Top 10 Best Paint Primers of 2020 – Reviews

Everyone who’s familiar with painting knows the purpose of paint primer. It’s an undercoat that protects the material being painted, improves adhesion of the paint and makes it more durable as well. All good reasons for the painter to choose the best paint primer possible. It is, after all, the foundation of a good painting job, in just about every sense. In today’s world, however, it’s not always easy to find the best brand possible and that’s why I’ve decided to do the legwork for you and find the ten best paint primer brands possible and present them in the following list. Hopefully, the following products will be the beginning of a great painting job.

Best Paint Primers – Top List

10. Kilz Complete High-Adhesion 1-Gallon

This oil-based primer not only prepares interior and exterior walls for painting but also acts as a blocking agent for severe stains and a sealer as well. It provides high-adhesion to just about any surface, which makes it a useful tool for covering up bleeding stains such as smoke, graffiti, and water stains. It can be used on plaster, stucco, masonry, and brick and can even be used on aged wood. When this product dries, it creates a mildew resistant film that can be used underneath either oil or latex-based paints. Although it’s not recommended for flooring, it can be used on a variety of walls and goes on smoothly with a roller, sprayer or a brush.


9. Insl-X Stix Bonding SXA11099-1 Gallon

With the ability to bond to just about any surface, this American made product has found a home in many painter’s arsenals of supplies. That’s because it comes in one-gallon cans, it goes on smoothly and leaves a quality durable layer that can be painted over easily. It also dries quickly and can be used on wood, polyurethane, fiberglass and many other surfaces. It’s a low-odor, low-VOC product that bonds to hard-to-paint surfaces and dries within 30-minutes and is able to be re-coated in approximately 4-hours. And since it covers around 300-400 square feet per gallon, it’s good for a number of different projects.


8. XIM Sealer Primer Bonder-31 Ounces

Designed to cover even tough to paint surfaces, this solvent-based primer provides high-quality adhesion without the user having to sand clean and dull surfaces. It can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications and can be used on fiberglass, plastic, glass, Formica, many metals and plastics and tile. It can also be used with alkyd or latex topcoats and is formulated so it meets all State and Federal VOC requirements in the U.S. While it’s not recommended for use with lacquers, urethane or some epoxies, it can be used with a variety of other paints.


7. Zinsser Bullseye 1 2 3 All-Purpose-13 Ounces

This 13-ounce all-purpose spray-on primer can be used for a wide variety of surfaces, can be painted over with just about any paint and can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. It can be used on wood, drywall, brick, stucco, and even concrete. Made in the U.S.A, this product is easy to use and is ideal for spot priming or for smaller-size projects. This spray-can features a high-output spray button that’s easy to depress, won’t fatigue the user’s hand during use and can be sprayed from any angle.


6. Kilz Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocker-1 Quart

This oil-based product is designed to cover up existing stains and to cover up lingering odors. It can be used on most stains including grease, smoke, and tannin stains, and will effectively seal out smoke and pet odors, too. This product can be used to prime a variety of different surfaces including drywall, paneling, plaster, wallpaper, masonry and even brick and provides a smooth even coat. It will dry in approximately 30-minutes and can have an additional coat applied to it after an hour. This product can be applied using a roller, sprayer or a paint brush.


5. Kilz Adhesion High-Bonding-1 Gallon

This product can be used on a variety of tough to paint surfaces to ensure that paint will adhere to the surface. Some of the surfaces it will prime include PVC, vinyl, glass, Kynar, brick (even glazed brick), fiberglass and metals. This latex primer is especially useful on slick surfaces that can be covered with oil-based or water-based products. Once applied, it will redry in about 30-minutes and will be ready to be recoated in about an hour. It can be applied using a roller, brush or sprayer and can be used under lacquers and epoxies as well as oil-based or latex paints.


4. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based Stain Blocker-1 Quart

This shellac-based primer can be used for both indoor and outdoor spot applications and can be used on virtually any surface. It can be applied to drywall, stucco, masonry, brick, tile or any other surface that the individual intends on painting. It’s manufactured in the U.S, dries in 45-minutes and can even be used to seal knots in wood surfaces. When applied, it will also block stains including grease and crayon stains and seal out odors such as cigarette smoke or pet odors. All things considered, this product is ideal for a number of jobs and is quite easy-to-use.


3. Zinsser Interior/Exterior Sealer-1 Quart

This American-made primer is designed to be a high-hide formula that can cover most stains including nicotine stains, water, and smoke stains, and provide a stable base surface for paint. It’s also a good product for using on new construction or for priming small projects. When this product is applied to a surface, it dries quickly and provides a nice undercoat for oil, water-based or latex paints. It can be used for both interior and exterior surfaces and is easy-to-sand once it’s dry. No matter if its used as a primer, stain blocker or sealer, it’s a product that’s sure to be useful to any painter.


2. Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 White-1 Quart

Covering approximately 100-square feet per quart, this high-quality primer can be used on any number of different surfaces including plastic, wood, tile, glass, metal, and concrete. It can be coated on high pH surfaces and will not only resist peeling and blistering but will also resist mildew growth. And when it’s applied to metal, it acts as a rust inhibitor. This makes this product suitable for interior and exterior applications and can be used for just about any job. As longs as it’s applied to a clean surface, no sanding is required either before applying this product.


1. Kilz Max Stain & Odor Blocking-1 Gallon

This water-based primer is made in the U.S and is designed to not only prime surfaces for painting but to also act as a sealer, stain and odor blocker as well. It does this thanks to its formulation which enables it to act like an oil-based product instead of a water-based one. This means that this product can be used to cover stains from nicotine, smoke, water damage, tannin, ink, felt markers, crayons, grease and rust, all while sealing out smoke and pet odors. This product can be applied to masonry, drywall, plaster, brick, painted metal, glass and ceramic tile and will cover approximately 300 to 400 square-feet per gallon.


More Recommendations From Amazon

Paint Primer Guide

When it comes to readying your walls or other surfaces for paint, a primer makes life a lot easier. Not only does it help to smooth the surface but it can protect the paint itself when it is on. The problem is, not all of them are so effective and the bad ones are borderline pointless.

This is why it is important to read up on what a good product should offer. The following paint primer guide is designed to help you make a sensible and informed decision.

How To Choose The Correct Paint Primer

The first thing to consider is the type of surface you are going to be painting. Because paint primer can be made to be used on certain surfaces, you need to make sure you are getting the right one for your needs.

Some are fine to use on multiple surfaces which is great if you won’t use the whole can but be sure it is fine to use on your chosen surface whether that is wood (and the correct type of wood), drywall, masonry, aluminum, steel, stains, and many others.

What To Look For In A Paint Primer


The greater the coverage the longer it will last so your paint primer can go further. Depending on the job, you might need more than one can of paint primer but the coverage will help you know if this is the case in advance.

Low Odor

The lower the amount of odor a paint primer has the better as it often means fewer chemicals. Always be sure to use them with adequate ventilation and follow the safety guidelines before using them.

Drying Time

Anyone who has used a primer before will know that the wait between primer and paint can be frustrating. This is why you want to use a fast-drying primer so you can continue with the next stage. A lot of the better brands will dry within 20 minutes, sometimes even faster.

Non-Toxic Formula

This is important in homes with young children and pets but also for whoever is applying the primer. The less toxic the ingredients the better.

Scratch Resistant

A paint primer that is scratch resistant is always best as it protects the layer underneath as well as the paint when it is applied. This will ensure the coat looks better for longer.

Spray / Roll Primer

Make sure you know what you are buying by ensuring the paint primer is fine to be used with the tools you have available. A spray primer is designed for use with a spray gun. This will ensure a faster application but extra ventilation is a must because of the particles.

A roll-on primer is the common type, use a roller or brush with these.

All In One Primer

This is where you can get a primer mixed with paint and is a convenient way of getting a job done. These types of products are alweays better when applied to surfaces that have already been painted in the past.

Different Types of Paint Primer

There are three main types of paint primer and some more popular than others.

Oil Based

These contain VOCs but are popular because they can be used on just about any surface. The strong formula means they usually only require a single coat but can be messier to clean off brushes. Always wear a mask when applying this paint primer, even when outside.


These are often chosen because they can be used both indoor and outdoor. They are also good because of their low VOC levels. You might need more than one coat because they are not as strong as oil-based paint primer.


A strong, thick formula that makes it good for containing stains and odors which is why it is often used in bathrooms and kitchens. Often used by professionals and anyone wishing to conceal damage caused by smoke and fire.

When To Use A Primer

A primer is great whenever you are looking to paint a wall but certain circumstances make it a particularly good idea. When a surface hasn’t been painted before, it can help to smooth the area so the paint can go on evenly.

Also, a paint primer is a good idea when protecting the paint from a stain. Because they can bleed and show, you want to do everything you can to prevent them from harming your fresh paint job.

If you find a primer that is close to the finished color you are looking to paint, it can act as a base layer.