Effective Undercoating vs. Self Priming Paints

The phrase ‘self-priming’ paint is an over-used and inaccurate buzz-word in our industry at the moment. Its use has been fueled by some very successful advertising campaigns directed towards do-it-yourself consumers who are easily enticed by the claims of doing half the work or investing half the time and money for the same result. These ideas seem smart and even sensible to non-professional painters even when considering the premium paid for products that are labeled self-priming. There are only limited situations where these products will give a satisfactory finish such as re-coating a properly sealed and prepared surface with the same type of product or re-painting a surface with a different colour provided the change is not too drastic. Self-priming products are formulated to re-paint sound surfaces only.

As professionals in the coatings industry, we at Steeles Paint understand the advantages and limitations of these types of products. Self-priming paints are formulated with higher quality binders and resins to promote adhesion and durability. The other attribute that allows these products to be labeled in this way is a slightly higher opacity formulation than their cheaper counterparts therefore marginally increasing their hide and coverage.

When these products are used directly on bare drywall, there is a good chance of flashing – uneven sheen typified by shiny and dull areas on the surface. A proper primer/sealer’s purpose is to evenly seal the surface resulting in uniformity of sheen and colour when the finish paint is applied. On wood surfaces, if a primer is not utilized, not only is adhesion compromised, the grain of the wood is raised, resulting in an unattractive textured surface. Without the use of an undercoater, tannins within the wood can bleed through the self-priming coating leaving it spotty and streaky. Steel and damaged or stained surfaces will require special prep and priming/sealing as well.

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