best oil based primer

Best Oil-Based Primer

If you don’t know what primer to use for your DIY and hobby work projects, this post is for you. Today, we’ll show you the best oil-based primer that offers best-in-class quality, durability, and performance.

But before that, I assume you’re already familiar with some primers. We know they’re preparatory foundation coating put on materials before painting. And, without them, your paints won’t adhere properly and will brittle within a short period.

If you’re working with oil paint or latex paint on wood, steel, concrete, painted wall, and other metal surfaces, it’s best to use an oil-based primer to prime the material.

Regardless of how many coats of paint you apply on these surfaces. Without first preparing the material with this primer, the finish barely looks professional.

But how do you know which primer is the right one for the job?

Read on to find out!

Best Oil-Based Primers

Why Should You Use Oil Based Primer?

oil based primer reviews

If this is your first time working with an oil-based primer, you might find the following benefits favorable.

1. It’s ideal for Enamel paints

Oil primer is the backbone of every enamel paints. And, enamel paints are widely used on 80.9% of our interior and exterior materials, because they’re highly durable and washable.

Without oil-based primer, enamel paint loses its value. Enamel paints adhere excellently with oil primer. This type of primer is ideal on surfaces exposed to weather conditions and heavy traffic such as vehicles, boats, doors, windows, metal, and woodwork.

For this reason, if you’re using enamel paint, you’d have to prime the material with an oil-based primer – they both work hand-in-hand for the best result.

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2. They’re good stain blocker

Most Oil-based primers are sufficiently stained killers. They prevent stains like nicotine, water, and ink from piercing through our new coats of paint.

Also, they prevent previous colors from showing up underneath the paint.

3. They’re ideal for both interior and exterior woodwork

It doesn’t matter whether it’s unfinished or bare wood oil primer serves as the cement that seals the porous surface of the wood. As such, it provides better paint coverage for the material.

Moreover, they stop tannins (unleashed from woods like redwood and cedar) from bleeding through the surface of the paint. And, they reduce the chances of paint blistering, peeling, and cracking.

4. They’re highly versatile with other paints

Oil-based primers have been an industry standard for decades because they are compactable with both latex paints and oil paints, which makes it versatile.

You can also use it to prime wood (unpainted or painted), metals, interior and exterior walls, and more.

In summary, the only drawback of oil-based primer is that they contain and releases a high amount of VOCs, which can be deadly in its high concentrations and with continuous exposure.

Besides, they barely dry and require the use of harsh thinners and solvents to clean applicators. Finally, they’re not friendly on masonry – so be warned!

Read Also: Best Automotive Spray Paints

Oil-Based Primer Reviews (Pros & Cons)

How would you like to unleash the most incredible sticky power of an oil-based primer and get your topcoat to last longer?

Well, in this section, I’m going to show you just that.

1. Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer Sealer

Zinsser not only adds extra shine to your materials, but also helps seal smoke, water, and nicotine stains.

It’s a superior oil-based stain killer primer and sealer, because it ultimately hides dark spots, blocks stains, prevents tannin bleeding and penetration. Also, it seals exterior wood.

With this product, you can have tons of advantages contained inside one can.

The solution sticks adhesively on exterior and interior surfaces, making sanding easy.

In addition to that, the primer dries quickly on interior surfaces, likewise providing enamel undercoating performance. Nevertheless, you can use it to deliver full penetration and flexibility on the exterior surface, as well.

Lastly, it’s ideal for new construction and remodeling project, especially on exterior wood.

  • It adheres without sanding
  • It a premium cedar and redwood bleed blocker
  • You can hide water, smoke, and fiction stains
  • It adds shine
  • It’s helpful for beginners
  • Not mold-resistant

2. KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer

I’ve slipped in the KILZ original, so many times, I’ve lost count, and I can vouch for this product.

It’s a versatile product that makes paint stick excellently to surfaces, together with making your paint color truer, without spending countless hours using much paint.

Most of the primers we use these days on existing stains and odors don’t eliminate them finally. Perhaps, the same old issues bubbled up within a short period.

On the contrary, I’ve used KILZ Original to tackle the toughest stains and seal out both existing and new stains and odors. They’ve been a go-to option for pro painters since 1968.

Other than that, the product blocks smoke, ink, tannin, water, pencil, grease, and felt marker.  Also, it sands easily and can welcome topcoats such as latex or oil-based.

The primer also effectively primes on a wide variety of interior surfaces like drywall, furniture, plaster, wallpaper, masonry, painted metal, paneling, bricks, and prepped glossy surfaces, whereas, it’s not suitable for flooring.

  • It’s suitable for wall and ceiling with severe stains
  • It has a fast-drying time. Recoat or topcoat after 1 hour
  • It covers up to 300-400 sq ft per gallon
  • Versatile with a brush, roller, or sprayer
  • Great for fire restoration work
  • Not suitable for exterior materials

3. Rust-Oleum 7582838 Professional oil-based Primer

This Rust-oleum model is a versatile spray primer that’s friendly on ferrous and non-ferrous metal, masonry, concrete, wood, and more.

Despite its spraying nature, it offers superior protection against abrasion, chipping, fading, and dulling. And, the tough finish will NEVER falter in the face of harsh weathering.

It’s a high-quality oil-based primer that maintains the true beauty of your recoat or topcoat. Regardless of the outdoor elements, it provides twice the protection of enamels alone.

The hand sprayer covers approximately 14 sq ft. Hence, it dries to touch in 15 minutes, wherefore you can immediately topcoat on both indoor/outdoor surfaces –making it quick and easy for project completion.

If you’re a remodeling contractor, this product is an incredible tool to leverage because the fast-drying coverage goes hard enough for industrial applications.

Additionally, it features a high output tip. That said, you can spray at any angle, even upside down.

  • Perfect for heavy-duty and commercial environments
  • Excellent adhesion and withstands elements
  • Fast-drying
  • It’s both for Indoor/outdoor usage
  • It’s durable, corrosion-resistant
  • Not the best choice for large projects

4. KILZ Odorless Interior Oil-Base Primer

During my first redecoration projects as an inexperienced painter, my boss told me that if I had to prime a wall or ceiling to hide stains, I was wasting my time and money unless I use KILZ.  And, that was how KILZ became a must-have solution in my painting collection.

KILZ odorless works efficiently under horrible stains on both walls and ceilings. You can use it to seal crayon marks, watermarks, with other marks uncontrollable children leave in the house.

Although, most KILZ oil primers have an offensive smell and might provoke allergies for asthmatic. Nevertheless, the KILZ Original Low odor primer is quite considerable.

It’s an ultra-low odor primer, stain-blocker, and sealer that has no lingering odors, unlike your usual oil-based paints. That said, it makes the product ideal to use in an environment where intense odor levels are prohibitive.

Aside from walls and ceilings, you can use it on other interiors like bricks, wood, paneling, masonry, plaster, painted metal, wood, and more.

Also, it creates an excellent base coat for oil-based and latex paint. On the other hand, it’s not suitable for mold or mildew-prone areas.

Lastly, the coverage is approximately 300 square feet per gallon, you can cover up interior spaces such as apartments, and little offices with a single gallon.

  • Ideal for pros and DIYer alike
  • It has Less VOCs
  • It’s a stain-blocker that can take on any stain
  • It’s excellent on tons of interior surfaces
  • It needs several coats
  • Slow drying time

5. INSL-X PS800009A-01 Prime Lock Plus Alkyd Primer

We chose the INSL-X because it works adequately on almost any surface, with convenient drying time. It dries to touch in 30 minutes before recoating can precede in one hour.

Also, it covers 300 – 350 square feet. The coverage is an excellent stain blocker and bond coat, wherefore you can apply either oil or latex topcoat over it.

It aims at priming both interior and exterior materials. More precisely, it provides excellent adhesion to glossy surfaces.

Even so, the water-based formula can seal uniformly with this product. Furthermore, it will stick to the surface without sanding. The primer can hide stains, graffiti, and tannin bleeding efficiently.

Not only that, but the product is also available in traditional white primers and gray. Furthermore, the gray color is compactable with vibrant colors.

Among other things, you can apply the solution to both new and previously painted concrete, drywall, metal, wood, masonry, glossy, and more.

Should you have difficulties painting those hard to reach areas, the product is available in a convenient aerosol spray paint formula.

  • It’s versatile
  • It’ rust resistant
  • Use it with any topcoat
  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Not applicable at temperatures below 45 °F (7.2 °C)

Oil-Based Primer Buyer’s Guide

best oil based primer

If you’re a newbie, as such confused on what to consider before buying the product, our buyer’s guide will give you all the relevant information you need. All the same, if you’re a professional painter, this guide should serve a refresher.

Stain Coverage

One of the exceptional features that you’ll find in contemporary primers is the ability for a single coat to cover stains and prevent them from affecting the topcoat.

However, paint tells an entirely different story. Paints can cover up stains but not as consistent as an oil-based primer, especially when they’re of low-qualities.

Therefore, find a primer that can cover up stains efficiently while providing a consistent base for durable adhesion.

Also, it’s preferable to wipe off some stains instead of covering them up. Primer is good at what it does, but keep in mind it can’t repair structural damage.

For this reason, ensure you take care of the severe problems before applying the solution.

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The capability to lock in smell is another crucial feature you should consider before buying the product. Although we all know how VOCs oil-based primer smells can be, it’s their true nature.

However, most manufacturing companies are coming up with a low-smelling formulation that is not too offensive.

So if you’re sensitive to smell, you may consider opting for a low odor solution that can still block smells that have accumulated in your material.

Drying time

Most brands claim their primer dries within 30 minutes or an hour. It’s only partially true.

We’re all aware of oil-based dries lowly because of the ingredients that they have. Despite any company’s promises of quick-drying time, it’s advisable to wait 24-48 hours after you apply the primer. In that case, it results in a better bond.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind Of Primer goes Over Oil Based Paint?

You’ll need an oil-based primer because latex paint is not an option. It cannot work over oil-based paint.

How long does oil-based primer dry?

It takes up to eight hours for the primer to dry completely. Besides, you would want to sand the surface with 180-grit sandpaper for easier bonding.

Finally, ensure you wash the surface thoroughly and let it dry before adding your paint.

Is there such a thing as an oil based primer?

Oil-based Primer

These primers work with both oil paints and latex paints, making them very versatile and applicable to a wide variety of surfaces. Wood (painted or unpainted), steel and other metals, and surfaces with existing paint, such as interior and exterior walls are ideal surfaces for oil-based primers.

Is oil based primer hard to work with?

Brushing oil primer onto wood is more challenging than brushing on water-based primer. The added thickness makes it more tricky to work with. If you over-apply, or brush over the same wet area one too many times, you’ll end up with a real mess.

Does oil based paint require oil based primer?

Oil based paints have a higher volatile organic compound content than water based paints. Latex paints will not stick to oil based paints. For that reason, an oil based primer is recommended to be applied over any oil based top coat, then a water based paint may be used as a top coat.

Which primer should I use?

The best primer for drywall is a latex primer. Don’t use an oil-based primer unless you’re putting up wallpaper or covering a stain. Oil-based primers raise the grain of the drywall and make the finish look uneven.

What is the best primer for oil-based paint?

Top 10 Best Oil Based Primers – Reviewed

  • KILZ Interior Oil-Based Primer – Best Overall.
  • WeatherAll Exterior Oil Based Primer Sealer.
  • Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Based Primer – Best Value.
  • Rust-Oleum Oil-Based Primer.
  • INSL-X Prime Lock Plus Alkyd Primer.
  • Rust-Oleum Zinsser Odorless Primer & Stain Blocker.

Can you roll oil based primer?

Yes, just as you would with a paint brush. Natural fiber roller covers made with mohair or a blend of polyester and lamb’s wool are usually recommended for oil-based paints, varnishes and stains. Synthetic fiber roller covers, on the other hand, are most often recommended for applying latex paints.

How long should I let oil based primer dry?

Oil-based primers take at least eight hours to dry. You may have to lightly sand the primer over smooth wood surfaces with 180-grit sandpaper to provide an easier bonding surface. Be sure to wash away any dust caused by the sanding and allow the area to dry before adding your paint.

Should I prime before using oil-based paint?

If you are painting oil-based paint on top of latex paint then you have to prime the latex first. You can get away with painting a latex paint on top of an oil-based paint without primer, but just to be safe, it’s always a good idea to prime first when you are switching from one type of paint to the other.

Can you use water-based paint over oil-based undercoat?

Using water-based or acrylic paint when painting over oil-based paint is likely to cause peeling or chipping because those formulas don’t bond well with the naturally glossy surface of oil-based paint. Fortunately, with the proper approach, you can successfully use water-based paint over oil-based paint.

Can you put water-based paint over oil-based primer?

Painting over oil-based paints is only possible when the paint is oil-based. Unless this is done, the paint will peel off or blister. Therefore, a primer that is oil-based should be applied over any oil-based top coat, and a water-based paint should be used as a top coat as well.


Having any of the best oil-based primer handy can give you the edge you need to increase paint durability and provide additional protection – without fail.

A quality prime underneath the paint makes it last longer, whereas an inferior primer can cause premature failure. And it’s challenging to distinguish authentic from the fake.

For indecision sake, we’ve done all the hard work needed to enable you to make the best choice. We suggest you always use the above primers before embarking on a painting project.