6 Best Exterior Primer Paints of 2023 to Consider

Are you in search of a good exterior primer for your new outdoor project? 

Whether you want to repaint your home with a fresh touch or complete a DIY project, finding a good exterior primer paint can be challenging. But investing in a poor-quality primer is not going to give you exceptional results. 

However, with a primer of outstanding quality, you can give your house a complete makeover, making it appear much better than ever. 

As there are tons of options available in the market, you’re bound to feel confused. That’s why, after extensive research, we’ve curated a list of the best exterior primer paints you can consider today. 

Without much fuss, let’s dive straight in, shall we?

Best Exterior Primers

Here’s the list of the 6 best exterior primers that will ensure your exterior painting project is a success.

1. Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer – Best for Versatility and Affordability

The Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 primer is an outstanding product that is an excellent choice for various reasons, one of which is its affordability. The highlight of this primer is that it can be used both indoors and outdoors, and is also excellent for coating tiles.

Right off the bat, we were impressed by its water-based formula. The beauty of this primer is that it adheres to all surfaces without the need for sanding. 

After applying the primer, the topcoat paint could be quickly and evenly applied; kudos to Rust-Oleum for getting that right! You will also appreciate the excellent finish that this primer offers and how well it works on formerly painted surfaces. 

This gray-colored primer works perfectly beneath various hues, even under colors that are vivid and consistent. Moreover, the water-based solvent repels mildew and peeling while blocking solvent-based stains. 

And if you want a primer that goes well with a glossy surface such as tiles, then you’re good to go with this one. When finished with both latex paint and enamel, it does an excellent job of providing a smooth finish to the surface.

There have been instances where even after the second coating, the stain was considerably visible. So, you might need to sand the surface before painting for a smoother finish. However, since that’s done in most cases anyway, we don’t consider this to be a major flaw.

Color: White | Finish: Matte | Paint Type: Water Based Form: Liquid

2. Prestige ‎E500-9 Exterior Paint and Primer – Best for High-Humidity Areas

This appealing product by Prestige serves both as paint and primer. To give your surfaces a classic and cultivated look, this product is the perfect solution for you. If your walls are peeling and looking lackluster, this is the one primer you can rely upon.

We loved the fact that this is an all-in-one product. With this, you can straight away paint side panels, shutters, and doors. This is a top-notch solution for painting every exterior surface that might otherwise embarrass you. 

Another advantage that it brings to the table is that it’s easy to clean. When most paints are prone to damage due to high humidity exposure, this one stood the test of time. It’s also an ideal choice for areas with high humidity.

Although the product is a great one in its price range, we couldn’t help but notice that it is unable to cover much surface area. As it’s a multipurpose product, we did expect a bit more from it. But, you can overcome this problem by applying multiple coats. 

Color: White | Finish: Exterior Semi-Gloss | Paint Type: Acrylic Form: Wax

3. Rust-Oleum 3134 Perma-White – Best for Moisture-Prone Areas

Another quality product from Rust-Oleum, the 3134 Perma-White is a commendable primer. It’s high-quality makes it suitable for areas with extra moisture content, such as bathrooms, garages, and basements.

Rust-Oleum is well known for its outstanding quality, and this product’s working proves it. Right off the bat, we were highly impressed by the long-lasting finish that is offered by it. This is an ideal solution to conceal those areas which aren’t prepped and primed completely.

What’s more, this self-priming paint relieves you of the hassles of sanding the surface. With its low odor, we’re sure it won’t give your nostrils a tough time! Plus, it isn’t high maintenance, as you can easily clean it with soap and water. 

No doubt, this is an outstanding product offered by Rust-Oleum, but there’s just one thing we didn’t really like about it. The self-priming feature doesn’t work that well, and we expected more of a product that comes from such a dependable brand.

Color: White | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic Form: Liquid

4. Kilz ‎L220105 Klear Multi-Surface Primer/Sealer

The Kilz L220105 is an excellent choice for those who work with plaster, masonry, or cement. As far as this primer is concerned, you will be delighted by the tough yet flexible coating. This product will cover both your interior and exterior needs.

In our opinion, this is a perfect option for sealing porous surfaces. This primer forms a transparent but permeable layer that makes the surface perfect for painting. Its alkaline-resisting properties ensure your surface gets an attractive and long-lasting finish. 

Since it easily dries within an hour, you can apply re-coats faster and get your job done in no time. It’s this feature that makes it one of the most preferred primers for DIY enthusiasts. Further, maintenance is simple as you can just clean the surface with a bit of soapy water.

Although we consider this to be a top-notch product, we must admit that it is thinner than other comparable brands. The transparent formula adds up to the thinness of the paint. In some instances, we even noticed that the primer lacks gloss. 

Color: Clear | Finish: Matte | Paint Type: Spray Form: Liquid

5. INSL-X ‎AQ040009A-01 Aqua Lock Plus

The AQ040009A from INSL-X is considered to be an excellent choice for keeping water off your surfaces. If you’re a DIY person, then this can be your go-to primer for completing a variety of projects in a hassle-free manner.

As it is a multipurpose product, you can use this for any surface such as tiles, metals, and even wood. At the same time, its mold-resistant nature ensures that your project surface remains free from blemishes for a long time to come. 

The best part is that it dries within 30 mins and is ready for a second coat within an hour. So, you can now work faster and complete your projects in a jiffy. And, with one gallon covering an area of 300 – 400 square feet, we say this product has decent coverage. 

Furthermore, since it’s a water-based product, it’s entirely odorless and doesn’t attack your nasal senses. As a result, you can work for long hours without succumbing to headaches and breathing problems.

Quality-wise, this is one of the best primers out there, but we found the packaging to be defective in several cases. However, we don’t think that’s enough reason for you to give up on such an excellent product.

Color: White | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic Form: Liquid

6. Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painter’s Touch

Another quality pick from Rust-Oleum, the 1980502 Painter’s Touch is a primer that’s worth the money. And considering that it’s one of the most popular offerings from the brand, we couldn’t resist keeping it on our list.

Rust-Oleum is known for manufacturing products of exceptional quality, and we were highly impressed by the low odor of this product. Also, it’s quick drying, and you can expect it to speed up your projects. Not to mention the fact that we love the water-based formula, which ensures long-lasting protection.

If you’re on the lookout for a primer to prevent discoloration, stains, and irregularities from appearing on the surface, then this one is ideal for you. Since it works great for both indoor and outdoor surfaces, you can expect it to protect your house from any damage and discoloration.

We were pleased with the overall performance of this product, though we must admit that it requires a decent amount of effort to work with. But if you’re alright with sanding the surfaces prior to application and dealing with microbubbles, then you can go ahead with it.

Color: Gray | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic Form: Liquid

Best Exterior Primer Paint Comparison Table

Product Color Finish Paint Type Form
Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer White Matte Water Based Liquid
Prestige ‎E500-9 Exterior Paint and Primer White Exterior Semi-Gloss Acrylic Wax
Rust-Oleum 3134 Perma-White White Flat Acrylic Liquid
Kilz ‎L220105 Klear Multi-Surface Primer/Sealer Clear Matte Spray Liquid
INSL-X ‎AQ040009A-01 Aqua Lock Plus White Flat Acrylic Liquid
Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painter’s Touch Gray Flat Acrylic Liquid

Buying Guide For The Best Exterior Primer Paint

With that, we’re done with the list of the 7 best exterior paint primers you can consider for your projects. However, if you think that you’re ready to buy the best one for your needs, we recommend you wait for some time and take a breather.

Buying a paint primer is easier said than done, and you just can’t go with the first option you lay your eyes upon. There are several factors that you need to consider when selecting the ideal paint primer for your projects.

But with us by your side, you really don’t have to worry! To ensure a better decision, we’ve decided to curate this buyer’s guide with a list of all the factors that you need to keep in mind when selecting the best exterior paint primers.

  1. Types of Primer

The very first thing that you should keep in mind is to determine the kind of primer you need for achieving that flawless coating of paint. There are several types of primers, each catering to a different purpose.

If you want a primer for both interior and exterior surfaces, we recommend you go for water-based primers, for they serve all purposes. But, if you want a stain-blocking primer, then oil-based primers are a perfect option for all your surfaces. 

Not only this, but they also seal any pores on wood. Further, shellac-based primers are excellent for concealing damage and blocking odors. 

  1. Odor

The next thing that you should keep in mind when buying a paint primer is the odor. A primer that’s extremely odorous is sure to have VOCs, which are harmful to your health. At the same time, primers with strong odors can lead to nausea and headaches.

So, when selecting a paint primer, it’s best to go with one that has little to no odor. Check the label to know if the product has VOCs, and you can also ask for a sample to test the smell of the paint.

  1. Constituent Ingredients

Along with checking for VOCs, we also recommend you keep an eye out for the other compounds in the paint primer you’re buying. Low-quality primers often have toxic elements that can be harmful to pets and even your family members. 

Also, in case you’re prone to allergies, it’s best to go with paint primers that don’t have too many synthetic compounds. If you go with non-toxic paints for your next project, you also get enhanced coverage. At the same time, such primers are low on maintenance; just cleaning with soap and water would be enough. 

  1. Self-priming paints 

Along with considering dedicated primers, you must also consider paint and primer combo products that let you coat your surface with both primers and paint in a single step. With this two-in-one product, you simply choose the color of the paint and apply it to your surfaces. 

However, it works best for previously painted surfaces. In case you’re painting a bare surface, we recommend you choose a dedicated primer for achieving the best results. 

  1. The Drying Time

Not to forget, the drying time of the primer is of utmost importance, and these vary drastically. While some of them dry within 30 minutes, others take anywhere between 10 and 25 hours to dry completely. 

If you’ve got to work on an important project at hand, then we recommend you opt for a quick-drying primer. But if you can wait, then go for those which take long hours to dry for better results.

How long does exterior primer paint take to dry?

The drying time of exterior primer paint will depend on the type of primer and the ambient conditions. Generally, it will take 1-2 hours to dry to the touch and 8 hours to cure.

How many coats of exterior primer paint should be applied?

The number of coats of exterior primer paint will depend on the type of primer and the surface being painted. Generally, two coats are recommended for the best results.

What is the best way to apply exterior primer paint?

The best way to apply exterior primer paint is with a brush, roller, or sprayer. Make sure to use even strokes and avoid over-brushing or over-rolling to ensure an even finish.

What type of paint should I use as a topcoat after applying exterior primer paint?

After the exterior primer paint has been applied, you can use a variety of types of paint for the topcoat, including latex, oil-based, and acrylic. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results.

How do I prepare a surface before applying exterior primer paint?

Before applying exterior primer paint, the surface should be clean and dry, and any existing paint should be removed. If necessary, use a mild detergent or degreaser to clean the surface, and use a putty knife or wire brush to scrape off any existing paint.


Choosing the best exterior primer paint is crucial to ensure the durability, protection, and longevity of your paint job. The right primer not only enhances the appearance of the paint but also aids in the overall performance, giving you the best possible result.

It is important to consider factors such as location, surface type, and weather conditions to decide which primer suits your needs the best.

Out of these 6 paint primers, here are the top three expert recommendations:

For an affordable, versatile, and easily applicable option, Rust-Oleum 2004 1-2-3 Primer is an ideal option. Its water-based formula adheres to all surfaces without needing to sand, and works well on tiles and various other surfaces, providing an excellent finish. It also repels mildew and peeling while blocking solvent-based stains, making it a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor use.

When looking for a multipurpose product that works great in high-humidity areas, Prestige ‎E500-9 Exterior Paint and Primer is a good option. Its all-in-one advantage allows you to paint side panels, shutters, and doors efficiently while standing up well to humid conditions. However, be prepared to apply multiple coats as it may not cover as much surface area as desired.

If you require a primer for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms, garages, and basements, Rust-Oleum 3134 Perma-White is the right choice. As it guarantees mold resistance for five years and resists fading, peeling, and cracking for up to 15 years, it’s a reliable option for these demanding conditions. It’s low odor and easy clean-up also make it a practical choice.

Ultimately, it is essential to select a primer that caters to your specific needs and conditions. Testing various products and consulting expert reviews will help ensure that you invest in a primer that provides a strong foundation for your exterior paint project, resulting in long-lasting protection and an impressive finish.

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