Can I Use Primer As A Top Coat When Painting My Home?

If you want to professionally paint your home, you're probably looking into extras like a primer and a top coat that will make your painted wall appear smoother. Costs add up quickly during the painting process, so you may also be wondering if you can combine two birds with one stone and use primer as both a base and a top coat. It may be tempting, but the general answer is no, you shouldn't use primer to finish your wall.

The specific purposes of primer and a top coat mean the two can't be used interchangeably, no matter how tempting it might be. However, don't feel pressured to go out and buy a heap of paint extras before doing research on things like the type of product you need. Below is the information you need to know about what primer and a top coat are used for and why you might want to invest in one of each when renovating.

Each one has a different function

For starters, the function of the primer is in its name — to prime your walls so they're ready to be painted. If you decide not to use a primer, you run the risk of the paint peeling, flaking, and looking generally worse for wear as time goes on. Though all primers work to prep your wall, they don't all have the same base. Different products have varying bases, such as oil or water, to go with the matching bases, meaning the one you pick could actually be the incorrect consistency to work as a top coat anyway.

On the other hand, if you're planning on using a top coat, you may be wondering if it's okay to skip primer. In most cases, it isn't. This is because a top coat seals in the paintwork you have already completed, and primer should be used before any paint goes onto the wall so it adheres to the wall better. Trying to switch out one for the other may leave you with a painted wall that isn't up to standard.

Using a top coat isn't needed in all situations

If you don't want to stretch your budget or are on a time crunch, there are monolayers available, which act as a primer and a top coat in one. This is not to say that using a regular primer as a top coat is okay, as monolayers are specifically designed to work as both a base and finishing product. If in doubt, ask the decorator painting your home what they recommend, or do your own research to find out whether monolayers are okay for the wall you're painting. 

Additionally, you may feel that you don't need a top coat at all. If you're painting an area that isn't exposed to much sunlight or is a low-level room, it's up to you whether you use one. Unlike primer, a top coat, while it can protect your paint from external factors like UV light, is mostly for aesthetics. In other words, if you want a glossy finish. However, in most cases, it's best to use both primers and top coats for their intended functions. That way, your paint job turns out exactly how you want it to.