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Do You Paint Directly On Drywall?

Figuring out how to properly paint your walls can sometimes be easier said than done. For example, do you have exposed drywall you need to cover and want to try painting directly over it? Can you do this, or is there a step that comes before applying your paint product?

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Well, we did plenty of research into these questions and have the answers below!

It is not usually a good idea to paint directly over drywall before priming and mudding it. Most times, your exposed drywall will be incredibly absorbent, which can lead to your paint going on unevenly.

Additionally, many experts prefer mudding, priming, and then painting a wall to ensure it has the best quality possible.

As we start this post, we will cover all things installing a drywall and discuss how and when to paint them. Whether you're remodeling, have exposed drywall in your home, or need extra help, we've got your back. With that said, let's jump right into this topic and answer your questions!

Can You Paint Directly Over Drywall?

No. It is not recommended to paint directly over drywall. As we mentioned, your drywall isn't ready for paint, and doing this can lead to an uneven paint job.

Since drywall is highly absorbent, painting directly on it can be detrimental to your project. For example, some pros claim that drywall "absorbs a coating really well, like a sponge," which can work against your paint.

Therefore, forgetting to prime and mud your drywall before painting can result in a less-than-picture-perfect end product. You also want to protect your drywall for the long term, which won't happen if you paint directly on it.

So, not only can this be bad for the aesthetics of your walls, but it can also put unnecessary wear on them. Primer doesn't take much work and can change how your final color adheres.

Empty white room with window and natural light. Interior of the freshly renovated room

What Happens If I Paint Directly Over Drywall?

If you decide to skip priming and mudding your drywall, expect an uneven paint coating. Typically, drywall without primer won't correctly respond to a layer or two of paint: this will come back to haunt you.

According to New Life Painting, this job will become much more challenging if you don't prime drywall before painting. Specifically, you'll need to use many more coats of paint versus if you had primed.

Even with more coats of paint, your drywall will likely dry unevenly. In addition to uneven coverage, you will also notice the paint not covering seams in your drywall.

So, you will likely notice lines where your drywall connects under the paint, which won't look good. Moreover, it can be better to use a separate primer and paint rather than a 2-in-1 product, so that's worth considering.

It's better to be safe and prime than sorry and have to start over.

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What Should I Use On Drywall Before Painting?

The wall is primed with a roller. A man's hand applies a primer to a concrete wall with a roller

Most times, you need to seal your drywall before adding paint. As we covered above, primer is generally fine for this and is necessary, according to experts.

In addition to priming, you may need to ensure all separate pieces of your wall are "mudded" together. That means you combine multiple pieces of drywall together using a compound before priming or painting.

Again, if you have a professional install your drywall, they will do that step for you, so this is more intended for people combining multiple pieces of drywall.

According to The Home Depot, you also want to make sure once your drywall is mudded, the surface is flat and smooth, and the seams underneath are hard to see.

Remember, even though you shouldn't paint over bare drywall, this will be even worse if the mudding isn't done correctly. This will take time, patience, and a few different products, so bear with us.

How Many Coats Of Primer Does Drywall Need?

In general, you want to use two coats of primer on your drywall. However, depending on the consistency and quality of your primer, you could be okay with one, even coating.

According to Glidden, the first coat of primer typically seeps into the drywall. Remember, bare drywall is incredibly sponge-like, which can be an issue for most primers.

Therefore, using more than one coat will ensure your drywall is sealed. The key is creating one even surface for your paint to adhere to when that time comes.

On top of that, if you use a self-priming paint product, you could need to use three coats on drywall. As we said, this isn't preferred over separate primer and paint: but it's up to you.

Again, to save time and product, it's usually better to purchase one high-quality primer for drywall and then apply a high-quality paint.

Even with great products, you still may need a couple of coats, so this varies for everyone.

How Long Should I Wait To Paint After Priming Drywall?

interior decoration construction furniture builtin

Depending on the primer you use, your wait time could be between 1 and 24 hours before painting. Usually, latex-based primers need between one and three hours to dry for painting.

The same applies to shellac primers, so if you want to do all this in a single day: stick with those two. In addition, oil-based primers (thicker and longer-lasting) can take up to 24 hours to fully cure.

This is a great example of a stronger product taking more time to settle. Since drywall is so absorbent, it could be best to use a coat or two of oil-based primer instead of the latex or shellac options.

If you use a thicker primer or a few coats, you don't want to paint the same day. Even though getting the job done fast is good, we don't recommend messing with your drywall during its dry time.

Check out our post, 'Can You Prime And Paint The Same Day?', to learn more about this.

Is It Better To Let Drywall Primer Dry For 24 Hours Before Painting?

Shot of a hand with a paint roller covered in white paint,painting over a blue wall, Do You Paint Directly On Drywall?

Although most water-based primers can dry within a few hours, letting a product fully dry on your walls can be beneficial. As we shared above, thicker oil-based primers tend to require extensive drying times.

For example, if you have an oil-based primer and let it settle for 4-12 hours before painting, this should be okay. The same goes for water-based primers like latex or shellac, which usually can be painted on within 1-3 hours.

However, is painting on primer before the 24-hour mark a good idea? Will doing this negatively affect your paint's coverage and durability?

No. We don't think priming and painting before 24 hours will harm your walls or paint job. Most products come with detailed instructions on wait times before painting/coating, so we recommend following those closely.

The best thing to do is adhere to your primer's guidelines in this situation.

Can I Use A Paint With Built-In Primer On Drywall?

As long as your drywall has been painted before, you should be fine using paint with built-in primer. However, if this is your first time painting the drywall, we don't recommend combining the two.

Remember, drywall is very sponge-like and will absorb a great deal of your product. So, only using one paint and primer may not be sufficient for coverage. We recommend using two separate products: one high-quality primer and then paint.

That ensures your drywall doesn't absorb too much primer or paint while also giving your wall an even higher-quality final appearance.

Sometimes, less is more doesn't apply to home projects, which is especially true for anything drywall-related. You usually want to use more drywall products, whether mudding, priming, or with paint.

Many experts also claim that two-in-one paints and primers aren't as effective for unfinished surfaces but instead work well for clean interior walls that have been previously primed or painted.

Do You Need To Finish And Paint Drywall?

Construction Worker is putting up sheet rock

Most times, you do want to finish and paint drywall. Even if the drywall is somewhere unseen in your home, sealing it and painting over it will look and age better.

For example, drywall left on its own can become an issue for moisture later. For example, drywall in the basement or attic can become a major mold attractor if it constantly is wet, which isn't healthy.

On top of that, drywall can be awkward to look at and decorate. Since it's essentially the backbone of a wall, it's not meant to be pretty.

And, as we said, you can't simply paint over drywall without finishing and priming it first. So, even though that may seem like the easy way out, leaving drywall to age and get wet in your home is a bad idea.

Try and at least mud and prime your drywall, and then see if painting it is a good next step.

To Finish

Shot of a hand with a paint roller covered in white paint,painting over a blue wall

Whether renovating or building from the ground up, you'll likely experience drywall throughout your house. We found that you can't paint directly on drywall, as it needs to be finished and primed.

Therefore, it's essential to use a high-quality priming product on drywall before painting. On top of that, it's also crucial to mud over multiple pieces of drywall before priming and ensuring everything is smooth and even.

This entire process shouldn't take more than a few days, so try and be patient. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related home posts below:

How Far Should Drywall Be Off The Floor?

Nail Pops In Drywall Ceiling Or Walls - What To Do?

Drywall Screws Showing Through Paint - What To Do?