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PVA Primer vs Drywall Primer: What’s the Difference?

PVA Primer vs Drywall Primer

PVA Primer vs Drywall Primer

Priming is one of the most crucial steps in achieving a high-quality and attractive paint job, but it’s often overlooked and undervalued. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast painting up a bedroom in your home, an amateur painter embarking on a career journey, or a professional painter with decades under your belt, knowing your primers is one of the most important parts of your job.

Maybe you just finished sanding your fresh drywall, and it’s ready for the first coat of primer. Or, perhaps you’re painting over an existing color in a room, and you’re trying to decide which primer is best for your needs. Either way, you’re probably looking at PVA and drywall primer and wondering, what’s the difference? By the end of this article, you’ll have the answer.

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Overview of PVA Primer:

Paint Primer
Image By: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere

PVA primer is intended to seal the pores in porous surfaces, so they’re ready to accept paint. When you use PVA primer, it turns the porous surface into a paintable one, allowing you to paint it with fewer coats and resulting in a more even finish when the paint is dry.

What Does PVA Stand For?

PVA is an acronym that stands for Poly Vinyl Acetate. But what is polyvinyl acetate, and how does it work in primer? This rubbery substance is a synthetic polymer that seals over any tiny holes in the surface you apply it to, creating a solid surface for the paint to adhere to. It’s precisely this polyvinyl acetate that separates PVA primer from paint. It will adhere much better to porous surfaces that would simply absorb regular paint.

What is PVA Primer Good For?

PVA primer is the ideal compound to coat porous surfaces before applying paint. It’s great for many unfinished materials, such as sheetrock, plaster, masonry, etc. However, it’s not a stain blocker. It won’t cover over stains or discolorations in the base material. It’s also not effective as a wood sealer, so it’s not a great choice for use on raw wood.

  • Helps seal unfinished surfaces
  • Works on a variety of materials
  • Allows paint to adhere
  • Reduces the number of topcoats required
  • Doesn’t block stains or discoloration
  • Can’t seal pores as large as raw wood

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Overview of Drywall Primer:

applying primer white paint_Prapat Aowsakorn_shutterstock
Image Credit: Prapat Aowsakorn, Shutterstock

Drywall primer seems pretty self-explanatory. It’s a primer meant for drywall. But is that the full story? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Drywall Primer?

Drywall primer fulfills the same purpose that all primers do; it covers a surface that will be painted, reducing the number of topcoats necessary to achieve a uniform look. Drywall primer is specifically meant for use on drywall, which is a porous material that’s covered in tiny holes. This primer has a special polymer that fills and seals those holes to prepare the drywall for paint. Without this coat of drywall primer, the fresh drywall would just absorb the paint, requiring many additional coats to achieve a decent finished product.

Why Use Drywall Primer?

The main reason to use drywall primer is that it will seal up the holes in fresh drywall much faster than paint. This will save you time by reducing the number of coats you must apply, and it will save you money by enabling you to get the wall painted with less material.

Can Drywall Primer be Used on Other Surfaces?

Drywall primer is meant for drywall, right? It’s in the name, after all. But if you look closer, most drywall primers are made for use with several other materials, including brick, masonry, plaster, stucco, and sometimes even wood. That said, it can’t block stains and often doesn’t have the ability to seal larger pores like what you find in raw wood.

  • Reduces the total number of coats it takes to paint drywall
  • Seals the pores in fresh drywall
  • Great for use on many other materials
  • Not usually a great choice for sealing raw wood
  • Doesn’t block stains

PVA Primer vs Drywall Primer: Is There a Difference?

If you look carefully, you might notice that the pros and cons list for drywall primer and PVA primer are quite similar. Look a bit closer still, and you’re likely to realize that drywall primers are all PVA primers because they are, in fact, the same thing. Drywall primers are PVA primers that are marketed specifically for drywall, though they’re able to be used on any type of surface that PVA is a good fit. This means that neither choice is better; they’re exactly the same.

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Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in different terms and marketing ploys. There are so many products on the market that it’s not uncommon to get confused about what’s what. In this case, PVA primer and drywall primer are the same product intended for the same use. So, get whichever one offers you a better deal. Most products will list directly on the can or bucket that they’re both!

Featured Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain, Pxhere


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