Paint And Primer In One: Is It More Effective?

We all see it in the stores, a paint and primer combined in one. Almost all paint brands already have their own 2-in-1 product. In a traditional painting job, you’d have to go through two different steps which include priming the surface and then painting it.

Performing these two separate steps require more time, effort, and money. Fortunately, paint brands were able to finally come up with a solution to this by offering a paint and primer in one. However, some painters still prefer the traditional way of priming and painting.

In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on using a paint and primer vs. the traditional method so you can evaluate if you think you can get more value from it.

Using Paint And Primer Separately

Although paint and primer in one work for some painters, others still use separate products because it performs better in specific scenarios. After all, each painting job is unique and has its own requirements. Basically, a paint and primer have two different functions.

A paint produces color to conceal the surface and protect it from wearing down. A primer, on the other hand, prepares the surface so that you can paint over the surface evenly while allowing the paint to adhere to the surface. In this case, most professional painters prefer to use a primer first before painting.

When can you use a paint and primer in one? A 2-in-1 product can work on surfaces that have existing paint. You can cover it up using a similar paint color and sheen.

However, if you’re painting on smooth yet hard surfaces such as glass, tiles or PVC, you should use a bonding primer. A paint and primer in one will not stick to these surfaces well because it requires the use of a specialty primer.

Painting on drywall also requires a primer first to seal the substrate prior to painting. The drywall will absorb the paint quickly and the primer will allow paint to adhere better.

A stain blocking primer help seal the surface from various types of stains and some primers can even seal off odors. These are some features that a paint and primer won’t be able to provide you.

If the surface you are painting on has a couple of issues such as cracks, gaps or holes, consider using a separate primer. However, before applying a primer, you must address and fix the problem by filling in the holes with caulk.

The first time I saw a paint and primer in one, I immediately bought a can at the home depot. I was about to start my own renovation project and decided to try an all-in-one product instead of the traditional one.

However, as soon as I got home, I decided to do a little research online. I realized that due to my impulse buying, the all-in-one paint that I bought was not suitable for my decorating task because I was painting on a newly installed structure which required me to use a separate primer.

Using A Paint And Primer In One

As mentioned above, a paint and primer in one work well on surfaces that are already pre-painted. This type of application allows you to shorten your painting process by combining both steps in one. In some cases, if you are painting a wall with an existing paint, make sure you pick a painting product that has a similar shade, type, and finish.

Using similar colors will allow you to skip the priming process entirely which is why an all-in-one product can work best in this scenario and provide better results. Plus, you’ll be able to get more coverage in one coat. This significantly reduces your time, effort, and money.

To test the theory of using a 2-in-1 paint vs. traditional paint and primer, I painted one side of my basement wall with a self-priming paint and the other side using a traditional paint and primer. My little experiment concluded that the 2-in-1 paint provided better results when it comes to coverage. Technically, one coat of a paint and primer in one yielded a better coverage than two coats of inexpensive paint and primer.

Is it Expensive?

Picking the right type of paint for the job is crucial to the success of your painting job. Make sure you select a high-quality self-priming paint to get the desired effect you want. Otherwise, you may just end up wasting money on cheap brands, especially if your painting job did not go the way you envisioned it.

So, which can you save better? As long as you use the right tools and a good quality paint, it will save you more in the long run. For example, if you use two coats of high-quality 2-in-1 paint vs. two coats of standard paint and one coat of primer, assuming they have the exact same amount of coverage, which one do you think will cost more?

Technically, the traditional paint and primer will still cost you less. Paint and Primer in one may be more expensive. Whichever you decide to buy, we highly advise you to avoid cheap paint because you may end up paying more than you intended to.


Using a paint and primer in one works well in specific conditions. However, in some cases, it may not work as effectively compared to a traditional paint and primer. If your painting job requires simple tasks or updating the color of your walls, a paint and primer may be a more suitable choice.

On the other hand, if you want to change the sheen of the surface you’re painting on, cover dark walls, paint a new surface or you want to switch the type of paint you are using from oil-based to latex paint, a traditional and separate paint and primer is more efficient.

If you have any questions about this article and want to know how we can help you, just send us a message and we’ll be more than happy to answer you.

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