Can I use primer as paint on furniture? Primer vs Paint


After priming your furniture. Sometimes you would want to keep the surface as it is by adding an additive topcoat. Because you might think it looks smooth like you’ve applied a white coat.

But can you leave the surface unpainted- In a single word No. 

If you wish, you can explore more about a primer on Wikipedia. Here’s the link

This is why you cannot leave a primer unpainted.

A primer coat cannot be left unpainted at any cost. It should always be followed by a suitable finish.

The reasons for this. Primers contain resins, to provide surface adhesive properties as well cover porous surfaces that woods have to achieve a smooth painted finish. 

Without a topcoat, a primer’s surface tends to get brittle over time, get cracked, fades out, and become dull. In fact, in a year or two, uncoated surfaces will wear away like a chalk form.

Primers are not designed to withstand any longer alone regardless of the material it is where a primer is applied as well the type of primers doesn’t matter.

Almost all primers have similar properties to become brittle over time. Additionally, their finished surfaces have tiny holes, which give a place for dust to sit and are hard to clean up. 

And, the worst thing here is, cleaning a primed surface is a real pain because a wet rag can wipe away a primer’s layer.

Here is a video I found worthy to be shared with you guys to know why do we prime an item of furniture. The Girl in the video really did an amazing job in explaining.

What does a primer do on wood?

Primers are the undercoats of preparatory coatings that go deep into wood grains, specifically before it is painted they create a hard and smooth layer on a surface allowing the next coat to hold onto better. 

How to Achieve Smooth Results When Painting Wood

In simple terms, a wood primer does several things: it improves the durability of your paint job, it makes the paint adhere more closely to the surface, and it protects the wood that is being painted.

Can you use primer as white paint?

No, although an item of furniture that is primed looks similar to that is painted while. You still need to apply paint to achieve a protective, durable result.

Due to the fact that most primers have a light hue. They can transform a surface into white that looks no different than a surface that has been painted white. 

That does not imply that you can substitute an actual white paint for a white primer. In fact, you will still need to paint over it. 

Except for a white appearance: a white primed surface will be exposed to dust, get cracked, and will wipe away over time. 

The reason for this is that their surfaces are not smooth; if we examine with a microscope, it will be known that there are thousands of little holes are present on the surface compared to an actual white paint, which would prove to be more protective, can last for years, block dust as cleaning it will be much easier on a smooth surface.

Why do we apply primers on wood?

Regardless of the material you are painting, whether it is plastic, ceramic, metallic, or wood. Priming is the most essential part of any painting job. 

On bare wood, the uttermost surface has so many little pores which need to be filled before applying a finish coat such as a paint coat. A primer is then necessary for the job since it provides a thick layer that allows the following coat to look even and smooth.

With regards to objects that already have a smooth surface. Such as a painted surface which means open pores are already filled up. Primer is still needed. Because of color transformation.

A primer covers any previously painted color with light color. Following that, you can paint over it with a top coat of any color you wish. 

Paint vs Primer for a wood.

 Primers are usually made of resins whereas paint is typically made of pigments. 

The main purpose of primers is to provide a finished surface that is both sealed and stable for your topcoat (paint). The resins contained in primers provide an adhesive bond to porous surfaces. While paints have colored pigments to provide a colored surface.

Made of

Depending on the formulation, primers may contain 20–30% synthetic resin, 60–80% solvent, and 2–5% additives. Plastic primers often contain polyethylene (plastic), which is more durable.

It consists of pigment, solvent, resin, and additives. Color is provided by pigments; solvents and resins make up the surface, and additives serve as everything from fillers to anti fungicides.


Primers are primarily used to prepare surfaces before applying a paint coat. Like a base coat.

Paints are primarily applied as a top finish. A primer’s coat is needed for better results.

  • Primers are useful when painting porous or ill-adhering surfaces.  Primers are also useful for covering dark colors with lighter ones.
  • Paint or sealer should always be applied over primer.
  • Make sure you are using the right primer and paint for the job.
  • When painting over white or a lighter color, use a polyacrylic topcoat

How long can you keep a primer surface unpainted?

The maximum time an unpainted primed surface can withstand is 1-2 years. Rest assured that the environment such as indoor objects can withstand better than outdoors.

The time period can be reduced when the surface keeps getting water vapors on it. Such as in rainy weather. Because as mentioned, primer cannot prevent water from the surface instead it readily soak up water and become wet. 

That’s the worst thing about unpainted primer’s coats as when they are exposed to water they wipe away. This is also true when exposed to direct sunlight as they become brittle and vanish.


In theory, primer is intended to prepare the surface for painting. Whereas A paint coat will perform better on a primed surface. Paint adheres better to surfaces when it is coated with them. 

A primer is used as a base coat. Priming is not necessary if a further coat of paint is not to be done.

Primer cannot compare to paint in terms of finish, even if we just look at it from a cosmetic perspective. Their chemical makeup differs from paint

The pigments in paint are what provide the coating with its hiding and sheen properties. Paints are resin-rich, while primers are pigment-rich. 

When a wall needs to be white, only painting it with primer and not painting it further will defeat the function as well as the aesthetics of painting.

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