Homemade Primer Paint- Run Out? You Can Make This in a Pinch!

Hello fellow artistes! This is my recipe for homemade primer paint...when you need primer (also known as gesso -) in a pinch do this instead! Don’t you just hate it when you have all the ingredients to do something EXCEPT for one? I know, it’s a total bummer!

Application of white primer is very important, especially if you are going to paint crafts made from self-hardening clay, as it’s very important to seal it correctly due to its tendency to be affected by moisture.

Anyway long story short, I needed a basic coat of primer and a little research told me how to come up with a batch that has all the essential components. Now I will share that recipe with you today.

Ingredients Needed

All of these are things you’re pretty familiar with:

Hot water

1 tbsp of Mod Podge or PVA/white craft glue

1 /4 cup of cornstarch or talcum powder

1 tbsp white acrylic paint (this is the brand I use)

Storage container with fitted lid

Stirring implement

Measuring cup

You may want to get yourself a dust mask (very timely suggestion, what with this health crisis and all?), as i have heard that talcum powder may cause a little irritation for a small segment of the population. I didn’t, but that is up to you. I have heard that there are some hazards associated with talcum powder so cornstarch may be the better way to go.

Another product that I’ve heard other artists mention is plaster of paris. I have used that before and it may be a good substitute as well.

diy homemade primer paint ingredients

Mix the Glue and Water

This is going to be very similar to the approach for making your own decoupage glue – another gem I’ve discovered when you run out of the “real thing”! I’ve got a half-empty bottle of a knockoff brand of Mod Podge. It is the equivalent of about a third or half a cup. So it will work perfectly for this project!

I am going to pour the hot water into it. I’m starting off with a fourth of a cup with plans to add a little more if necessary. Next I added the spoonful of Mod Podge. Mix the contents into your chosen container. Stir together the glue/water mixture thoroughly.

glue base for homemade primer

It will not be very thickΒ  (not much at first, anyway.) Now add the white paint. If you’re using a “heavy body” acrylic artists’ type, which is a little thick, it will improve the texture, and will help make the mixture white as it should be – about a tablespoon or 2 will be good. Continue to mix the ingredients together.

diy homemade gesso

Cornstarch is a natural thickening agent used in various cooking endeavors, like pudding, soup and stews. I also used it in the process of this clay recipe to thicken it – it’s a very commonplace ingredient and it will thicken your homemade primer, too.

You could also use baby powder, as cornstarch is one of the present ingredients (trouble is, it’s hard to measure due to the twisty cap and the fact that it has a little lingering fragrance, but it will work) Measure out the cornstarch and sprinkle it into your mixture.

Pro Tip: I have heard, always add a powdered substance to liquid and not the other way around to prevent the dusty ness from blowing around.

Now, commence stirring…

talcum powder in primer

You may want to add a little more than the amount I suggested; after stirring for a few minutes if it’s still a little thin, go ahead and add a little more cornstarch. I did – sometimes you have to adjust your recipes . Keep on stirring…

It’s going to look something like this, with a consistency close to that of pancake batter.Β  I took a plastic spoonΒ  and took a little dip and let it run back into the bowl to check for the right amount of thickness.

diy homemade primer

There you have it! Homemade primer paint ready to go when you need to do a base coat, protect a substrate, ensure an even top coat, and maintain vibrant colors, which are all of the main reasons behind the application of gesso.

Using and Storing Your Homemade Primer

Store in the container with the lid (may want to label it too,)We didn’t use anything perishable so it should keep plenty easily.

Use a brush or sponge applicator to apply it to your proposed object. It should dry naturally and quickly just like the store bought kind.

Pin Me, Friend!

homemade paint primer


That’s it – that’s how you make homemade primer paint! Good luck!

30 thoughts on “Homemade Primer Paint- Run Out? You Can Make This in a Pinch!”

  1. Useless instructions no measurement whatsoever if you are going to put a recipe online at least do it properly

  2. Can you use this as a primer on metal?

    Also just wanted to mention, having mucked about with various diy cleaning solutions, I totally get how making something like this can work best without using super specific measurements!

  3. I think you could; I have used this on glass jars, canvases, and wood. Yes, sometimes it may take a little adjusting until you get the “right” consistency. I ended up adding a little more white paint from time to time. Good luck to you! 😊

  4. I believe I used about 2 tablespoons…I think you could use a little more depending on the ratio of the other ingredients.

  5. Wow I used it just playing around with measurements and it came out beautiful to use as a primer. If you use common sense and check consistency it turns out great without precise measurements. Thank you.

  6. Will this work as a primer for painting acrylic paint on plastic? Can I substitute alcohol for all or part of the water? There’s a video that says primers for adhering acrylic paint to plastic consist mostly of alcohol.

  7. Regarding alcohol, yes I’ve heard that too. Still it’s very challenging to try to paint on plastic, even if you apply alcohol to the surface, at least that has been my experience.You have to “rough up” the plastic surface as well to get the paint to stick ( use something like sandpaper) If I were you, I would look into some of the spray paint brands that are made specifically for plastic surfaces. I think it’s called Krylon Fusion. Good luck to you πŸ™‚

  8. Refer back to “Ingredients Needed”.

    Sorry, I know there’s a keyboard shortcut for whatever will make the measurements look like a fraction instead of a slash mark…Point taken πŸ™‚

  9. Kathy Kickingwoman

    Thank u! I am painting glass candle holders and it just wasn’t working….decided I needed primer and my little town of less than 800 people, has no primer. Ran across this and was very excited…made my primer and it’s perfect. I read a comment about how terrible this article was, no measurements….USE ur brain, u find the consistency that works for you….if you still are having issues please go to a store and buy paint primer…

  10. Agreed, not everybody lives in a good area with adequate supply stores. Plus there’s a lot of uncertainty around supply quantities these days in general. And yes, experimentation is key! 😊

  11. Mrs Paula-Ann Weston

    Great attitude and perfect article… your a life and money saver with this great diy… thank you heaps

  12. Jennifer Deavers

    I just wanna say thanks for the tip!!!! I’ve been googling how to make homemade primer and yours is the best easiest and most cost effective!!!! Your awesome!!!!
    Jennifer D

  13. I’m trying to follow along but I get confused at the beginning where you say you have a knock off brand of Mod Podge (which is half full) which is equivalent to about a third or half a cup so it will work perfectly for this project. You pour the hot water into it ( I assume it is still half full of mod podge). Then you add the spoonful of Mod Podge! Wait a minute. Didn’t you just say the bottle of knock off Mod Podge was half full?
    Confused but will follow the recipe amounts as given and see how it goes.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  14. Sorry, this is a 2nd comment/question. I have applied my black primer to cardboard boxes. I sanded them because they had a shiny surface. I just checked to see how well the primer was adhering. I could scrape it off with a fingernail. Do you have suggestions for drying times? I understand shiny cardboard might be a bit tricky and maybe I needed to sand more. I might try sanding again and priming again. Also might try sanding and applying watered down acyrlic or straight acrylic to see if it will adhere. Any ideas are appreciated! Thank you.

  15. When you mention “shiny cardboard” are you referring to something like gift boxes (That’s the first thing that came to mind here…it’s some kind of plastic coating, not sure what it’s called, but it has a slick surface that does make paint difficult to adhere to.)

    Sanding…That’s a lot easier done on more non-porous objects…Here is another post that might help: Can You Paint on Plastic? The Surprising Answer to Your Dilemma

  16. I may have pre-measured that bottle of Mod Podge…Sorry, it’s been awhile, but that’s my recollection anyway. I poured the hot water into it because it was handy at the time to shake the contents together first. Hope that clarifies that one a little 😊

  17. Love your article. Leaving the measurements up to the crafter is ideal. Like cooking a meal small tweaks to the recipe will happen with most all chef’s. Same for crafters. It’s all in the preference of each individual. I’m super sorry that there’s always some rude, miserable, troll with no life just waiting to poop all over someone’s day. Can’t get away from them. Don’t sweat the oh so small and petty things. You’re amazing. Thank you

  18. Thanks, that’s very sweet of you…yes, very true! All that flack I got was just from not formatting the measurements (at first, anyway) Let us know how it goes with your project πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘

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