Never heard of bonding primer? It is the BEST primer and a must when painting over many surfaces.
Bonding primer was something that I never knew about, until worked for Valspar and did so for 5 years.
When I was asking about painting over a stained wood piece of furniture, my co-worker who managed the primer categories said bonding primer was a must.
Fast forward 10 years and more projects than I can count, Valspar Bonding primer is a must for all of my furniture and cabinet paint projects!
First off, no paint is a primer too! So a Paint + Primer tag on a paint can is a marketing gimmick…I am going to explain.
The first coat of paint acts as a primer to prime the surface for the 2nd coat of paint. Nothing more!
A general primer’s job is to prep the surface for the topcoat. That’s it.
An all-purpose primer is great for drywall or going over the same type and color of paint on a variety of jobs.
I always recommend that you should save yourself money, when transitioning from a dark to a light color, and start with a basic all-purpose primer first.
When I painted a room red and regretted it, I decided I wanted a tan paint.
I would have had to apply 4 or more coats of paint in that example and instead applied one coat of all-purpose primer FIRST to knock down the red.
That saved me time and money, so it took only 2 coats of paint.
Why is that important?
A general primer is MUCH CHEAPER per gallon than paint.
When you should use an all-purpose primer:
- To cover and block stains on drywall: crayon, water, grease, pen
- During extreme color changes: light to darker or the reverse
- Changing from an oil to a latex water-based paint
- Moving from a high-gloss sheen to a lower sheen
- Prepping bare wood or metal for paint
It cannot be used to cover mold or mildew. Those must be removed/killed with bleach and water prior to applying primer.
The water in the primer will re-activate the mold growth, so get rid of it first!
Any time a primer says “all-purpose” or “multi-use” realize it’s a general primer and may not be perfect for your specific need.
When You Need a Bonding Primer
Now what you came here to learn, which is when do I need to step up and pay extra for a bonding primer?
If you are a person who likes to up-cycle stained cabinets and furniture, bonding primer is a MUST!
Even with chalk paint it’s a great idea on an old stained piece of furniture to use a bonding primer first.
Why? It’s that darn thing called, bleed through or those darn brown streaks that come through the paint.
If you don’t spot test first, you may spend a lot of time painting and all of a sudden brown streaks will show through.
People have even reached out to me and said when they applied a clear coat over the paint it stimulated the bleed through.
Want to know how to stop paint bleed through, after it has happened? Read: My Solution to Stop Chalk Paint Bleed Through
It’s very upsetting to have to redo hours of work!
Projects When Bonding Primer is a Must:
- Non-porous “shiny” surfaces like tile, metal, mirror and glass.
- When stain blocking activated by water is a concern: tannin and wood stain bleed.
- For slick surface adhesion to oil and water based topcoats: polyurethane, varnish, and shellac
- Plastic, PVC and Resin
- Sealing knotty wood surfaces
- Laminated or Thermofoil surfaces
Guess what this means?
Pin It for Later!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAND POLYURETHANE BEFORE PAINTING IF YOU USE A BONDING PRIMER!
Bonding primer is my go to when painting cabinets and furniture that have been stained and polyurethaned.
Here is a whole blog post to show you all of the projects, including a large stained armoire.
You can read all about how I transformed this armoire here: Paint Sprayer Turned a Dreaded Project into the Best Ever!
Plus I just used a bonding primer to paint stair risers too!
When I tried a liquid sanding agent this is what happened…a disaster, when the paint pulled away as I removed the painter’s tape.
I veered off my normal course of typically starting with a bonding primer, but I wasn’t upset because it’s aways good to try new methods.
You can read all about how to PROPERLY prepare stairs for painting here: How-To Prep and Paint Stained Stairs White
Bonding Primer did what it was supposed to do and the stair risers haven’t had one chip in the paint, after vacuuming them and 6 months of foot traffic.
To me that is the best testimonial or maybe it’s my nightstands because I’ve had no issues with the horizontal surface and chipping.
Where bonding primer is critical is when you are painting cabinets!
Every cabinet painting project in my home has ALWAYS started with a coat of bonding primer to ensure great adhesion, so the paint doesn’t chip off in day to day use.
I’ve painted cabinets in the following rooms moving from a dark stain to white or a color: office, bathroom, and powder room.
If you want to learn more about painting cabinets, please checkout the following posts:
Hopefully, now you have an understanding of why a bonding primer is critical for certain hard to paint surfaces.
I seriously ALWAYS keep a can on hand, so it’s ready for my next painting project because I do them so often.
There are multiple brands and options for bonding primers that I’ll list here:
- Valspar Bonding Primer
- Sherwin Williams Extreme Bond Primer
- Kilz Adhesion Primer
- Benjamin Moore Stix Primer
I liked this more technical post relating bonding primer to peanut butter on bread as the glue: The How’s and Why’s of Bonding Primer
My FAVORITE and go to is always Valspar Bonding Primer…it’s never let me down!
You can read about all of the projects where I’ve used it here: No! You Do Not Have to Sand Before Painting Over Stain
People email me a lot of questions about Valspar Bonding Primer, so I’ll address them here in one spot!
Tips applying Valspar Bonding Primer:
- This stuff is THICK and can appear chunky in the can, so stir it thoroughly.
- It only takes one coat and can be painted over in one hour.
- Primer isn’t meant to cover, but coat so you will see the surface below it.
- Apply with a nylon/polyester brush, foam roller, or 3/8 inch nap roller.
- To test for primer adhesion before painting, don’t scratch but instead apply a small piece of painter’s tape to see if it pulls off the primer.
- Valspar Bonding Primer can be sprayed! I get asked that a lot.
- When spraying, VBP doesn’t need to be thinned nor is it recommended but you may want to strain it.
- Once fully dry, you can lightly sand off any imperfections, but it’s not necessary to sand.
Always PREP your surfaces by cleaning and sanding flaking or failing paint prior to priming.
So you believe it’s sprayable, here I am spraying and did a ton of furniture and cabinets this way:If you are using a paint sprayer, please remember the consistency is much thicker than a paint so the settings need to be modified.
You will need more force to push the primer, so more air pressure. Please read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Literally, with a little bonding primer just about any surface that is stable can be painted!