Painting prep

A guy I know who used to make a living painting people's houses visited me in my newly purchased very old house a few years ago and gave me some ideas how to do some stuff. I think he said I should prime the walls before filling pits, holes and cracks etc. with filler. Is that right or not?
I'd thought that you spackle before priming, then spot prime the spackle and then prime and paint.
I think he said the fillers wouldn't stick well unless the holes, cracks, etc. were primed first.
I've really got a ton of this sort of thing to do. Walls that have all kinds of imperfections, peeling paint, gouged wood, many layers of paint in many places, dirty degraded paint, all kinds of challenges await me in getting this house in shape. Any tips, suggestions, sites, books, etc. much appreciated!
Dan
PS I was speaking of the interior, but I have serious exterior challenges paintwise as well.
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I forgot to mention, I'm also wondering what to use for imperfections. Spackle, fixall, bondo... what do I use under what circumstances? I just wish I had a world of experience, but I don't. I've done painting, mostly interior, but this house presents bigger challenges than I've experienced. Thanks again.
Dan
PS I have 5 gallon buckets of Kilz2 water based primer and Zinsser Cover Stain oil based primer (a few years old, but unopened), a pretty fair variety of basic tools, including a heat gun/paint remover, orbital sander, belt sander, paint remover, brushes, tarps, rollers, paint scrapers... the basic stuff.
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

Hey Dan Fill your holes with spackle or plaster before you prime. If the walls are in really bad shape and have bigger holes that can't be filled with spackle take a piece of sheetrock and create a patch by cutting the back paper off of it and leave the front paper larger. stick the patch in the hole and cover with spackle. Sand all your spackle before you paint and make sure it's relatively smooth. You might have to spackle two or three times and sand in between each application before you paint. Its easier to use the water based primer instead of the oil based, but if the walls had wall paper on them before the oil based is a better choice. Have fun bro!
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Both drywall mud (spackle) and latex painters caulk will stick to primer better but still may stick to what you have. Use the painters caulk for the small dings and nail holes and hairline cracks as the flexibility of it will make it last longer. Patch larger holes and skim coat bad areas with drywall mud. Faster setting spackles are also OK if the damage is modist.
Latex caulk can also be applied by wiping it on with a wet rag.
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