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"Best brush-on primer?" Topic

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21 Feb 2021 9:20 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Best brush-on primer?" to "Best brush-on primer?"Removed from Modern Battle Reports board
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    21 Feb 2021 9:16 a.m. PST
    21 Feb 2021 9:17 a.m. PST

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Schogun21 Feb 2021 9:16 a.m. PST

Looks like this topic hasn't been updated since 2012.

It's too cold to spray prime outdoors, so what's the best brush-on primer?

So far it's Vallejo Brush-On Surface Primer.

I tried Stynylrez but it goes on thin and gums up my brushes.

Any recommendations?


ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 9:30 a.m. PST

I use white craft paint on both metal & plastics, never had any problem.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:22 a.m. PST

For priming metal, I swear by Mr Metal Primer R (brush on). It's clear, but since it's a primer you can put down whatever base coats you need and don't have to restrict yourself to black, white, etc.


1) It's lacquer based so it really gets a good grip on the surface, whether it's metal minis. photo etched brass, white metal parts for scale models, etc.

2) Thin with great flow, so it has superb coverage and doesn't obscure detail.

3) Great value. Those little bottles seem to last forever. Also no issue with settling and separation if they aren't used for a while.


1) Lacquer based means they dry quickly but need to cure. Maybe not 24 hrs, but they won't be ready to go in an hour or two.

2) Lacquer odor, but only an issue if you're super sensitive. I find it less noticeable than styrene glues and much less than CA glue.

Personal logo Endless Grubs Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:26 a.m. PST

I use Testor's and have been very happy-coming from a long history of various spray primers and varying weather conditions….

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:43 a.m. PST

I started using gesso fairly recently. I mix various grey shades as appropriate to need but any base colour could be mixed into the white gesso so it isn't restrictive.

I've used it with and without thinning and find that a bit of thinning helps, at least for 10mm figures & down – I also add a touch of flow improver.

Unthinned it is great on resin buildings too, far better than other primers I've used for them.

Good coverage but still sometimes needs a touch-up in places difficult to get to with a brush.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 11:30 a.m. PST

Like Tony, I also use gesso. I find that it covers well although some touch-up is necessary. It has no odor that I can detect and cleans up with water. And the 16 fluid ounce bottle I have has been lasting for a long time!


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 11:55 a.m. PST

Gesso, I've used it for years, never had any issues with it.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:20 p.m. PST

I think the "right" answer depends on application.

I find Tamiya Surface Primer adheres well to plastics (which is what I use it for) but does not flow well, dries quickly enough to gum up the brush, goes on thick, smells, and requires chemical brush cleaner (lacquer thinner or mineral spirits). It definitely has a niche, but it's difficult to use.

I have a bunch of Army Painter colour (sic) primers because they really are a perfect match for the equivalent spray colors, but they do not seem to stick to metal any better than a regular acrylic paint. I use them only for correcting mistakes and touching up spray primer jobs in matching colors (er, colours).

I liked Testors (Model Master) enamel or lacquer primer (not sure which it was), but it's unavailable now. :-( The Testors/MM acrylic primers may still be available, but if memory serves, I don't believe they work any better than Vallejo primers.

I've also found gesso to be a reliable friend, so I keep it around in 3 colors (white, gray, black). I love that it's odorless and cleans/thins with water, and being able to tint it with acrylics. Like ColCampbell, I find it has coverage issues needing a second coat or touch up, and in addition is thick enough to obscure fine details if I'm not extremely careful. I tend to avoid using it on miniatures of 6mm or smaller scales.

I like the way Vallejo primers flow and adhere, and they're odorless and clean up/thin with water, but coverage is a problem. On the bright side, they dry *really* thin, which is pretty important over fine details. I tend to use these for spot painting or spot repair, or priming very small objects (like 1/6000 scale ships or 6mm infantry).

- Ix

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 10:37 p.m. PST

On the recommendation of enfant perdus, I just ordered a bottle of Mr Metal Primer R. I hope I like it as much as he does. grin

- Ix

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 3:29 a.m. PST

I have tried Gesso and it felt too thick. Vallejo primer white I think is too thin and pools. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but it pooled in the details.

Desert Fox22 Feb 2021 4:45 a.m. PST

Gesso. You can brush it on as thick or as thin as you like.

Royal Air Force Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 5:01 a.m. PST

Stynylrez is great, but only thru an airbrush. I rarely use a brush-on primer these days, preferring using an airbrush for priming. But I used to use gesso with great success. I did find that I did not like the grey gesso, preferring to mix black and white to get the desired gray. No sure why, but I found the coverage of out-of-the-bottle gray very poor.

JAFD2622 Feb 2021 8:32 a.m. PST

Waybackwhen, I sued a mixture, half Armory grey acrylic and half Pactra Red Iron Oxide primers.

Worked great as primer, but left primed figures a truly hideous pinkish-purple.

Sic transit gloria mundi…

CeruLucifus27 Feb 2021 7:54 p.m. PST

Liquitex Gesso.

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