What Color of Primer Should You Use? (For Different Paints)

Primer coating used to be just white or grey, but today, we have paint primer products with a broad range of other colors. This makes you wonder — what color of paint primer to use?

You can use any primer color before painting over it as long as the color is neutral. This allows the paint color to show without the undercoat bleeding through. There usually is no need for your primer coating to be tinted.

However, you should pick a primer coating with the same color shade as the paint you intend to use. For instance, a brown paint primer for brown latex paint.

This helps to give the finish a more vibrant appearance. It also helps to seal existing color when switching shades. But there is more to know about this topic and this post digs right in. So let’s get to it.

Does Primer Color Matter?

Does Primer Color Matter?

Primer color doesn’t matter unless you are changing color shades or trying to seal a defective surface. The purpose of primer is to create a good undercoat for the paint and to seal or cover every imperfection in the material.

Primer doesn’t need color to cover imperfections or guarantee a perfect finish. All it needs is adhesion and proper coverage. 

However, using the same color for primer and paint works fine if you opt for a vibrant or colorful finish. Also, a dark shade of primer is needed for a dark shade.

But, if that’s not the case, you shouldn’t bother about this because primer color doesn’t matter. Primers are designed to have neutral colors such as white, grey, black, and the likes. The purpose of doing this is so the paint color can come out well.

If the primer color is tinted, then the primer’s color can bleed through or show under the paint when the paint has dried. This happens when the paint has a light flow or consistency.

To prevent this, paint primers come with a neutral color that wouldn’t interfere with the color or sheen of the paint used. However, paint companies are now producing tinted primers with colorants to improve the vibrancy of the finish and to help cover light or dark shades. 

Should Primer Be The Same Color As Paint?

Should Primer Be The Same Color As Paint?

The primer shouldn’t be the same color as paint except when you want to build a colorful finish or mural. In such cases, you can pick paint primer that has the same color as the paint you intend to use.

The primer coating is designed to be neutral, so it doesn’t interfere with the color of the paint. But, you can use the same shade of primer and paint when you want a brighter finish, especially in places like the children’s playground, rooms, and street murals.

Using the same color for paint and primer can also produce a deeper finish. For instance, the finish will appear deeper using a dark primer and deep brown paint. You can also fancy using dark-colored primers when dealing with stained surfaces.

Plaster affected by water, stained wood, and the likes all have damages and stains on the surface that can affect the color and quality of the finish. So while dealing with such surfaces, you can use a dark-tinted stain-blocking primer. In such cases, the color of primer does matter.

Related Read: Can You Use Primer as Paint?

Does Primer Color Affect Paint Color?

Primer color affects paint color when you use light paint. The primer will affect paint color if the paint has a light flow, or if you apply only 1 coat of paint.

In such cases, the primer color underneath will bleed through or show underneath the paint used. A paint bleed-through is a shadow or coloring that appears inside the paint coating as it begins to dry.

The primer’s color can impact the finish’s resistance and durability. This happens when the color of primer and color of paint is different. For instance, the black paint will bleed through if you use a black primer and put yellow paint over it. It will also cause the yellow color to turn brown over time due to increased heat.

Since black colors absorb more heat, bleed-through means that more heat or a higher temperature will be concentrated on the yellow coating. Since yellow doesn’t do well with heat, this can cause the paint color to appear brown after a while.

White vs Grey Primer

Should I Use White or Grey Primer?

You can use either white or grey primer, both colors are considered the best. However, white primers are the more universal color because you can use them with any type of paint regardless of the paint flow. White primers are also the more common.

But white primers have a flaw, the primer coating isn’t great with dark paints. You’ll need 3-4 coats of white primer to cover black, deep blue, or red paint.

Grey primers are more favorable for covering deep paints since the grey color has a darker tint. Grey primers are perfect for moving from a light color to a deeper or darker paint. For instance, to paint deep brown over a light green color.

These colors (orange and bright green) are bright, and you’ll need up to 4 coats of white primer to seal completely. But with grey primer, you can seal in just two coats.

You can complete the task with just two coats of paint. Also, grey primers are relatively less common compared to white primers. However, you should know that any of the primers will be a good choice.

Related Read: Does Primer Have To Be Perfect?

Primer Color For Different Paints

White Paint

What Color of Primer Should You Use For White Paint?

For white paint, you should use a white primer. You can even use white primer as white paint because both are close in appearance. If you use white paint over white primer, there will be no bleed-through.

Asides from that, the overall finish will have an even color eliminating the possibility of any varying reactions to temperature or moisture. This means that the entire finish will have the same color and, as such, the same characteristics.

You can use light grey primer for white paint too. Light grey doesn’t have a high volume of dark tint, so it works fine for white paints. White paint will come out fine on light grey. Other primer colors increase the chances of bleed-through or coloring under the white.

Black Paint

What Color of Primer Should You Use For Black Paint?

For black paints, you should use a grey primer. Grey primers have a dark tint coating that goes well with black paint. Also, grey primers are good for sealing or blocking stains and paint color.

If the surface is defected or stained, you are better off with a grey or dark grey primer. Two coats of dark grey primer will seal any stain on the surface.

The grey primer prevents the color underneath from bleeding through the black paint. However, black paint is also a great sealer for paint color and can also be used as a primer for dark paint.

Yellow Paint

For yellow paint, you should use white primer. Yellow paint can change the color from blue to green or yellow to orange, so it’s best to use white primer. Black primer can also be used over yellow paint. You should also apply 2-3 coats of primer to cover the yellow paint.

Red Paint

If you are painting over deep red paint, use a grey primer. Grey primer will reduce the number of coats you need to cover red paint. However, if you are painting over light red paint, use white primer.

Orange Paint

For orange paint, you need a white primer. However, a light grey primer also works well. 

Blue Paint

For blue paint, you need a grey primer. Grey primer covers bold colors like blue and red with fewer coats than white primer. However, you can also use white primer, but you need to use more coats. 

Grey Paint

For grey paint, you need to use a grey primer. 


Here are common questions asked by DIYers on the color of paint primer to use.

Does Primer Color Darken Paint?

Paint primer color doesn’t darken paint but helps create a deeper shade of paint. For instance, when you use grey primer for brown paint. The brown shade of the color can appear deeper due to the dark tint of the grey primer.

Is Black Primer Good?

Black primer is good but should only be used for dark paints or when you want to switch from light or bright shade to a darker one.

Final Words

Primer color matters only when the surface is bad or you plan to change the shades of the color. For example, to cover light, bright, or dark paints, you can use grey primer but to use a light or bright color, white primer is best.

Leave a Comment