8 Best Primer for Bare Wood- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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Primers help enhance the quality of the paint and allow it to adhere perfectly to the wood surfaces. It is not necessarily true that all the wood primers work the same; therefore, they would not give your wooden structures the same service. 

If you are working on bare wood, ensure that you get the best primer for bare wood so that you can give your project the best formula possible. It might not be an easy task for most of the readers to get the best priming products out there. Therefore, we have decided to make your work easier by reviewing some of the best primers that you can find in the market today. The first product on our list is:

      1. Zinsser B-I-N Primer Sealer– Our Best Choice for Bare Wood

It’s a Zinsser product by origin, and the best primer for bare wood by all standards. As much as it is a shellac-based primer, it does the work perfectly. If you are looking to hide heavy stains and amplify the finish on your wooden structure, then this is the product for you.

This shellac-based primer performs excellently on severe water and smoke stains and has a mild consistency with high-efficiency levels. This formula can, to some extent, block smell from smoke damages.

Zinsser B-I-N Primer Sealer can work on surfaces like metals and glasses. It can resist rust, tannin, ink, as well as smoke stains. Furthermore, it is capable of withstanding bleeding from freshly applied paint, giving it a proper sealing.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s a shellac-based primer-sealer that hides stains
  • This product is excellent for interior and spot exterior use
  • It’s arguably the most excellent stain sealer
  • This formula seals pet, smoke and musty smell
  • It sticks to all surfaces without having to sand


  • It’s great for sealing odors
  • You can write on it using dry erase markers
  • It’s for both interior and spot exterior


  • Contains VOCs
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      2. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer            

It is simply the best primer for bare wood. This formula is perfect for old worn out wood as well as the new ones. KILZ Adhesion does more than just stop fresh paint from bleeding; it also offers a smooth finish to the surface of the wood.

It’s a latex primer with a water-like consistency, a property that makes it blend with almost any kind of coating on the surface of the wood. What’s so special about this primer is its ability to dry faster as it takes just about 30 minutes to be ready for another layer.

This product has a wide range of uses as you can apply it on wood, metallic surfaces as well as fiberglass. Not so many primers can adhere to such surfaces. It has impressive coverage of up to 300 square feet per gallon. Generally, this primer is very suitable for regular purposes. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • It’s a high adhesion primer that increases painting abilities on many surfaces
  • It can bond to hard-to-paint surfaces like the Kynar, Formica, PVC, vinyl, glass, glazed brick, tile, etc.
  • You can use this product on most interior and exterior surfaces 
  • It has extensive coverage of about 300 square feet per gallon.
  • It takes KILZ Adhesion about 30 minutes to dry to touch and ready to recoat in an hour.


  • This product adheres well to tough surfaces like textured cabinets.
  • It can block stains.
  • This product seals porous surfaces.
  • It resists the growth of mildew    


  • Not so great when applied through spraying 

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      3. Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer.

It’s arguably the best stain-blocking primer you can find in the market today. This product is water-based with multi-tasking abilities.

Other than stain blocking, this product does so great in the prevention of rust. You could use this product on other surfaces that are not wood like glass or metal. The application of this product is rather easy as you can brush it or spray it. This product comes with a water-based consistency that makes it suitable for almost all textured surfaces and has easy cleaning.

When used on bare wood, it’s water-based viscosity plays an essential role in the growth of fungus. Furthermore, it plays a vital role in the prevention of blisters from forming on the surface of the wood. This product does not need sanding before doing the final finish.

The Summary of Top Features

  • This formula works best on both the interior and exterior applications. 
  • It can stick to most surfaces
  • The product comes with an easy way to clean (soap and water)
  • It can resist mildew growth, blistering and peeling
  • This product has a coverage of 100 sq. Ft. per quart
  • It’s an excellent product for high pH surfaces like new concrete


  • It so good with a stain-blocking
  • Works well high-pH surfaces
  • This formula is great on any kind of paint and most surfaces
  • It does not require sanding for adhesion
  • It’s smooth


  • It’s expensive
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      4. KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer

KILZ Premium is arguably the best primer for bare wood due to its super smooth surface for painting. This product works wonders when it comes to filing imperfections on the surface of an empty wood. 

The ability to fill porous surfaces makes this product the best choice for softwood surfaces. Besides, it does not raise the grain of your wooden structures.

KILZ Premium does better than a good number of water-based primer options, especially at the hiding of stains. Also, if you are looking to do color-changes on your wooden structures, this project is the perfect one due to its excellent adhesion properties.

The Summary of Top Features

  • KILZ Premium gives a surface of bare wood an excellent consistency with a smooth and level finish capable of sealing porous surfaces.
  • It comes with excellent adhesion for most surfaces, and you can use it on both interior and exterior surfaces
  • This product is perfect for color changes
  • It comes with extensive coverage of approximately 300-400 square feet per gallon.


  • It’s perfect for areas that see constant moisture
  • This formula contains no VOCs
  • It comes with protection against mildew and mold
  • It’s for both interior and exterior


  • It’s a bit expensive compared to other similar projects on the market
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      5. Zinsser Cover Stain Sealer (03504)-1 Quart

This primer is an oil-based one with a lustrous finish to the wood surface. Using this product helps in the hiding of rough or patched stains that might be on the surface of the wood. If you decide to use this formula, it will be vital that you sand it to remove the oily consistency, you will notice a pretty polish after sanding. 

Zinsser Cover Stain Sealer dries faster, which is excellent if you need an easy time handling the wood primers. This product adheres easily to the surfaces of wood on both interior or exterior environments. Note that this product does so well on the oil-based paint. This formula comes with a durability that is pretty high for an oil-based formula.

The Summary of Top Features

  • This formula adds an extra shine to your product
  • It’s a high-hiding formula that can block most stains to seal water, smoke and nicotine stains
  • It sticks easily to interior and exterior surfaces 
  • This product does so well on new bare wood, construction, remodeling or repainting projects
  • Has a faster drying


  • It delivers protection against moisture
  • This formula gives a tough and shiny finish
  • Faster dry time
  • It provides a flexible finish


  • It’s flammable
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      6. INSL-X Stix Waterborne 

If you are looking for an acrylic primer for the most challenging situations, then this is the product for you. It is the best primer for bare wood with a firm adherence to smooth and glossy surfaces such as tile. This formula gives your wooden structure an incredible strength and seals against moisture.

This product is both a sealer and a primer; the manufacturer’s label on the can states that this product is not great for wetness or underwater use. It is best for indoor or outdoor use and locks out the humidity that does cause wood rot.

What’s unique about this primer is its ability to work in areas that experience low temperatures like 35 degrees. This product is expensive, which makes it less suitable for large projects.

It takes about 3-4 hours to dry, which is a long time compared to other primers. You must not apply it in direct sunlight. Keep this product away from moisture for at least 24 hours after drying.

The Summary of Top Features

  • It dries to form a tough film with excellent enamel holdout that get ready for a topcoat in 3-4 hours
  • The product has a smooth leveling, resists blistering, cracking, and wrinkling with coverage of about 300 – 400 square feet per gallon for interior or exterior surfaces.
  • This product has low VOC and easy to clean, using soap and water.


  • This formula works well on the glossiest surfaces
  • It’s perfect for locking out moisture
  • Has a low Odor
  • Cures on relatively low temperatures
  • Dries into an extremely hard and tough film


  • It’s expensive
  • This formula takes a little longer to dry 
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      7. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Spray Primer – Top Spray Primer for Wood

Even though it is small in size, this formula is the best primer for bare wood if you prefer the spray option. This formula is bright white, a color that plays an essential role in bringing out the shade of the topcoat. Using this formula helps you to hide stain marks present on the surface.

If you are working on a timeline and looking for a convenient way of doing your small priming projects, then this formula is your perfect companion. You can apply it to bare wood, smooth as well as rough surfaces. This product does not need sanding.

Its coverage is small, that’s why we recommend it for small projects. A single can covers only ten square feet. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • You can use this formula on Interior/Exterior surfaces of bare and previously painted wood, drywall, concrete, masonry, metal and glossy as well as difficult surfaces
  • It’s an oil-based formula that seals uniformly and adheres to the surface without sanding
  • This formula takes about 5 minutes to dry to touch and ready to recoat in 30 minutes 
  • It covers up to 10 sq ft
  • The product comes with an excellent stain blocking resistance and is usable on any oil or latex topcoat
  • It saves time 


  • It’s perfect for small jobs
  • Dries to touch in 5 minutes
  • This formula stick to any texture type
  • It’s a one coat primer


  • Has a small coverage of 10 square feet
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      8. Rust-Oleum Painters Touch 1/2-Pint Latex

We have this product listed as the best primer for bare wood because of its versatility. You can use it on a variety of surfaces on both the interior and exterior projects. This formula does an excellent job on the surfaces of wood, plaster, unglazed ceramic, as well as metals.

It is a fast-drying formula that makes it great for projects that need faster completion. Before applying this product, you must prepare your working surface using a degreaser and sandpaper; this way, you will be creating a base coat that improves adhesion of paints that go over this particular surface.

This formula has an area of coverage of about 30-square feet and dries to touch in about one hour. 

The Summary of Top Features

  • This formula is perfect for indoor and outdoor projects such as wood, metal, plaster, etc.
  • It is a water-based acrylic formula with low odor, does not chip, and is durable.
  • You get coverage of up to 30 sq ft that dries to touch in 30 minutes using this formula
  • It gives you a flat finish that reduces surface imperfections.
  • You need to sand with a 180/200 grit sandpaper, then degrease before applying
  • Great for bare or painted wood, metal, plaster, masonry, etc.
  • It dries faster


  • It dries faster
  • Applicable to many surfaces
  • Perfect for both interior and exterior surfaces


  • Not great for large projects due to its small coverage
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                 Best Primer for Bare Wood Buyer’s Guide

If you are going to shop for the best primer for bare wood, you need to consider some critical factors such as:

Water-Based and Oil-Based 

Oil-based primers, in most cases, take a little longer to dry, which makes them not best for projects with timelines. However, they are durable, which makes them a choice of many.

Water-based primers, on the other hand, are fast drying and contain less or no toxic fumes, unlike their oil-based counterparts. Therefore, they are safer to use and come with the ease of clean up in case of accidental spillage.

Interior and Exterior Surfaces

Different primers are excellent in different environments. Some primers work to their full potential only in the external environments; others do well in the interior surfaces. 

If you are going to purchase the best primer for bare wood, ensure that the product you settle for is the best for the location of your project-internal or external.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does wood primer take to dry?

The drying time of primers varies depending on different types of primers. On average, it takes about 1-4 hours before your primed surface is ready for a re-coat. The water-based primers dry a little faster than their oil-based counterparts. Some can take as little as 30 minutes to dry.

Do all Primers Work on any type of paint?

No, as much as a good number of primers will be excellent with many paint types, some will likely reject or form a weak bond with some paints. Therefore, you should always conduct proper research on the kind of paints and see if it is compatible with the primer. You can as well choose to consult with an expert so that you get your act right.

What Brushes are best for primer?

For the best results when priming, it’s preferable to use primers made using synthetic materials. However, sometimes we work on budgets, and it might be straining to buy expensive brushes. Brushes made of polyester and nylon are cheap and easy to acquire, you can use them as well.

How many coats of primer are necessary?

Again, this question depends on the type of primer that you are using. Some primers work perfectly in just a single coat, others multiple. We do recommend the use of primers that get the job done in only a single layer because they save you time as well as money.


Priming helps prepare your wooden surfaces for painting. There are different types of primers, and they vary in terms of performance and pricing. Choosing the best primer for bare wood is the first to bring success to your painting projects. 

In this guide, we have reviewed some of the best primers for bare wood and the necessary factors to consider before shopping for one. Our number one choice of the best primer for bare wood is Zinsser B-I-N Primer Sealer; this product comes with outstanding features that will improve adhesion with the topcoat.

We’ve only listed the very best products on the market, and any that you settle for will serve your projects right. 

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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.

1 thought on “8 Best Primer for Bare Wood- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide”

  1. New Fibreglass prehung door. Just removed door from jam to prep before and during painting. My concern is the top of the door is bare wood. The other 3 sides have been factory primed. Is this an oversight, leaving the top bare or a factory industry? I’m searching now of how to prime and possibly seal the wood on top of this door. 1 1/2 x 30″ area. Do I sand it first, as it is rough and grainy? I could see it being infested by insects if not sealed and of course the weather elements.

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