Best Primer for Warhammer 40k: The Ultimate Guide

Best primer

Best Primer for Warhammer 40k: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

As a Warhammer 40k enthusiast with over 20 years of experience painting miniatures, I know that finding the right primer is essential for creating a flawless paint job. After testing countless spray paints and primers over the years, I’ve narrowed down the options to bring you the definitive recommendations for the best primers for Warhammer 40k miniatures in 2023.

Whether you’re priming your brand new Indomitus box set or refreshing an old army, starting with a smooth, even basecoat allows your models to really come alive when you apply the paint. In this guide crafted just for Warhammer 40k hobbyists, I’ll go over what makes an exceptional primer along with reviewing specific products from Citadel, Vallejo, Army Painter and other top brands.

What Makes the Best Primer for Warhammer 40k Miniatures

When evaluating primers for painting Warhammer models and miniatures, there are a few key factors I look for:

  • Smooth, Even Coverage: A quality primer should go on thin and smooth out any imperfections in the miniature without obscuring fine details. Good self-leveling properties allow the primer to avoid pooling.
  • Adhesion and Durability: Primers need to bond well to metal, resin and plastic so paint adheres properly without chipping or peeling over time.
  • Matte Finish: More matte primers give acrylic paints better grip overall. High-gloss primers can cause issues with paint, washes and shades not flowing properly on the surface.
  • Affordability: With large miniature collections, cost per can adds up. Quality more budget-friendly primers help save money.

Now let’s look at specific recommendations across helpful categories for Warhammer 40k hobbyists.

Best Black & White Primers for Warhammer 40k

Citadel White Scar Spray

Over the years Citadel has perfected their black and white primers for Warhammer miniatures. The new White Scar Spray in particular lays down beautifully in smooth coats without frosting or losing detail. It sprays much easier and with better coverage compared to their old white primer. Though costlier than other brands, White Scar primes flawlessly every time, making it the best white primer spray for Warhammer.

Where to Buy: Available at local hobby stores or online at Amazon and other retailers carrying Citadel paints.

Chaos Black Spray Primer

While I wish Games Workshop would formulate an Abaddon Black spray (since that’s now the go-to brush-on black), the classic Chaos Black spray works wonderfully as an undercoat for Warhammer miniatures. It may seem counterintuitive to prime in black just to paint over it with another black paint later, but the results speak for themselves. Chaos Black sprays smoothly without obscuring detail and provides great coverage.

Where to Buy: Readily available both in-store and online wherever Games Workshop products are sold.

Space Marine Warhammer 40k

Best Value Primers for Saving Money


When building a Warhammer army, costs add up quickly between paints and tools. That’s why quality, affordable primers are so valuable. Here are my top recommendations for budget-friendly primers that still deliver smooth, durable basecoats.

Colour Forge Sprays

Colour Forge primers come in a variety of shades that closely match popular Citadel paint colors. The brand offers great alternatives that save hobbyists money without sacrificing results. They spray well without frosting or clumping and the larger 500ml cans provide more coverage over dozens of miniatures. Colour Forge primers bond excellently to prepare surfaces for smooth painting. Well worth trying out!

Where to Buy: Currently sold primarily through UK hobby shops and retailers like Element Games. Expansion to other regions is underway.

Rust-Oleum 2X Primer

Easy to find at hardware stores, Rust-Oleum 2X primer provides very nice coverage at an affordable price point. While the color selection is limited, the flat black, gray and white primers work quite well for undercoating Warhammer miniatures before painting. Multiple thin coats are recommended to avoid obscuring details. For new hobbyists on a budget, Rust-Oleum makes for capable, widely accessible primer.

Where to Buy: Available at most home improvement stores.

Best Color Matching Spray Primers

While grayscale primers offer a neutral basecoat, colored primers let you start with a shade closer to your mini’s finished paint scheme. Matching primer to paint makes touch ups much easier. Here are some top options for spray primer colors.

Vallejo Surface Primers

No one offers more color matching choices than Vallejo. Their surface primer sprays come in a wide range of basic colors that pair with their Game, Model and Air model paint lines. Bright shades like Sun Yellow or Dead White make an ideal basecoat for Imperial Fists Space Marines, while Russian Green is perfect to start Dark Angels. The quality spraying experience and durability lives up to Vallejo’s reputation.

Where to Buy: Check specialty hobby shops or online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay to find full selection of Vallejo Surface Primers.

Army Painter Color Primers

Army Painter makes modeling and painting accessible for new hobbyists, but I’ve found their colored primers hit or miss over the years. Some colors cover beautifully in smooth coats while others seem thick and less consistent in application. Their newest Greedy Gold primer however seems to spray much nicer than previous iterations. Just be sure to apply in light layers at the proper distance to allow details to show through.

Where to Buy: Readily found both in hobby stores and online shops carrying Army Painter supplies.


Paint Set

Specialty Primers for Warhammer 40k

Let’s look at a few additional primer types that serve specific purposes for getting great painting results on your miniatures.

Citadel Contrast Primers

To create the perfect surface for applying Contrast paints that flow smoothly into recesses, Citadel formulates their Contrast primers to have a smoother, less grainy finish. Both Grey Seer and Wraithbone spray primers work fantastically as an undercoat for the specialized Contrast range. This allows midtones and shadows to transition more naturally. They spray excellently while still retaining tooth for regular paint adhesion.

Where to Buy: As part of the Citadel line, Contrast primers are available anywhere Games Workshop paints are sold.

Filler Primer Sprays

For repairing seams, filling gaps, or smoothing 3D printed Warhammer terrain pieces before painting, filler primers add thicker textures that can be sanded once dry. I recommend Duplicolor’s Filler/Primer for its reliable airflow and coverage on large surface areas. Just be very careful when applying to miniatures or fine details may be lost! Filler primers serve more niche applications but deliver great results when used properly.

Where to Buy: sold through auto parts stores and retailers like Amazon or eBay.



Applying Primer to Warhammer Miniatures

Once you’ve selected the right primer for your Warhammer miniatures, proper application is key to achieving a smooth, protective layer that brings out details. Here are my pro tips:

  • Prime in a well-ventilated area at room temperature. Temperature and humidity extremes negatively impact primers.
  • Shake the can vigorously for 60-90 seconds to mix the primer inside fully before starting.
  • Test spray a scrap piece like cardboard first to check consistency.
  • Hold can 6 to 10 inches from model and apply light coats using a quick sweeping motion without concentrating too long in one spot.
  • Allow each coat to dry for 15-30 minutes before applying additional thin layers for full coverage with visible details.

Properly applied primer breathes life into your miniatures, allowing for crisper details and richer color saturation once painted. With one of the top recommendations matched to your needs here, you’re set to achieve stunning results on your next Warhammer project! Let me know in the comments if you have any other favourite primers for painting Warhammer 40k models!


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