Best Exterior Wood Primer in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

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If you are doing painting inside or outside a quality primer will greatly enhance the end product. Certain primers are better at handling exterior conditions though and this is certainly true for wood. It is essential to use primers for exterior wood if you want your paint job to be successful. 

Primers can come in various types including acrylic, acrylic/latex, or alkyd-based and regardless of the type a good primer will encourage the paint to better adhere to the surface. Another feature of a quality primer is its ability to allow the topcoat to become moisture resistant. 

If you are not a regular painter then you may not have a deeper understanding of the primer features that would be best suited to exterior wood. We have found the top exterior wood primers that will help you decide which option will best suit your needs and give you the best chance at exterior wood primer and painting success.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart, White 1. Rust-Oleum Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer
  • Good coverage and protection
  • Great for use on multiple surfaces including wood
  • Quick drying
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Rust-Oleum Brush On Paint 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex, Flat Gray Primer, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1) 2. Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex
  • Easy to apply
  • Seals wood well
  • Long lasting
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KILZ PREM PRIMER GAL 3. KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Easy to use
  • Low odor
  • A little goes a long way
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1 gal Zinsser 00901 White Zinsser, B-I-N Shellac Base Interior/Exterior Primer/Sealer 4. Rust-Oleum 1 gal Zinsser 00901 – Best For Bare and Painted Wood
  • Incredible bond
  • Allows for good paint adherence
  • Ideal for exterior wood
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KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon, 1 Gallon 5. KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Excellent stain and odor remover
  • Strong and durable primer
  • Goes on easily and quickly
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Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart, White

Specification

Paint Type:Water Based, Acrylic
Surface Recommendation:Tile, Metal
Unit Count:100 sq ft
Color:White

Features

  • Interior/exterior use on new or previously painted areas
  • Can be used on a variety of surfaces: drywall, concrete, wood, masonry, metal and glossy or difficult surfaces
  • Water-based formula seals uniformly
  • Stick to surface without sanding
  • Dries to the touch in 35 minutes
  • Ready to topcoat in 1 hour 
  • Covers up between 87-112 sq. ft. per quart
  • Excellent stain blocking resistance 
  • Can be used with any oil or latex topcoat
  • One coat hide saves time and money by improving hide and coverage of topcoats

Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 Primer is an all purpose, high-performance primer for interior and exterior residential, commercial and industrial applications. Use under or over any paint to improve hide, coverage and get the right color in less coats. Blocks tough stains and seals smelly odors. Primer creates a flat/matte bright white finish.

WHAT WE LIKE

This primer offers good coverage as well as good protection. It is easy to apply to exterior wooden surfaces and works best if you prepare your wood properly before priming by sanding. It is great for use on multiple surfaces including wood. Dries fairly quickly after application to allow you to continue with your topcoat quickly. Allows paint to adhere very well to the wood after application and drying.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

Sometimes it takes a few more coats to achieve the desired effect which can be a bit frustrating. Packaging is not always ideal and this primer often arrives damaged and leaking. The product is fairly thick so it takes some technique to apply the primer correctly to achieve the best results.

PROS

  • Good coverage and protection
  • Great for use on multiple surfaces including wood
  • Quick drying 
  • Allows for good paint adherence  

CONS

  • Requires multiple coats
  • Poor packaging
  • Fairly thick product
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Rust-Oleum Brush On Paint 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex, Flat Gray Primer, 32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

Specification

Paint Type:Acrylic
Surface Recommendation:Wood, Ceramic, Metal
Unit Count:120 sq ft
Color: Flat Gray Primer

Features

  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project 
  • Good for use on surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic
  • Water-based acrylic formula 
  • Low odor
  • Resist chips 
  • Provides long-lasting protection
  • Covers up to 120 sq ft 
  • Dries to touch in 30 minutes
  • Flat finish minimizes surface imperfections
  • Goes on smoothly and provides excellent base
  • Indoor/Outdoor durability
  • Increases adhesion and durability of finish coat

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Multi-Purpose Brush-On Paint provides a smooth, durable finish on interior and exterior items. Projects take less time with a quick drying formula and excellent hide. Paint resists chipping and fading on a variety of surfaces. It blocks stains, discolorations and irregularities for a smoother, more uniform paint finish.

WHAT WE LIKE

The first coat looks like you’ve used a glaze rather than a paint primer, so don’t be surprised if you have to use 2-4 thin coats. It seals the wood amazingly well and also lasts through heavy traffic.With this product there is next to no odor, and it rolls on very nicely.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

The color that is ordered is often not the same that is received. Most colors look slightly different to what is advertised. You cannot use thicker coats as it affects the overall finish which can add time to completing your project.

PROS

  • Easy to apply
  • Seals wood well
  • Long lasting
  • No odor

CONS

  • Color may be different to what was ordered 
  • Cannot do thick coats
  • May take longer time to complete
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KILZ PREM PRIMER GAL

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KILZ PREM PRIMER GAL

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KILZ PREM PRIMER GAL

Specification

Paint Type:Watercolor
Surface Recommendation:Drywall, Wall
Unit Count:1.0 Count
Color: White

Features

  • Very low VOCs
  • Low odor 
  • Easy clean
  • Use on interior and exterior 
  • Apply on multiple surfaces: drywall, plaster, woodwork, paneling, masonry and brick
  • Mildew-resistant finish
  • Block light to medium stains
  • Dries quickly —recoat in 1 hour.

Kilz Premium white water-based primer and sealer is ideal for all surfaces. KILZ Premium is just the right consistency to provide a smooth and level finish that will seal porous surfaces and fill in small imperfections.

WHAT WE LIKE

KILZ latex primer is a water-based paint that covers easily and dries evenly and quickly. It dries a flat/matte bright white color and it is easy to use. It is low odor and works fantastically on exterior wood. A little goes a long way and it is extremely useful when refreshing areas. It serves well as a primer, sealer or stain blocker. It is a good overall protective paint.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

This primer tends to “glob up” rather easily, the overlap points tend to get a bit lumpy and rough. Works well as a primer, but it’s not very adhesive unless you have a perfect surface. Requires multiple coats for full effect .

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Low odor
  • A little goes a long way
  • Excellent wood primer

CONS

  • Tends to glob up in overlap areas
  • Not very adhesive 
  • Multiple coats are needed

4. Rust-Oleum 1 gal Zinsser 00901 – Best For Bare and Painted Wood

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1 gal Zinsser 00901 White Zinsser, B-I-N Shellac Base Interior/Exterior Primer/Sealer

Specification

Paint Type:Oil
Surface Recommendation:Wood
Unit Count:1.0 Count
Color: White

Features

  • For interior and spot exterior use
  • Greatest stain sealer
  • Seals pet, smoke and musty odors
  • Sticks to all surfaces without sanding
  • Manufactured in United States

Looking for a “silver bullet” primer that covers everything unwanted? Use the one contractors keep in their vans: Rust-Oleum Zinsser B-I-N Primer. As the original, shellac-base primer-sealer, nothing is better at permanently blocking stains, odors and wood knots.

WHAT WE LIKE

The bond is incredible for this primer. It has a reliable formula, and this shellac-based primer will basically allow any paint to stick to your project. It is ideal for use on exterior wood and this primer dries quickly and yields consistent results. One gallon goes a long way too.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

This primer is very watery and takes some care to lay down a nice finish. It does have an odor so ventilation is recommended. It is also a higher priced option which may not suit all budgets.

PROS

  • Incredible bond
  • Allows for good paint adherence
  • Ideal for exterior wood
  • Dries quickly with consistent results

CONS

  • Very watery
  • Strong odor
  • High price 
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KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon, 1 Gallon

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KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon, 1 Gallon

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KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon, 1 Gallon

Specification

Paint Type:Water based
Surface Recommendation:Drywall
Unit Count:300-400 sq. ft.
Color: White

Features

  • Water-base primer, sealer and stain blocker
  • Tackles tough stains
  • Seals strong odors
  • Use on multiple surfaces: drywall, woodwork, plaster, masonry, brick, painted metal, ceramic tile, glass and most other glossy surfaces
  • Low odor
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-combustible
  • Dry to the touch in 30 minutes, recoat in 1 hour
  • Offers superior adhesion
  • Cleans up easily with soap and water

KILZ Restoration is a water-base primer, sealer, stain and odor blocker developed with new technology that’s formulated to perform like oil-and shellac-based products. KILZ Restoration tackles tough stains from water damage, rust, smoke, nicotine, grease, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker, pet stains and more while also sealing pet and smoke odors.

WHAT WE LIKE

This stuff is absolutely amazing.It helps transform the most disgusting, stained walls into something beautiful and odor-free. It also kills mildew and mold in the bathrooms. This primer provides a very strong, durable layer that will cover almost anything. Goes on easily and quickly with the least amount of mess for a not so thick paint.

WHAT WE DONT LIKE

This product has a strong odor which can be a struggle for some people to handle. Ventilation when using this product is a must. Packaging of this product is not always ideal and often arrives damaged which causes leaks. Multiple coats are usually required before it works.

PROS

  • Excellent stain and odor remover
  • Strong and durable primer
  • Goes on easily and quickly
  • Kills mildew and mold in humid areas

CONS

  • Very strong odor
  • Bad packaging
  • Multiple coats  

Buyer’s Guide 

There are a number of considerations before you purchase an exterior wood primer and often knowing what to look for can really short cut your decision making process. We have covered the top 5 exterior wood primers above but let is at look at what should you be looking for when you looking for an exterior primer:

1. Oil-Based vs. Water-Based

Certain primers are oil-based and others are water-based. This is an important consideration when you look at what surface you want to use the primer on, whether it will be interior or exterior and also what paint you plan on using after priming. Oil-based primers are often better for stain blocking and are usually quite effective on wood, windows and metal. Water-based are generally more versatile and are often better suited to new applications on surfaces like walls and ceilings. 

2. How Much To Get?

It is important to look at the area you need to cover with the primer to consider how much to get. In addition to the area coverage also consider the number of coats that may be required for the desired effect. 

3. Interior Vs. Exterior

Certain primers are better suited for interior uses and will not handle various weather conditions or general rougher wear and tear well. It is important to get an exterior primer that will be able to handle the environment or you will be redoing the project again soon after. 

4. Special Features

Many primers come with added special features including odor blocking and stain blocking features which can really rejuvenate an area. Primers can have additional features that can really add to the finishing of a project so check out what your primer is capable of. 

5. Odor

Some primers have extremely strong smells and will often need a large amount of ventilation in order to manage the odor. With odors in primers this usually indicates higher VOCs which are harmful for your health. This is an important factor to look into. 

6. Constituent Ingredients

In addition to harmful VOCs there can also be additional toxic constituent ingredients which can be dangerous for your and your families health. Lower priced primers are often full of these types of ingredients so it is important to look carefully at the ingredients before choosing a primer. 

7. The Drying Time

In general a quicker drying time will mean you get to complete your project a lot quicker. Some primers can dry in as little as 30 minutes which is very useful to ensure you are not spending unnecessary time on the priming part of your painting. 

Conclusion

With all these great exterior wood primer options you may be confused as to which is the best option. We have to go with the Rust-Oleum Zinsser 02004 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer as the best choice as it really performs well for the exterior wood application. This water-based primer is useful on both external and interior applications. Additionally it works very well on a range of surfaces including wood. It seals uniformly and doesn’t even require sanding before use to be truly effective. Has a great stain blocking ability and is fast drying within 35 minutes for easy and effective use. Overall it is a top performing exterior wood primer that will make your projects so much quicker and easier. 

Other Recommendations:

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