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3 Best Drywall Primers to Prep Your Walls Like a Pro

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Ever started a paint job and ended up with less-than-stellar results? We've all been there. Choosing the wrong primer can leave your walls looking patchy and far from the smooth canvas you envisioned. And let's be honest, it's a total buzzkill and a waste of time and paint. I've spent years painting and prepping walls, so trust me when I say the primer makes all the difference.

But here's the good news: there are primers out there that can turn your walls from meh to magnificent. I'm talking about primers that lay down so smooth, your paint glides on like butter. Ready to find out which ones? Stick around, because I'm about to dive into the three best drywall primers that'll prep your walls like a pro.

Gorilla Heavy Duty Wall Repair Spackling + Primer, 16 Ounce Tub,White

gorilla wall repair solution

If you're in need of a strong and durable solution for repairing walls, ceilings, cracks, and holes, the Gorilla Heavy Duty Wall Repair Spackling + Primer is the ideal choice for you. This 16-ounce tub of spackling and primer in one offers a lightweight formula that's easy to spread and control. It doesn't sag, shrink, or crack, providing a smooth finish without the need for sanding.

Paintable in just 15 minutes, this product paints like drywall, making it perfect for quick repairs. While some users found it thick initially, once applied, it dries hard, effectively patching holes and cracks. Users recommend this product for DIY projects, especially for fixing fist-sized holes in drywall.

Best For: DIY enthusiasts looking for a quick and effective solution for repairing walls, ceilings, cracks, and holes without the need for sanding.


  • Lightweight formula that's easy to spread and control.
  • Fast-drying and paintable in just 15 minutes.
  • Provides a smooth finish without the need for sanding.


  • May dry out if the lid isn't secured properly.

ROMAN R-35 Adhesion Promoting Tacky Wallpaper Primer (PRO-935, 1 Gallon)

adhesion promoting wallpaper primer

For professionals seeking a reliable primer that enhances adhesion on challenging surfaces, the ROMAN R-35 Adhesion Promoting Tacky Wallpaper Primer (PRO-935, 1 Gallon) is a top choice. This clear acrylic primer is designed for difficult surfaces like ceramic tile and Formica, providing excellent surface preparation for pre-pasted wallcoverings. The primer can even be tinted with up to 4 oz. of colorant per gallon, offering versatility in customization. Covering approximately 450 sq. ft. per gallon, it's efficient in its application. Additionally, this primer can repair torn drywall and dries with a slight residual tack to enhance the adhesion of wallcoverings or paint. With a satin finish and indoor usage, this Roman primer is a reliable option for your wall prep needs.

Best For: Professionals in the wallpapering industry looking for a versatile and reliable primer for challenging surfaces.


  • Enhances adhesion on difficult surfaces like ceramic tile and Formica.
  • Can be tinted for customization with up to 4 oz. colorant per gallon.
  • Repairs torn drywall and dries with a slight tackiness for improved adhesion.


  • May not be suitable for outdoor use.

Rust-Oleum Corporation Advanced Synthetic Shellac Watercolor Primer, White (1-Quart)

watercolor primer by rust oleum

When aiming for superior odor blocking and ultimate stain blocking on your walls, consider the Rust-Oleum Corporation Advanced Synthetic Shellac Watercolor Primer, White (1-Quart) for professional wall prep. This high hiding bright white primer sealer is designed to provide ultimate stain blocking for a variety of stains, including water stains, rust stains, graffiti, crayon, and grease. Its superior odor blocking capabilities make it ideal for combating smoke, cigar, cigarette, pets, and food odors. With a water-based formula that dries quickly and low odor, VOC compliant features, this primer is suitable for both interior and exterior use. For a matte finish and coverage of 35 square feet, the Rust-Oleum primer is a top choice for your wall preparation needs.

Best For: DIY enthusiasts and professionals looking for a versatile primer that provides superior odor and stain blocking capabilities for both interior and exterior wall preparation.


  • High hiding bright white primer sealer
  • Ultimate stain blocking for various stains
  • Superior odor blocking against different odors


  • May require multiple coats for optimal results

Factors to Consider When Choosing Drywall Primer

When choosing a drywall primer, you should consider factors like:

  • Surface compatibility
  • Application techniques
  • Drying time impact
  • Coverage area estimation
  • Odor/VOC levels

These elements are important in ensuring that your primer performs effectively and meets the specific requirements of your project. By evaluating these aspects carefully, you can select the right drywall primer for a professional wall preparation job.

Surface Compatibility Considerations

Consider the compatibility of the drywall primer with various surfaces such as drywall, plaster, wood, and masonry when choosing the right primer for your project.

Make sure the primer can adhere to sealed surfaces like glass, ceramic tile, or Formica for best results.

Look for primers that promote adhesion on challenging surfaces such as previously painted walls or glossy finishes.

Opt for a primer suitable for both interior and exterior applications to provide versatility in your projects.

Choose a primer that offers stain-blocking properties to cover water stains, rust stains, graffiti, and other common imperfections on surfaces.

Checking these surface compatibility considerations will help you achieve professional results when prepping your walls.

Application Techniques

For best results when selecting a drywall primer, make sure you apply it using a high-quality brush, roller, or sprayer for even coverage.

When rolling primer onto the drywall, use a cross-hatch technique to ensure thorough application.

Allow the primer to dry completely before applying paint or wallpaper to prevent issues like peeling or bubbling.

Consider using a tinted primer to enhance the color and coverage of the final paint or wallpaper.

Properly ventilate the area during and after priming to guarantee good air circulation and faster drying times.

Drying Time Impact

To make an informed choice on drywall primer, prioritize the drying time impact to secure timely completion of your project. Fast-drying primers like Gorilla Heavy Duty Wall Repair Spackling + Primer allow for painting in as little as 15 minutes, accelerating your project timeline.

Rust-Oleum Corporation Advanced Synthetic Shellac Watercolor Primer offers quick drying and low odor properties, suitable for both interior and exterior applications. Choosing a primer with a swift drying time is essential as it determines when you can proceed with painting or wallpaper installation, ensuring project efficiency.

ROMAN R-35 Adhesion Promoting Tacky Wallpaper Primer dries with a slight tack that enhances adhesion, guaranteeing a strong bond with the surface. Consider environmental factors such as humidity to prevent issues like flaking in humid conditions if the primer isn't allowed to dry properly.

Coverage Area Estimation

Calculating the square footage of the surface to be primed is essential for accurately estimating the coverage area when selecting a drywall primer. Take into account the porosity of the drywall surface, as more porous surfaces may require additional primer.

Manufacturers typically indicate coverage information in square feet per gallon on primer labels. Factors like texture, existing color, and desired color change can influence the amount of primer needed. As a general guideline, one gallon of primer can cover approximately 300 to 400 square feet of surface area.

Odor and VOC Levels

When selecting a drywall primer, prioritize low odor and low VOC options for indoor applications to enhance safety and minimize strong odors.

Low odor and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) primers are preferable for indoor use to minimize health risks and strong odors. Look for primers labeled as VOC guarantee to make sure they meet environmental standards and contribute to better indoor air quality.

Some primers offer superior odor-blocking properties, which are beneficial for covering up strong odors like smoke, pets, or food smells. Choosing a primer with low odor can make the application process more comfortable and less intrusive, especially in enclosed spaces.

Opting for a primer with low VOC levels can help reduce the impact on the environment and promote healthier living conditions in your home.

Primer Versatility

Consider the versatility of drywall primers by evaluating factors such as compatibility with various paint types and additional benefits like mold resistance or stain blocking. Some primers are specifically designed for new drywall, while others work on both new and previously painted walls. Check if the primer is compatible with different paint finishes to guarantee the best results.

Look for primers offering extra features such as mold resistance, stain blocking, or adhesion promotion based on your project needs. Tintable primers can improve color coverage and enhance the final paint color. Confirm if the primer is suitable for both interior and exterior applications to meet the project requirements effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Drywall Primer Be Used on Other Surfaces Besides Drywall?

Yes, drywall primer can be used on various surfaces besides drywall. It provides a smooth base for paint on materials like wood, metal, and masonry. Make sure proper surface preparation for best results when using drywall primer elsewhere.

How Long Does It Typically Take for Drywall Primer to Dry Before Painting?

After applying drywall primer, it usually dries within 1-2 hours, but for best results, wait a full 24 hours before painting. This guarantees the primer fully cures, leading to a smoother finish and better paint adhesion.

Are There Any Specific Tools or Equipment Needed to Apply Drywall Primer?

You'll need basic tools like a paint roller, paintbrush, and a paint tray to apply drywall primer effectively. Additional equipment such as a primer sprayer or a pole sander might come in handy for larger projects.

Can Drywall Primer Be Tinted to Match a Specific Paint Color?

Yes, drywall primer can be tinted to match a specific paint color. This allows for a better base coat that complements your final paint choice. Consider this option for a more seamless and professional finish.

Is It Necessary to Sand the Drywall Before Applying Primer, or Can Primer Be Applied Directly to the Surface?

Before priming, sanding the drywall is crucial for a smooth finish. Sanding allows the primer to adhere better and guarantees a flawless result. Don't skip this step! It's like laying the foundation for a sturdy house.