Can You Mix Primer With Paint? [5 Reasons You Shouldn’t]

You should never mix primer with paint. Paints and primers are chemically different and have very different intended purposes. By mixing the two together, you will destroy the properties of both paint and primer. The paint will not stick well to the wall. Plus, it won’t cover stains and existing paint. Finally, if you mix paint and primer, your paint job will be both harder to clean and less durable. Always apply 1–2 coats of primer, followed by 1–2 coats of the paint of your choice.

Can you mix primer with paint?

How is Mixing Paint and Primer Different from Using Self-Priming Paint?

Mixing paint and primer together will not result in a DIY 2-in-1 paint. Standalone primer is formulated very differently from paint intended for final coats. Contrary to popular belief, primer is not just white paint. Mixing primer and paint is a bit like mixing orange soda and root beer—separately they’re great, but when you put them together the result belongs in the trash.

  • Primer and paint have very different chemical formulas—mixing the two won’t result in a self-priming paint.
  • Mixing primer and paint results in a mess that doesn’t work well as primer OR paint.
  • Most self-priming paints are simply high quality paints with a large quantity of paint solids in the formula. They don’t include primer.

If you can’t mix primer and paint, then how do 2-in-1 self-priming paints work? The truth is, many self-priming paints are very thick, high-quality paint. They do not typically have the properties of primer. Self-priming paints make up for a lack of primer by including more paint solids, resulting in better coverage. This often comes at a very high price tag. Self-priming paints are typically more expensive than buying traditional primer and paint.

5 Reasons You Should Never Mix Primer with Paint

At first, mixing paint and primer seems like a no-brainer. Why not get the benefits of both products in a single coat? Unfortunately, the results won’t be ideal. Here’s why you should keep your primer and paint separate:

You Will Ruin the Sealing Properties of Primer

One of the primary jobs of primer is to seal the surface to prevent stains and old paint colors from showing through the final coat of paint. Primer also works to seal a porous surface, preventing future coats of paint from soaking into wood or drywall. When you mix paint with primer, you rob the primer of its sealing properties. Stains and dark colors will show through the paint/primer mix. Additionally, the mix will soak into the surface, resulting in patchy, uneven coloration.

Your Paint Won’t Adhere to the Wall

It’s essential to prime surfaces in order to set the stage for your desired paint color. Primer bonds well to the original surface, regardless of whether it was painted or unpainted. Additionally, primer has a slightly sticky surface. This encourages colored paint to stick to the primer and provide excellent coverage. A mix of primer and paint won’t stick well to un-primed surfaces. Future coats of paint also won’t adhere well to this mix.

You Will Have Uneven Wall Texture

Priming is an essential step when painting new walls or patched drywall. This is because primer applied with a roller dries with a slight texture. This small amount of texture helps blend smooth areas of joint compound with nearby drywall. If you mix primer with regular paint, you won’t achieve a good texture. Instead, you’ll be able to easily see smooth patched areas through your final coat of paint.

Your Paint Will Get Dirty

As we mentioned above, primer is engineered to have a slightly sticky or tacky feel. If primer is mixed with another type of paint, the resulting mix it will have a slightly sticky property, even when dry. This will cause your painted surfaces to accumulate dirt and dust. In addition, this slight stickiness will make cleaning your walls far more difficult.

The Paint Job Will be Less Durable

Primer is not meant to stand up to cleaning or the elements. A paint-and-primer mix is prone to peeling, bubbling, and rubbing off the wall. This will happen regardless of whether you are using oil-based or latex paint. Finish paint is designed to last for a long time and withstand cleaning. Mixing primer into your paint will destroy the durability of your paint.

How to Apply Paint and Primer the Right Way

Begin by priming your surface with 1–2 coats of primer. Use a ⅜-inch nap roller to apply the primer evenly. It’s okay if you can see some color through the primer as long as the coverage is even and not streaky. If you are applying multiple coats of primer, wait 24 hours between coats. This allows time for the primer to fully dry.

  • Apply 1–2 coats of primer before painting.
  • Wait 24 hours between coats of primer and paint.
  • Use a ⅜” nap roller to apply both primer and paint.
  • After priming, apply 2 coats of your finish paint.

Once you are done priming, follow a similar system for the paint of your choice. Roll the paint onto the surface with a ⅜-inch nap roller. Make sure to apply evenly. If you’re wondering how many coats of paint to apply over primer, the best number may vary based on the job at hand. In general, plan to apply 2 coats of paint. Allow 24 hours of dry time between coats.

Will Primer Lighten the Color of Paint?

Primer contains very little pigment, making it extremely ineffective at altering paint color. You will make very little headway trying to lighten a colored paint by adding primer. This is due to the fact that primer is chemically much different than white paint.

  • Primer will not make your paint lighter—it contains very little pigment.
  • Remember, your paint will become lighter in color as it dries.
  • If your paint doesn’t match the color swatch when dry, bring it back to the store so it can be corrected.

If you are unhappy with your paint color, keep in mind that colored paints dry a few shades lighter than they appear when wet. If the paint you purchased does not match the color of the paint swatch when it is dry, return it to the hardware store where it was mixed. Improperly mixed paint should be corrected for you at no extra charge.

Is it OK to Mix Primer With Paint?

Do not mix primer with paint. This will result in ruined primer and useless paint. The results of mixing primer and paint are:

  • Stains and old colors will not be sealed properly.
  • Poor adhesion between the paint and the wall surface.
  • Wall texture may be uneven and show drywall patches.
  • The paint will get dirty much more easily.
  • The finished product will not hold up for long.

There are several good reasons no paint manufacturer suggests mixing paint and primer. Stick to a system where you apply primer first, followed by a paint topcoat. This will result in the most attractive and long-lasting painting job.

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