I am painting my basement and the walls will need quite a bit of repairs before I can paint. The main problem I see is the paper that covers the drywall is coming up in the margins near the ceiling and baseboards as well as the corners and some damaged spots and bulges in the middle areas. My plan is to tear all of the loose paper off, spackle, and sand. I have seem some videos where they recommend a water-tight primer to keep moisture from the putty getting in the drywall and then bulging the paint later. I asked the paint guys at Lowe's about this and they acted like I was nuts. Is this a step that I need? Is there anything else I might need to consider?

  • How about the bulging? Small spots or large areas?
    – Cheery
    Commented Apr 8 at 23:20
  • Just some small spots about the size of a quarter
    – SirOsis
    Commented Apr 9 at 4:49

2 Answers 2


There are some reasons to use primer before putty/spackle, for example:

  • To lengthen the compound's drying time by preventing water absorption. This can be useful if you need to smooth a large area in hot weather and the product dries too fast.

  • If the wall is old plaster that's a bit powdery, you can use a special primer to strengthen it and prevent the spackle from separating.

  • If you want to apply spackle to something it won't adhere naturally to, like metal or some insulation materials.

...but none of these reasons apply in your case.

they recommend a water-tight primer to keep moisture from the putty getting in the drywall and then bulging the paint later

Assuming you let it dry the recommended time, that's not going to happen. I mean if you're using a product intended for drywall and put it on drywall... it's going to do what it's supposed to do...

What you should do is check for water damage, especially if you see bulging.


I believe what you are seeing is the paper tape at the ceiling /wall corners and board joints. You never peel the paper covering off drywall, it weakens it.

You can carefully cut out just the loose paper and apply mesh tape and drywall compound to fill the area. When dry, sand smooth and prime those areas.

The idea of priming prior to painting is to seal the paper and ready the surface for the paint. To prime and then "apply putty" is unheard of by myself and I know of no advantage since the "putty" or drywall compound is made to cover drywall and any moisture is absorbed and dissipated quickly by the extremely dry surface.

You may have bubbles or loose drywall tape from water or high moisture intrusion. You should check for those issues and correct that first. then go about the repairs, priming and painting.


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