Can You Mix Primer With Paint? 3 Difference Between a Primer and Paint?

Can You Mix Primer With Paint? This post has everything you need to know about mixing primer with paint, please read for more…

Priming is crucial to every painting project. The process helps to clean the surface of dirt that will compromise the final finish.

Also, it helps the surface adhere better to the paint. But priming consumes time and energy because you have to prime first, then paint.

Hence, painters wonder if they can shorten the process by asking questions like can you mix primer with paint?

No. You must not think about mixing primer and paint as the formulas have different chemical properties.

The primer acts as a binder to the original surface and helps it receive and hold the paint. On the other hand, the paint gives you the final finish. 

When you mix the two, you destroy the primer and paint properties.

As a result, the paint will fail to stick well to the surface. Additionally, the paint will not cover stains and the existing paint. 

Mixing paint and primer will likely result in harder work to clean with less durability.

I recommend that you apply 1–2 coats of primer, allow it to dry, sand lightly, then follow it with 1–2 coats of the paint of your choice.

In addition, the primer is usually flat, and if the paint has a shine, it won’t show.

Also, the primer delivers a difficult-to-wash surface compared to the smooth finish from paint.

Therefore, it would be best not to mold these two formulas to save time or money. 

But there is so much more to primers and paints. So, read on to find out!

What Is a Primer?

Image of Automotive PrimerA primer is a base coat that offers a suitable texture for subsequent paint layers to stick to.

Primers come in different versions, and the type you choose depends on your painting surface.

You can use primer on wood, metal, drywall, and concrete.

Primers also help seal up porous surfaces and prevent previous colors and stains from showing under your paint.

Primers are designed for both exterior and interior surfaces.

Interior primers create a uniform surface for better paint adhesion.

On the other hand, the exterior primers minimize mildew growth and cracking and protect surfaces from alkalinity and efflorescence. 

There are three basic primer types: latex, oil-based, and pigmented shellac primer.

Each primer type has its strengths and drawbacks and functions best on specific surfaces in particular situations. 

Types of Primer

Here are the types of primer.

  • Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primer is ideal for both interior and exterior surfaces.

This primer requires mineral spirits for cleanup and thinning, but they are good at slowing down paint peeling, blistering, and cracking.

The downside of oil-based primers is they are slow-drying and emit high levels of volatile organic compounds, which can be harmful if exposed for lengthy periods.

  • Latex Primer

Latex primer is fast drying, more flexible, water-soluble, and slightly delicate, making it less susceptible to cracking and peeling than the oil-based primer.

( Latex primers are water-soluble and easy to clean once applied.) 

It also integrates less volatile organic compounds, making them more environmentally friendly than shellac and oil-based primer.

Additionally, latex primers are best used on drywall because they smooth out the wallboard surface and even out any joint compound applied to patched or repaired areas.

They can also hide existing minor stains but are not as effective as shellac and oil-based primers.

  • Shellac Primer

Shellac primers are good for interior applications and are the best stain-blocking primers.

They are highly adhesive, work best on wood, metal, plastic, and plaster, and fast dry.

However, the downside of using shellac primers is that they are less versatile than latex and oil-based primers and give off toxic fumes.

Still, they require harsh thinners and solvents to clean.

What Is the Difference Between a Primer and Paint?

Painting surfaces mainly fulfills two objectives: It protects the structure and enhances the beauty of the surface.

Before painting, it’s essential to apply a coat of primer to create a coarse texture for your new paint to stick.

Painting without primer often results in premature peeling and poor adhesion.

But before starting your painting project, you should understand the difference between primer and paint so that you don’t use them interchangeably.

In most cases, people confuse primer with paint, the two are different products even though they look alike.

They incorporate different constituents and serve different functions—the main difference between the two lies in the makeup of the products.

Primers have more resin than paint and have very little pigments.

The higher consistency of the resin in primer allows it to establish a paint-grabbing and smooth surface for the color. 

On the other hand, Paint contains more pigment than a primer to offer an opaque covering of color.

It also includes additives like gloss medium, fast-drying, and durability agents.

You also enjoy the option of different finishes, from shiny to matte appearances. Read along as we narrow down on each product in detail. 

  • Basics

Ideally, primer is a base coat applied to a surface before painting, whereas paint is a top decorative or performance coating.

Both are applied with similar delivery methods in the same strokes; only that primer is used as a bonding agent between the structure and paint. 

  • Composition

Paint constitutes three basic ingredients: solvent, binder, and pigment.

The binder is the formula that connects the pigment particles, whereas the solvent refers to the thinning liquid that holds the pigment particles. 

By contrast, the primer comprises synthetic resin, solvent, and additives. Primers don’t have pigments; some have polyethylene for increased durability. 

  • Function

Primer prevents the paint from soaking up into a substrate, which can cause an inconsistent top layer.

It also binds the finish coats to the surface, creating a perfect bond between the paint and the substrate.

What’s even better? Primer reduces the amount of paint to be applied, thereby cutting down the painting cost.

On the other hand, paint enhances the visual appeal of the surface by adding color and sheen to interior and exterior surfaces. 

After understanding the contrast between paint and primer, you should choose your products wisely. 

What Is the Importance Of Using a Primer? 

Painting on any surface, whether new drywall, bare metal, or old wood, can prove difficult for the paint to stick, especially if you disregard the priming process.

That tells you why a primer is important for any paint job. 

But keeping its qualities in mind, you can only use it as a base coat and not a direct paint replacement. Primer offers better adhesion, protection, and durability.

And with all these conveniences in one package, why not give your surface a coat of primer to make it stronger?

If you paint without priming first, your painted surface will endure the following complications.

  • The paint will not stick as expected. 
  • It will be hard to blend the light color over the dark. 
  • You will attract expenses because the surface will need more paint than usual. 
  • The final coat will show some brush strokes and existing surface imperfections. 
  • You won’t achieve the desired paint color. 

The absorbent tendency of surfaces is another reason that warrants the use of a paint primer.

When the surface you’re painting is too porous, you will use multiple coats of paint to create a thick protective layer.

But with a primer, you don’t need to worry about that.

Paint primer is also handy in concealing surface deformities. So if you have no confidence in your wall’s condition, the only solution is to prime it before painting.

Another aspect that accurately testifies to the usefulness of a primer is that it comes in different versions, so you can choose the one that closely resembles your final paint color. 

Does Primer Make Paint Lighter?

Adding primer to paint does not affect the outer color coat.

Instead, it gives a distinctive final look to the painted surface. If you want to make your paint color lighter, use tinted primers.

Mix close to a lighter paint with the primer to attain this lighter paint color.

Despite its advantages, using primer in all your paint projects is not always necessary. You only need to use it in the cases discussed below: 

  • If You Are Switching from Dark to Light Color

If your surface has an existing dark color, treat it with two coats of white primer instead of repeatedly applying expensive light-colored paint.

When changing from light color to dark, opt for a tinted primer that will appear the same as your finish color. 

  • If the Previous Layer Is Glossy

Glossy surfaces don’t hold paint well; they will peel off even if you paint them.

But your paint will stick effortlessly with light scuffing and multiple coats of primer. 

  • If the Surface Is Stained

Stained surfaces benefit from priming because it prevents the existing stain from showing through the painted surface.

For best results, consider thicker primers like Kilz for stained surfaces. 

Other reasons include if your surface is too porous and if the drywall is skim coated.

Ideally, if your walls are clean or you’re painting from one color to the same color, you don’t need a primer. 

Similarly, people ask whether you can add primer to the paint to make it lighter. 

It’s not recommended to add primer to paint to make it lighter. In fact, the primer contains fewer pigments, so it won’t create any effect even if you add it to paint.

Alternatively, you can mix different paint colors to increase contrast and make the final color look brighter.

Your paint structure can also influence the perceived color saturation.

For instance, placing complementary colors close can make both colors brighter.

Or, you can get a gallon of dark paint and mix it with two gallons of white paint to make it lighter

. This offers a cost-effective solution and gives you the most demanding outcomes. 

What Are the Pros and Cons of Mixing Primer With Paint? 

Mixing paint with primer has its benefits and downsides.

So before purchasing a self-priming paint, it’s wise to understand the advantages and disadvantages to avoid surprises when painting.

First, mixing paint with primer eliminates the need to prime. And since mixing the two creates a thick consistency, you don’t have to use multiple coats to attain uniform coverage.

Regarding consistency, note that you can still use a separate coat of primer if you’re working on stubborn surfaces. 

Another benefit you get from mixing paint with primer is it saves time because you will skip the priming step.

However, you can only use this mixture when painting on a previously painted interior surface.

If you apply it on exterior surfaces, it will not withstand harsh elements and will probably peel off prematurely.

On the flip side, self-priming paint is relatively more expensive than regular paint and primer because it incorporates tinted colors.

Self-priming paints also have poor adhesion properties, so rest assured of future peeling or cracking issues by purchasing one. 

Self-priming paints will also reveal surface imperfections and highlight stains through the new paint color.

This creates an unsightly appearance meaning you will have to repaint your structure to hide the surface deformities. 

Ideally, if you want a professional finish, apply a coat of primer before painting. 

What Happens When You Mix Paint With Primer?

Experts generally recommend that you avoid blending paint with primer. The formulas have different components and chemicals that help them to serve different needs.

For instance, the paint formula delivers a smooth finish that makes the surface look more attractive and easy to wash.

On the other hand, a primer’s function is to ensure that the surface is ready to receive and hold the paint. Also, the formula helps you use fewer coats to deliver the desired finish.

In addition, the primer and paint blend will not give you a shiny surface. The primer lowers the blend’s sheen, so if your goal was some luster, you would not get it.

However, there are unique instances where you can mix primer and paint.

For example, when you have a painted surface with proper priming, you can use the mixture for repainting purposes.

Even so, it would be wise to avoid having such a mix. You are better off priming first, then painting the surface. It takes a lot of time but is sure worth it!

Can You Mix Kilz Primer With Paint?

You can mix Kilz primer with paint, but it is not recommended practice. The primer’s function is to prepare the surface for a paint coat, not to act as the topcoat.

Also, Kilz primer mixed with paint does not seal, and a straight primer and primer blend.

Besides, please remember that although you can mix two different primers or paints with a similar base, you will not get the best of either formula.

Therefore, to maximize the unique abilities of each solution, use the paint and Kilz primer separately.

Can I Use Two Different Types of Primer?

Using two different types of primers in a painting project is possible. But, they should be of the same type—for example, latex.

Also, various primers have different attributes and may seal the surface differently. This aspect affects the final look of the topcoat.

However, you will get a good or bad result based on your blend. If the primers are compatible, get ready for some magic. But, if they are not, you would rather not do it.

Does Primer Make Paint Lighter?

Primers and paints possess varying solids, resins, and hardeners. These components make the formulas mix differently and give contrasting blends.

Also, the color of individual solutions affects the final color.

For instance, a light primer will make the overall color slightly lighter, while a darker one will darken the color.

Even so, it all depends on the paint coverage. The primer will not affect the paint color if you get the correct coverage.

But this aspect applies if you don’t want the primer to add color to the final sheen.

Also, be my guest if you want to play chemist and blend different primers and paints. However, please always remember the rule of thumb; only compatible formulas mix.

In addition, you need a lot of white priming formulas to lighten a dark paint color. So, you will work best with approximately a gallon of white for a pint of color paint.

You may want to play chemist to see if your primer will lighten your paint.

How Long After Kilz Primer Can I Paint?

The primer dries in about 30 minutes, and you can topcoat or recoat in one hour with an oil-based or latex paint.

Also, temperature, humidity, and ventilation affect the wait time. For example, high humidity, poor ventilation, and lower temperatures will increase the dry time.

On top of that, the primer should dry thoroughly before any painting. So, even if it takes up to three hours, please be patient.

Do I Need to Prime If My Paint Has Primer In It?

We have been talking about the possibility of mixing paint and primer. But, have you heard of the ‘paint and primer in one formula?’ 

The ‘paint and primer in one formula’ is a thick paint that delivers a sturdier coat paint than normal paint.

Also, since it has a tint like regular paint, you do not need to have a white primer coat on the initial layer.

But still, if you have a new painting project, it is recommended to use a tinted or thin-bodied white primer.

Then, apply the thicker-bodied paint, providing the desired color and surface protection.

In addition, we have specific instances where self-priming paint is suitable.

  • Repainting. Since you do not have worries about a color bleed-through situation, self-primer paint will serve you well.
  • Interiors. Interior surfaces do not have UV rays, snow, or rain exposure. Hence, paint and primer in one is an excellent idea to complete the painting job.
  • Drywall. New drywall always needs some form of priming. Therefore, if you have new and unfinished drywall and do not have time to prime separately, this is the formula to use.

Always consider the project needs before deciding whether to prime for paint with primer. 

However, save the paint and primer formula for the special instances above.

But for normal painting projects, it would be prudent to follow the standard procedure, prime first, then paint. 

Can I Mix Latex Paint With Primer?

You can mix latex paint and primer if they have the same base. For example, if the paint is water-based, ensure that you use a water-based primer. 

However, from our discussion, primer is generally flat and may not accentuate the paint’s sheen.

Therefore, blend latex paint and primer if you do not mind losing the luster. 

Also, the mixture is hard to wash, and you are safe using a separate paint formula for the final coat.

Is It OK to Mix Different Brands of Paint?

You can mix different paint brands as long as they are of the same type and deliver a similar finish.

Also, using different paint brands may not make a significant difference, but the individual formula components will.

Besides that, be sure to use a separate container for the blending process as it gives an even color and consistency.

These blending experiments have helped professional artists discover unique colors. Therefore, once you follow the rules, go all out!

In addition, ensure that you read through the paint’s components and attributes. It gives you a clue if the blending idea is feasible.

Can I Use White Paint Instead of Primer?

You cannot use white paint instead of a primer as it is not effective or durable.

Primers have a high solids concentration that helps them act as a perfect adhesive binder and sealant.

On the other hand, white paint only has components that help it become an ideal topcoat.

In addition, a quality primer delivers a better bonding surface than a white primer. It also keeps the final paint cat from soaking into the surface.

Therefore, you are better off using a primer to ready the wall.

The paint lasts longer on the surface if you apply the primer before the paint coat.

Also, you will use more money for white paint because you need multiple coats to get a perfect outcome.

Nevertheless, you can use white paint as a primer in the following situations.

  • Temporary Color Change

Priming and sanding the surface again during a repainting project is not necessary.

Instead, you can get paints with a high pigment level as they spread more naturally and last longer.

Also, white paint is perfect if you want to paint an easy set pool.

So, go for white paint if it is a temporal color change project.

  • Drywall Recovery

Flat white paint saves the day if your drywall begins to expose white residues. It also saves you time and money because you do not have to get rid of it.

However, if the drywall leaks, ensure that you fix the issue first. Then, cover it up with flat formula as a base and any other light paint as a topcoat.

Also, you can get paint and primer in one; it does a perfect job!

Does Primer Affect Color?

Primer does not affect the paint color as long as you adhere to the correct coverage.

In addition, it is easy to achieve the proper coverage by determining the most appropriate top layer to add.

For instance, if you want to have a red topcoat but the sealer is yellow, you will need multiple coats to get full coverage.

Odd colors will require more coverage, unlike lighter colors or drywall, which work well with one primer coat.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Primer Before Painting?

If you do not use a primer before painting, expect an early product failure, like paint peeling.

Also, since you will need to redo the job, you will spend more time and money. Therefore, it would be best to avoid these scenarios using a primer.

So, let’s look at various instances where you need a primer before painting.

  • Skim-Coated or Newly Installed Drywall

Image of painter applying interior paint but How Often Should You Paint Your House?Newly installed or skim-coated drywall is highly porous. Hence, you need at least one primer coat to keep things in order.

Also, the drywall soaks up the paint formula like a sponge, leading to coverage inconsistencies.

So, a primer serves you well if you want an even finish.

A skim coat refers to a thin drywall swipe usually laid over bare drywall. It evens out an uneven wall surface and is also very porous.

Thus, it would help to apply a primer before the final color coat.

  • Glossy or Very Smooth Surfaces

Extremely smooth or glossy surfaces do not hold paint coats well. Therefore, it would help to scuff with sandpaper lightly or apply a primer.

In addition, if the glossy sheen is free from scuffs, the primer will help hold and retain the paint coats.

On top of that, glazed blocs, ceramic tiles, plastic, or vinyl shutters require you to roughen up the texture before painting.

Also, ‘slick’ surfaces may pose a challenge even during priming as they do not hold coatings properly.

  • Bare Wood

Bare wood needs priming because the tannins can seep out and lead to an early product failure.

Therefore, a primer becomes suitable because it seals the tannins in the wood and keeps it in good shape for an extended period.

In addition, the primer helps you to hide flaws and imperfections on the bare wood. It also keeps the lumber from bleed-through knots and other blemishes.

  • Porous Surfaces

If the object is porous, you need a good primer to deliver a ready-to-paint surface.

For example, new drywall is usually highly porous and will soak up the paint if you skip priming.

Also, masonry surfaces such as bricks, block walls, and concrete retaining walls need a primer to deliver a consistent color after the final color coat.

Besides that, the primer will help the porous surface to adhere to and retain the paint perfectly.

  • Stained Surfaces

Stained or spotted walls or surfaces will receive paint coats better if you apply primer coats.

  • Surfaces With an Odor

Sometimes walls soak up and retain odors.

For instance, if the room had pets, someone who prepared strong-smelling meals, or smokers, you may still feel the odor even after they leave. 

However, there is nothing to stress about because a high-quality primer seals in the surface and eliminates the odors.

It also keeps them from returning, which makes the process worthwhile before painting such a room.

In addition, regular paint does not have the sealing properties to keep such old odors away for good.

  • When You Want a Color Change

A primer is suitable if you wish to change the surface’s color from dark to light. It is more affordable than the color coat and thus saves you money.

Also, you will require fewer primer and color coats if you get a primer whose color is closer to the wall’s finish, 

Use two primer layers for a dark color. It will help to lighten the finish as you apply the final coat.

Is It OK to Leave Primer Unpainted?

Image of painted wood but What Is Wood Painting?No. It is not okay to leave primer unpainted.

A primer creates the base for the paint coat, increases the paint’s lifespan, and reduces the paint coats you need for an appealing finish.

However, it cannot replace the paint.

If you leave primer unpainted, it causes a sticky base, unevenness, and serious wall damage.

Therefore, it would be best to paint over the primer quickly.

Sometimes, you may get tired after priming the wall. But ensure that you get on with the painting as soon as possible.

Uniformity is essential in painting. I mean, who does not want to behold a smooth, even finish after the painting project?

But, unfortunately, you risk getting these results if you leave the primer unpainted for a while.

In addition, the primer is stickier than paint and will absorb dirt and other environmental elements. Hence, the surface will be uneven when you paint.

On top of that, dirt and these other elements will reduce the pigment ratio. Thus, some parts will look pale, while others appear too lively.

Apart from the wall looking old after painting, they will also be prone to damage if you do not paint after priming.

For example, water and smoke are very hazardous to a primed wall.

Also, if you have a pet, the walls will easily absorb its body odor. So, altogether, not painting after priming is a cooking disaster.

Should I Use White or Grey Primer?

A gray-colored primer is suitable for walls with a rich or dark color. It hides the color tone underneath and gives you a lovely finish.

On the other hand, a white primer requires two to four coats to cover reds, blacks, and other dark colors.

Therefore, a gray-tinted primer is best if you have a rich or deep color topcoat.

Additionally, a gray base coat has several benefits. For instance, it delivers a more uniform color, a better touch-up, and a superior hide.

Also, it saves money and time because it gives an accurate coat in fewer coats.

How Soon Do You Have to Paint After Priming?

You can paint the surface as soon as the primer dries. However, avoiding painting too early or much later would be best.

If you paint too early, the primer will still be wet, and the surface will not properly hold or refrain the topcoat.

On the other hand, you are endangering the surface and the final finish if you take a while before painting the primed surface.

How Soon Can You Paint After Priming

Most latex primers in the market usually dry within 30 minutes to one hour. However, humidity and temperature levels will lengthen or shorten the duration.

In addition, the primer type will also determine how long you need to wait. 

So, check the primer specifications and weather conditions before setting an approximate waiting time.

But generally, when all factors are perfect, manufacturers encourage waiting at least an hour before painting.

If you work indoors, you can also have some air conditioning for better results.

Also, you will have primers that can sit unfinished on a surface for a maximum of one month.

However, ensure that you check the manufacturer’s instructions carefully because oil-based primers last only 14 days.

You can also play safe by giving the primer at least 12 hours to cure, regardless of the type.

Although you will spend more time on the project, it will be a long-lasting finish.

Frequently Asked Question

  • Is There a Difference Between a Primer and Paint?

You may not see a notable difference between paint and primer formulas as they appear the same.

In addition, their application processes and curing times are also the same. Thus, you can easily confuse them if you are not into details.

However, the formulas have significant differences. A primer prepares, seals, and protects the surface before you apply the paint.

In other words, the coating material guarantees no-stain coverage and long-lasting protection to the final coat.

Additionally, you can use brushes and guns for both formulas.

However, be sure to specify the purpose because spray paint guns work differently from primer guns.

  • Do I Need to Add Water to Primer?

You do not need to add water to primers. They will still work well with rollers and brushes.

In addition, manufacturers recommend that you avoid water for oil-based formulas. So, open the lid and get right into the application process.

However, you may need to thin the formula if it is too thick for your sprayer. But ensure that it is a water-based solution. Also, adhere to a ratio of ½ pint per gallon.

  • Can I Use Two Paint Coats Instead of Primer?

No. Two paint coats will not give the same results as if you use a primer. The primer has components that help the paint coats adhere to the surface.

Therefore, since the paint does not have such properties, two coats do no good.

In addition, you need more than one primer coat depending on the paint color, wall material, and type of primer.

So, a primer is an unsubstitutable accessory to the painting process.

  • What Will Happen if I Use Too Much Primer?

Though some paints require multiple primer coats, overdoing the formula does more harm than good.

An excessively thick layer or too many coats increases the risk of the primer crazing, cracking, and chipping.

In addition, it takes a longer duration to dry and slows down your painting job.

Also, it will cause bubbles on the drywall in a worst-case situation and cause it to peel.

  • Do I Need to Sand Between Primer Coats?

No. You do not have to sand between primer coats. However, it would be best to sand the top primer coat before painting.

Also, you can sand between paint coats if you are keen on sanding between coats.

On top of that, you can wet sand the primer coat before painting. But ensure that the surface dries completely to avoid moisture issues.

Also, wet sandpaper usually cuts more uniformly. It does not collect the sanding residual and, thus, delivers a clean finish.

  • Should I Wet Sand or Dry Sand?

Wet sanding is a better option than dry sanding. It involves sanding a surface with water as a lubricant and is usually less abrasive.

Also, it gives a smoother and even finish and, thus, the perfect way to finish a final paint coat.b

On top of that, dry sanding is also helpful if you want to smooth rough materials quickly. It removes more material and thus, works faster than wet sanding.

However, both techniques will deliver. Therefore, choose the strategy that gives you the best finish.

Watch the Video Below On Priming Before Painting:


The ultimate goal of painting is to deliver a smooth, lovely finish, and we welcome whatever processes and strategies give us this outcome.

But, you will get a better outcome if you are keen on how you use priming and paint formulas.

Otherwise, you will have a failed product in the form of an uneven or short-lived finish. So, it would be prudent to express some concerns issues such as:

Can You Mix Primer With Paint?

It would be best to use primer and paint separately. The solutions have varying chemicals and components that make them fit for different painting stages.

For example, a primer acts as a glue to the paint coat and thus should come first. On the other hand, the paint may have a sheen, so it should come last if you want more luster.

Besides that, if you must mix primer and paint, let it be for repainting purposes. Also, ensure that you had primed the surface properly during the previous painting session.

But generally, if you have a new project, prime first, then paint.