Do You Need Primer With Behr Paint?

Behr paint is one of the most widely used and recognized brands in the interior and exterior residential painting market. With various product lines like Behr Premium Plus, Behr Ultra, and Behr Marquee, the company offers a range of options at different price points.

A key selling point for many Behr paints is that they claim to contain both paint and primer in one, reducing the steps needed for a painting project. This leads to the important question – do you need primer with Behr paint or is the paint itself sufficient?

do you need primer with behr paint

Understanding Behr’s different product formulations and the role of primers allows us to determine when a separate primer coat is required or when Behr’s paint and primer products are enough for your particular painting needs. We’ll examine Behr paint types, surface considerations, oil vs. water-based options, and best application practices to help decide if priming is needed before applying Behr paint for your next project.

Behr Paint and Primer Products

To understand if priming is necessary, we first need to look at what exactly is in Behr’s paint and primer combination products:

Overview of Behr’s Product Lines

Behr offers interior and exterior paints under three main residential lines:

Behr Premium Plus – Entry-level decorative paint with primer included. Good value standard paint.

Behr Ultra – Mid-range paint and primer in one with increased hide and durability. Has antimicrobial properties.

Behr Marquee – Professional-grade, most premium Behr line. Superior hide, stain resistance, and longevity.

Explanation of “Paint and Primer in One” Concept

Behr’s paint and primer in one products contain:

  • Binders – Acrylic resins that bind pigments and act as the film former.
  • Pigments – Provide color, hide, and durability. May include titanium dioxide, iron oxides, carbon black etc.
  • Primer resins – Promote surface adhesion so a separate primer may be unnecessary.

So both paint and primer components are formulated into the same product.

Is Behr Paint and Primer Acrylic?

With very few exceptions, Behr paints use 100% acrylic latex binders. This means the acrylic resins provide the main film formation and adhesion functionality.

The Role of Primer in Painting

To understand if Behr’s paint and primer products are sufficient, we must first examine the general functions of primers:

General Purpose of Primer in Painting Projects

Primers serve several important purposes:

  • Promote adhesion – Primers bind firmly to the substrate, allowing subsequent paint layers to bond.
  • Seal porous surfaces – Primers penetrate porous surfaces and seal them for a uniform finish.
  • Block stains – Stainblocking primers prevent stains from bleeding through topcoat paint.
  • Improve paint coverage – Primer seals surface and provides uniform base color for even paint coverage.

So in many situations, a primer is an essential preparatory coating before applying paint.

Is It OK to Use Paint Without Primer?

Whether paint without primer is suitable depends on the specifics of the painting project:

  • For previously painted surfaces in good condition, paint alone often suffices without separate priming.
  • Painting over drywall with heavy mudding usually benefits from primer for sealing and uniform absorption.
  • For stainblocking, a dedicated stainblocking primer is required for best results before painting.
  • On bare wood or very porous masonry, primer improves paint adhesion and coverage greatly.

So while some projects allow skipping priming, many benefit from or require a primer for optimal paint results.

When to Use a Primer with Behr Paint

Now that we understand the role of primers, in which situations is a primer needed under Behr paint?

Situations Requiring a Primer

Some examples where primer is recommended before applying Behr paint:

  • Drastic color change – Going from light to dark colors benefits from tinted primer for better hide.
  • New drywall – The porous, uneven surface needs a primer coat to seal everything uniformly.
  • Bare wood – Unpainted, porous woods require sanding and priming for the best paint adhesion.
  • Brick, stucco or concrete – Priming these porous masonry surfaces prevents absorption issues.
  • Metal surfaces – For non-ferrous metals like galvanized steel, suitable primer promotes corrosion resistance and paint adhesion.

The Importance of Primer for Adhesion, Even Coverage, and Durability

In challenging painting situations, primers are essential to:

  • Improve paint adhesion to glossy or non-porous surfaces. This enhances paint durability.
  • Provide an evenly sealed, uniform surface for consistent paint coverage without blotchiness.
  • Increase longevity of the paint job by enhancing adhesion to the substrate.

Priming establishes a strong foundation to build further paint layers on.

Does All Paint Have Primer in It?

  • While some quality paints have sufficient primer resins for good adhesion to already painted surfaces, this differs from a dedicated primer coating.
  • Paint and primer in one product contain lower primer resin levels than standalone primer products.
  • Qualitystandalone primer remains the best choice before painting for optimal results for situations like drastic color changes and highly porous or stained surfaces.

Behr’s Paint-Primer Products: Pros and Cons

How do Behr’s proprietary paint-primer formulations perform in real world applications?

Effectiveness in Various Situations

Positive experiences:

  • Behr’s better paint-primer formulations provide good adhesion and coverage touching up existing paint or on prepared drywall.
  • Behr’s paint-primer alone often suffices for repainting same color on previously painted surface in sound condition.


  • For covering significantly darker colors, Behr paint-primer alone may require extra coats for full hide.
  • Standalone primer remains ideal for sealing pores and maximum paint adhesion on bare wood.
  • A dedicated stainblocking primer is required for heavy stains prior to Behr paint.

User Reviews: When is Behr Paint Alone Sufficient?

According to consumer reviews, Behr paint-primer works well for:

  • Repainting walls in the same or similar color. Provides good touch-up capability.
  • Painting over prepped or previously painted drywall that is in good condition.
  • Small painting jobs like furniture pieces or children’s rooms.

Reviews suggest primer is still beneficial for exterior jobs, painting over dark colors, covering heavily stained areas, or painting unfinished wood and metals.

Specific Behr Paint Lines and Their Primer Needs

Within Behr’s product lines, specific formulations have varying primer capabilities:

Behr Ultra and Behr Marquee Paint

The higher end Behr Ultra and Behr Marquee paint lines incorporate better primers to provide good adhesion and hide.

Consumer tests suggest these lines may not need standalone primer for repainting indoors over previously painted surfaces in good repair.

Using them directly on new drywall or masonry still benefits from separate priming for best results.

Is Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer in One Water-Based?

  • Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer in One is a 100% acrylic latex water-based formulation.
  • It provides decent primer capabilities for repainting and minor projects but lacks Ultra and Marquee resin levels.

Color Coverage Challenges: Dealing with Dark Colors

For deeper, darker colors, Behr Premium Plus sometimes requires an extra coat for full opacity compared to Behr’s better paint lines or using a tinted primer first.

So for covering dramatic color changes, a separate primer is recommended, even with Behr’s higher end paints.

Surface Considerations for Behr Paint

The type of surface also impacts whether Behr’s paint-primer products are sufficient or if standalone priming is recommended:

Importance of Surface Type

  • Porous surfaces like new drywall, plaster or concrete require sealing for uniform finish.
  • Slick, glossy surfaces need better adhesion that a suitable primer provides.
  • New stucco needs extensive curing and priming to stabilize pH and prevent efflorescence issues.

Recommended Preparation and Primer Use for Different Surfaces

Here are suggested practices for common surfaces:

  • New drywall – Joint compound sanding followed by quality drywall primer.
  • Bare wood – Light sanding and wood primer for optimal adhesion and smoothing.
  • Brick and concrete – pH testing, cleaning, and masonry primer to fill pores.
  • Glossy metal – Deglossing, cleaning, and adhesion promoting metal primer.

So the substrate is major in determining primer needs before Behr paint application.

Oil-Based vs. Water-Based Behr Paints

Behr offers both oil-based alkyd enamels and water-based acrylic latex paints:

Differences Between Oil and Water-Based Paints

Oil-based paint

  • More durable and hardwearing finish
  • Longer dry time
  • Strong odor and cleanup requiring mineral spirits

Water-based acrylic paint

  • Lower odor, water cleanup
  • Faster drying but less durable than oil-based
  • Greater color variety available

Matching Primer Types for Optimal Results

Ideally, primer and paint types should match:

  • For oil-based paint, use an oil-based primer
  • Acrylic latex paints pair best with acrylic water-based primers

Mismatched products risk adhesion loss, cracking, or peeling. Always check manufacturer guidance.

Practical Tips and Techniques

How to Thin Behr Paint and Primer in One

Thinning helps adjust consistency for application but too much risks reducing hide and durability.

For Behr acrylic paints, thin sparingly up to 10% with clean water if needed. Add slowly while mixing and test frequently till desired consistency.

Behr Paint and Primer Exterior

For exterior surfaces subject to weathering, use acrylic latex primers and paints which expand and contract similarly.

Follow manufacturer spread rates for proper coverage. An extra coat of paint may be needed for full hide and protection on exterior surfaces.


When using quality Behr paint products, the need for separate primer depends on the specific product line, surface type, and painting project scope and requirements. Behr’s better paint-primer combos are often sufficient without priming first for small touch-ups or repainting existing surfaces in sound condition. Standalone primer remains beneficial before Behr paint application on more porous or challenging surfaces and when making drastic color changes. Consulting Behr guidance and understanding primer’s purposes allows determining when their paint-primer products are enough for your particular painting needs or when applying a dedicated primer coat remains vital for long-lasting results.

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