A buying guide for the best drywall primers

Generally, drywalls are often very uneven surfaces. Drywall primer is therefore important in creating an even surface that you can apply topcoat over your wall surface. Without it you cannot achieve a smooth paint finish or an aesthetic fabric on your wall surface.

To prime your drywall, you can either brush or roll new primer over it or alternatively, you can use an airless sprayer to apply primer on your wall. Priming a new drywall is not usually a complicated process when you have a proper primer to get it done. Considering the fact that there is a large variety of primers in the market from different manufacturers, you need to understand the important features that contribute to good quality primers which we will review at the end of this article.

To begin, we will look at a few of the best drywall primers and review their properties so that you can pick out the right one for your drywall. Let us summarize them in the table below;

The best drywall primer reviews

Product Image
Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon
KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-Gallon, 1 Gallon (Pack of 1), 4 l
Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart, White
Primer
Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502
KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer
KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer
Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer
Size
Quart
1 Gallon
1 Gallon
1 Quart
Formulation
Acrylic
Exterior/Interior waterbase
Modified acrylic primer
Water based
Product Image
Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
Primer
Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502
Size
Quart
Formulation
Acrylic
Check on Amazon
Product Image
KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon
Primer
KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer
Size
1 Gallon
Formulation
Exterior/Interior waterbase
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Product Image
KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-Gallon, 1 Gallon (Pack of 1), 4 l
Primer
KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer
Size
1 Gallon
Formulation
Modified acrylic primer
Check on Amazon
Product Image
Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart, White
Primer
Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer
Size
1 Quart
Formulation
Water based
Check on Amazon

Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 – Best for both indoor and outdoor projects

Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and provides long-lasting protection
  • Covers up to 120 sq ft and dries to touch in 30 minutes for quick project completion
  • Flat finish minimizes surface imperfections, goes on smoothly and provides excellent base
  • Prior to application sand surfaces with 180/200 grit sandpaper, then wash with a degreaser, allow the surface to dry and apply paint
Rust Oleum wall primer is a formulation that will discourage discolorations and irregularities and provide a smoother and uniform paint finish. The fast-drying primer blocks stains and can be used on different types of surfaces including unglazed ceramic, metal, plaster, masonry, and on bare or painted wood.

Specs

  • Indoor/Outdoor use
  • Fast drying
  • Available in half-pint or Quart
  • Acrylic paint type
  • Flat gray primer color

The primer is a water-based acrylic formulation that is low on odor and resists chipping. The 946ml container will cover up to 120 sq. ft. and in 30minutes it will have dried to touch. Rust Oleum flat gray primer is known to achieve a flat finish a feature that minimizes surface imperfections. The smooth formulation applies easily and will create the perfect base for your project.

Wall preparation is important before using the primer, and for the best final results. Homeowners must, therefore, sand the relevant surfaces with the 180/200 grit sandpaper, then proceed to wash with a degreaser, leave it to dry, and then apply the paint.

Pros

  • Easily cleans with soap and water
  • Is Fast drying
  • Versatile
  • Can be used indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • The primer is shiny
  • Chips when dry

Verdict

For increased durability and adhesion of the finish coat, Rust-Oleum is best used with a high-quality synthetic brush that will hold more paint and proceed to evenly smooth out the brush marks. It is a reliable drywall primer that can be used on different surfaces both inside and outside the house.

Rust-Oleum Corporation Available Rust Oleum 02304 – Best for damaged walls
Rust-Oleum Corporation is a good primer to use on crumbling surfaces. The water-based formula is low on odor and will achieve a clear matte finish once dried up, consequently creating a hard and paintable seal over damaged and drywall. The primer will also suffice when used on chalky surfaces and dry walls with adhesive residues.

Specs

  • Available in 1 and 5 gallons
  • water based
  • Clear finish
  • Seals skim coats and spackling

If your new home has retained the stubborn old wallpaper adhesive then the Rust Oleum 02304 can provide a seamless coat over it, and enable a uniform final topcoat finish. To achieve the perfect finish, homeowners must not over-apply the primer. Rust Oleum Corporation 02304 is also perfect for new drywalls as it will protect them from wallpaper adhesive among other external agents. The primer eliminates bubbles and repairs torn paper on damaged drywall.

Application is easy and fast given the smooth formulation, and the ability of the paint to dry up faster. Once applied it will penetrate the seals and bind the unstable surfaces, it will lock down torn drywall and provide a water-resistant foundation.

Pros

  • Applies easily
  • Provides a smooth finish
  • Best used on damaged walls
  • Offers value for money

Cons

  • Clumps when exposed to cold temperatures
  • The consistency is too thin

Verdict

Rust Oleum 02304 can be applied using a sprayer, a nap roller, or a brush, it is a good primer for damaged and new walls. For the latter, it will provide a protective layer and for the damaged walls, it will repair and seal. Even better is that it applies faster and dries quickly thus saves on time.

KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer– Best for use in high moisture areas

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon
  • This powerful stain-blocking water-base formula seals surfaces, helps to achieve a uniform finish, hides stains and previous colors and offers excellent adhesion to most interior and exterior surfaces.
  • KILZ Premium offer just the right consistency for a smooth and level finish that seals porous surfaces and fills in small imperfections. It features mildewcide protection to prevent mildew and mold.
  • With excellent adhesion for most surfaces, use on interior and exterior drywall, plaster, woodwork, paneling, masonry and brick. Ideal for high-humidity areas including bathrooms and laundry rooms.
  • Use for color changes, to seal light to medium stains and to minimize surface imperfections caused by texture and porosity differences. For heavy stains, please consider KILZ Max primer.
  • This is a 1-gallon can of KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer in white for interior and exterior surfaces. Covers approximately 300-400 square feet per gallon.
Kilz premium high hide stain primer suffices for both interior and exterior use, you can use it to cover stains or on brick and stone structures. The primer has excellent adhesion properties and even better is that it provides a mildew-resistant coating, thus can be used in high moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Kilz premium is highly versatile and you can use it on paneling, plaster, woodwork, drywall, painted metal, brick, and masonry.

Specs

  • Low on VOC
  • Coverage 300-400 sq. ft.
  • Gloss finish
  • Used for color changes

The formulation is sure to block both the medium and heavy stains caused by grease, felt marker, water, ink, or tannin. The formulation has a thick consistency, which makes a good hide formula for the imperfect surfaces, thus good for preparing surfaces to better absorb paint. And while you are not allowed to use the paint on floors, you can certainly use it with water or oil-based paints.

The primer contains zero VOCs, is low on odor, and cleans up easily with soap and water, once applied and dried. Before using the primer the surface should be prepared appropriately, the primer can be used either on top or under latex-based paints.

Pros

  • Prevents mildew and mold
  • Good for indoor and outdoor use
  • Best for high moisture areas
  • Easy to clean up with soap and water

Cons

  • Not good for water stains
  • Has a bad odor

Verdict

Kilz premium interior and exterior latex primer is best for use on dry walls that have uneven surfaces or where the owner wants to change the paint color. The formulation helps achieve a smooth and level finish as it seals porous surfaces and fills the small imperfections.

KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Primer/Sealer – Best for use on the difficult to paint surfaces

KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-Gallon, 1 Gallon (Pack of 1), 4 l
  • A good bonding primer is essential to ensure that topcoats adhere to tough-to-paint surfaces. High adhesion primer increases painting possibilities by bonding to a wide range of surfaces.
  • KILZ Adhesion is a unique latex primer developed to bond securely on slick surfaces where a traditional water or oil-base primer will not adhere. Viscosity - 93 - 100 KU. Roller - Smooth Surface - 3/8 - 1/2 inch nap.Roller - Porous Surface - 1/2 - 3/4 inch nap. Spray Pressure - 2,500 - 3,200. Spray Tip -.015 - .021 inches
  • Bonds to tough-to-paint surfaces including Kynar, PVC, Formica, vinyl, glass, tile, glazed brick, chalky paints, glossy finishes, fiberglass and metals. Topcoat with either latex or oil-based paint.
  • Use on most interior and exterior surfaces where a secure bond is critical. This problem solving primer can be used under epoxies, lacquers, and products containing Xylene or other solvents.
  • This is a 1-gallon can of KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Interior/Exterior water-based Primer in white. Covers approximately 300 square feet per gallon.
kilz adhesion high bonding primer is an advanced chemistry formulation meant to provide a reliable anchor for topcoats. The formulation works to minimize the need for sanding different types of surfaces. Important to note is that if you will be using the primer for lacquers, epoxies, or on products that contain xylene among other hot solvents ensure to give it up to 24 hours before applying a topcoat. Also, test for compatibility in a small inconspicuous place.

Specs

  • Coverage- 300-400 sq. ft.
  • 128 fluid ounces
  • 30 minutes drying time
  • oil paint type

Kilz primer is best used on drywalls that the traditional water or oil-based primer will not adhere to. The primer can, therefore, be used on chalky paints, Formica, vinyl, tiles, PVC, metals, dry wall, and fiberglass. Before use, the surface must be prepared by removing dust, grease, chalk, peeling paint, rust, and mold. The application can be done using the paint sprayer, a roller, or a brush, the formulation dries in as little as 30 minutes and you can apply another coat in one hour.

Pros

  • No need to sand the walls
  • Can be used on a variety of surfaces
  • Dries up fast
  • Applies easily

Cons

  • Must be used with a powerful paint sprayer
  • Does not adhere to tile

Verdict

If you are looking for a primer to use on tough surfaces then the Kilz adhesion high bonding primer will suffice. The primer is versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces including walls with peeling paint, and the best thing about it is that it dries up faster.

Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer– Best rust inhibitor primer

Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart, White
  • Interior/exterior use on new or previously painted drywall, concrete, wood, masonry, metal and glossy or difficult surfaces
  • Water-based formula seals uniformly and will stick to surface without sanding
  • Dries to the touch in 35 minutes, ready to topcoat in 1 hour and covers up between 87-112 sq. ft. per quart
  • Has excellent stain blocking resistance and can be used with any oil or latex topcoat
  • One coat hide saves time and money by improving hide and coverage of topcoats
The Rust-Oleum primer formulation is best used on high PH surfaces such as new concrete. It has been formulated for both indoor and outdoor use and given that it is a water-based primer you can be sure it will resist peeling, blistering, or mildew growth. The primer can only suffice for the small projects given that it only covers 100 sq. ft.

Specs

  • Coverage- 100sq. ft.
  • Size 1 quart
  • Low temp application 35F
  • Dries in 1 hour

The water based formulation is known to adhere to all kinds of surfaces, obliterating the need for sanding, and cleans easily with soap and water once applied. Rust Oleum 2004 seals uniformly and can be used on surfaces that have stains. Once applied the primer will take up to 1 hour to completely dry up, after which you can use it with any topcoat.

Pros

  • Adheres to all surfaces without sanding
  • Perfect for high PH surfaces
  • Good for both interior and exterior application
  • Can be cleaned easily with soap and water

Cons

  • The primer chips
  • Has a high price tag

Verdict

Rust Oleum offers a Flatt or matte type of finish and can be used on all types of surfaces. The primer can be used without sanding and will work best when used on dry walls that have metal parts given it has incorporated the rust inhibitor. The water formula is additionally resistant to mildew growth, and it will neither blister nor peel.

What should you consider while purchasing a drywall primer?

Once you already understand what you need your primer for; either for a new dry wall or to fix a torn or damaged drywall, you need to take into consideration a few characteristics that should inform your decision towards the primer you settle for. The following features should guide your quest for the best drywall primer;

The purpose of the primer

Generally, there are two types of primers; the all-purpose and the specialized ones. The all-purpose ones can be used in any type of wall surfaces but the specialized ones can only be used on specific types of wall surfaces as specified by the manufacturer.

To understand this, you need to be well-versant with the type of wall surface in your house, office or wherever you would like to paint so that you are able to pick out the right primer for the job.

The amount of primer you would need to cover your drywall

The quantity of primer that you would require to use is often informed by what you intend to use the primer for. If you are repairing sections on your drywall then you would need a small amount therefore you would probably purchase about one can. When you are painting a new wall on the other hand, you would need a larger quantity therefore would need to purchase multiple cans to satisfy the job.

The color of the primer

Primers come in different colors that often play a role in determining the boldness and perfect finishing of your wall surface after your have painted it. Most primers are white in color but there are some which come with neutral colors such as grey.

You need to pick out a primer color which matches the paint color that you intend to put on your wall to avoid a clash in colors.

The ability of the primer to resist moisture and stains.

Primers coat the surface of your wall so that the paint you choose can blend in and have a smooth finish. If you are working on the drywall in your kitchen or bathroom, the primer you choose should be resistant to moisture otherwise your painting job will have gone to waste.

Additionally, to get a smooth and aesthetically pleasing finish, you need to pick out a stain resistant primer. This is important to avoid discoloring your wall before painting. Also, it reduces stained patches on your wall after you have finished painting.

The stickiness and odor of the primer

Drywall primer needs to be sticky because it is what hold together paint when it is applied on the surface of your wall. If it comes off easily, it will form streaks once you are done painting or your paint will peel off really fast.

So, when you buying drywall primer, the best ones are the ones that have high sticking properties which you can consult with whoever is selling it to you or sometimes it can be indicated in the product description part of your primer.

Additionally, some primers come with a bad odor which you should avoid if you or anyone around you has allergies or sensitivities. However, if you are unable to find an odorless primer, it shouldn’t be a problem because the smell goes away as it slowly dries out.

Final thoughts

The only way to achieve a smooth and aesthetically pleasing painted wall, is by making use of the correct and high quality primer. Before purchasing and using a drywall primer, you should ensure to research on its properties, functions and outcomes to make your work easier.

Bruce Marcus

Bruce Marcus, an expert at Home Improvement, has been working in this field for years. He works closely with different homeowners and helps them chose the best flooring for their houses. The expert believes that carpeting a home is one of the best choices that any homeowner can make. According to him, this option not only makes your home look classy but also keeps it warm and cozy. Marcus has been equipping homeowners with useful tips regarding how to get the right carpet for your home. He hopes that this information can help you make an educated decision when choosing a carpet.

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