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

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

Does Primer Color Matter?

Does Primer Color Matter?

Primer color doesn’t matter unless you are changing 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.

The basecoat 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 the 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 color is tinted, then the primer can bleed through or show under the paint. This happens when the finish has a light flow or consistency.

To prevent this, primers come with a neutral color that wouldn’t interfere with the color or sheen of the finish. 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 one that has the same color as the paint you intend to use.

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

Using the same color 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 basecoat when dealing with stained surfaces.

Plaster affected by water, stained wood, and the like 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 does matter.

Related Read: Can You Use Primer as Paint?

Does Primer Color Affect Paint Color?

The primer will affect finish color if the paint has a light flow or, or if you apply only 1 coat of it. 

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

The color can impact the finish’s resistance and durability. This happens when the colors of the basecoat and paint are different. For instance, the finish 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 finish 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 flow. They are also more common.

But they have a flaw, they aren’t great with dark finishes. 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 finishes since the grey color has a darker tint. They are perfect for moving from a light color to a deeper or darker finish. 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. 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 a white finish, you should use a white primer as 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 finishes. Other colors increase the chances of bleed-through or coloring under the white.


What Color of Primer Should You Use For Black Paint?

For black paints, you should use a grey primer as it have a dark tint coating that goes well with it. Also, they are good for sealing or blocking the existing finish.

If the surface is defected or stained, you are better off with a grey or dark grey primer. Two will seal any stain on the surface. They prevent the color underneath from bleeding through. 


If you are painting over a deep red finish, use a grey primer as it will reduce the number of coats you need. However, if you are painting over light red finish, use white primer.


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


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


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

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.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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