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Refined Painting: Blog

How to Pick the Right Exterior Primer

With the right coat of paint, you can make your house a home. Just remember that there’s much more to paint than choosing the colour.

Exterior Jobs

When picking paint for the exterior of your home you need to consider a variety of factors, chief among them: weather. Paint helps protect your home from the elements. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two most common types of paint.

Latex Primers

Latex primers dry quickly and have a lower VOC content, which results in a much milder scent than oil, making it popular for DIYers. As with a water-based paint, cleaning brushes is easier and it has a smaller environmental impact. If you choose latex primer, look for 100 percent acrylic latex – it is more durable.

Latex primers are a good choice for most exterior projects, especially where the substrate is in prime condition and extreme longevity is not an issue.  Latex exterior primers can be used on a variety of surfaces including wood or metal, or on projects where extra bonding is necessary.

The downside of some latex primer is that it’s easier to see brush strokes if it dries too fast.  Refined Painting adds an extender to the latex primer they use to increase open time when necessary.  Another drawback is that cold temperatures interfere with the paint’s application.  For most primers, the temperature needs to be above 10 degrees Celsius at night, or a specially formulated exterior product must be chosen.  For exterior paint jobs in colder weather, you should consider bringing in professionals to ensure the job is done right, the first time, as they know what the paint limitations are.

Alkyd Primers

Some contractors prefer using oil-based alkyd primer for exterior projects. It is long-lasting, durable, and provides a better prepared surface for topcoat to bond to. It may take a long time to dry, but that helps the paint spread for an even finish.

Some projects call for a higher primer – for example using an oil-based alkyd primer on exposed wood increases the protection of the substrate and therefor the lifespan of the project. Alkyd primer also offers the best return on your investment, as oil primer increases the lifespan of the top coat. For homeowners, access to oil is limited, and for good reason.  Common complaints for alkyd paint are that it has a strong smell, indicating a high VOC content, it is difficult to work with and it is challenging to clean tools. Oil Alkyd is now nonexistent as a top coat, due to the Ministry of the Environment’s rules on hazardous waste.  Owners should consult a paint expert like the team at Refined Painting to discuss the benefits and downfalls of alkyd primers.

When selecting to best primer option for your exterior project, don’t skimp.  Since so much of the project is prep and labour, the cost of the primer is the smallest factor.  Go to as high end of a product as you can afford for the best results and you will be happier with the end results.