can you use drywall primer on wood
Kristina Davis

The question, can you use drywall primer on wood is one of the many questions that haunted me when I first became interested in home and interior designing.

Would it be better? Would it yield the same results?

Back then, I had nothing. I had to go through the process without the help of guides like this. Imagine the hassle and the struggle of finding the answers alone.

You’re lucky because I’ll be giving you everything you need to know about drywall primers in this guide.

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Using a drywall primer on wood is not the best idea. It won’t give you the results you’re anticipating when you use it on regular drywall because it wouldn’t be able to block the tannins on the wood, hence it would not be able to make the paint stick to the surface better.

What is a Drywall Primer?

A drywall primer or flat coat is a component that helps transform regular drywall into a paint-soaking type of material.

Its primary purpose is to make sure that the drywall will be more adhesive to paint and that there’ll be additional protection.


Don’t worry, I was more confused before.

In simpler terms, it’s a construction component considered as a “base coat” that is applied to the drywall’s surface to ensure that the paint sticks more onto the surface, as well as to protect the surface of the drywall.

It is something that’s usually made for drywall because of the material’s composition.

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Drywalls are primarily made of wood pulp, plywood, gypsum, and an asbestos-cement board. With its high-water content, it’s sipped by the drywall effectively.

Is a Drywall Primer the Same As a Wood Primer?

primer drywall

Now, for the fun part, are they really the same? The short, quick, and easy answer to that is No, they’re not.

A drywall primer is not the same as a wood primer – in fact, the two are very different.

Let me help you understand it better by discussing what each of them is.

A drywall primer is the type of primer you use specifically for bare or new drywall and is usually done to create a soft finish, whereas a wood primer is used for bare or raw wood and does a hard finish.

Simple analogy, right? – Drywall primer is for drywall, and wood primer is for – you guessed it – wood.

Both are primers; both have the same purposes. However, how you use them and where you use them would be where their indifferences will be.

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Can You Use Drywall Primer on Wood?

drywall primer wood

While many people think of it as “the same thing,” they’re not. I assure you, I tried it multiple times and it just wouldn’t budge.

It wouldn’t be the best choice to use a drywall primer on wood.

But why?

Among the many reasons why it’s not good to use drywall primers on wood, the following five (5) are arguably the most obvious ones on the list:

1. It Won’t Block the Tannins in the Wood

One of the major problems in using drywall flat coats on wood is that it does not effectively block the tannins. Tannins or tannic acids are present in most wood.

Drywall primers usually contain a high level of water content, which will eventually fail to block the tannins, causing the paint or the exterior coating of the wood to stain.

Over time, the tannins will work their way to peel the paint or coating off the wood.

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2. Drywall Primer Contains a Lot of Water Content

In case you haven’t known, drywall primers contain high levels of water content. And as most of us know, water does not particularly work well with wood.

When you apply too much water to wood, you’ll notice that the wood becomes brittle, weak, and uneven. Eventually, it will crack and swell, which can cause the material to become more uneven than it already is.

The water content of the drywall primer is the actual reason why it’s never a good idea to use it on an already porous surface like wood.

3. Drywall Primers Don’t Soak Into the Wood

In order for the paint to be absorbed by the wood effectively, the contents need to soak into the wood deeply. And for this to happen, the water content of the ingredient needs to be put at a minimum.

When the ingredient soaks into the wood, it will be able to bind and mix the wood fibers, and regular drywall primers never do this.

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4. They Become Some Type of Seal Instead of Priming

Because of this content, when you apply them onto wood, they become somewhat a “seal” keeping fibers and other small materials from entering or leaving the wood’s surface.

Then, the tannins take over and stain the paint that’s applied on the surface of the wood. 

5. Light Colors Would Automatically be Stained

Drywall undercoats do not coat wood well, and therefore, it doesn’t properly prime it. If this happens, light-colored paint will eventually be consumed by stains because of the tannic acid content of most wood types.

These are just five reasons why you should always think twice before using a drywall primer on any type of wood.

Note: While not all wood types have tannic acids, any material that has high-water content is still not a good product to partner wood with.

Can You Use Drywall Primer on Wood Laminate?

use on laminate wood

Similar to the question: “would drywall primers be good to be applied on wood?”, the answer is a big resounding no; it’s not and it never will be.

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Ideally, you can always use drywall primer on any type of surface, but if you want the answer to whether it’ll be effective or not, then no, it wouldn’t be.

Wood laminate is made from multiple layers of melamine resin, which is designed to produce aesthetically good-looking floors or walls. It’s not, in any way, a type of wood or drywall.

They do not contain gypsum and asbestos-cement board, which makes the application of a drywall primer bad and ineffective.

I tried using it on a wood laminate once, and I waited hours for nothing. It easily went off, it didn’t even stick!

Where Else Can You Apply a Drywall Primer?

Oh no! I purchased the wrong type of primer, what do I do with this now? Don’t worry about where you can use it, because there are heaps of things where they’ll be more effective. 

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In fact, based on a couple of projects, you will find drywall primers effective on objects and surfaces where PVA or polyvinyl acetate is compatible; hence, you can use it on furniture and things made out of PVA, too!

If you have a table made out of PVA, you can use it; if your bed frame is made out of the same material, the, by all means, go ahead and use it.

For all different types of woodwork, it will be the best and most ideal to use regular or standard wood primers instead of drywall primers.

What I mean by these would be primers that are oil-based, not water-based.

Follow my advice and I assure you that you wouldn’t have any more stress on how you can enhance the coating of your walls, your floors, and even your furniture.


primer faqs

Other than these questions, there are quite a few more questions commonly asked and thrown about this specific topic.

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What Type of Primer Should I Use on Wood?

The best type of primer you can use on your wood is either an oil-based regular primer or a high-quality latex primer. This is the most ideal primer you can use on unstained wood.

However, if your wood is stained, tinted, or painted, the best primer would be any type of stain-blocking primer.

Can I Use Drywall Primer on Doors?

You can use a drywall primer on your pre-primed door to improve the topcoat. However, if your door is bare wood, it wouldn’t be the best idea to use a drywall undercoat to prime it.

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Final Verdict

Some of you might think that using drywall primers on wooden surfaces is fine, when, in reality, it will slowly destroy your wooden piece.

Save this guide so that the next time you ask, can you use drywall primer on wood, you’ll know where to find the answer.