Just How Important Is PVA Primer?

PVA primer is necessary during many painting projects. You need to mud and tape the walls before you begin, sand as much as you need to, and make sure the walls stay clean. Prime the walls. 

What Is PVA Primer

PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate which is an adhesive often used in glues. Polyvinyl acetate is a synthetic resin that creates films and is often used in water-based, or latex, paints. Or primers as we are talking about today! 

What Is PVA Primer?

PVA primer is a latex-based “paint” that seals the pores of the drywall. It is applied before painting to ensure that the drywall doesn’t show through and that the paint has an adhesive to stick to when applied.

It works very well and can be customized to your needs. While PVA primer isn’t necessary, it makes the job much easier than painting without it. The extra money spent will save money in the end.

Is PVA Primer Better Than Other Primers?

In general, not necessarily. But for drywall, yes. That’s because PVA primer is the proper name for drywall primer. A PVA primer goes onto a porous surface like drywall and seals the pores to create an even surface. 

What Comes Before PVA Primer?

What Comes Before PVA Primer

There are many steps that need to take place before you even think about priming those walls. This includes hanging the drywall, weatherproofing the room, and of course, mudding and taping the drywall. 

These steps need to happen before you can be priming the wall. It may be easy to skip them but in the end, your job will fail if you do. If you aren’t hiring a professional, make sure you do the job right yourself. 

Calculating The PVA Primer

It’s important to know how much of each material you will need before you get started. A gallon of primer will cover around 300 square feet. This varies, so it is best to figure that each gallon will cover around 250-square feet. 

So if you are priming one room that is 10x10x10, you will have the ceiling to prime which is 100-sqft, then each wall that is 100-sqft each, for a total of 500-sqft. You can be safe and count the space for the doors and windows, or take it away. 

Hanging The Drywall

Not to be obvious but before you use drywall primer, you need to hang drywall first. This isn’t a fun job but after you learn how to measure and cut the drywall correctly, it’s not very difficult to get the “hang” of it.

The important parts that most people tend to mess up on are straight cuts and making sure the drywall doesn’t have large gaps. You can do this by making sure all of your measurements are correct. Measure twice. 



A lot of times if people mud a room, they tend to forget to use caulk. But caulk around windows and ceilings is very important, for any area that leads outside. Because this is where air and moisture will get in.

Caulk is easy to use but you need to make sure you get the right size of even bead or you will have lumps that will be difficult to correct. Learn more about caulking and consider clear silicone caulk before you begin. 

Mudding And Taping

Mudding and taping are the most difficult yet the most important part of hanging drywall. It is easy to mess up and yet when you do mess up, it is easy to spot the mistakes long after the painting has been finished. 

Learn what you can about mudding and taping before you begin doing it, of course. Take your time, use thin layers, and make sure you have the right type of mud. If you only hire a professional for one part, let it be this.


After your mud dries, it’s time to sand. Sand every bit of mud lightly to make sure that it is all even. Don’t sand so much that you get rid of the mud altogether, and don’t forget to mud and sand those screws. 

Also, this is a good time to check for any marks on the wall that you missed or if there is any gunk on the walls that need to be taken care of. You can remove almost anything with a clean putty or mudding knife. 


After everything is dry, you can take a damp cloth over the walls. Make sure that it is almost dry. At this point you only want to dust the walls, you don’t want them to get wet or the mud will reactivate and become mushy.

If you are afraid of this happening, use a duster or a dry microfiber cloth to clean the walls and use a vacuum to clean up the dust from the floors. This will prevent the debris from getting into the primer. 

Tips For Apply PVA Primer

Tips For Apply PVA Primer

Applying PVA primer isn’t all that difficult, it is a lot like applying paint. But it never hurts to learn a few things about priming before you begin. In fact, knowledge can be the difference between failure and success. 

This is true for any area of your life but it rarely is as prominent as it is in home remodeling. Just remember though, even after hours of research, you can still make mistakes if you don’t have experience too. The two go hand-in-hand. 

Tinting PVA Primer 

This is something that a lot of people are unaware of. But did you know that you could tint primer? Yep! It’s a lot like tinting paint. Not all primer is white, although it all starts out white before you tint it.

But so does paint! You can ask a store associate to add tints whenever they mix the primer, or you can add them yourself. Just use pigment in your chosen color to add undertones or make the paint color stronger. 

Consider Spraying

Although rolling is great, spraying can save a lot of time. You can get a sprayer to keep on hand for future projects or you can rent a nice one for the day, just remember to take very good care of it.

When you spray, you save time because you can cover more ground, or walls, in less time. Just keep the sprayer on a fan setting instead of a stream or else you’ll have dripping paint and uneven coverage. 

Dampen Rollers

If you do decide to use rollers instead of a sprayer, there is one thing that can help you cover the walls. While you can use a dry roller, it is much better to wet it so that you start things off right.

Of course, without doing this, you won’t notice after you have been priming for a while. It is that in the beginning, you’ll have a dry roller that won’t cover as well because the primer won’t adhere. 

Match The Brand

This one isn’t necessary but it can be helpful. Just like in any other department, painting companies like to make sure their products are compatible so they test them together, they don’t mix brands.

Since they use their own products to test their own products, it only makes sense that it would be safer to use both the paint and primer from the same company. But most brands would be compatible. 

Do Edging First

Before you crack open that roller or sprayer, add a strip of paint all along the edge of the room. If you used painter’s tape, which is preferable, paint right along that with a brush that is a few inches wide. 

This will give you a frame that painters often use to help “stay in the lines” which is impossible to do with a close paint job with a roller or sprayer. That’s why having a small brush or edger is important. 

Remember The Ceiling

Don’t forget to prime the ceiling when you do the walls. While the ceiling isn’t as noticeable as the walls, it is still important. You need to prime the ceiling if you are painting it because it is just as important as the walls. 

Unless of course, you don’t have a drywall ceiling. If you have open beams or something else, then sanding and sealing may be in order instead. But anything that is drywall needs to be primed with PVA primer. 

Keep Roller Wet

Keep Roller Wet

Even if it feels like the paint covers more ground whenever you use every last drop of the paint on it before dipping again, this isn’t true. This will only get you uneven coverage and will require more coats.

If you only want to use one coat, then keep plenty of paint on your roller. Don’t let it drip but don’t let it dry out. Somewhere in the middle will get you the best coverage and safe you the most money.

Paint Soon After

Try to paint within a couple of days after priming. Although you can prime anytime after, it is best to paint while the primer is fresh for it to have the best chance of operating as it was meant to operate.

Some primers dry within an hour, others two hours, and some not for an entire day. Real PVA primer is usually dry within a few hours so if you prime of a morning, you can paint that same evening without a problem. 

Cloth Dropcloths 

Invest in cloth drop cloths if you can. They are much safer and work better than plastic drop cloths. People fall every day on plastic drop cloths but cloth ones don’t tend to have the same problem. Particularly canvas ones. 

Do what you can to make your painting and priming job as pleasant as possible. Take all of the appropriate steps and ensure that you stay as safe as you can. You will be amazed at the difference a good PVA primer can make. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Long Does It Take PVA Primer To Dry?

PVA primer takes around three hours to dry. While it can be faster or slower, this is a good gauge. In rooms without good ventilation, it will take longer. But point a fan out and it should only take an hour or two.

How Many Coats Of PVA Primer Do I Need?

You only need one coat of primer. Primer is made to cover in one coat. When you paint the wall, you may need multiple coats but primer is so that you only need one coat of it and fewer coats of paint.

Can You Use Drywall PVA Primer On Wood?

No. You should not use it on wood because there is a special wood primer that you should use instead. Use drywall primer for drywall and wood primer for wood. 

Is PVA Primer Better?

PVA primer is a cheap alternative to more expensive primers. While it isn’t better than a standard primer, it does work well on drywall. There aren’t many reasons not to use it when priming drywall.

When Not To Use PVA Primer

There is never a reason that you should not use PVA primer. There may be instances where you don’t need it but it is never a bad thing. So buy the primer and use it whenever possible. You won’t regret it.

The same goes for sanding and mudding. If this job isn’t done in a proper manner then you may regret it. Take your time and walk through each step. Painting is the last step but not the only step.