Are you looking to give your furniture a makeover to give your home a fresh look? If so, you’re going to need the right primer for painted furniture. Primer is an essential step in any furniture makeover as it helps ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer.
With so many primers on the market, it can be hard to know which one is best for your project. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! In this blog post, I’ll cover all the basics when it comes to choosing a primer for painted furniture and share some tips on how to use them correctly.
And if you are new to painting furniture, check out Chalk Mineral Paint Basics, for a place to start learning.
Chalk mineral type paints are a popular choice for furniture makeovers, as they offer easy and cost-effective ways to transform any piece of furniture. But before you get started with your project, it’s important to choose the right primer for painted furniture.
Do You Need To Prime Furniture Before Painting?
Priming furniture before painting it is an important step in any painting project
- Primer helps ensure that the paint adheres properly to the surface
- Creates a smoother finish with fewer imperfections
- Seals porous surfaces like wood, which prevents stains from bleeding through the paint
- Additionally, primer can help protect against moisture damage and wear-and-tear over time.
By using a primer prior to painting furniture, you will get better coverage and longer lasting results.
How Do You Know When You Need To Prime?
You may be wondering how do you know when you need to prime?
While it’s true that you don’t have to prime every piece you paint, there are many times when priming is imperative!
When considering which type of furniture needs to be primed before painting, it is important to take into account the type of furniture, as well as how porous the surface is.
Generally, any type of wood furniture including chairs, tables, cabinets or dressers will have a smoother finish if they are primed before painting. But let’s talk about the times when priming is a must.
Primer Before Painting Furniture With White Or Light Color Paint
If you are painting furniture white or light colors, it is important to use a primer first.
Primer will improve coverage and therefore you use less coats of the light or white colored paint to complete your project.
And white and light colored paints are more prone to likely bleed through of tannins. See more below on what that means.
Prime Before Painting When Your Furniture will Bleed Through Your Finish
You may wonder how to know if you project piece will “bleed through”. Well, some old antique finishes like cherry, mahogany, and most woods with a very dark reddish stain color line will bleed.
One trick that usually works for me is to proceed with cleaning the furniture but use a while cloth to clean with. If you get tan and red stains on the cloth when cleaning or rinsing with water, then you have a bleeder.
This means that if you don’t prime and you apply paint, you will get red, tan and pink spots in your paint finish, especially with light colors!
You work hard to paint something and then it gets ruined by bleed through.
So priming, although it adds an extra step, is really crucial!
Bonding Primer For Painted Furniture – For Laminates & Slick Surfaces
Another reason why you should prime is if the surface is slick or shiny, like plastic, laminate, veneers. A good bonding primer will provide the adhesion your paint finish needs to fully stick.
If you’d like to know more about painting laminates, check out the post on a recent Laminate Hutch Makeover.
Primer Before Painting Furniture With Odors
And if your furniture is stinky or smelly, primers cover up odors remarkably well.
Have you ever purchased a piece of furniture, excited to paint it and then get it into your car or workspace and notice it smells bad – like old furniture or even smoky smell?
Well, that is another reason to use a good primer! Most great primers cover odors well.
Best Primer For Painted Furniture
Once you’ve determined if your furniture needs priming, you can begin selecting the best type for your project.
When it comes to selecting a primer for painted furniture, there are many options available, each with its unique properties and benefits.
Primers fall into three categories: water-based, oil-based and shellac-based primers.
From water-based primers, such as Bulls Eye 1-2-3 and Dixie Belle BOSS, to oil-based primers like Zinsser Cover Stain, there is a primer for every furniture painting project.
Any of these primers will work well for painted furniture.
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Oil-Based Primers For Painted Furniture
Oil-based primers can work well for a variety of surfaces, including wood, metal, and plastic.
- They provide excellent adhesion and sealing properties to help ensure that your furniture makeover lasts longer.
- However, oil-based primers can be tricky to work with as they have strong fumes.
- Oil-based primers require careful clean up.
- And using with PPE (personal protective equipment) and with good ventilation is necessary.
For more help with PPE and other supplies to have on hand, check out Furniture Painting Supplies. You can also find a handy checklist there
Zinsser Cover-Stain Primer – In Spray and Brush/Roll On Formula
My favorite oil-based primer is Zinsser Cover-Stain Primer. This primer is in white and comes in both spray and brush or roll-on formula.
My favorite way to use this primer is in the spray version! It covers beautifully and goes on really smoothly. But as with most sprays use them outdoors or with good ventilation.
The down side is some odors, so use with ventilation and PPE. Also clean up with mineral spirits is needed.
Water-Based Primers For Painted Furniture
Water-based primers are a great alternative to oil-based primers.
- They have low odor and don’t require any special equipment or cleanup.
- Provide good adhesion and sealing properties while allowing for easy application.
- And they can be used indoors and soap and water clean up is sufficient.
So water-based primers are great for small projects. Also best if you have limited space and must work indoors.
There are several great water-based primers on the market. I’ll list the ones I use most.
Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer
Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer is a great water-based primer and it is available in the hardware stores.
IT has very low odor too! And goes on smoothly.
This primer also comes in a spray version! Spray primers are great to have on hand because they are convenient and quick to use.
Wise Owl Stain-Eliminating Primer
Wise Owl Stain-Eliminating Primer is a fantastic water-based primer.
It is smooth, silky and easy to apply with a brush or roller.
Also this primer comes in gray, white, clear, and dark gray!
Honestly one of my favorite primers to use.
Dixie Belle BOSS Primer & Dixie Belle Slick Stick
Dixie Belle BOSS Primer comes in white, gray, and clear.
I find this primer to be a bit thicker than I prefer, but it is another option if you have a Dixie Belle retailer near you.
Also Dixie Belle Slick Stick is an option. It is specifically for slick, shiny surfaces.
It only comes in white but you can tint it with a small amount of your paint color.
I use it often on hardware prior to applying a spray or brush-on paint color or metallic finish.
Shellac-Based Primers For Painted Furniture
Let’s talk about shellac-based primers next.
- Have a quick dry time and great coverage and adhesion.
- Excellent primers for adhesion, stain and odor blocking.
- They dry rock solid hard and really seals those porous surfaces.
- Usually smelly, most with strong odors, and must use with ventilation.
- Require special clean up and difficult to get off skin without scrubbing so I always use gloves with these primers. Clean up brushes and tools with acetone or denatured alcohol or other paint thinners.
Next, let’s talk about top-choice Shellac-Based Primers.
Zinsser BIN Shellac-Based Primer
Zinsser BIN Shellac-Based Primer comes in white tint and it goes on nicely.
It is thin, so very easy to roll on, but you can also apply with a synthetic bristle brush.
It rolls on beautifully and can be applied with a brush too.
Use gloves and ventilation and I recommend you wear eye glasses for protection in case of splash.
A big advantage is that it dries so fast! You can get a project completely primed in a very short time!
Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac in Clear
Zinsser Shellac Clear is a great option also. It also comes in roll or brush on formula and spray.
Spray is much easier to use. If you use with brushes or roller clean up is a bit cumbersome with ammonia or denatured alcohol. But it dries super duper fast!
And it’s always good to have a clear shellac on hand. If you are painting with dark colored paints it’s much easier to avoid a white tinted primer.
Also if you want to see the wood finish underneath if you plan to distress your paint finish to show the wood. The clear shellac primer will allow for natural wood exposure when distressed.
How To Prime Furniture Before Painting
Clean your project piece well also before you prime. Cleaning is always necessary to get good adhesion of your primer to the surface. And who wants to prime or paint over dirt.
If your project needs any sanding or wood filler, that would also need to be done before primer.
I go over how to clean furniture before painting in my post on How To Prep Furniture For Painting.
And another helpful post on Furniture Painting Supplies. And below you can get a free furniture painting supplies checklist!
Most primers can be applied with a brush or a roller. Also many of the primers mentioned come in a spray can for extra convenience.
Most water-based primers can be put into a paint sprayer, but this is not recommended with oil or shellac-based primers because they are not water-based and require special clean up.
Always check your product labels for help with this decision.
Follow Labeling Directions for Personal Protection & More
No matter which type of primer you choose, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper application and cleanup.
Taking the time to use the right primer will ensure that your furniture makeover lasts for years to come! And following all the right labeling precautions are necessary.
The labels should have dry times and re-coat times. Often two coats is best for best coverage and adhesion. Typically after the first coat dries, you’ll get a sense of when you can re-coat.
All-In-One Paint For Furniture Makeover
And finally, while on the topic of primers, I’ll mention all-in-one paints for furniture makeovers. If you really don’t want to prime, consider using one of these products.
If you’ve hung around this blog much you know I love Dixie Belle Silk Paint.
It is one of my favorite products and a big bonus – it contains primer and topcoat! So no extra steps!
Read more about Silk Paint and other all-in-one paint products in these posts:
- Dixie Belle Silk Paint Review
- Best All-In-One Paint For Furniture Makeover
- How To Spray Silk Paint Using the Home Right Sprayer
- Silk Midnight Green Dresser Makeover
- Vintage Vanity Makeover With Silk Paint in Anchor
Summary- Primer For Painted Furniture
In conclusion, primer is an essential element in any furniture painting project, ensuring a smooth and even finish that lasts longer.
It helps the paint adhere better to the surface, provides a base for color consistency, and can even block stains and odors.
And incorporating primer into your painting process is essential for achieving a stunning and long-lasting finish.
With the right primer in hand and proper techniques in mind, you can turn outdated furniture pieces into beautiful, functional works of art that add character and style to any space.