8 Best Oil Based Primers of 2021 Compared & Reviewed

Best Oil Based Primer
Photo: Rust-Oleum

Finding the best oil-based primer is actually super simple, if you know the right things to search in the product. Primers are used to improve the overall quality of the paint. Clearly, these are vividly available products on the market.

But something that you need to think is that does all the primers share the same quality? Apparently not! This is where our work begins. We are here to do all the hard work so that you can skip the research part and yet pick the right product for your walls.

This review is dedicated to help you find the best primer, especially oil-based and to make sure that it has all the qualities and standards that you expect from these products.

What To Check Before Buying Best Oil Based Primer?

How to Buy the Best Oil Based Primer
Photo: istockphoto.com

Going further in the oil-based primer review, let’s take a look at the process of finding the best product. This section is meant to help experienced and new painters in finding the best oil-based primers.

1. Color

The coat of primer is done below the actual paint. Therefore, it is important to choose a color which will not bring any under shade on the main paint coat.

As you can see in the review, all the primers are in white or grey color. Such light and neutral colors are picked because they don’t affect color of the piece where the paint has to be applied on the top.

Primers are used on walls and wooden settings, whether it is the cabinetry or other wooden settings in the house. Therefore, be very selective and only pick the best exterior oil-based primer which is in neutral color.

2. Coverage

The ability of a primer to cover the stains is what makes it considerable for purchase. It is one of the most important features that one should check in an oil-based primer before buying.

Technically, the paints have to cover all the stains. But paints don’t have a lot of durability and most wears off soon. To increase their age and provide better coverage, primers are applied on the surface first and then the paint is applied.

A little tip of caution – it is essential to remove the stains instead of covering them up. Primers are good at keeping the walls in good condition, but they cannot remove the structural damage.

If the drywall is wet, you should never apply primer on it until it is completely dry. Applying primer on a wet wall will only lead to more damage. Also, it will waste the entire money that you might have spent on paint as well.

In coverage, there is one more thing that holds great importance. It is the coverage area of a certain primer. For example, mostly 1-gallons of primer gives coverage of 300 to 400 square foot.

You can also find the primers in spray bottles. They don’t have as good of the coverage as paint-like primers.

3. Capacity

The oil-based primers are available in containers of different capacities. Based on its usage, one should invest in the primers. You can find the capacity as low as 0.10-gallon to a large container of 5-gallons primer.

It is not advised to purchase and stock primers at home because they don’t have a lot of shelf life. It is wise to purchase a suitable quantity of primer when the need arises.

4. Smell

Some primers have an extremely pungent smell that is not good to inhale. While all primers smell to some extent, but having loud odor that can cause breathing problem is not something anyone desires to buy.

In such case, you can buy primers with low-smell formulation. Such primers are expensive but definitely worth the purchase as they pose no threat to your health.

One more thing, most of the primers state whether they are for indoor use or outdoor. The ones that are for outdoor use mostly have intense fumes coming out of them. Such primers are not recommended for enclosed environments.

As mentioned before, all the primers smell a little. Therefore, make sure that you are working in a fully ventilated settings to reduce the number of fumes you inhale.

5. Drying Time

Honestly, no one has an entire day to wait for the primer to dry out. In fact, mostly, it is demanded that the primers dry instantly, so that the rest of the work is done without wasting the day.

Different brand primers have different drying time. Most of the primers dry between 30 minutes to an hour. You should also make sure that the primer you are buying dries speedily.

8 Best Oil Based Primers of 2021 Reviewed




Zinsser 03504

1. Zinsser 03504 (With Extra Shine)

  • Formula for added shine
  • High-hiding formula
  • Suitable for all surfaces
  • Quickly dries
Kilz 10902

2. Kilz 10902 (For Multi-Surface)

  • Suitable for multiple surfaces
  • Conceal severe stains
  • 30-minute drying formula
  • Excellent adhesion
Rust-Oleum 290971

3. Rust-Oleum 290971 (Most-affordable)

  • Available on most-affordable price
  • Easy to use spray
  • Grey color
  • Dries in 30-minutes
Diamond Brite Paint 31900

4. Diamond Brite Paint 31900 (High-Capacity)

  • Available in 5-gallons capacity
  • Interior and exterior surfaces
  • Great on metals
  • Can be brushed, rolled or sprayed
Rust-Oleum GIDDS-800201

5. Rust-Oleum GIDDS-800201 (For Enamel Undercoating)

  • Gives shine and suitable for enamel undercoating
  • High-hiding formula
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for different surfaces
Rust-Oleum 272479

6. Rust-Oleum 272479 (For Sealing Odor)

  • Suitable for sealing odor
  • Can be used on multiple surfaces
  • Excellent stain blocking
  • 30-minutes drying
Rust-Oleum 03609

7. Rust-Oleum 03609 (Excellent Stain Killing)

  • Very good in killing stains
  • Has vertical aerosol
  • White color
Kilz Odorless Primer

8. Kilz Odorless Primer (Odorless)

  • Does not cause harsh odor
  • High coverage
  • Suitable for different surfaces
  • Prevent molds

1. Zinsser 03504 – Best with Extra Shine

Zinsser 03504
Photo: Zinsser

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.25 gallons

Zinsser 03504 has amazing sheen that will reflect on your walls and wood installations. Well, this is the USP of this primer that it has got brilliant shine and lustre to add to your walls.

It is made with high hiding formula that easily conceals the stains and marks easily and smoothly. It is an exterior wood sealer that helps in blocking cedar and redwood bleeds.

The primer is available in a capacity of 0.25-gallons. The primer is white and suitable on all surfaces without sanding. It has got excellent drying time of one hour.

This is a great product overall. However, it says that it can cause eye irritation. Make sure to use it in a completely ventilated place.


  • Gives extra shine to the surface
  • Easy to dry formula
  • Helps in hiding stains and spots
  • Suitable for all kinds of surfaces


  • May cause eye irritation

2. Kilz 10902 – Multi-Surface

Kilz 10902
Photo: Kilz

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.25 gallons

Something that you will really admire about this primer is that it can be used on any surface like plaster, drywall, wood, wallpaper, painted metal, brick, masonry, etc.

It has excellent adhesion and spreads very smoothly on all these surfaces. This is among the best primers for oil-based paints.

The primer is available in 0.25-gallons capacity and it has coverage of 300 – 400-square feet area with 1-gallon pack. It can cover severe stains of water, nicotine, and other marks. The drying time is also splendid. It will dry in 30-minutes.

Unfortunately, this model is not low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) which means that it will emit harsh odor that can be troublesome for people, especially with asthma problem. Also, it does not have a lot of shine so if you want an exterior shine primer then this is not for you.


  • Can be used on multiple surfaces
  • Has excellent adhesion
  • Dries in 30-minutes
  • Cover the severe stains effectively


  • Does not have a lot of shine
  • The fumes will be bothering for asthma patients

3. Rust-Oleum 290971 – Most Affordable

Rust-Oleum 290971
Photo: Rust-Oleum

  • Color: Grey
  • Capacity: 0.10 gallons

If you have some basic needs from a primer and don’t want to spend too much then this is one of the best oil-based primer sprays on the market. It is available in 0.10-gallon capacity in an easy-to-use spray bottle.

Unlike the last two products, this one is available in grey color which give great under vibrance to the bright hues. It is suitable for all kinds of surfaces including drywall, concrete, wood, or metal.

It has excellent quality to block stains. Also, the wall will be ready in 30 minutes. The formula will easily spread throughout the wall without sanding. With this bottle, you can cover up to 12-square feet area. On the downside, the capacity of this product is too less.


  • Available on the most affordable price
  • Very easy to use
  • Suitable for all kinds of surfaces
  • Excellent to block stains


  • Quantity is too little

4. Diamond Brite Paint 31900 – High-Capacity

Diamond Brite Paint 31900
Photo: Diamond Brite Paint

  • Color: Grey
  • Capacity: 5 gallons

This primer is suitable for the buyers that have a lot of space to cover for priming because it is available in high-capacity of 5-gallons. This is an industrial level product and can be used on interior and exterior surfaces.

The primer is especially great on steel, doors, tanks, equipment, trim, handrails, etc. You can roll, spray, or paint it on these surfaces. It is very effective in preventing rust.

This product is very effective, but it takes around 6 – 8 hours for drying. Also, it is combustible material, so its application should be very careful. Lastly, the price of this product is very expensive.


  • Available in high capacity
  • Suitable for interior and exterior applications
  • Effective in preventing rusting


  • Very expensive
  • Takes 6 – 8 hours for drying
  • Combustible material has to be used very careful

5. Rust-Oleum GIDDS-800201 – Best for Enamel Undercoating

Rust-Oleum GIDDS-800201
Photo: Rust-Oleum

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.10 gallons

This product can be used on interior and exterior surfaces for enamel undercoating. It gives the shine that you expect from a primer.

Its high-hiding formula is quite suitable in concealing stains and marks. It sticks to the surface and does not sand easily. It is suitable for all surfaces and is very easy in application.

Whether you are indulged in new construction or remodelling, this product will be highly suitable. It dries up extremely fast and is a useful product.

Well, the quantity will definitely disappoint you. Also, this product is highly flammable, so you will have to use it very carefully.


  • Highly efficient in enamel undercoating
  • High-hiding formula to conceal stains
  • Suitable for all kinds of surfaces
  • Very convenient and easy application


  • This is highly flammable so have to be used very carefully
  • The quantity is too little

6. Rust-Oleum 272479 – Best for Sealing Odor

Rust-Oleum 272479
Photo: Rust-Oleum

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.10 gallons

The formula of Rust-Oleum products is such that it completely seals the odor of the room. It also has excellent stain blocking which makes it super effective with harsh stains of nicotine and other related stuff.

You can use it on interior or exterior surfaces and other surfaces like concrete, masonry, wood, metal, etc. You can use it on any oil or latex-based paint.

The 30-minutes drying formula is highly commendable. It is available in white color and seals the imperfections very effectively. Well, on the downside, this primer does not have a lot of shine. Also, it requires very careful application.


  • Highly suitable for sealing odor
  • Very effective on harsh stains
  • 30-minutes drying formula
  • Suitable for different surfaces


  • It does not have a lot of shine
  • Requires extremely vigilant application

7. Rust-Oleum 03609 – Excellent Stain Killing

Rust-Oleum 03609
Photo: Rust-Oleum

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.125 gallons

This product is especially very useful in killing the harsh stains on wood or walls. Its unique formula makes it easy to get rid of every stains and marks.

This product is available in white color and in 0.125 capacity spray bottle which is quite simple to use. You can use it in interior and exterior applications.

The vertical aerosol helps in ensuring smooth and professional application of the product. It sticks to all surfaces and does not sand. It takes around an hour to dry out completely. This is a great product but does not seal odor.


  • Excellent in killing stains
  • Very easy to use spray bottle
  • Suitable for interior and exterior applications
  • Does not sand the surface


  • Does not seal the odor

8. Kilz Odorless Primer –Best- Odorless

Kilz Odorless Primer
Photo: Kilz

  • Color: White
  • Capacity: 0.25 gallons

The last one is from Kilz and it is an amazing product, completely odorless. It does have mild odor while application but nothing dangerous for the inhaler. There is no lingering odor afterwards.

It comes with 300-square feet coverage with 1-gallon bottle. This is a suitable product that doesn’t just remove stains but also prevent mold growth on the walls or wood. This is suitable for various other surfaces as well.

At a small quantity of 0.25-gallons, you might find the product cost a little higher than the competitive products. Also, it does not have much shine.


  • Odorless primer
  • High coverage of 300-square feet
  • Prevents the growth of mold
  • Suitable for various surfaces


  • Cost is higher than the competitive products
  • Does not have much shine

Oil Based vs Water Based Primer

Oil Based vs. Water Based Primer

There is a constant battle between oil-based and water-based primers and people find themselves confounded between the both. In this section, you will find the answer that you have been looking for.

1. Oil-Based Primers

First, these primers are pretty versatile and can be used for interior as well as exterior applications. Also, these can be applied on different surfaces like walls, wood, etc.

At the same time, the oil-based primers are great in blocking stains. A wall or wood could encounter different types of stains including water stains, cedar stains, cigarette stains, etc. These primers will be able to conceal those stains very effectively.

You can seal-up the exterior wood from weather with the oil primer. They are better at providing protection to the walls and wood. Also, the sheen of oil-based primers is superior to any other variety in primers.

Lastly, if you are particularly searching for the best oil-based wood primer then you can get ample of amazing recommendations above. On the downside, the oil-based primers are not for direct application on concrete. They are difficult to clean than water-based primers.

2. Water-Based Primers

So, the water-based primers are more suitable for unfinished drywall. They take very less time for drying. During construction, when the initial coat of primer has to be done, people prefer using water-based primers.

They are great in direct application on concrete. However, these are not recommended for wood application. You can use the water-based on metal things. One more thing, these primers are simple and easy to clean.

Buying Advice

Well, if you are simply planning to cover the stains and need to coat the walls or wood then oil-based primers are suitable to your needs. On the other hand, if you are building a new house then go with the water-based primers for initial coat. 


Well, as we close the oil-based primer review, we hope that your search for the best primer is fulfilled. These primers are carefully picked to ensure that you get nothing less than the best.

Whether you want the top-rated oil-based primer or the best all-rounder one, our review will not just recommend you the suitable models but also helps with the search points.

Also, all the points given in the buying guide are to provide you with maximum assistance in finding a suitable product. Make sure to take the best use of the buying guide and purchase the best primer for your house.