Priming Drywall

Priming drywall is one of the final steps to completing your drywall project. At this point, you have been through the entire drywall installation process:



You are ready to “finish things up”. You now have a smooth, level surface on which to work, but you need to seal up the raw plaster and paper and give yourself a clean, paintable surface.

Priming drywall is one of the simplest steps, but like all the rest it takes some time and preparation.

The purpose of priming drywall is to cover the paper and mud in an even coat so that your paint, when you apply it, will not absorb differently into the various surfaces. On a raw wall, paint would absorb differently into the paper and raw plaster, causing your wall to look “mottled” or discolored.

A good primer will seal the various surfaces into a single even surface that is perfect for painting.

Necessary Tools & Supplies

  • Latex (Water-based) Primer
  • 1/2” Nap Paint Roller & Roller Cage
  • 2” Angled Nylon-Poly Brush
  • Paint Roller Tray
  • Dropcloths or Plastic

Step One: Preparation

Your first step is to prepare your room and surfaces for priming.

Double-check all of your seams and screw holes – basically all of the areas on which you applied plaster. Ensure that they are all even, without burrs or humps. These will be much more difficult to fix later on, and once the wall is painted these imperfections will show much more clearly.

Clean the walls and surfaces of all dust. After the sanding step there will be dust present, whether you can see it or not. Brush the surfaces clear with a broom and then wipe with a damp cloth.

Cover your floors (or anything else in the room that must be protected from splatters) with plastic or a heavy drop cloth. Even more so than paint, primer is made to adhere to a surface. This makes it especially difficult to remove if you splatter something valuable.

Step Two: Selecting a Primer

There are so many different types of drywall primer, that confusion can set in before you even begin. Our tips for selecting the right drywall primer can be found at our Drywall Primer page (opens in a new window).

Helpful Tip - When priming drywall, you may want to tint your primer to the color of your final paint color, especially if you intend to paint the walls a dark color. Most drywall primers are tintable.

Step Three: Priming Drywall

Now that you’ve finished preparing your walls and selected your primer, you’re ready to begin.

A good, quality primer will likely go on in a single coat. Given the absorptive qualities of raw drywall and plaster, you will probably find that it will take a fair amount of primer to cover your entire space.

From my experience, a gallon of primer will likely cover approximately 300 square feet of raw drywall.

“Cut in” around the edges and along the ceiling line with a brush, then roll out the rest of the wall with your 1/2” nap roller.

Once you’ve put on a full single coat of primer, let it dry. Then stand back and look at the finished surface.

If you can still see all of the various light and dark splotches of seams and screw holes underneath the primer, you will need a second coat. If not, you are ready to move on to the final step in your drywall installation and finishing process – painting drywall.

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