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I've researched this as much as I can before posting, but my use case does not seem to have a solid consensus.

I have brand new drywall with a skim coat for level 5 smooth finish. I want to use the best primer possible before painting, and looking for options, especially if you have used multiple types in this scenario.

PVA - my drywall contractor and most regular contractors have mentioned PVA. It's also what I'm told to use when I go into Dunn Edwards and Sherwin Williams. It's usually from people who do not know what the other options are when I mention them, so it's with a grain of salt.

Gardz - it seems people are huge fans of this online. Mostly for problem/repair situations, and that's not my situation. Also, nobody locally seems to know about it, and it's only sold in one store by the gallon for $30. If really great and maybe even saves time/money on paint, I'll pay for it.

Bulls Eye 123 - I see this mentioned a lot. Then you read threads where it's bashed and called big box crap.

The rest? - any water based options that are better options I should consider? I saw this thread, but it was mostly plain drywall and only a small piece used for each test. Comments are closed on that thread.
 

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PVA is a cheap drywall primer and is bare minimum when talking primers. I prefer not to use it although I might on a ceiling.


Gardz is a great drywall sealer but it's a thin clear primer and won't offer any hiding properties.


123 is a good primer and I wouldn't be afraid to use it. Most finish paints have a recommendation for their preferred primer. It's doubtful you'd go wrong following that recommendation.



Normally you'll find better coatings [advice too] at your local paint store [not paint dept] Just stay away from their cheapest coatings.
 

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Gardz isnt gonna save you time or money on paint. It will make your wall bullet/waterproof though. It doesnt have much 'build,' which is something I would want painting a smooth wall. I mostly use it underneath wallpaper.

You cant go wrong with 123. I dont know why people bash it. Its a good all around primer. Works great on drywall. It doesnt block stains as good as it claims though, but thats not why you need it.

All in all, its just primer. Dont think too hard about it. Topcoats are the important part.
 

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USG FirstCoat is good for getting drywall ready to paint but it really has no sealing properties. That makes marginal flat paints unwashable and enamels will need an extra coat to achieve an even sheen. IMO first coat is best applied by spray.
 

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To be honest, most good paints are self-priming over drywall these days. 2 good coats of a quality paint and I've never had a problem with flashing, and of course I'm not just talking about flat paint. Most drywall primers I've used are a waste of time. (There are exceptions to this of course for special situations.) If I were going to use a primer/sealer, it would be Gardz. Personally I think that stuff is undersold - it's not just for problem areas. It's probably the best sealer I'm aware of, at least water based. You'll notice that it takes paint a lot longer to dry over it, which is proof if its sealing properties. As woodco mentioned, it will also give you the smoothest finish with the least build. But IMO that is kind of a moot point, unless you are going for a super smooth finish with a high flow paint and a small nap roller. For example maybe a paint like Cashmere in a satin finish. But my point is, if you're going to use a nappy roller that gives your paint texture anyway, and 2 coats, then the base layer doesn't matter that much in terms of ultimate smoothness.


So I guess it depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Everyone just assumes they need to prime everything. Go into Home Depot and you'll think everything needs to be primed. Painted your room last week, but don't like the color and want new paint? Gotta prime first. Why???? LOL. No, you don't.


So what I always suggest to people who are looking for a primer is that they're looking for a solution in search of a problem. If you understand what primers are, you'll take the opposite approach. Primers are Problem Solvers. So, first thing is to identify a problem. What is the problem with your wall? And don't say "it needs to be sealed", because that is a solution, not a problem.
 

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I've used USG firstcoat and have been happy with it. It's a high solids primer so it hides small imperfections in your level 5 finsih.

Well, this is sort of a paradox, isn't it? I mean the whole point of a Level 5 finish is to get rid of the imperfections of a Level 4 finish. Otherwise, why go to the trouble?


A better use for a high solids primer is to use it to hide imperfections in a Level 4 finish.
 

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To be honest, most good paints are self-priming over drywall these days. 2 good coats of a quality paint and I've never had a problem with flashing, and of course I'm not just talking about flat paint. Most drywall primers I've used are a waste of time. (There are exceptions to this of course for special situations.) If I were going to use a primer/sealer, it would be Gardz. Personally I think that stuff is undersold - it's not just for problem areas. It's probably the best sealer I'm aware of, at least water based. You'll notice that it takes paint a lot longer to dry over it, which is proof if its sealing properties. As woodco mentioned, it will also give you the smoothest finish with the least build. But IMO that is kind of a moot point, unless you are going for a super smooth finish with a high flow paint and a small nap roller. For example maybe a paint like Cashmere in a satin finish. But my point is, if you're going to use a nappy roller that gives your paint texture anyway, and 2 coats, then the base layer doesn't matter that much in terms of ultimate smoothness.


So I guess it depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Everyone just assumes they need to prime everything. Go into Home Depot and you'll think everything needs to be primed. Painted your room last week, but don't like the color and want new paint? Gotta prime first. Why???? LOL. No, you don't.


So what I always suggest to people who are looking for a primer is that they're looking for a solution in search of a problem. If you understand what primers are, you'll take the opposite approach. Primers are Problem Solvers. So, first thing is to identify a problem. What is the problem with your wall? And don't say "it needs to be sealed", because that is a solution, not a problem.
you shouldnt put a paint with a sheen on raw mud. Its too rubbery, and wont adhere as well. IV'e tape tested it. Good flat paint works as primer though.
 

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you shouldnt put a paint with a sheen on raw mud. Its too rubbery, and wont adhere as well. IV'e tape tested it. Good flat paint works as primer though.

Well, at least you have identified a problem, so you have permission to use a primer :wink2:
 

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I don't know if it's the best, but a very good primer to use would be Ben Moore's Enamel Underbody Primer (217).
 

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Personally I throw out roller covers but I reuse brushes, and dealing with oil based things is a pain. So I have to have a really good reason for using one. Priming drywall is not one of those situations.
 
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