How to prime walls and what to use for priming

Woman hand with paint roller and paint tray with primer.

For professional wall painters, the influence of priming on the final effect of painting works is obvious. The better the walls are primed and the higher the quality of the product used, the better it will be to paint the wall later and the better it will look in the end. So how do you prime the walls to get optimal painting results?

What is wall priming?

Let’s start with the basics. In our work as painters and decorators in London, we often meet clients who do not fully know what the process of priming is. That’s absolutely fine – they don’t need to be experts, that’s what we’re there for! However, it is worth knowing what the priming of walls is if you want to undertake the painting work yourself.

Priming is executed on a porous or absorbent surface. The goal is to get a strong base for a wall finish – that is, before painting walls, applying wallpaper or any other form of wall decoration.

Wall priming – when is it necessary?

It is very important that you know when priming is necessary and when you will be able to dispense with priming. As a rule, the walls that require priming before carrying out further decoration works are:

  • Walls with gypsum plaster
  • Plasterboards
  • Walls from which old paint has been removed
  • Walls from which stains were freshly removed
  • Walls that were fixed (which compromised the outer layer).
  • New walls with mineral or gypsum plaster.


How to know if your wall requires priming?

If the above general guidelines are not sufficient for you – below is a more detailed description of deciding whether a wall requires priming.

1. Check the degree of bonding of the wall structure
It sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple – run your dry hand over the surface of the wall. If there is a white, chalky residue on your hand, it means you cannot paint or glue a wallpaper yet. In this case, clean the wall with a dry brush. Alternatively, you can clean the wall with a damp cloth, but then you have to wait for it to dry completely before you start priming.

2. Check the absorbency of the wall
To do this, take a wet sponge and press it against the wall, then check if any moisture has entered the wall. If a visible stain persists, your wall is too absorbent and cannot be painted yet. You don’t need to use a sponge – in fact, this is about checking if water seeps into the wall quickly, so you can just sprinkle it with water. Priming such a wall will reduce its absorbency, making it possible to paint it.

3. Wall adhesion is another important factor
You can use painter’s tape to check how compact the wall surface is. By pressing it against the wall and then tearing it off, we will see if there are plaster particles on its sticky surface. If so, it will be necessary to shed the old coating. Then the cavities need to be filled, and the dry and smooth wall must be primed.

Is wall priming necessary?

Yes. Without priming, there is a very high risk that painting or wallpapering a wall will be wasted. If the paint does not stick to the wall properly, it will have to be removed first and then repainted after priming. The associated costs and time expenses can be really considerable. Improper priming may cause discolouration and streaks, variations in the colour of the paint, cracking and peeling of the paint, and the general failure of the surface paint.

What should you consider when choosing the wall primer?

Currently, both separate primers and paints with primers are available to choose from. The most popular of them are:

  • Latex primers
  • Priming and strengthening impregnates
  • Acrylic primers
  • Solvent-based primers
  • Acrylic priming varnish
  • Epoxy paint

Now that you know about the importance of priming, you are free to decide whether you want to go through with it yourself or hire professional painters and decorators to handle it for you. If it is the latter, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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