What Primer To Use When Painting Furniture

So you’ve probably heard that you should prime your furniture before you paint it. 

Well, what you heard is true!


For the best quality paint job you should always prime your piece before adding paint. 

Priming before painting guarantees a much longer life span of the paint job. Why have to do it twice, when you can just do it right the first time?! 

But the big question is, how do you know which primer to choose? 

Today we are going to break down the basics for you! 

Let’s start off by defining the different types of primers and what they are for.



Different Types of Primers: 

  • Shellac
  • Clear Primer
  • Adhesion Bonding
  • Regular Primer


*Safety First* Remember when using any strong chemicals to wear protective eye gear, gloves and a respirator mask. See our “How to Safely Dispose of Staining Materials & Rags” blog to learn more about disposing of products safely. 


Debris like hair, fluff, and dust can easily get trapped in the primer leaving you with an uneven surface for your paint. After using 1-2 coats of the mentioned primers, it is always important to lightly sand down your piece with 320-400grit sand paper to remove any imperfections from the primer. After sanding the piece down, make sure to wipe it clean before painting to ensure the paint will go on smoothly. 


Shellac Primer (or BIN) blocks stains that were previously there and protects projects from future stains and bleed through that can occur once the tannins in the wood begin to release. Shellac primer is known to block nasty odors that may be found in old pieces. This is a great primer option to choose if your paint color is a lot lighter than the wood you are planning on painting over top of. For example if you are working on a super dark wood piece, but are looking to paint it white - Shellac would be a good selection.  




Clear Primer is a nice primer that is used when you want to see wood through your painted projects. For example, if you are painting a piece black but would like to expose some of the original wood, you would choose a clear primer. 

You would prime and paint your piece. A few hours after the paint has dried, you would wet distress the piece to show off some of the wood. Wet distressing is when you submerge a cloth into warm water and rub it along the paint to take some of it off. 

It gives it a polished, antique look to a newly finished piece. Photo below for reference. 



Adhesion/Bonding Primer is used for slick surfaces like glass, plastic and particle board/Melamine. Have you ever tried to paint one of those Ikea bookcases and the paint just scraped right off? That is because you need to use a bonding primer. Make sure you sand down your surface with a120-220 grit sandpaper and wipe down before applying the primer. If you don’t sand it down to scuff up the sleek surface, the primer won’t stick properly. 





Regular Primer is a good primer to have something for your paint to stick to. Just a basic primer would be perfect for a piece that you are looking to paint a dark colour. A great tip we have learned is to Tint your primer with the paint colour you plan on using. This just makes the painting process a little easier for you. If you are planning on painting a piece black, it would be a bit annoying to use a white primer first. Tint the white primer with your black paint. You can do this with any colour!


It Is important to know what primer to use so that you as an artist can have peace of mind about the durability and lasting quality of your furniture. Whether it is for sale or for your own home, the quality can vary if you don’t use the right primer!



Happy Priming from Handmade Home Co.

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Bonding Primers: 


Ultra Grip - Fusion Mineral Paint:  https://gratefullyrestored.ca/products/ultra-grip-fusion-mineral-paint?_pos=2&_sid=6580f07f0&_ss=r


Dixie Belle Slick Stick: https://gratefullyrestored.ca/products/slick-stick-dixie-belle-paint?_pos=1&_sid=6894f6f2d&_ss=r



Clear + Odour Blocking + Stain Blocking Primers: 


Dixie Belle Boss: https://gratefullyrestored.ca/products/boss-clear-dixie-belle-paint?_pos=4&_sid=7ed098c2d&_ss=r


Rustoleum Clear Shellac: https://www.amazon.ca/Rust-Oleum-316-Bulls-Shellac-2-Pint/dp/B000LNQBBI/ref=asc_df_B000LNQBBI/?tag=googleshopc0c-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=459343816058&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6831839546324210127&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9000917&hvtargid=pla-315005174292&psc=1



White + Odour Blocking + Stain Blocking Primer + Bonding: 

(White) BIN Shellac: https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/zinsser-bin-shellac-base-primer-sealer-946-ml-0488341p.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwyMiTBhDKARIsAAJ-9Vvg20UcnHNOFh9xENB3oU90HGbAWljckXD9n5-8fMgcjOywVeYBnFEaAo-OEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds#store=192