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Can you Use Ceiling Paint as Primer?

Getting ready to paint a room, but need to prime the walls? Before you do, you might be able to get away with using ceiling paint as primer.

The great thing about using a can of white paint as primer is that you already have it on hand.

So, you don’t have to go to the store and spend additional money on primer. You can also get rid of the old paint can that has been sitting in your garage or basement.

Using Ceiling Paint as Primer

Typically you can use almost any white paint as a primer, but there are a few things to be mindful of. I recommend using a can of flat or an eggshell white paint as primer.

Ceiling paint is a great alternative to using primer to cover a dark painted wall. There isn’t much you can do with less than a gallon of ceiling paint because it never matches existing ceiling paint.

ceiling paint as primer

Ever notice when you try to touch up a small area of the ceiling that it rarely matches the existing paint?

Well, there is a reason for that. There are several different ceiling paint colors and they fade over time.

Since I had no use for the half a gallon of white ceiling paint in my basement, I figured I would use it up as a primer.

Ceiling Paint as Primer

The first coat of ceiling paint looked streaky and uneven on my dark green wall. I was a little skeptic at first if the coverage would look okay once it completely dried.

ceiling paint as primer

Several hours later the paint dried smoothly, but still looked streaky. This is normal because I was painting white paint over a dark paint color.

I had more ceiling paint leftover, so I applied another quick coat of paint to use the remainder of the paint in the can.

Typically I wouldn’t apply to coats of primer because I am lazy and I want to see the actual paint color on the wall.

I decided to apply 2 coats of ceiling paint as primer because I wanted to empty the paint can to throw it away.

Even if you are using primer on a dark painted wall, you will notice you need at least 2 coats to completely cover the existing color.

After the 2nd coat of white paint as primer dried, the coverage looked much more even and smooth.

The ceiling paint worked great as a primer in my small bathroom! I only had to apply one coat of my actual paint color on the wall then 2 coats around the cuts.

This saved me at least a quart in expensive paint and $25 in primer, while cleaning out old paint from my basement.

When Do you Need Primer?

Ceiling paint can’t be used as primer all the time because it is not a true stain blocker. I only recommend using ceiling paint as primer when you are trying to mask a dark paint color on a wall.

When trying to cover a leak or other deep stain on your wall or ceiling, you will definitely want to use a true primer like Kilz.

If you skipped the primer step, the stain might show through your freshly painted wall a month or so after you finish your project.

Primer helps cover the stain, seal it, and even mask some unwanted odors. This is something that a coat of white ceiling paint cannot do.

Luckily if you have a smaller stain you can get away with only painting the stained area with 2-3 coats of primer. After the primer dries, it can easily be covered with ceiling paint or a regular paint color.


Ceiling paint works great as primer when your walls are in good shape. If you are just looking to cover a dark paint color then ceiling paint or almost any flat or eggshell white paint will do the trick.

You might find these other paint tips to avoid annoying painters tape. Is it just me or is it impossible to line the tape up correctly?!

If you want to learn more about when to use primer, this post provides detailed information on primer.

Save a little money and clean out those old paint cans with this trick!

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