Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'
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Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'

Please help! I am having problems with my kilz primer not sticking to the wall very well - it gets balled up and gunky. If I go over a spot twice, it will take off the primer in one spot and drag it, creating (very) mini grand canyons.

The current paint is not peeling, but I noticed that little chips will easily pull off the wall if i put painter's tape on it and pull it off. From where the chips have pulled away, it almost seems like it's straight drywall. Could that be part of the problem? (We bought the house about a year ago, so I don't know all of its painting history.)

*I am 99% sure that the current paint on the wall is latex.
Also, I don't think that the primer is bad because I completed a project earlier in the day with the same primer and had no problems.*

I would appreciate any insight or tips that you have.

Thank you!
Atlanta, GA

Re: Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'

I had the same trouble with painting my bedroom a few years ago. I was lazy and didn't wash the walls first, plus is was cold and humid. I did this in February. And I didn't get the primer stirred very well.

My husband suggested I leave it alone for the night because I was cussing like a sailor over it.

The opportunity for the dry heat to take some of the moisture out of the air, stirring the primer really well with the new paint stirring attachment on my drill the next day and letting the first coat dry over night plus getting a good nights rest at a hotel, I didn't have the same problems the next day.

It's your guess how many factors are contributing to your problem.

Re: Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'


Assuming that you don't have a bad batch of Kilz, my first thought is that there is some substance on the walls which should have been removed. Some good intentioned soul may have tried cleaning those walls with an oil containing soap such as flax soap or possibly a cleaning product with a waxy base. In any event, I would thoroughly clean those walls with a dedicated wall washing detergent. If water beads up on the walls, it is likely paint will act up also. The water should "sheet" , not bead.

You did not specify whether you used Kilz 2, the water based primer, or the original oil based Kilz. I suspect you were using the water based, as the oil product is more tolerant of surface polutants.

Debbysewn is correct that many paints take time to cure and fully adhere. However, your problem seems to have occurred immediately.

Kilz 2 is not a bad one size fits all primer, however, for interior wall priming, I prefer such products as Glidden's "Gripper", Behr's Primer No.75 or Zinsser's 123. All grip tenaciously to slick surfaces.

The fact that tape will pull off the existing paint down to what looks like drywall is an indication that the original drywall was not properly primed and backrolled to assure adhesion. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to correct that situation. I personally believe that the quality of the dry wall prime coat is at least as importnat, if not more, than the finish coat.

Re: Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'

2 problems here:

1) Rolling BACK into areas already primed.
* Big NO-NO there!
* Many primers start setting pretty quickly, so you can't "overwork" your film...or you'll create this exact problem.
* ONE MINUTE is the max time I would "work" an area.
* DO NOT roll back into an area already primed!!
* The MAX area you should cover with a fully-saturated roller-cover is 3' x 3'.
* Even after two finish coats of paint are applied, the primer is STILL developing its "grip" up to TWO WEEKS later!
* Apply your coatings at a steady speed...AND STAY AWAY from already-coated areas!!

>>> FULL CURE for most Latexes is ONE MONTH....especially to be considered washable.

2) Possible dirty wall:
* POWDERED Dirtex is the best pre-paint cleaner.
* A little box lasts forever!
* Unless your washwater is getting real dirty, you don't need to rinse!!

The "Tape test" is a good check for an existing paints' adherence. Since your existing paint is removed when tape is lifted, it means your paint isn't holding very well...:(
* Could be because of inadequate dust-removal b4 the original priming...
* Very cheap priming and paint...
* Not backrolling, as the previous poster said...
* OR...combination of all 3!!


Re: Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'

Thank you very much for your advice.

I will wash the walls down tonight and I got some different primer (Zinsser's). I found that lightly sanding the wall helped quite a bit, too.

It sounds like the drywall wasn't primed correctly to begin with. Is there anything I can do to remedy that?

Re: Help! Primer not staying on wall/getting 'gunky'


Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot that can be done about a bad prime coat unless it is really bad adhesion. I have run across finishes that were SO poorly adhered, that the paint could be zipped off with a flexible spackle knife. Normally, a mildly bad adhesion only presents a nuisance. However, don't ever consider wallpapering over such walls. After a couple days, the wallpaper seams will start to lift and you will find the paint stuck to the rear of the paper! The mositure in the wallpaper paste loosens the bad bond and the drying paper will pull the paint off the wall.

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