You have most likely heard that if you are going to paint, you first need to prime! However, using a primer takes more time, effort, and of course money, and you may be wondering if priming is actually necessary or if you can skip that step and get straight to painting! Before you do, it’s important to understand what happens if you paint without a primer. 

If you paint without a primer, several things can happen: 

  • The surface will look uneven and the paint color can be patchy. 
  • Stains will be visible through the paint.
  • The color will not be as vibrant or last as long. 
  • The surface will not be protected against odors, discoloration, or moisture 

In this article, we are going to discuss everything that can and probably will happen if you paint without a primer so that you understand why priming is so important, and decide for yourself if skipping the primer is right for your project! 

Why is Primer Important?

Primer is not paint, although it may look and feel similar, primer has specific additional products such as solids and adhesives that make it a sealant and protective layer for your walls and surfaces. 

The reason why professionals recommend using primer before you paint is because it will protect the surface against odors, stains, discoloration, and moisture, all while making it look a whole lot better! 

Now that you know what primer is and what it can do for your walls, let’s find out what will happen if you paint without using a primer. 

What Happens if You Paint Without a Primer?

Obviously, using a primer takes more time as you have to paint a coat and let it dry before even getting started on your color. It’s also more expensive than simply painting because you need to buy another product. 

So if you’re thinking that you want to skip the primer and jump straight into painting, and are wondering what will happen to your walls or surfaces, here’s what you need to know:

  • The paint job won’t last as long. You will most likely notice that your walls need a touch up much quicker than if you use a primer first. 
  • The color won’t be as vibrant. There’s nothing worse than painstakingly choosing a color for your walls or surfaces just to realize it doesn’t look as good as it did on the swatch. If you don’t use a primer, the color your chose will certainly not look as great as it could 
  • The color will be patchy. Even if you can’t see any discoloration on your wall or surface that you want to paint, painting without priming will show every little detail and you could end up with dark or light patches. 
  • The surface won’t be as smooth. Small bumps or uneven surfaces can be easily covered up and smoothed out by primer as it is thicker than paint. If you skip the primer, expect to not have a completely smooth surface. 
  • The wall or surface will not be protected. Drywall and wood are porous surfaces and they are affected by odor and moisture over time. By skipping the primer, you are far more likely to see water damage and have a bad or stale odor in your home within a few years of painting. 

Hopefully, it’s quite clear now why it really is worth it to prime your walls and surfaces before you paint! The side effects of painting without a primer are numerous and even if all of them don’t happen to you, it’s very likely that at least a few will! 

Can You Use a Paint-Primer Instead?

Many paint companies have now created a paint-primer which is a two-in-one option that allows you to skip purchasing a separate primer and adding a coat, and therefore time, to your project. 

Painters have fairly mixed feelings about paint-primer options as they can actually be more expensive than purchasing the primer and paint separately and they don’t always work as well at protecting and sealing your walls as traditional primers do. 

If you do opt for a paint-primer, make sure you read the details and reviews and find out if it’s actually worth saving a bit of time. 

The Bottom Line

Without primer, your surfaces won’t be as smooth, the color may not be as vibrant, the paint won’t last as long or look as smooth, and the surface itself won’t be protected from unwanted odors, stains, and moisture. 

Even though primer takes longer and is more expensive than simply skipping to painting, it really is a necessary step in the painting project.