Best Wood Primer – [Reviews&Guide 2024]

Primers are recommended by professionals and experts for surfaces that are going to be painted such as wooden surfaces. It is a form of chemical which helps users cover stains and lock smells and odors coming out of the wall. Many people feel that primers aren’t that important but they would not be happy to see the way their painting job looks without it.

Choosing a Good one is also necessary so that you can have a high-quality finish that you can be proud of. In this article, we are going to help you go through various primers available, see their pros and cons and check if the product is recommended for use.


Zinsser B-I-N shellac-based Primer Sealer

Best Stain Blocking Wood Primer

Being part of the Rust-Oleum family of primers and paint, Zinsser as a brand created one of the best primers in the game. This product is one of the most trusted shellac-based primers and it is one of the oldest forms of sealers in the market. Most primers that are shellac-based are known to be thought of as heavy-duty products.

If your main aim of using a primer is to cover up stains, and dirt and lock in odor on wooden surfaces, this shellac-based type of primer is the right choice for you to make.

Remember that shellac-based primers have a very high amount of volatile organic compounds and ensure the ventilation in your room supports the application of this primer. When compared to other types of shellac-based primers, this product dries very fast. Most shellac primers dry faster than oil-based primers but not as fast as water-based primers, but when it comes to this product, the drying mechanism is faster than even water-based primers.

  • You can use dry-erase markers on the surface it was applied.
  • Good for both interior and exterior spaces.
  • Perfect for sealing dirt and stains.
  • Perfect for sealing odor.
  • One of the best types of shellac-based primer available.
  • It has a very high amount of VOCs.
my impression
This shellac-based primer was manufactured in the United States meaning it has a standard quality it has to maintain. It can be used on all types of surfaces, especially wood and it is perfect for blocking stains, dirt or odor. One feature I really love about this product is the ability to stick on various surfaces without sanding before application.

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Primer

Best Water-Based Wood Primer

Being a water-based Primer from KILZ’, this product will give you a smooth and uniform surface to paint on and like most water-based primers, this Premium high-hide stain-blocking primer is great at stuffing imperfections in surfaces that have holes.

This makes it a perfect candidate for softwood surfaces because it is less likely to lift the grain of the softwood.

The KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Primer hides stains slightly better than most water-based primers and the only difference between this primer and other water-based primers is that it contains mildewcide, an agent which kills mildew.

This primer has excellent adhesion properties which are a great option during color change due to the fact it sticks well to the surface of old paint.

  • It has little or no VOCs.
  • It is perfect for surfaces that are exposed to constant moisture.
  • It is produced and manufactured in the United States.
  • It can be used for both interior and exterior.
  • It has mildewcide which helps protect against mildew.
  • It is pricey and expensive compared to other primers.
my impression
One feature I love about this product is its special mildewcide abilities or the fact that it helps prevent mildew you grow on surfaces. It can kill mildew spores and active mold. This makes it great for moisture-prone and high-humidity areas. You can use it in laundry rooms, saunas, kitchens, bathrooms, and other places which are similar and prone to getting damp.

Nicknamed the “Maximum Stain and Odor Blocker” by the company itself, it may not be the best primer available out there but it is certainly one that works fine for mostly a single purpose – to get rid of bad odor. It helps eliminate odors from your wooden surfaces and it protects them against random stains later in the future.

Application is very easy and it being just a primer means you will need to add an extra coating of paint (oil-based or latex) on top of it.

After application, this paint dries off very quickly since it’s not an oil-based paint. It takes one gallon about 30 minutes to completely dry off. This means you don’t have to wait for a while before reapplying this primer. You can start reapplying this primer within an hour after the first application.

  • It dries very quickly.
  • It is very good at getting rid of stains.
  • It works even as an odor blocker when applied.
  • Application is very easy.
  • Makes the wood lighter.
my impression
Just as the name implies, this KILZ product is suitable if you want to restore your old wooden surfaces. The KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Primer is very good at getting rid of bad odor and foul smell. All you need is to apply it to the wooden surface to coat the stain and the smell.

Being known as one of the best primers for wood without sanding, it is a tough primer that bonds on any surface, even “tough to coat” surfaces. It can also be recoated with any beautiful decoration in mind eg. paint or wallpaper.

A gallon of this primer can cover as much as 300 – 400 square feet of the surface. The recoating time is longer compared to other primers and when you are done applying this primer, it takes 4 hours to form an extremely hard film which then recoating can be done.

  • It acts as a mold killer.
  • It does a very good job of concealing stains and odors.
  • It can be applied without sanding.
  • It takes a hard smooth surface for easy reapplication of paint.
  • It cannot be applied in direct sunlight.
my impression
The INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer to my knowledge is best applied when temperatures are above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Also when applying, avoid doing it in direct sunlight or on extremely hot surfaces. I love that it can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces. Furthermore, other types of coating such as latex, lacquer, etc. can be used on this surface during recoating.

If you are planning on getting a primer that can help you coat stains and lock in odor while also having the extra ability to bond on any surface, the KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer is the right choice for you. Being a water-based primer, it is a perfect choice for wood and the extra bond feature is able to cover even complicated surfaces. You do not need to sand before you apply this product.

The KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer is suitable for both exterior and interior surfaces. It can be used on various surfaces but it is mainly made to be used on hard-to-stick surfaces.

  • Makes your paint immune to scratching, peeling, or scraping.
  • Ideal for lacquered wood.
  • It has a great bonding feature.
  • Washes off skin easily despite the great bonding features.
  • It is quite expensive.
  • It is not suitable for floors.
my impression
This primer is designed to bond or sticks to a variety of surfaces which may include: PVC, metal, glass, tile, etc. The KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer can be topped and recoated with a lacquer/latex paint or products which contain solvents eg Xylene. Application is very easy because it can be applied easily with a roller, brush, or sprayer and it dries in under 30 minutes meaning you can recoat within one hour. All these features make it ideal and recommended not only for exterior use but for interior use as well.

Just as the name implies, this primer is not only suitable for wooden surfaces but is also ideal for new metal surfaces due to it being good rust-resistant. The Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer contains a rust inhibitor giving it one of the features that are rare amongst the primers on this list. Application on the other hand is very easy as it doesn’t require you to sand the surface first before coating.

It is suitable for both interior and exterior usage. Drying doesn’t take long and the surface to which it was applied would become hard in just an hour. Recoating time does not seem long either. Recoating can be done about two hours after the application.

  • It has a rust inhibitor for metal surfaces.
  • It is good for high-pH surfaces.
  • It has a nice satiny-smooth finish.
  • It can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • It can be a stand-alone color.
  • Doesn’t work well on glossy surfaces.
  • You will need to recoat it at least twice.
  • Not recommended for hardwood.
my impression
The Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer is a water-based primer so you do not have to worry about cleaning on your to-do list but if you have a bunch of pre-existing stains, then you have the right to worry. No matter the surface you apply this primer on, each user should ensure that the coating is done twice.

The Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters Touch Quart primer comes in flat grey and flat white options. This product lacks no quality and it can act as a stand-alone for your desired surfaces. You don’t have to worry about the odor or the fumes because this product contains a very low odor which is a common quality with latex paints.

The Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters Touch Quart primer is thick so it can cover your entire desired surface. The only disadvantage to its viscosity is that it can not be sprayed.

The Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters Touch Quart primer is also a quick-drying primer. Just like most of the primers on this list, it just takes 30 minutes for it to dry to the touch, and recoating can be done two hours after application. Speed is one of the main features this primer packs.

  • It is very fast drying.
  • It can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.
  • It is great for porous surfaces.
  • It provides excellent coverage and coating.
  • It doesn’t work well on glossy surfaces.
  • Too much brushing can lead to streaking.
my impression
When looking into this product, we found out that it can be used on various surfaces both interior and exterior and it is perfect for the DIY enthusiast and homeowners. It can be used to cover stains found on plaster, wood, metal, and ceramic and it will dry within no time. You have to sandpaper the surface of the material you are applying this primer on so that it will create a base coat that improves the sticking of paint to the surface. I do recommend this product.

The Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer is one of the best primers for beginners. It is good for both indoor and outdoor applications so if you don’t know where to use it, getting it would still be a big plus. Application of the Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer is very easy and this primer sticks well to all the surfaces it has been tested on, sanded or not.

It is made affordable by the company which when it comes to primers, is a big deal. The only downside to this product is that it isn’t mildew or mold-resistant meaning that it cannot be able to protect your wooden surfaces from molds and mildew growing on them.

  • It is perfect for beginners.
  • It is used both for indoor and outdoor purposes.
  • It is quite affordable.
  • It adds shine.
  • It is not mildew-resistant.
my impression
While the Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer is a perfect option for wooden surfaces, it may not be a good choice for some types of wood. Most people complained that when they used this primer on wooden surfaces and then later recoat with paint over the knot on outdoor wood surfaces, the paint ends up fading from the knots.

The KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer is a primer manufactured mainly for the sole purpose of being used on interior surfaces. This product has been used by professionals from all around the world and it is a primer that will help you get your wooden project finished in no time.

The KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer does a very nice job of covering up stains and locking in odor and if you have a wall that has been damaged by moisture, this primer gives you a finishing making it look the same just like it hasn’t been damaged at all.

The application of this primer is very easy and the primer dries to the touch in about 30 mins. After this, it can be recoated with a layer of paint one hour after. It can fit various surfaces such as masonry, brick, wood, metals, etc.

  • It achieves a good color consistency.
  • It is effective at blocking smells and stains as well.
  • It dries within an hour.
  • It is suitable and compatible with most wall surfaces.
  • It contains strong fumes.
my impression
The KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer is a great oil-based product that is effective in covering odors, stains, and smells. One thing I like about this primer is that it is quick drying to touch in less time. However, there are a few downsides to this product. Firstly is the cost, it is quite expensive to make use of. Secondly, it has low VOC meaning that you need to apply an extra layer of coat to fully cover the surface you are applying it on.

The Rust-Oleum Corporation, White Rust-Oleum 293163 primer is considered the spray-on version of the classic primer. It has almost all the qualities of a brush primer but it has a few differences. One of the differences lies in the viscosity. The spray-on is much lighter and it is not as thick as the brush which makes application faster.

Secondly, this type of primer dries faster than normal primers. It can dry within 5 minutes of application and it takes under 30 minutes to reapply the paint coating.

  • It dries really fast.
  • It shines upon drying.
  • It functions as well as a brush-on primer.
  • It can be used both indoors and outdoors.
  • Not ideal for vertical surfaces.
  • It is very watery.
  • Contains a lot of VOCs.
my impression
Although it is not considered a whole-house primer, you may want to consider using this product on smaller wooden projects just as cabinets, chairs, etc. If you chose this primer, it may cost more cash to cover larger areas. But if you are in a situation where you are working in a reasonable area and you want to complete the project as fast as possible, the Rust-Oleum Corporation, White Rust-Oleum 293163 primer is one of the best products you can get for the job.

What to Consider when Purchasing the Best Wood Primer

This section of the review is designed to give you factors that you should consider or have in mind when buying a wood primer, so even if you haven’t laid your eyes on one yet, you can know every feature that is important which can, in turn, affect your buying decision. If you are also a good painter but lost touch with the profession long ago, this guide will help you compare what you want with what is available.


The smell is a factor anyone has to consider in any job that has to do with painting. Some primer products can lock in scents and odors that have gathered in your walls, especially if it’s drywall. If you stay in places in which there are pets or smokers, a primer that is capable of fighting the smell would be a lifesaver in this situation. In this scenario, you have to be very sure that the odor is coming from the walls and not the carpet because even after using a smell-fighting primer, you would end up still getting the odor from your carpet.

You must also consider the smell which comes with the primer. Using primers as well as paints can be a nasty and smelly process in anyone can undergo. If par adventure you are so sensitive to smell, consider getting a primer that has a low scent or better yet a low-smell formulation. As usual, with pleasure comes extra expenditure so you have to be ready to surpass your budget if it really means that much to you. Sometimes, outdoor primer products do work indoors too but it is mostly stated as an outdoor product because the odor is choking if it is being used indoors.

Be careful also to get the area in which you want to apply wood primers ventilated. Keeping your windows open or moving out of your projects to the outdoor space is a great way in which you can reduce the choking odor primers give when they are being applied.

 Stain Coverage

One of the features which you must look out for in a modern wood primer is the ability to cover or coat stains and dirt on the base material. Paints are made to mask stains and dirt, but cheap paints tend to react differently when up on different types of base materials. Sometimes the stains show through the paint applied since they have different colors compared to that of the paint. Therefore finding a primer that is best at covering up stains by providing a uniform base for the paint you want to make use of is very much important.

You should also know that some dirt and stains don’t really need to be covered up but removed all scrapped entirely. Wood primers can do a lot of things but they cannot repair structural damages done on wood surfaces. If your wall is in any way wet, avoid covering it up with primers or paint because any of these two can lock in the moisture, damaging the wall.

 Drying Time

Knowing how long it takes for your primer to dry is a very reasonable factor one has to consider when buying the best wood primer. Different products have different drying times so when choosing a wood primer, the time it takes for it to dry is totally dependent on the choices you make. Some establishments make primers that they claim are “fast drying”, with a drying time of 30 mins to 1 hour. However, this is not entirely true but within 30 mins to 1 hour, the primer is dry enough to hold the paint but not dry enough. Even the best primers require up to 48 hours to thoroughly dry off.

Types of Primers

There are specifically three types of primers and each primer has its own features, properties, advantages, disadvantages, and use. The information provided below is the general information for each type of primer but descriptions may vary with products.

 Water-Based Primers

If your requirements include a primer that is easy to get out of paintbrushes, then you should consider going for a water-based primer such as latex. These types of primers are safer because they have little or no VOC and since it is water-based, it is easier to clean. They are perfect for brick walls, drywall, softwood, and galvanized metal but one downside about them is that it is not effective in stain covering as the other types of primers.

 Oil-Based Primers

Being the most widely used type of primer, oil-based Primers are okay for almost any type of surface but it is perfect on all wood surfaces. They can help seal pores found on wooden surfaces making the coating easier than normal. These types of primers help stop dirt from seeping through the wood and they can also help prevent the paint from peeling.

 Shellac-Based Primer

Being the third type of primer, it is one of the oldest types of primer and it has existed for centuries. It is the best stain-covering type of primer and it sometimes costs twice more as the rest. It can cover anything from smoke damage to rust to water damage. This form of primer can also seal in scent and odor in the wall. It is best used with either oil-based paint or water-based paint. The only bad side of this type of primer is that it is difficult to use and also clean up.



Start by washing the project with a liquid cleaner so you can remove as much dirt as possible. Dry the surface with a towel. Scrape up as much primer as possible using a paint scraper. Try as much as possible to scrape along the grain of the wood. Get a power sander and sand in the direction of the grain of the wood. Continue sanding until the primer has been sanded away. Remove primers from the wood floor using a floor sander too. Clean up the rest of the debris with a vacuum.


This could take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours but cross-check on the label of primer you are using to know how long that particular product would dry. If the day is humid, it might take longer to dry.


All types of primers can be used on wooden surfaces. The only wood that isn’t suitable is cedarwood because water-based paints do not work well on it.


When sanding wood with a primer on it, you should consider acquiring a finer grit sandpaper eg. Like a 220 grit sandpaper. Also, consider giving orbital sander so you might retain the natural look on the wood.


Wooden surfaces should always be primed before it is being painted. A wooden primer, having high-solid contents, helps fill the holes found on wooden surfaces while creating a smooth coating on the surface. Just like the raw drywall, wooden surfaces tend to soak up paint and this product helps prevent this from happening.


Primers work hand in hand with paint. Or at least they should. When getting a primer for your project, you need to make sure that the one you purchase goes together with the paint you want to make use of. Therefore, make sure your paint is going to blend well with your wood primer. Keep these key points and features in mind when you shop online so you can end up choosing the primer which suits your taste


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Woodworker's Universe
Enable registration in settings - general