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How to Apply a Wood Primer : Step-by-Step Guide and Expert Tips 

Are you looking to give your timber fences a fresh new look? The first step is to understand whether your fence needs a primer or an undercoat. If you’ve decided that primer is the way to go, then keep reading. 


You might already know that using a paint primer on your wooden fences can boost their durability and appearance, setting the stage for a seamless and successful painting project. But how exactly should you go about applying a paint primer? 


It is a crucial step in ensuring the longevity and durability of your wooden structures. With the right technique and preparation, your fence can withstand harsh weather conditions and maintain its aesthetic appeal for years to come.  


At Stock & Noble, we provide the finest fencing solutions for property owners in Australia and New Zealand. Our Master Blend range includes top-quality fence paints and special primers for steel and timber. With our expertise in creating long-lasting and beautifully painted fences, we’re here to share the best method for applying the wood primer. 


In this blog, we will dive into the step-by-step process of applying a water-based wood primer on your fence, along with some expert tips and tricks for a seamless application. 


You will have all the information and confidence you need to start your fence painting project with the right tools and techniques. 


Step 1: Assess Your Timber Type 

Before you begin the priming process, it’s essential to identify the type of timber you’re working with. Whether it’s hardwood, treated pine, or any other variety, understanding the nature of your wood will help determine the appropriate primer and application technique. 

It’s important to know how to choose the right paint primer for your timber fences. 


Step 2: Check if the Timber is Dry 

Ensure the timber is completely dry before moving on. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to let your new fence sit for approximately 6 to 8 weeks before painting. Factors such as the season, whether it’s summer or winter, and the ambient temperature around you should also be taken into consideration. If your fence is located in the hills where it can remain chilly and moist for most of the year, it’s advisable to wait for a full summer season to allow the timber to dry thoroughly before painting. 

Pro Tip: To test if the wood is dry, place a teaspoon of water on the surface. If the water remains pooled for a while without being absorbed, especially in winter, it indicates that the timber is still too damp. Timber behaves like a sponge – if it’s dry, it will absorb water; if it’s wet, it won’t.  


Step 3: Collect the Necessary Tools For Priming 

Ensure you have all the tools required for the job.  

  • Stiff-bristled broom 
  • Wire brush 
  • Potential water-blaster 
  • Paint stirrer 
  • Paintbrush 
  • Roller 
  • Optional spray gun or spraying equipment 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves and a mask 
  • Wood primer 


Step 3: Thoroughly Clean the Surface 


Cleaning New Timber 

If you’re working with newly acquired timber that has been sitting for weeks, you might notice dust or residue from the sawmill. In such cases, a thorough sweep with a broom is essential to prepare the surface for priming. 


Cleaning Old Timber 

For older timber that hasn’t been treated for some time, using a water blaster to remove accumulated dirt and grime is the most effective and recommended method.  


Removing Debris and Irregularities 

Make sure to eliminate any sharp edges, loose bits of timber, or lingering debris using appropriate methods such as sanding, brushing, or water blasting. 

  • Dirt or debris can be efficiently removed using a water blaster. 
  • For loose bits of timber, opt for sanding or planing as necessary. 


Step 4: Choose Your Application Method For the Primer 

Depending on the scale of your fencing project, select the most suitable application method. For extensive coverage, such as several hundred meters of fencing, using a sprayer is a practical choice. Conversely, for smaller areas, employing a roller and paintbrush will provide greater precision and control. 

Pro-Tip: Spray guns have a steel mesh filter to prevent clogs from paint impurities. Thicker primers like Forever Wood Primer may need a filter with larger gaps for smoother flow. 


Step 5: Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

While water-based primers are generally safer to handle, it’s crucial to prioritiSe personal safety during the application process. Wear gloves, a mask (3M Cartridge Filter type), and protective eyewear to prevent any potential skin or respiratory irritation, especially if using a spraying system. 


Step 6: Properly Stir the Primer 

To ensure the primer’s effectiveness, it’s crucial to thoroughly mix it with a suitable stirrer, be it wooden or metal. Make sure all the components are blended evenly for optimal performance.

Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific instructions on mixing. As a general guideline, aim to stir the primer for approximately 5 minutes to achieve a consistent and well-mixed solution. 


Step 7: Check Temperature and Timber Condition 

Ensure the temperature is above 10 degrees Celsius before beginning the application. Additionally, make sure the timber is not cold. During the summer, you can start painting at any time. However, in winter, wait for a few sunny days before applying the primer to allow the timber to warm up adequately. 

Step 8: Apply the Wood Primer 

Ensure an even application, covering the entire surface of the fence with a consistent coat of primer. Be mindful of any drips or uneven patches that might compromise the overall finish. Usually, one coat of paint primer is sufficient, however, it’s best to check the manufacturer’s recommendation. 

Pro Tip: For best results and smoother application process, use the complete range of paint products from the same manufacturer. 


Step 9: Allow Sufficient Drying Time 

After the primer application, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended drying time, typically ranging between 30 minutes to an hour. Following these guidelines will ensure that the primer sets properly, providing a solid foundation for the subsequent topcoat. 


Step 10: Clean Up and Disposal 

Once the priming process is complete, clean your tools with warm soapy water, considering the water-based nature of the primer. Dispose of any packaging responsibly, following the manufacturer’s instructions for eco-friendly disposal methods. 

Ready to Apply a Paint Primer on Your Timber Fences? 

You are planning to paint your timber fences and wanted to know the correct process of applying a primer. Now you know the 10 key steps along with expert tips to successfullyapply a water-based wood primer on your fence, enhancing its durability and aesthetic appeal.  


Remember to check your timber type, ensure that it’s dry, prepare the surface thoroughly adhere to safety protocols and achieve a seamless and long-lasting primer application.

The obvious next step is to learn the detailed process of how to paint your timber fences in New Zealand. The expert tips and insights will lead you in the direction of long-lasting beautifully painted fences. 


If you have more questions on the cost, application, usage or suitability of a primer or paint with your timber or steel fences, we recommend seeking professional guidance. Over a personalised call, our experts will discuss your requirements and help you make the right decision for your dream property. 


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