifully , rivaling an oil based product.


Acrylic paints increase their adhesion as they dry and cure. A full cure can take up to a month. If you scrape at it an hour after applying it, it will probably scratch off.


Hope this picture has helped alleviate your concerns.

Posted 2013-08-31T02:49:02+0000  by ordjen

Sorry, I think my last message was unclear.  I'm not concerned about adhesion at this point.  Right now I just need to determine how much paint to buy.  To do that, I need to know how many coats of paint are required.

Because I was planning to first prime with Glidden's Gripper, I thought that only one coat of Behr Ultra would be needed for optimal results.  Is that not the case?

Or would two coats of Behr Ultra (without the separate primer) be preferred?


Posted 2013-09-01T15:59:39+0000  by Tape




I would be confident with either approach, Gripper and Ultra, or, Ultra with two coats. As my demo picture shows, Ultra has excellent adhesion all by itself. The advantage of twice around with Ultra is the convenience of not having to deal with two materials. Obviously. both coats are then  the same color and enhance the coverability and final appearance of the paint.


In the great majority of the cases, a primer and one finish coat are adequate,or, twice around with Ultra.  The exception would be very dark bright colors, or light bright colors. Behr convieniently indicates which colors might need additiional coats by use of a "dagger' symbol right next to the color name on the color card. It is rare that two coats of a color made from Ultra Pure White would not cover virtually any color!  Again, this is demonstrated on the samples in the attached picture.


If you go with Gripper as the prime coat, it is often a good idea to tint it toward the finish color if it is a stronger color other than an off white.

Posted 2013-09-01T16:42:48+0000  by ordjen
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