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jaylin 11-21-2009 10:06 PM

Help With Differing Opinions Re Prime Or Not By Painting Contractor
Hi, new to the board. Just interviewed first paint contractor for doing interior walls and ceilings. Small house, but mucho holes, dings, major stress cracks, much wall damage and drywall tape/seam failures.

Since I should probably post some of those problems on other boards here, I'll stick (no pun) to paint. House has never NEVER been painted since we had it built 20 years ago. Don't ask. :(
Question (1)
Me: "I think everything - walls and ceiling especially which is 'bleeding' through truss lines and, of course, areas where patches and repairs are to be done, should be primed before painting"

Painter: "With 2 coats new Sherwin Wiliams Ultra, priming not necessary."

I'm thinking I'm right on this one. Yes? No?

Question (2)
Me:"I'd really like satin or at least eggshell on walls. (Flat, naturally on ceiling of course. No argument there.)"

Painter: "Only flat will hide the spackled/sanded/jointcompounded/sanded areas. Any paint with a glossy look like satin or even eggshell will show those blotchy repaired areas".

Me: "I understand that flat covers 'ooops' better so it's obvious why it's always used on ceilings which reflect more light. But I really, really want satin for that very reason: because it with it on the walls it would reflect light better in my dark little house."

"I already did one small area and love it except for blotchy areas where I fixed holes and smooth sanded or feathered compound and sanded. I thought blotchiness was because I didn't PRIME firsthand and then paint with the satin. Wouldn't primer have evened out those sanded/repaired areas and also made that surface more accepting of new paint?"
(I realize this is almost like asking the first question over again but w/a different spin.)

Painter: "Wouldn't have mattered. They showed through because you didn't use flat. Primer would've had nothing to do with it. Even if you'd primed them, because you didn't use flat as top coat but used satin, the blotches showed through. Won't happen with 2 coats of SW Ultra."

My house gets zippo direct sunlight so anything to add brightness or pick up a and reflect a speck of light that can bounce off the walls giving illusion of brighter room is what I want. Lived with dull flat, lifeless original house builder's paint all these years and really liked the area I painted satin despite the blotches. Aside from those blotches, that wall section really looked more alive next to the flat painted wall.

I understand the glossier the paint is the more defects show and that's why it's off limits on ceilings. But shouldn't primer or primer/sealer be used under ANY paint job regardless of whether it's over old paint (remember, it's original 20+ year old contractor paint) and especially over defects)?

In his favor, he DID say he'd prime it if I wanted it. I know that''ll cost more and may make his job take a day longer than expected. But, hey..."First Time in Twenty Years" deserves the best, no?

sorry for long question. If you thing you're head's spinning...:eek:

user1007 11-22-2009 04:20 AM

Of course it should be primed first with a good quality primer/sealer/stainblocker especially if it has never been painted and you have extensive drywall repair situations to cover. The drywall compound will absorb paint differently than will the drywall paper itself. If you have been smoking in the house then you have the issue of all that having been absorbed into the unfinished drywall too so consider an oil-based alkyd primer if that is your situation. I would definitely use an alkyd primer in the kitchen after two decades without a coating. Primer is the great equalizer and provides a uniform surface for the paint to stick to. If you have waited this long I wouldn't skimp now.

Primers and paints are two different things in spite of what the companies hype. They also hype one coat coverage but you want two coats of paint too in your situation though. Nicely primed and with a Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore or other paint store---not box store---paint you will grow tired of the color or something before you are likely to have to paint again.

True! Any defect in the surface is going to show up more the higher the gloss of the paint. It is not because flat covers them any better, it's because the light will accentuate the higher gloss surface and cause you to see the imperfections more.

Not sure who told you have to use flat on ceilings either? Most people, unless they are restaurant owners or good interior designers, don't like using higher gloss finishes on ceilings because of the light reflection. Properly primed and all, you can use whatever you want on yours and they don't have to be white either.

Higher paint sheens on walls, ceilings or floors can add a lot to the character of a place.

It sounds to me like your major challenge is to finish prep work that was never finished. You want your walls as smooth and blended as you can before you paint. I am not sure why what sounds like unpainted new construction would have so many major surface imperfections unless things never got sanded and surfaced properly after being taped and mudded?

If the walls have been sitting unprimed and unpainted for 20 years take the time to clean or have them cleaned too. It will make a big difference. I use the local ServiceMaster folks (there are certainly other such companies) to come in and do complete paint preps for me on major jobs. They are fast and cheaper than I am at doing such things. They have all the tools and cleaning solutions to get everything vacuumed up, washed down without doing damage, etc. They bring an army of appropriate size.

Sorry you had to wait so long for paint! Glad to hear you are trying to do it right. Contractor 1 sounds like he is trying to work with you and do the right thing. I am sure he is concerned about budget and may not want to overbid if you are looking for the best price on the job. I would put everybody on the same page to be fair and get honest bids though. To repeat, you want one coat primer and two coats paint if you can afford it.

chrisn 11-22-2009 04:43 AM

To repeat, you want one coat primer and two coats paint if you can afford it.

As stated, you need to get all the repairs done PROPERLY first. If the painter cannot do it right ,then you need a drywall person. The painter that said ""With 2 coats new Sherwin Wiliams Ultra, priming not necessary." :eek::huh::huh:

just say no.

As sdester has said after proper patching, prime everything and paint with whatever sheen you want.

ccarlisle 11-22-2009 08:39 AM

Nope, that guy who says he's 'a painter' doesn't make much sense; at very least, he's marginal. Going against the current may be entertaining for him, but should be limited to his choice of beverages - not bucking the science of a well-researched and understood domain like painting.

IMO, the only "currency" used by contractors is their reputation; sort of like a bank account in a fickle bank. Accumulated slowly bit by bit, build on over years - but is gone in the wind overnight. You don't last long playing with your reputation like you were playing poker.

This guy sounds like a hack. Move on. :laughing:

Matthewt1970 11-22-2009 08:41 AM

Putting a little sheen and color on the walls is really going to bring out those patched areas if they are not done right. If this were my house, I would prime with Zinsser 123. It leaves a little sheen so you can catch the bad areas early. After it's primed, sight down each wall from each and and you will see the bad areas. The patched spots will look flat as they will soak in the paint/primer more and not leave a uniform sheen. Circling them with a pencil might help as well. Have any bumps or holes fixed, re-primer those spots, 2 coats of paint and you are good to go.

Those tips there kinda point to why most people will put flat paint on a ceiling. You are almost always looking at the ceiling at an angle like you would sighting down a wall so imperfections tend to stand out. A sand texture and flat paint will do it's best to hide those imperfections. Painting them white just brightens up the room.

jaylin 11-22-2009 10:44 AM

Great Support!
Thanks for all the quick and great responses! :) Since I was half asleep when I posted last night, I might have misled on some points.

But, first off, you've ALL reinforced my belief re always prime before painting as well as prime over repaired areas as well. :thumbsup:

Sester: Thanks for the kudos on Sherwin Williams. Never used it so clueless on that before. My house is 20+ and it was painted - but only once and that was by original contractor who built the house. We've never had the house painted since. Not doing kitchen cause we just had that redone last year and we redid our bathrooms ourselves. So only foyer, hallway, living room and connecting dining room & 2 bedrooms are what's in need of repair/paint job now.

Major settling and shifting in our basic sandy soil over all these years is cause of stress cracks. Plus admittedly bad do-it-yourself repairs on my part. :rolleyes: Additionally, we're "blessed" with truss uplift problem. That's the cause of most other seam cracks. (But that's another issue entirely, which we're dealing with another way. :wink: Long story again). Remaining dings, holes, etc. are just from accidents, kids, cabinets/mirror replacements, pictures removed and ...Life. It all mounts up.

Chris: You said: "Proper patching, prime everything and paint whatever sheen". Ditto. Makes me feel reprieve for using satin or eggshell if that's what I really want. As you said, too, it all starts from the bottom up. If 'foundation work' sucks, anything afterward will too.

ccarlisle: Truer words never spoken. Amen! Can't say how many times I've heard "Well, I've been in the business XX years" as if that's supposed to impress me, assure me they know what they're doing and that's enough for me to give them the job. Like you said, if that's their "currency" then their bank accounts contain way more monopoly money than real cash. :jester:

Matthew1970: Really appreciate your hint re circling those 'flat looking' areas w/pencil after priming is done. :thumbup: Right now I'm looking at the small wall I did before that I mentioned in my first post and, yep, you can see those areas when you sight them from side. Dead on - you can sure feel them but you can't see them unless the light hits them jest right. Marking them - after first prime - would definitely make it easier to know where they are & re-prime them before final painting of two coats top. Agreed, too, that's why flat's most always used on ceilings cause you're almost constantly looking at it from an angle.

Thanks to your all your input and some basic intuition, I think my next move is to call a couple/few more painters. Knowledge is power they say. Reinforced knowledge - like you all provided - is SUPERPOWER. :boxing:

Just one more :laughing: question re using stainkiller like a Kilz, Bin,etc. as primer for ceiling where trusses have left 'bleed' darkish lines across ceiling: We've used it before in bathroom that had stained ceiling as well as when we did the kitchen. But if it's used for purposes of trying to hide those truss bleed marks as much as possible, I assume it should be used for the rest of the ceilings where marks aren't as prominent. No? Yes? Would regular primer be okay then for just walls or should we just "Stain-Kill" the whole blasted thing (ceilings & walls) simply because nothing was ever repainted after initial contractor paint and/or because of all the sheetrock repairs that are necessary? Otherwise, I'd be okay w/using 'stainkiller' just for ceiling and regular primer for walls. Whatever?

Thanks again.

downunder 11-22-2009 11:17 AM


Can't say how many times I've heard "Well, I've been in the business XX years" as if that's supposed to impress me
I have found that most of the people who tell me that have been doing it wrong for XX years.

For example, I once knew a "mechanic" for a landscaping outfit. He grew up farming and one day we were talking about tractors and I asked him what the difference is between wet brakes and dry brakes. "Wet brakes are better." I have heard that several times over the years and I figured that someone who had been farming for fifty years as well as being a mechanic could have explained why one is better than the other.

user1007 11-23-2009 02:29 AM


Originally Posted by jaylin (Post 356461)
No? Yes? Would regular primer be okay then for just walls or should we just "Stain-Kill" the whole blasted thing (ceilings & walls) simply because nothing was ever repainted after initial contractor paint and/or because of all the sheetrock repairs that are necessary? Otherwise, I'd be okay w/using 'stainkiller' just for ceiling and regular primer for walls. Whatever?

You need to source your stain problem before anything else or you will be at this for eternity. Once resolved, buy the best stain blocking primer you can afford and since the cans are open use it for everything. See the guys at the Sherwin Williams or better yet, Benjamin Moore store.

You misled me in your original comment suggesting the place had never been painted. It sounds like you got one crappy drywall job and the contractor used the cheapest method possible to spray on thinned down $5 gallon paint. Probably something like Behr or Valspar or God knows what is worse.

I say again, prime the whole place.

chrisn 11-23-2009 03:42 AM

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