General Question

whitecarnations's avatar

Is priming the first step in painting wood?

Asked by whitecarnations (1635 points ) April 6th, 2012

I have never spray painted before. I have wasted a can on a wood surface area of 8 feet, only to barely turn it’s color from brown to medium brown.

How does primer work anyhow? Thanks!

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14 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Technically, the first step in painting wood is to sand it. The next is to be sure that it is completely dry.

If you don’t properly sand wood, then you’ll waste a lot of paint filling in the minute surface fluctuations; the wood will appear to suck the paint in, to little effect (as you have already seen). If the wood isn’t very dry (or if it can be wetted from the other side), then the paint will start shedding in large sheets and small patches sooner or later after the paint dries, until most of it has been lost.

Priming is helpful in laying down a (usually) neutral buff-surface base coat – on properly prepared and dried surfaces – to which your finish coat can easily adhere and add the color and finish desired.

whitecarnations's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes I definitely witnessed the wood sucking in the paint. So sanding it down is more important than the primer you say? What type of grain would you recommend?

marinelife's avatar

So the wood surface that you are painting was infinished? Then you definitely should use primer.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Sand, then tack cloth, then prime.

I recommend prior to priming you use a fine grit sand paper.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m not much of a painter, as most of my prior work in that genre will attest, but I know what needs to be done. You want to make the surface as smooth as possible, based on the species of wood that you’re painting.

Sanding is important, maybe vital isn’t too strong a word, for the best smoothness you can attain. Primer is then helpful as the “sealer” so that your fine, expensive finish paint won’t be sucked in – as it apparently was.

King_Pariah's avatar

The grain of sand paper that you want to start out with varies depending on how rough the surface is. You may have to start out with, say, 80 grit and work your way up to 150 or 240 grit. If you use a high grit sand paper right off the bat on something that is fairly rough, you run a high risk of tearing up that sand paper.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree @CWOTUS. Another thing @whitecarnations, a small can of paint is probably a better idea than spray paint for an unfinished wood piece.

Spray pain, IMO, is great fro small projects. On larger, porous projects, I find painting with a brush to be a better option. I do a lot of DIY work.

When I need to get a project done fast, I’ll go with spray paint….but even a small project like outdoor furniture can take several cans of paint. For instance, one of my patio chairs needs one can of spray paint…and that’s just with me essentially touching it up…not all over changing or painting the entire chair.

whitecarnations's avatar

@SpatzieLover The thing is, there are criss cross layers of wood that I can’t get into with a brush, or roller. Similar to this

But with 1 more layer.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Lattice is tough @whitecarnations. Your best bet is to prime, then from one angle spray one side with paint to coat. Then from angle spray the next side to coat it. Depending on the size, you’ll probably need 2 to 3 cans of primer and 4 to 5 cans of paint.

You may also want to seal it with a spray laquer at the end to keep the paint in place longer so you don’t have to repeat this process anytime soon.

CWOTUS's avatar

You might also consider one of the many aftermarket paint sprayers available for the purpose (commonly sold at hardware stores, Home Depot, etc.) which use “regular” house paint types that aren’t thinned as much as pressurized cans of spray paint.

I use cans of spray paint primarily for metal work in small areas, as @SpatzieLover suggests.

dabbler's avatar

The primer will seal the surface so the next coat won’t be absorbed inconsistently across parts with different porosity or wetness. The color coat can be applied to an even depth.

@CWOTUS is correct that the sanding and cleaning step should happen prior to painting or your end results will be vulnerable to more inconsistency.
I like your point about the opportunity to establish a base color in the primer that supports the top color.

Primer will make a big difference later too as unprimed wood will soak up more paint later. So spots that soaked up a lot initially will continue to do so.

wallabies's avatar

You have to first prep the surface by scuffing it up in order to get better adherence of the paint. This is important! If you skip this, it is very possible that the primer and paint will not adhere well to the wood, and it will peel off. Sand the wood with maybe 100 grit then spray the primer following can instructions, then spray the paint following can instructions. Painting something is easily a multi-day process.

woodcutter's avatar

All primer is, is fast drying paint, designed to cure on the surface or close to it. The paint that follows will not sink in because the primer has already done that. If paint is water based it will raise the grain in places and give that rough feeling. It’s good to sand lightly after this has completely dried all the way…not dry to the touch. This will fool you into jumping the gun and sand the surface too soon and make a B F M of it. If the sandpaper gets clogged up with paint boogers then you are doing it too soon. It should be dust however if the sanding is too vigorous this will cause excessive friction and heat up the surface thus softening the paint resulting in another B F M.

hth

clintmackey's avatar

Obviously !!! Yes,,

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