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Q.We're new home builders and use a lot of newly milled kiln-dried eastern white pine exterior trim. We paint it in batches, spraying both sides with a good-quality oil-based primer, then following with two topcoats of 100% acrylic. To cut down drying time, we'd like to switch to an acrylic primer, but most painting contractors we talk to swear by an oil-based primer for pine because it penetrates better. Is there an acrylic primer that would give good performance?

A.Duffy Hoffman responds: Why use oil primer first? New pine has very little porosity; it's hard and allows little penetration. It also contains a lot of resin, which makes it hard for an oil primer to penetrate. I recommend using a latex primer first, followed by a second coat of oil primer if your customer insists. But you could also use two coats of latex primer, if you prefer.

There are many good acrylic primers that could work for you. California Paints and Sherwin-Williams both make a 100% acrylic. I happen to like Muralo's Cedar Solution, which has good tannin-blocking properties, and Muralo's Universal 100% acrylic primer; both have excellent adhesive properties. There are other good products on the market; it is really your choice as the finisher. Many universal latex primers are designed for smooth surfaces, which make them a good match for new pine.

It's always a good idea to cut the pine resin by sanding with 80- or 100-grit paper. You should also ease the edges, because paint doesn't stick well to sharp corners. Note that I recommend two coats of primer, not one. If you are putting on three coats total, I would prime twice and topcoat once. The primer coat is where adhesion to the substrate has to be perfect. The topcoat doesn't do much good if the primer comes off. You only get one chance to get the primer right.

If you're spraying primer, you should always back-brush, so as to fill the grain of the wood. If you simply spray the primer, it will sit on the surface and adhesion will not be as good.

Duffy Hoffman is owner of Hoffman Painting and Refinishing, Inc., in Pipersville, Pa.