Painting Over Drywall Mud - Priming + Painting Guide • Fix It and Finish (2023)

Painting over drywall mud can be a challenging task requiring some skill and understanding of handling the project.When painting drywall, flashing is a significant challenge, as you can tell if a section of the wall has recently undergone repair (because its color is different from the rest of the wall).

There are several problems you can resolve once you are knowledgeable about how to paint over drywall mud.For example, if you’re trying to make wood paneling look like drywall, at some point, you’ll need to prime and paint joint compound to make the entire wall look smooth and finished.

Can you paint directly over drywall mud?

Yes, you can paint over drywall mud, but you must prepare and prime the mud to make the paint adhere to it. It is best to apply one coat of paint on top of drywall mud after priming instead of applying two coats of paint without priming.

You can try matching the sheen with the rest of the wall to reduce the effect of light reflection on your wall surface. If your wall surface is near lots of light, you might have to repaint the entire wall surface to maintain consistency.

It’s always a good idea to mix some paint with the joint compound before you apply your drywall mud on the affected surface before painting over the area. The paint blends much better with the rest of the drywall when it dries.

Do you need to prime joint compound before painting?

Yes, it is important to prime joint compound before applying paint. Priming helps the paint adhere to the surface better. Also, drywall primer will even out the surface, improve the texture, and make painting much easier.

In essence, the primer acts as a base color that blots out prior colorings to give you a high-quality finish and a true reflection of your paint color. However, you don’t necessarily need to apply a primer to your joint compound before painting.

Most joint compounds have a smooth texture that easily bonds with different paints, making it easy to paint over the surface without first applying a primer beforehand. It’s always better to prep your drywall surface before using the drywall compound at least 24 hours before you begin working on the paint job.

The common downside of applying joint compound and finishing surfaces with paint is the amount of time it takes. It takes at least 24 hours to dry. However, you can make drywall compound dry faster with a drier or a dehumidifier if you want to save on time.

How to prepare drywall mud for painting

Painting drywall mud requires some preparation. The amount of time it takes can vary depending on the task’s size, scope, and urgency. You might need to prime uneven surfaces, drywall edges, and other areas before you start working on your paint project.

What you Might Need

(Video) DIY Drywall Part 5 | How To Sand And Prime For Perfect Walls

A drywall paint job should always be well-planned, especially if you are doing it yourself (rather than hiring someone). You can start by researching the best paint, painting procedures, and preparation methods.

You might need tools such as:

  • A jab saw
  • 4,6 and 12-inch drywall knives
  • Primer
  • Joint compound
  • Framing Square
  • A sander

After you have your equipment ready, you can begin working on an adequate preparation plan. Before you start painting, you might want to consider the following steps:

Inspect and Assess

A critical step involves making an adequate assessment of your drywall. You can start by looking into potential areas of weakness as cracks, joints, and uneven surfaces.

If you are not sure exactly how to go about the process, you can always talk to a consultant to help you out. If you are confident in your skills, try and conduct an assessment about a week prior (and give yourself adequate time to figure out the state of your drywall).

Repair Damaged wall

Always ensure that your drywall is in top-notch condition before you begin painting. Use a framing square to mark the extent of the damage before you use a drywall knife to cut off the affected area. However, if the damage is not too extensive, you can repair the affected surface using a primer.

Ideal painting preparations that you should consider are:


You might have noticed that paint rarely sticks on your surfaces or quickly flakes off after some time.

(Video) Tips to Painting Drywall to Look Smoother : Drywall Work

Sanding helps you roughen up your drywall’s surface, allowing for the paint to stick on the surface. You can also use a sander to remove odd bits of old paint (and other unwanted materials) on your drywall before you can start working on it.

You can use a pole sander to work quicker and reach complicated segments with ease.


Make sure to clean your drywall after sanding. Cleaning your drywall helps to remove dust and other particles from the wall surface before painting. An added benefit includes the ability to identify uneven surfaces and potential areas of repair to produce a quality job.

You can use a soft brush, damp cloth, or a broom to help you clean out unwanted material from your drywall. Remember to put on protective clothing such as eye goggles, gloves, and a nose mask to prevent damage to your body while handling the task.


If your drywall has repair issues, you might need to use a primer. You can use a primer to fill up gaps in spacing, joints, holes, etc.

To properly use a primer, start by cleaning the drywall surface and removing any loose material before applying the compound on the affected surface. Primers are ideal for filling small cracks, drywall joints, and small holes on your drywall surface.

After applying the primer, it’s best to give it enough time to dry before you start painting.


Once you are sure everything is ready, you can start painting. It’s best to consult with a painting expert to help you figure out the best painting technique, color options, and combinations that fit your desired needs and interest.

(Video) How To Prep And Prime New Drywall - Dust Removal And PVA Primer Before Painting (STEP BY STEP)

(How to Mix Paint with Drywall Mud)

Drywall mud helps to thicken paint and creates an elaborate texture to hide flaws on your drywall surface. Not all paint types are ideal for mixing with drywall mud. Some paint varieties might become rubbery, create a foul odor after a while (making them a poor choice for drywall painting).

Mixing your paint with drywall mud might have some downsides, such as lightening the paint color, and might cause you to use more paint than you would have originally intended.

You can try using the all-purpose premixed joint compound for the best results. (Other varieties might not mix correctly with the drywall mud and may negatively affect the paint job).

Here are a few steps to consider when mixing your paint with drywall mud.

Step 1-Scrap some paint on cardboard, add a small amount of drywall mud, mix, and observe the mixture for a few minutes to figure out if the two complement each other.

Step 2-Put a generous amount of paint in a bucket, and mix thoroughly to give a consistent texture.

Step 3-Add an adequate amount of drywall mud to your paint, and stir until you get the desired texture. You can start with small amounts and work your way until you receive the ideal feel.

Step 4-Add a small amount of white glue to the mixture (about ⅙ of the paint you use).

Step 5-Using your hands (with gloves), mix the three ingredients. Pay close attention to deal with lumps and other inconsistencies that could ruin the quality of your work.

Step 6-Once your mixture is ready, you can start painting your drywall. It’s better to use a roller to create an even finish on your drywall surface. Use long strokes to work faster and to achieve a smooth touch. You might need to apply more than one coating to create a high-quality finish.

(Video) Tips for Priming over NEW Drywall

Can you paint wet drywall mud?

It’s not a good idea to paint over wet drywall mud. The joint compound needs about 24 hours to dry up before you paint a new coat. Painting over wet drywall mud can have potentially detrimental consequences and might ruin the overall quality of your work.

After the joint compound dries, apply a new coat carefully and give it enough time to dry before proceeding.

Best drywall mud primer

1.Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer

The Rust Oleum2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Drywall Primer is a water-based product suitable for a wide array of wall applications. You can use the product on your bathroom walls, interior, and external surfaces.

The product gives you a clean sheen, has anti-blistering properties, and can resist mildew growth. Additional benefits include its longevity, ease of application, and that it doesn’t yellow over time.

2. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer

Kilz offers some of the best quality primers available. With its high adhesion and bonding performance, Kilz L211101 adheres to the tradition and is especially useful in covering up drywall imperfections.

The Kilz L211101 latex primer is a white water-based product that is ideal for use on your drywall. The product dries quickly, has high adhesive properties, and is relatively easy to use.

Best paint for drywall mud

Kilz Color-Change Stain Blocking Interior Ceiling Paint

The Kilz color-change stain-blocking interior ceiling paint is an ideal product for painting over your drywall. The product combines stain blocking technology with a dry time indicator to guarantee a quality finish on each coat.

You can purchase the product on Amazon, other online stores, and recommended dealerships.

Rust-Oleum 1966730 Painters Touch Latex

The Rust-Oleum Painters 1966730 Touch Latex is an acrylic blend ideal for drywall application. The product uses water-based technology to provide a lasting effect and is ideal for interior and exterior use.

Besides, it takes less time to dry and gives a gleaming, clean finish to the room.


Can I paint directly over drywall mud? ›

Patched or Repaired Drywall

Before painting, it is common to repair or patch the walls with some spackle or joint compound. If these repairs are small, you do not need to purchase a primer but apply a light coat of your regular paint on those areas once the spackle or joint compound is dry.

Do you need to prime over drywall mud before painting? ›

Do you always need to prime drywall before painting? It's important to prime after new drywall installation. The new surface will be porous and will absorb the color of the paint. Primers will also cover the joint compound and provide a good base for texturing or painting over skim-coated drywall.

Can you paint over drywall primer? ›

Can You Paint Right Over New Drywall? Painting new drywall should only be done after the walls have been primed first with the appropriate primer sealer. Never paint directly over new walls. Without primer, paint doesn't absorb evenly into the chalky surface of drywall mud.

Do you prime drywall before or after mud? ›

Generally, you don't need to apply primer before joint compound on painted surfaces. Joint compound adheres well to many textures, so primer isn't necessary for adhesion. Apply the compound as smoothly as possible using wide drywall knives, which decreases the number of wiping lines and marks you make.

How do you get paint to stick to drywall mud? ›

You use drywall joint compound for almost all drywall repairs. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick well to gloss or semi-gloss paint. A coat of primer provides the necessary adhesion, and another one before you paint. seals the repair and improves coverage.

How long before you can paint over mud? ›

The 24-hour drying time recommendation can be applied to nearly all factors. Some manufacturers will bring down that number to 12 hours if a few shortcuts are applied to help speed up drying time without affecting the finished product. Filled-in screw holes and minor indentations can take about 2 hours to dry.

How many coats of drywall mud before painting? ›

You need to lay one layer of mud onto the bare wall to hold the tape, and you can usually lay another immediately after you lay the tape and scrape it. After that coat dries, you topcoat with a third layer, using a wider knife than you used for taping.

Is drywall primer the same as regular primer? ›

Paint and drywall primer differs in functionality, chemical composition, and variety. However, their differences complement one another, giving you optimally painted walls. Although skipping steps might seem like a time saver, that's not always the case.

Can I use kilz as a drywall primer? ›

KILZ® PVA DRYWALL PRIMER is designed for use on new drywall. It is a fast drying, interior water-based primer formulated to prime and seal new, uncoated drywall and reduce the number of topcoats required to achieve a uniform, professional quality finish.

How long should drywall primer dry before painting? ›

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR PRIMER TO DRY? Most latex primers dry to the touch in 30 minutes to one hour. But for best results, don't paint until the primer completely dries—which can take up to 3 hours, depending on temperature and humidity. Once the primer is completely dry, it's prime time for painting.

What is the best primer for drywall before painting? ›

Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) primer is the best primer for new drywall. This primer seals the pores of drywall surfaces quickly and easily, and it's also highly sandable, so it is simple to fine-tune the surface with a sanding block or stick after a primer coat.

What roller is best for drywall primer? ›

Ceilings and Drywall - Medium 3/8″ nap roller covers work best. Walls, Wood, and Metal - Small 1/4″ nap roller covers or foam rollers will produce the smoothest finish. Light to Medium Textured Surfaces - Microfiber rollers are best. Smooth Surfaces - Use a white woven short nap roller for an ultra fine finish.

How many coats of primer on new drywall mud? ›

You will want to use 2-3 coats of primer to ensure there is a good bond between the new paint and the wall, and also to cover up any previous colors, especially if they are red, orange, or a strange outdated color.

What happens if you don't prime drywall? ›

Scenario #1: Unpainted wood and drywall

However, because it absorbs so well, without a primer coat, you'll experience uneven coverage, especially along drywall seams. This means you'll need to apply more paint to finally get an even coat.

Do I need to sand drywall after primer? ›

An often overlooked and important step when renovating with new drywall. After the board is hung, finished and primed, remember to lightly sand the primed walls again before finish painting.

Why is drywall mud coming off when painting? ›

Paint will peel off dry drywall if the surface wasn't properly prepared, cheap paint was used, or there was an incompatibility between the paint and primer, or the old paint on the wall.

How many coats of paint over drywall mud? ›

After you're done hanging drywall and all the seams are taped and finished, you need two coats of paint to give the wall its final appearance. Before you apply those, however, you need to seal the drywall and mud with Primer.

Can you paint drywall mud same day? ›

With a fan set up, in warm temperatures, a wall can be dry enough after about 1.5 days for thicker mud, less if it's a thin coat. Longer if it's cold. Longer if there's no air movement. Then it gets sanded.

How many coats of paint over mud? ›

A sealer primer as you are going over fresh drywall mud. You will need at least 2 coats of finish paint on top of the primer for a good looking finish.

Do you have to sand after every coat of drywall mud? ›

After the first coat has dried completely, you will need to sand and apply two more coats to the fasteners, sanding between each coat. Keep your knife clean by drawing it over the edge of the mudpan or hawk.

How many coats of drywall mud can you do in one day? ›

All three coats can be applied in the same day; if the taper is skilled enough, only two coats are necessary (the compound can be applied more heavily, because there is very little shrinkage as it sets up). Proper temperature, humidity, and airflow help complete the taping process in one day.

What is the difference between drywall mud and joint compound? ›

Joint compound is the same as drywall mud or just mud. It's comprised mainly of gypsum and limestone, but it also has other materials such as clay, mica, perlite, and starch. Joint compound has a spreadable consistency similar to mud, which is how it got its common name.

Is it better to spray or roll drywall primer? ›

Back-rolling is typically most impactful when applying the primer for the interior walls of a home or a new construction build. While the primer is the coat that bonds with the substrate initially, airless spraying itself does not penetrate or enhance adhesion.

What happens if you don t use primer before painting drywall? ›

A: if you fail to prime your drywall before painting it, you will risk the paint peeling in humid or even worse conditions. This is why it's so important to prime your drywall before applying any paint coating.

Is it better to use primer or paint with primer? ›

If the surface you are about to paint is previously painted (previously prepared), and you are going to re-paint with a similar color and sheen of paint, then you may use a paint and primer in one product. In most situations, paint professionals would recommend that you use a quality primer before painting.

How much does 5 gallons of drywall primer cover? ›

Covering up to 2000 sq. ft.

Can I use latex paint as drywall primer? ›

Using flat latex paint is another inexpensive way to prime drywall before painting. Even pros sometimes opt for cheap latex paint as a primer when the surface has been so well finished that the surface is perfectly smooth without flaws.

What is the best primer for old drywall? ›

Our top choice is KILZ 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Multi-purpose Water-based Wall and Ceiling Primer, a popular low-cost primer good for drywall and many other surfaces.

How many coats of primer on old drywall? ›

As long as the primer applies uniformly over the previous color, then one or two coats should be sufficient. Again, it is not necessary to apply several coats of primer to try to get a perfect white finish. That is the job of the topcoat (paint) which has to be applied on top of the primer.

What is the maximum time between primer and paint? ›

Most water-based primers dry relatively fast, in 3 or 4 hours. After that, they will be good to use for the next 30 days. As long as you paint your surfaces in that time period, your paint will stick with no problems.

Should you do two coats of primer on drywall? ›

You're painting unfinished drywall or plaster.

Two primer coats are recommended in this scenario because much of the first primer coat will be soaked up by the wall; the second coat will replenish any primer absorbed by the surface and hide any flaws in the wall.

What grit sandpaper for primer before painting drywall? ›

Use fine grit sandpaper, between 150 and 180 grit, to achieve the desired results. Some drywall sanders include a vacuum attachment to collect excess dust and debris.

How do you seal drywall before painting? ›

Using a high-quality latex primer sealer when painting new drywall, provides a continuously sealed surface with relatively uniform porosity. In general, primers and topcoats with higher volume solids will do a better job of filling in small surface irregularities as they leave a higher build on the substrate.

Does drywall need special primer? ›

New Drywall — Opt for drywall primer because drywall is porous and must be sealed with a sealer or self-priming paint. Bare Wood — Use a wood primer, as wood contains tannin acids that can bleed through. Stains — Choose a stain-blocking primer for stains, because it prevents stains from appearing through the topcoat.

Should I wet roller before primer? ›

Before you start a paint job, you actually want to wet the paint roller cover with water. “This primes the roller cover to soak up as much paint as possible,” Barr explains. But don't go too crazy—Barr suggests removing excess moisture with a paper towel and a good shake of the roller so it's just slightly damp.

Do you shake drywall primer? ›

2 – Stir It

Just as is the case with paint, it's important to give the primer you use a good stir before applying it. Even if it says this isn't necessary on the can, it's still a good idea to grab a stick and give it a stir.

Do you apply primer with a brush or roller? ›

Applying primer first is the best way to ensure a perfect finish later. Just as it does with makeup and on cars, primer creates a smooth base that promotes better adhesion and truer color from your topcoat paint. Pro-tip: Apply primer using a brush first to “cut in" around edges, then use a roller to fill in.

Should I sand between primer coats? ›

Actually, sanding between coats of primer is pointless. Once primer is dry, you should sand the primer before moving on to the basecoat color. Sanding between coats of primer will just extend how long it takes to complete the phase, while sanding at the end of the primer step yields the same results.

Does primer have to be perfect? ›

The primer coat doesn't have to be perfect, but it should cover the surface (no bare spots) and it shouldn't be so blotchy that you get drips or visible unevenness.

What happens if you don't paint over primer? ›

Since primer's function is mainly to bond and cover porous surfaces, it is not made to withstand elements like paint. Because of this, if you leave primer without a top coat (or paint) it will deteriorate and break down, probably in a chalk like form.

Do I need two coats of paint if I use primer? ›

In most situations, a good rule of thumb is to use a primer plus two coats of paint. If you use this rule, you may do one more coat than needed but this won't hurt the final product. There are few situations where this rule of thumb will result in doing too few coats though which is why it is prevalent advice.

Can you paint over joint compound without priming? ›

Before painting, it is common to repair or patch the walls with some spackle or joint compound. If these repairs are small, you do not need to purchase a primer but apply a light coat of your regular paint on those areas once the spackle or joint compound is dry.

How many coats of paint on top of primer? ›

On a new wall, you'll want to follow the rule and apply two coats of paint after primer. Follow the same standard for drywall. If you're repainting a wall, you'll only need one coat if you're using the same color and it's a quality paint.

How long do you leave primer on before sanding? ›

For best results, allow to Primer to dry for 1 hour before dry sanding. Test in an inconspicuous area to be sure Primer is dry enough for sanding. Block sand the area using 320-400 grit sandpaper.

What happens if you don't sand drywall before painting? ›

Not Sanding Walls

Sanding gets rid of bumps, roller lint and other crud left from previous paint jobs. It's best to use a drywall sanding pole and 80- or 100-grit drywall sanding paper.

What happens if you paint wet drywall mud? ›

Typically, you should wait until your wall texture is completely dry before painting over it. If you paint over wet wall texture, you risk harming the texture, smudging the paint, or damaging the finished project.

Can you paint drywall without skim coat? ›

If you want your walls to be at level 5, skim coating is the only way to do it. In fine homes, this level of smoothness is necessary wherever a wall will be highlighted in any way. This would include any walls with semi-gloss or glossy paints, or walls with light that reflects at an oblique angle.

How many coats of primer on drywall? ›

You will want to use 2-3 coats of primer to ensure there is a good bond between the new paint and the wall, and also to cover up any previous colors, especially if they are red, orange, or a strange outdated color. In short, you will typically need 2 coats of primer for most painting projects.

Can you wait too long to paint after priming? ›

Most water-based primers dry relatively fast, in 3 or 4 hours. After that, they will be good to use for the next 30 days. As long as you paint your surfaces in that time period, your paint will stick with no problems.

Is it OK to paint without primer? ›

Without a coat of primer, you're looking at a splotchy paint job. Applying primer prior to painting drywall will give your finished wall an even, clean look.

Why is my drywall mud cracking after painting? ›

The most common cause of cracking in freshly applied drywall mud is when it is applied too thickly. This exacerbates the issue with evaporation-based drying and can even crack curing compounds. Past this point, applying more drywall mud will cause the cracking to worsen if done improperly.

How do you finish drywall for painting? ›

Here's how to finish drywall, step by step:
  1. Inspect the walls. ...
  2. Mix the joint compound if necessary. ...
  3. Spread a thin layer of compound over the screw holes. ...
  4. Tape the seams between the drywall sheets. ...
  5. Apply the first coat of compound. ...
  6. Sand the first coat. ...
  7. Apply the second coat. ...
  8. Apply the finish coat.
Jan 24, 2022

What is skimming in painting? ›

Skimming is a plastering technique which involves applying a thin coat to walls to create the smooth surface required for painting or decorating. Either the skim plaster is applied to an existing plaster finish, or it's used to cover plasterboard.

What is a Level 5 drywall finish? ›

Level 5 drywall has a high-quality skim coat over it. This thin coat covers the nails, tape, compound, and wall materials from the naked eye, creating a pleasing, completed look.

Why is my drywall mud cracking while drying? ›

One of the main reasons is that the coat of drywall mud was applied too thickly. Another reason for cracking could be due to the type of drywall mud that was used. For example, premixed drywall mud dries through evaporation. This can result in shrinkage cracks that form as the mud dries.

What is the difference between joint compound and drywall mud? ›

Joint compound is the same as drywall mud or just mud. It's comprised mainly of gypsum and limestone, but it also has other materials such as clay, mica, perlite, and starch. Joint compound has a spreadable consistency similar to mud, which is how it got its common name.


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