Difference Between Latex Primer & Latex Paint


While it's an extra step to coat a wall or other surface with a latex primer before applying a latex paint, that step can ultimately save time. The primer can help hide several imperfections on surfaces that would otherwise take many coats of paint to cover.


  • A latex primer essentially functions as a glue for latex paint. The primer helps the paint adhere better to a surface, helping to keep the paint from cracking and peeling.

Wood Surfaces

  • When you're painting over wood, a latex primer helps hide a wood's uneven grain. Intermingled wood grains create lighter and darker areas that often can't be hidden by latex paint alone.


  • Wood and other surfaces also are porous. Such surfaces drink in paint, requiring numerous coats for coverage. Latex primers seal these surfaces and reduce the number of paint coats needed.


  • Seams between unfinished drywall sections are typically coated with joint compound. The drywall and joint compound have different textures that can be evened out by a latex primer before painting an unfinished wall.

Oil-Based Paint

  • A latex primer also helps latex paint stick to a surface that was previously coated with oil-based paint. Latex paints are water-based, and they won't readily adhere to oil-based paints.


  • Unlike oil-based paints and primers, latex varieties dry quickly and can be cleaned off paintbrushes and other surfaces with water. Latex brands also are available with low or no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Such brands have little or no odor.

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  • Photo Credit yellow paint image by Jennifer Griner from Fotolia.com
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