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Can You Use White Paint As Primer? (Explained)

It’s a lot to deal with when you’re trying to paint your house. Especially if you’re confused about whether you should choose an actual primer or just put white paint as a substitute. One wrong move means you have to do it all over again.

So now the question is can you use white paint as a primer?

No, you cannot use white paint instead of a primer because it will not be durable and effective enough. Whereas, primer ensures that all the paint particles are bound together to ensure a smooth finish.

Here, we’ve carried on an in-depth discussion on why priming is essential and why white paint can’t be the substitute.

Why Priming is Needed Before Applying Paint?

So, if you’re here looking for some reason to convince yourself to skip priming and just use white paint. Then sorry buddy, you’ll be a bit disappointed because we don’t think it’s a good idea.

Because white paint is no substitute for primers. To be honest, if you’re not down for using a primer then soon you’ll be at a loss of time and money.

Suppose you’re moving a garage or redecorating your house, you won’t be able to cut away the primer if you want a quality finish. 

So here’s what happens when you start painting without a primer. First, the paint starts looking uneven. Then, the surface feels unsmooth. This is when things start to go south. Because it indicates that your paint will start peeling off on its own. 

The situation is quite similar to repairing an electric heater that blows cold air. When one coil burns out you know that eventually others will do the same. So the only option is to replace them. Similarly, if you see the paint is starting to peel off then it’s time for you to be concerned.

Because soon enough the paint will come off. And you have to sand the whole surface again to get rid of any remaining paint. Now, you have to apply the primer which you avoided last time and start all over again.

Isn’t that what we stated earlier that it’s such a waste of time and money. Now you’ve surely gotten the point, right?

If yes then you might be wondering what kind of primer should you use for your surface. Well, let go of your tension. Because we’ve curated which primer you should look for depending on your surface just right below:


Primer Type


Primer that ensures adhesion


Primer that seals 


Primer that has latex


Primer that has hard solids/ shellac

Why Not White Paint As a Primer?

By now, you’ve got an in-depth idea of why and when to use primers on walls or any other surface. 

But you might still be stuck on as to why you can’t use white paint as a primer. So let’s clarify what issues you might face:

  • Smoke/water spots of the drywall will be visible after some point
  • Fingerprints and dirt will be sticking to the outer layer of the paint
  • Uneven surface will be seen because of using paint as primer
  • Paint will be soaked twice as it soaks with primer, resulting in lighter pigmentation

When Can You Use White Paint As Primer? Big Reveal!

Well, we’ve already mentioned that it’s not an alternative. But it can be used in some of the situations where priming isn’t that of a big issue. 

Scenario 1: Temporary Color Change 

If you’re repainting your room and you don’t want to go through all the sanding and priming steps again, then you can use paints that contain a high level of white pigment. Their specific formula helps spread the paint more naturally as well as lasts longer. This white paint can even be used to paint an easy set pool after leveling the ground.

So if you’re looking for a temporary color change on your walls then you could just go for the white paint.

Scenario 2: Drywall Recovery

So, if you have got drywall exposing weird white residues and you’re desperate to get rid of it. Then you can just use a flat white paint as primer. It’ll save you some time.

But if you have leaks on your drywall then fix that at first otherwise the leak will expand to the ground hose of your geothermal loop and result in low water pressure. If not then just cover it up with white paint as a base and apply any other light paint above. 

Or you could just use a paint that has got both primer and pigment mixed together.


Question: Can flat white paint be used as a primer?
Answer: Yes it can be. It’s not perfect but can help to minimize an underlying pigment. However, it won’t hide drywall defects and flaws.

Question: Can white paint be used as a primer for wood?
Answer: It is a big no. Because the surface of the wood will absorb any water remaining on the paint unevenly. So the paint will be patchy.

Question: Is it okay to use only a primer without paint?
Answer: No it’s not. Because primer has properties that help bind with other elements like paint. 

Bottom Line

That’s all we had to share. Now that you know the answer to can you use white paint as primer, I hope you’ll put that to work.

Now, just enjoy creating the right base for your paint. Happy painting!