10 Best Exterior Wood Primers- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Image wood coated with Best Exterior Wood Primers

The good thing about the best exterior wood primers is that it provides more than just a stable foundation for paint layers. It also protects the underneath surface of the wood. You will find that most of the wood primers contain stain blockers or mildewcide chemicals. 

Most people find it wrong when shopping for the best exterior wood primers, well, it never an easy task anyways. It calls for a lot of research so that you can settle for the best primer formula for your projects. 

Fortunately, you have us. We have used our experience and tested some of the best products you can find on the market today.

Here’s our list of the Best Exterior Wood Primers:

1.KILZ General Purpose Exterior Latex Primer (58001)

This primer makes the top of our list because you can use it on almost all exterior surfaces. Honestly speaking, it is not great for stain blocking, flooring, or glossy surfaces. However, it does wonders on wood, stucco, brick, and masonry. 

This formula dries so fast, making it easy for you to save on time. It is an excellent sealant of porous surfaces and comes with high adhesion. Following the application, this product takes just about 30 minutes to dry to touch. You can add topcoat in one hour. A single gallon can cover an area of up to 400 square feet. Additionally, it has no odor that can affect you while working.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s a fast-drying primer best for outdoor usage
  • KILZ General Purpose Primer does great in sealing porous wood surfaces.
  • Great for almost all exterior surfaces.
  • Not suitable for glossy surfaces, flooring, etc.
  • You can roll, spray, brush and apply the topcoat in just an hour
  • Area coverage of 300-400 square feet per gallon.


  • It contains no harsh odor
  • Great sealant
  • Dries faster-within 30 minutes


  • It’s poor for stain blocking, flooring, and even glossy surfaces
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2.Rust-Oleum 286258 Primer

We might not have listed as the first on our list, but it remains as one of the best exterior wood primers. If you are looking for value, then you have it in this formula.

This formula works as both an exterior and an interior primer. It’s a versatile product with the ability to block heavy stains. It can go over any oil- or latex-covered surface without ant problems. With this primer, no leakages occur when you do your paintwork as it entirely prime over vibrant or bright colors. It cures into a smooth and professional finish.

One drawback of this product is that it can start chipping sooner than you’d expect. Despite that, it’s still the best exterior wood primer for the money.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s for interior/Exterior use on new or originally painted drywall, wood, concrete, masonry, metal, and hard surfaces
  • The formula is a water-based formula that seals evenly and adheres to surfaces without sanding
  • It takes 30 minutes to dry to the touch, ready to recoat in about 1 hour with a coverage of up to 100 sq. Ft.
  • This formula comes with an excellent stain blocking and is usable over oil or latex topcoat
  • Available in a gray color that does so well under vibrant, vivid colors


  • It can cover vibrant and bright colors
  • Great for heavy stains


  • Does chip easily
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3.KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon

KILZ is a gift that keeps giving, and with this fantastic product, you get one of the best exterior wood primers for your projects. This formula cures into a super-smooth surface that is ready for painting. It does an excellent job with the filling of porous wood surfaces. It does not raise the grain of the wood, which is why it makes the right choice for softwoods.

KILZ Premium High-Hide is a better option compared to most water-based primers when it comes to hiding stains. It has mildewcide other than it being similar to many of the other water-based primers. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s a powerful stain-blocking water-based formula
  • KILZ Premium offers your wood a consistency for a smooth and level finish
  • It comes with excellent adhesion for a wide range of surfaces from exterior drywall, wood kitchen cabinets, plaster, paneling, masonry, and brick. 
  • It’s the perfect primer for high-humidity areas like bathrooms 
  • The formula does well in color changes especially when it comes to sealing light to medium stains
  • A gallon can of KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer covers approximately 300-400 square feet.


  • This product is perfect for areas with constant moisture
  • Contains no VOCs
  • Offers protection from mildew and mold
  • Interior and exterior


  • A bit expensive
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4. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer, White

What makes it among the best exterior wood primers is its versatility. It does an excellent job A on old, damaged and new wood. This formula stops fresh bleeding paint on top of offering a smooth finish. 

As a latex primer, its water-like consistency and texture allow it to blend effortlessly with almost all types of wood coatings. It has a faster drying time of about 30 minutes. 

This formula has a wide range of usage from wood, metals, and fiberglass. You will discover that this primer can adhere to many surfaces because of its water-like consistency. It performs better than most oil primers that cannot comply with all kinds of surfaces because of thick consistency.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It makes an excellent bonding primer for topcoats and tough-to-paint surfaces. 
  • This formula does an excellent job on both interior and exterior wood surfaces.
  • A gallon can of KILZ Adhesion covers up to 300 square feet.


  • This product adheres perfectly to tough surfaces such as textured cabinets.
  • It blocks stains.
  • This formula seals porous surfaces.
  • It prevents mildew from growing on the topcoat.


  • It’s poor with spray-painting
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5. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer, 1-Gallon, White

Even though this product is a shellac-based primer, it remains perfect if you are looking to hide hard and robust stains.

As a shellac-based primer, this product does excellently on severe water and smoke damages. It has the right consistency with high efficiency that can block smell from smoke damages present on wooden surfaces. 

This product is quite versatile and can work on many surfaces, including metals and glass surfaces. It can resist both rust tannin, among other stains. 

This formula has no harsh volatile compounds which make great for the interior surface as well, it is durable and can serve you for a very long time.

The Summary of Top Surface

  • It’s a shellac-based primer-sealer
  • For both interior and spot exterior use
  • Arguably the most exceptional stain sealer
  • It seals pet, smoke as well as musty odors
  • The product adheres to all surfaces without sanding


  • Needs no additional sanding or polishing
  • It can seal hard and strong stains
  • Capable of resisting rust and bleeding from a fresh paint
  • Durable product


  • Complaints about the runny nature of the product
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6. Krylon ColorMaster Paint + Primer

We couldn’t fail to include this product, Krylon, in our list of best exterior wood primers. This formula gives us a two-in-one service that performs well on wooden surfaces. Considering that it’s a primer and paint, this formula comes with powerful adhesive properties. 

It further enhances the color vividness and the quality of paint on your wooden structures. The product comes with smoothing effects, which makes it perfect for uneven surfaces.

Its application is by spraying, making it faster and easy to apply. Above all, this product takes only 10 minutes to dry.

The Summary of Top Features

  • Increases the adhesion of the paint
  • Helps achieve the actual color of the paint 
  • Make smooth uneven surfaces


  • Has a smoothing effect
  • It takes just about 10 minutes to dry


  • Does not dry into a very clear finish
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7. INSL-X Prime Lock Plus Alkyd Primer

If you are looking for the best exterior wood primer with oil-based properties, then the INSL-X Prime Lock Plus Alkyd primer is the answer. It is one of the most effective primers you will find on the market. This product has a faster drying time, which allows you to add the second coat within one hour. 

With multiple coats, this product does an excellent job of blocking stains coupled with an impressive area of coverage per gallon. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • This product dries faster and is a multi-purpose Alkyd-based coating that primes and seals a variety of surfaces
  • It seals all sort of stains from water, smoke damage, and more
  • Has a superior adhesion to glossy surfaces
  • It has a coverage of 300 – 350 square foot per gallon
  • Not recommended for application at temperatures below 45 °F (7.2 °C)


  • Adheres properly to glossy surfaces
  • Can seals stains from water and smoke damage
  • Comes with a fast-drying property, recoat in one hour


  • It’s expensive
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8. KILZ 2 Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1-gallon

If you are in search of the best exterior wood primers, then you need to consider this product. It takes just about 30 minutes to dry to touch. In another hour, this formula becomes ready to receive another coat. It provides a strong foundation for paint adhesion besides blocking the stains.

You can use this primer on exterior wood surfaces, new drywall, metal, plastic, paneling, masonry, as well as brick. After drying, you will notice that this product can help block medium-level stains; it further hides previous paint colors. Additionally, this formula comes with a mildew-resistant component that prevents the growth of molds and mildew. 

Finally, this product comes with a vast area of coverage of about 300-400 square feet per gallon for both interior and an exterior surface.

The Summary of Top Features

  • A primer with an exceptional level of adhesion
  • KILZ 2 Latex can block mild to medium staining from water, grease, etc
  • It’s both for interior/exterior surfaces including wood, brick, painted metal and so much more
  • A gallon can cover up to 300-400 square feet
  • KILZ 2 dries to touch within 30 minutes and ready to recoat in an hour


  • Faster drying
  • Both interior and exterior usage
  • Can block stains
  • Has a broader area of coverage
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 9. KILZ L220101 KLEAR Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer

This product forms a strong bond and seals the exterior and interior surfaces. It is applicable on several surfaces like wood, plaster, aluminum, and so much more.

This formula has a bright finish and helps prepare the surface for repainting with a color similar to the original one. It does a great job when it comes to sealing of porous surfaces providing a strong foundation for adhesion with the paint applied over it. Once applied, you only need an hour to add another coat over this primer. It’s easy to clean with just water and soap.

A gallon can cover up to 300-400 square feet.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s a high-performance clear primer that bonds and seals porous and chalky interior and exterior surfaces 
  • KILZ Klear primer resists alkali, and it’s a sealer as well. 
  • Easy to clean with soap and water 
  • Faster drying time, making it ready for recoat in 1 hour.
  • A gallon has a coverage area of 300 to 400 square feet.
  • Application Temperature of 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit


  • Faster drying
  • Wide area of coverage per gallon
  • Easy to clean
  • It’s both a primer and a sealer


  • The product is very thing according to some users
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10. Zinsser Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer Sealer

Zinsser Oil Primer Cover Stain remains as one of the best exterior wood primers. It prepares a wood surface for painting due to its ability to inhibit heavy stains as well as preventing tannin and seeping from wood.

The product stops bleeding from block cedar and rosewood and does not require sanding to stick to a wood surface. It can seal smoke, water stains, and even nicotine.

The Summary of Top Features

  • An n Oil-based stain killer primer/sealer
  • Adheres easily to the interior and exterior surfaces and sands easily
  • Best for new exterior construction, remodeling, repainting work 
  • It takes a short time to dry
  • This product is perfect for exterior surfaces due to its full penetration and is flexible on surfaces


  • It’s great for interior and exterior use.
  • It adheres to any topcoat
  • You have the flexibility of sanding the excess primer
  • Usable on latex paints
  • Perfect when priming raw wood for ultimate protection.


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Best Exterior Wood Primers Buyer’s Guide

You must understand your projects correctly before going to shop for the best exterior wood primers. The outer environment is notably the most delicate one due to direct exposure to environmental conditions. Here are some of the factors that you need to consider as you prepare your wooden project for the harsh conditions.

The Age of Your Wood

You must understand the extent to which your wood is worn before rushing to buy any primer available out there. Different primers work well for different woods based on factors such as age and many others. If you are not sure about this, then we recommend that you use a primer that does well in all woods. 

Are You Painting Your Wood For The First Time?

It’s another critical aspect that needs to be among the first that you consider. Woods that have had their surfaces primed before would require different primers from the ones that are getting primed for the first time.

How Do You Want Your Final Finish?

Before going to shop for a primer, you must visualize how you’d love to see your final finish. These are primers that do well to give a matte finish; others do provide a shiny appearance.

Impact on the Environment

Human activity has recently caused the environment a lot of damage. The little things that we do in our homestead are easy to assume. Yet, they could have significant negative impacts on the environment. Therefore, we encourage that as you go shopping for your best exterior wood primers, try and settle for the ones that are eco friendly. In that way, you will be doing justices to yourself as well as the environment.

Time Frame On The Project

Not all primers that you shall find in the market today take a short time to dry. If you are working on a short timeline, for example, we encourage that you go for those wood primers that would dry faster in less than one hour or so. Such primers help speed up your job, hence helps in time-saving.


Primers are significant parts of painting projects. If you are working on exterior projects, you must always remain keen to ensure that you get the best exterior wood primers for your different projects. 

The outdoor environment is quite different from the interior ones due to different prevailing conditions. It is, therefore, crucial that you get it right with your primer choice so that you can provide your wood with added protection from things like rains and even sunlight.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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