Home » Painted Furniture » Gray Primer As A Top Coat | Call Me A Rebel

Gray Primer As A Top Coat | Call Me A Rebel

Gray primer is my best friend. We became close years ago. My introduction to gray primer was as……primer…..who knew.

Yes I use primer as a top coat Glidden Gripper tinted Gray

Gray Primer

At one time there was a product called Glidden Grey Gripper. Now they just make Glidden Gripper in white. I get it tinted gray because I’ve learned gray is the perfect primer color.

Budget Furniture Knobs inspired furniture makeover

I think it’s also the perfect top coat. Other people, like professional painters and paint companies, don’t agree with me. That’s okay, Call me a rebel. Why the story about the gray primer today? Because I used the gray primer as a top coat on the chest of drawers featured last week.

I have all the paint details on that chest today and a look at other projects on which I used gray primer as a top coat.

chest of drawers project

You might remember I picked up the chest at my favorite junk shop. It was missing a drawer and the JTS fixed it up for me.

gray primer

I started the paint job with a coat of gray primer. When I sanded the loose finish off of the top of the chest it looked a little red. Not knowing if the finish would bleed through the paint I decided to prime it

Glidden Gripper Primer tinted Gray for furniture project

The Glidden Primer covers so well. This photo shows the project after one coat of primer. I had already decided to paint the chest Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore. The knobs I bought at Hobby Lobby screamed boy so navy it was.

Navy and gray compliment each other like peanut butter and chocolate so I stood back and looked at the chest trying to figure out how to use the gray. I finally decided to leave the interior of the shelf area and the top gray. I thought if I didn’t like the top of the chest gray I could always paint it navy. I taped off the areas I didn’t want painted with FrogTape.

Hale Navy paint color from Benjamin Moore

The can of Benjamin Moore Hale Navy has been on the paint shelf for a while. My sister built a new house and her kitchen island and fireplace is painted Hale Navy. It seems to be a very popular color for kitchens. Anyway, I bought a large mid century modern dresser for my sister and the color of choice is Hale Navy. I haven’t got around to painting the dresser yet and thank goodness my sister isn’t in a hurry for it. The truth is…..the paint plan has changed a few times. But that’s a story for another day.

bargain furniture knobs from Hobby Lobby

The budget knobs from Hobby Lobby were the inspiration for this project. The knobs were $1.20 each. A deal.

Paint furniture with Hale Navy paint color from Benjamin Moore

I like the two tone finish.


The “Paris” themed nightstand is painted with the gray primer also. I was going to paint the nightstand pink but loved the primer so much I left it just like that. You can find the decoupage fabric details here.

Spray Painting a Little Tykes Playhouse Petticoat Junktion

I also used my HomeRight paint sprayer to paint the roof of Miss Sofi’s playhouse with gray primer.

yellow cabinet painted with gray primer on the interior

This sunny yellow china cabinet has gray primer for the inside finish and details stenciled in yellow. The project can be seen here….Yellow China Cabinet.

Rustoleum primer in gray for painting furniture hardware

I finished a custom bedroom set for a boy’s room and just used gray primer spray paint for the handles. The flat finish worked really well against the dark glossy gray of the furniture . You can see it here…..Gray Bedroom for Boys.

What color primer do you like best? Do you have the primer tinted to the color of your paint? When I buy the primer and have it tinted I just tell them to tint it gray and they do their thing. I guess if I wanted it the same color every time I would have them match a paint sample.

Products used for these projects:
HomeRight Finish Max Paint Sprayer
Waverly Tres Chic Fabric for Decoupage
Glidden Gripper Primer – Home Depot
Hale Navy Benjamin Moore Paint
Products unavailable in your area can found on Amazon. (Affiliate links are for your convenience)

Thanks for being here and I’ll see you next week.

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work and I love the color and all your projects are so wonderful!!

  2. Do you have a tutorial on fabric decoupage? I’m getting ready to start my first project and a liiiiiittle nervous! :o)
    Because I like to use up every drop I tend to use things for their un-intended use too. But gray primer………..hmmm I’ll have to think on this! ;o)

  3. I’ve always been told that primer works like double sided tape. Adhering to the furniture you’re painting as well as to the top coat of finish paint. If you do not put a top coat of paint over the primer – wouldn’t it be susceptible to dirt, fingerprints, spilled food, etc.? Wouldn’t it resist being washed? Do you use a wax or poly over the primer? I’m curious how your primed pieces stand up over long term use. I’ve thought about leaving a piece in its primed state (when it just looks really nice!) but I haven’t been willing to take the chance it wouldn’t look nice long term. I would really appreciate your observations about how these pieces hold up, do you top coat them, are there certain types of furniture you think this works with and others you do not? Thank you for all your in site!!!