Web Design, Murals, Fine Art, Faux Finishing

To Prime or Not to Prime?

Prime or Not to prime you be the judge....

I am posting these pictures as an attention getter to show what happens to improperly prepped surfaces before they are painted.

The following photos is actual paint that is coming off the drywall and not wallpaper.

This is not wallpaper
This is not wallpaper

 On one of the decorative artist forums I belong to I ran across a post where some of the members were having a conversation and exchanging ideas and basically doing the things that artists do, when I ran across a post where a description of a faux finish was explained. There was an initial texture applied using joint compound. Now the end result was an absolutely beautiful finish and as a matter of fact it had inspired me to use this technique for a basis of a finish that I had been beating my head against the wall for a long time, but what got my attention was that in the explanation of the finish a statement was made that in the process of creating this masterpiece the artist used an acrylic paint tinted close to the actual base color of the finish which sent up a red flag.

To Prime or Not to Prime


Prime or Not to prime you be the judge....
Prime or Not to prime you be the judge....

Rule #1 in the painting business “when in doubt do the prime!”

Yes it’s hard to believe but what you see above is actual paint we are pulling off the wall

 I do have to warn on this issue because as I explain in the next couple hundred sentences you will see the importance of Proper Preparation and Painting to all substrates is before proceeding with any wall treatment.


If you are creating a texture with a drywall compound which many of us do,
You need to use a good quality primer that’s going to absorb into the “mud.” You should never avoid this step which is one of the things I cover at my studio seminars.

All too often when I am called out to do a faux or paint repair I find that the main culprit is the lack of proper preparation and priming. The owners always ask me the reason of the failure and I feel obligated as a professional to provide them with a written report as to why the substrate has failed to hold the finish. I am regarded as an expert when it comes to proper procedures to substrate preparations on residential and commercial applications being that I have spent over thirty years in the painting business and many years in the decorative arts and when this happens the home owners simply call the ones responsible for the improper work. There has been a few times where the faux company was held responsible as well and trust me you don’t want to get my bill, because I am not a happy camper when I have to repair someone’s finish that I would have done right in the first place.

One job that I redone was an entire common area where the “faux finishers” did not use the proper prep while doing a venetian plaster install. Two things happened, they didn’t use the correct primer according to the manufacturer because they “thought” it wasn’t needed and the other was when they applied their second layer of VP it was over compressed with the trowel (burnished) that after putting on their third layer and burnishing it was left with some very fine cracking and six months later it started flaking off the wall.

It was a huge mess that cost over $40,000.00 to resolve and, guess who got that bill? So please everyone do yourselves a favor make sure you don’t skip the most important part of ANY paint or decorative project.
If there is anyone reading this who are in the trades right now, I KNOW what your thinking because I use to think the same thing until I found out some facts about whats really going on out there because I am the one who is fixing a lot of this kind of stuff and am finding out some interesting facts from the homeowners themselves.

The old adage of “You get what you pay for” could not be used in this case because the price they paid for the work was the norm for what the current market was at the time. It was the inexperience that was the factor here or maybe they were just short cutting the job, who knows, but the point is when this happens it makes us ALL look bad and drives people away from our market. I have many horror stories like this……….One involves Carnuba wax over a venetian plaster where a highly regarded builder had to completely gut a 12,000 sq/ft home and an 18,000 sq/ft home because of mold issues…….the cause?……..the faux finishers used a Carnuba wax on the VP because it “Worked great!”
As most people know Carnuba is what is mainly used for car waxes which is an impermeable product that when applied is suppose to resist moisture and water to protect the car from the elements.

I was called in to come and see if I could fix these “little black spots” that were popping up everywhere and when I arrived and took a look at the areas it was obvious to me that the issue was mold and mildew , but it just didn’t make sense to me because Italian plasters are mainly lime based which has a natural ability to resist mold and mildew and is a breathable substrate to let moisture in and out which is one of the reasons why it has been used in Europe for hundreds of years.

As I looked a little closer I noticed some hazing which I thought was part of the finish but in reality it was so uniform over the whole surface that it appeared that way and that’s when I knew there was a serious problem. So we called in the specialists to investigate and sure enough it was just as I thought. The entire home had been over run with mold behind the drywall because what had happened was the wax itself had made the plaster impermeable so that it was not able to breathe naturally to release the moisture. To make a long story short the whole house had to be abated right down where they were left with nothing more than a shell of a house.

This is why I am bringing this subject up because of the importance of

“What To Know Before You Faux”

To Prime or Not to Prime

and just how serious the decorative art business  is and knowing the importance of what you are applying and what you are applying it on.

After all the clients depend on your knowledge and professionalism

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