How thick does primer need to go on a wall before painting? Should the wall show through at all? I think I might be too much of a perfectionist or at least ignorant of how to prime a room. My room is 10x10 and I've used one and a third gallons on the walls.
The paint can usually will spell out how much a can of paint will cover in square feet. Apply thin coats. If the base color shows through the primer and you want to cover that then apply a second coat but I don't think that would be necessary. The main job of the primer is to have the top coat adhere so it doen't peel or flake off. Too thick a coat of paint will and can fail.
Primer doesn't always cover completely. It is not meant to look good. No paint should be applied thickly. If you are using a proper roller, you should be getting good coverage, and should not have to worry. If you are trying to paint over a room that is an odd color, like red, than you may need two coats of primer. For most rooms, with regular drywall or a light color, one coat of primer is sufficient.
Unless your walls were black or VERY dark to start with, you've already used too much primer. The original color will show through the primer, but the primer creates a seal that eliminates the color from bleeding through to the top coat. It's also a good idea to have your primer tinted in a shade similar to your top coat. If marks or heavy color is still showing through your top coat then you are probably using the wrong primer. A stain killing primer is best, especially when covering walls that have heavy stains, dark colors, smoke damage (even from cigarettes), or stripped wallpaper (the glues will bleed through). Check with your local home improvement center for the correct primer for your application. The type of paint (oil or latex), and the age of the paint will also effect coverage. Most unsuccessful paint jobs are due to improper preparation of the area.
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