10 Best Paint Primer For Drywall [Reviewed]

Do you want to transform your jaded interior and exterior surfaces with a fresh coat of color? Well, then a drywall primer is an absolute necessity!

Whether you are a professional or a DIY enthusiast, you know why primers are an indispensable tool in any painter’s arsenal. It becomes especially important when dealing with drywall or other grained surfaces. Not only does it increase the longevity of the paint, but it also enhances its color. 

Although a simple internet search will give you countless results for paint primers, choosing a reliable one from the host of options is the real challenge. But, do not fret! That is when we come into the picture. 

In this guide, we have reviewed some of the top paint primers for drywall that you can find on the market. In addition, we have compiled a buyer’s guide for your convenience. 

So, without further ado, let’s look at our top picks. 

Best Paint Primers For Drywall

Here is the list of the 10 best primers for drywall.

1. KILZ 20902 Latex Primer – Best Moisture Resistant

One of our top recommendations is the 20902 water-based primer from KILZ. It comes in a one-quart container and can efficiently cover 300-400 square feet per gallon. White in color, this product is ideal for priming your indoor, outdoor, and ceiling areas. All you need is a brush or roller for application.

KILZ comes with over four decades of experience in manufacturing paints and primers and has won accolades for its illustrious product line. This 20902 drywall primer doesn’t disappoint, effectively sealing porous surfaces and offering firm adhesion to freshly applied paint. 

It is a versatile product that can work as a sealer and stain-blocker. So, you can use it to hide stains and previous paint layers on many exterior and interior surfaces. Be it brick, drywall, stucco, wood, plaster, or masonry – this drywall primer can be applied on all these surfaces and provides excellent coverage.

Besides, it will be ready for a recoat within 30 minutes of application and works best with oil-based or water-based topcoats for a smooth finish. 

This product works wonders in hiding mild to moderate felt pens, grease, ink, or water stains. However, you have to remember to mix it properly and clean the surface before application. 

Although this product works well on mild to moderate stains, it will not suffice for more challenging surfaces. So, if you intend to work on excessively stained surfaces, then opting for a different one might be feasible. However, this is not something we can hold against this product since the brand is pretty straightforward with its claims. 

Color: White | Finish: n/a | Paint Type: Water Based,Oil | Coverage: n/a | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: n/a

2. Rust-Oleum 286258 Zinsser Bulls Eye – Best Versatility

On the lookout for a drywall primer for your commercial or residential property? Then, this 286258 Rust-Oleum primer is a high-quality base for all your painting needs. Since it is water-based, it has low VOC and can efficiently seal drywall. In addition, it enhances your paint coverage and can work on all surfaces

For starters, the color of the drywall primer is gray, which makes it more effective in hiding stains and enhancing the coverage of the topcoat. This gives your wall a vibrant look that’ll last for many years to come. 

Moreover, it can provide sufficient adhesion to hard-to-coat surfaces and doesn’t let the paint chip, crack, or peel. Besides, you don’t have to carry out expensive repairs to hide the water or mold damage since this primer covers all deformities and creates a smooth surface on which you can directly apply the topcoat. 

Also, it is highly versatile and can work on different surfaces such as wood, plaster, metal, glass, concrete, and tile.

The best part about this drywall primer is the water-based formula that seals properly without sanding. In addition, it dries within 30 minutes, and the wall is ready for the next coat within an hour. 

This primer is slightly thinner than our other recommendations on the list, so you might need more than two coats to cover a wall with tough stains. Besides, it comes in a single gray color, so if you plan on applying a lighter topcoat on your drywall, this drywall primer might not be ideal. 

Color: Gray | Finish: Gloss | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 100 sq ft | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: 30 min

3. INSL-X Stix SXA11009A-04 – Best For Wallpapers And Borders

Next up, we have the INSL-X Stix primer, which is highly versatile and can be used as a base for any type of topcoat. This water-based bonding drywall primer comes in a one-quart container and can cover anywhere between 75 to 100 sq ft per quart.

First and foremost, INSL-X Stix is an acrylic urethane primer, which gives it excellent abrasion resistance and fantastic adhesion. It works as a primer and sealer on many surfaces (both interior and exterior) like plaster, drywall, masonry walls, doors, ceramic tiles, and galvanized metals. 

In addition, it can work on glazed blocks, glossy paint, and plastic too. What makes it stand out is the excellent enamel holdout that provides a smooth surface for the topcoat. Besides, this INSL-X primer is cured in temperatures as low as 35°F and takes around 3 to 4 hours to dry. 

The product label comes with all the necessary preparation instructions, and you can use any topcoat such as lacquer, oil, latex, and epoxy. Since it is a water-based bonding drywall primer, it emits low VOCs and can be cleaned with a simple soap and water solution.

We hardly have anything to complain about, given the efficiency and versatility of the INSL-X Stix primer. However, since it is white and relatively thin, you might need to apply more than two recoats to hide tougher stains. 

Color: White | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 100 sq ft | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: n/a

4. Rust-Oleum 2104 Shieldz – Best Adhesion

Another Rust-Oleum product on our list, this 2104 Shieldz primer, is a ready-to-use acrylic-based paint and comes in two container sizes – one quart and one gallon. Although the drywall primer itself is colorless, you can mix it with a tinting color to cover seams and use it under dark colors.

If you are looking for a drywall primer that can provide a smooth base for your wallpaper or borders, then look no further than this 2104 Shieldz primer from Rust-Oleum. Apart from painted exteriors, it can also go over glossy surfaces and most other hard-to-coat materials such as vinyl and paneling. 

Moving on, it has excellent adhesive properties and can seal surfaces uniformly, thus making it easier for you to position the wallpaper. 

Besides, cleaning is simple with soap and water, and the product has low VOC. So, it doesn’t emit a harmful or pungent odor. 

We think the best aspect of this 2104 Shieldz primer is that it’s affordably priced. Also, it is a boon for all the DIY enthusiasts out there since working with it is very easy. That said, you need to follow the instructions on the label and clean the wall properly before application. 

The product description on the can states that the one-quart liquid is enough to cover a large room. However, in our experience, one-quart drywall primers can cover no more than 100 sq. ft. Since most rooms are larger than that, this description can be a bit misleading. So, we recommend exercising your judiciousness. 

Color: Clear | Finish: Gloss | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 12 sq ft | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: n/a

5. Roman Pro-999 Rx-35 – Best Eco-Friendly

Roman Products is one of the pioneers in manufacturing primers, wallpaper adhesives, and removers. They have over 75 years of experience in this field which is why we were excited to know more about the Pro 999 Rx-35 drywall primer. Read on to know what makes it a feature on our list.

The Roman Pro Rx-35 drywall primer has several unique features, one of them being the residual tack it leaves behind after drying. So, the primed surface may be slightly sticky, but there’s nothing to worry about as it enhances the adhesive properties of the drywall primer and makes the paint stick better to the surface.

Moreover, it effectively works on the residual paste of wallpapers and porous surfaces such as textured walls, drywall, mud joints, and popcorn ceilings. Hence, it manages to provide a smooth surface by sealing the wall and preventing bubbling. 

Even though this drywall primer has a water-based formula, the consistency remains thick and doesn’t drip down or spatter, thus minimizing the wastage of the product. As such, you can cover up to 450 sq ft with one gallon of primer, depending on the wall porosity. 

Lastly, the Roman Pro Rx-35 primer is environment-friendly and has a low VOC of less than 25 grams per liter. 

This Roman Rx-35 primer is not easy to work with and needs to properly go over textured walls and mud joints to produce the desired results. Moreover, it needs to be applied with a lot of care to improve adhesion and ensure uniform application. So, unless you are a pro at priming jobs, we recommend hiring an expert.

Color: Clear | Finish: Clear | Paint Type: Non Toxic | Coverage: 450 sq ft | Usage: n/a | Drying Time: 3 hours

6. Prestige Drywall Primer

We are past the halfway mark on our list, and it is time to introduce another fantastic product – the ultra-premium drywall primer from Prestige. Prestige is renowned for its diverse variety of paint products, and this satin-finish paint is ideal for interior surfaces and is one of the finest products launched by the brand.

For starters, this Prestige primer is quite versatile and doubles as a paint. So, you can kill two birds with one stone and use it in your living room, dining hall, or bedroom. One gallon of this product can cover up to 325 sq ft, so you wouldn’t have to look anywhere else for your interior painting needs.

Besides, the acrylic-based formula minimizes the emission of toxic compounds, and this mountain-gray tinted primer goes smoothly over drywall, paint, stucco, and plaster. It gives the wall a rich tint, and the satin finish is much easier to clean than flat finishes. 

Moreover, it is mildew-resistant, and you can gently scrub and wash the surface from time to time for proper cleaning. This makes it ideal for high-traffic areas like children’s rooms. In addition to this, the paint primer dries in an hour and fully cures within four hours.

It is difficult to ascertain the exact color of this product since it tends to vary from wall to wall. Besides, it doesn’t work well on glossy or stained surfaces unless combined with a stain-blocking primer. This can be inconvenient as it involves additional costs. 

Color: Mountain Gray | Finish: Satin | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 325 sq ft | Usage: Interior | Drying Time: n/a

7. KILZ L204511

Another KILZ product on our list, the L204511 paint primer, has a matte finish, ideal for all your interior surfaces. Both professionals and DIY lovers can work with this, and the drywall primer is GreenGuard Certified, thanks to its low VOC emission and use of environment-friendly ingredients.

The L204511 primer from KILZ is dubbed as a bathroom and kitchen primer, and rightfully so. It works best on interior surfaces that witness high humidity and temperature like the laundry room, kitchen, and so on. Besides, it can resist mildew formation that builds on these surfaces and gets trapped between it and the wall paint. 

Since kitchen and bathroom areas are particularly susceptible to mildew formation, the high mildewcide content is an excellent feature. In addition, it ensures better adhesion and keeps the painted surface in top-notch condition throughout.

Moving on, the product adequately seals porous surfaces, covers mild to moderate stains, and gives an even surface for a smooth paint job. Apart from moisture-prone areas, the KILZ primer is quite versatile and can go over paneling, wood, stucco, brick, and painted metals, among other surfaces. 

Lastly, its quick-drying formula permits recoating of the wall after merely an hour of application. 

The L204511 latex drywall primer from KILZ doesn’t work very well on outdoor surfaces. So, if you’re looking for a primer that coats both interior and exterior surfaces, this product might not be ideal. 

Besides, the consistency of the drywall primer is on the thinner side, so you might need more than two re-coats when working with more challenging surfaces. 

Color: White | Finish: Matte | Paint Type: Water Based | Coverage: 400 sq ft | Usage: Interior | Drying Time: 1 hour

8. Modern Masters AM203GAL

Another excellent addition to our list is the AM203GAL primer from Modern Masters. This brand is known for manufacturing specialty paints, oxidizing finishes, glazes, varnishes, and metallic colors. As of 2017, it tied with the Rust-Oleum family to produce high-end paint products.

To begin with, this Modern Masters primer is a unique addition to our list due to its ability to effectively work with reactive metallic paints. Thus, it blocks rust formation under the paint surface and can go under interior and exterior surfaces such as drywall, metal surfaces, wood, wall coverings, and much more. 

Besides, it emits minimal odor and can block contaminants, tannins, acids, and alkali salts. This provides a smooth surface for painting and enhances the lifespan of the paint. So, the color won’t change or fade over the years due to the impact of reactants and other contaminants.

Quite impressively, the drywall primer takes merely 30 minutes to dry, and the one-gallon container can cover up to 320 sq ft. Lastly, this product has a low VOC and is easy to clean up, thanks to its water-based formulation. 

We have one minor gripe with the AM203GAL primer from Modern Masters. It is expensive and certainly not meant for those who are on a modest budget. However, we cannot hold it against the brand since its features are unique, and it can improve the durability of the painted surface. 

Color: White | Finish: Metallic | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 320 sq ft | Usage: Interior | Drying Time: n/a

9. XIM 11022

Now that we are nearing the end of our list, let’s look at another one of our favorites – the 11022 solvent-based primer from XIM. This brand offers top-quality paint and paint supplies for commercial and residential purposes at wholesale prices, making it one of the most affordable paint brands out there.

Painting jobs can be fun, but sometimes, surfaces like glass, fiberglass, and tiles can be tough to paint. No matter how many coats of paint you apply, the color isn’t vivid, and the stains remain visible. But not with this XIM 11022 primer. It is the perfect solution for all your complex painting tasks.

It effortlessly goes over several surfaces (both interior and exterior) such as glass, glazed block, metals, Formica, and plastic and enhances the vibrancy of topcoats- be it latex or alkyd. Besides, it has excellent adhesive and sealing properties, making it ideal for porous bonding surfaces. The best part is that it offers versatility and ease of use at a very affordable price – so this makes it a sure-shot winner in our books. 

Lastly, this drywall primer passes all federal and state requirements of safety and has very low VOC. 

For starters, it doesn’t work well with solvent topcoats such as epoxies, urethanes, and lacquers. Besides, many buyers have complained about the inconsistent drywall primer texture, and we found this to be true. But, we think you can solve the problem by actively stirring the liquid before application. 

Color: White | Finish: Matte | Paint Type: Solvent_based | Coverage: n/a | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: n/a

10. INSL-X Aqua Lock Plus Primer

Any list of the best paint primer for drywall will be incomplete without including this Aqua Lock Plus Primer from INSL-X. Available in two colors and sizes, you can pick one as per your requirements and rely on it to give full coverage. Keep reading to know what makes this product worth your consideration.

Versatility and efficiency go hand-in-hand with this INSL-X Aqua Lock Plus Primer that comes with all the necessary preparation and application instructions. 

It can go over and properly seal drywall, galvanized metal, bare wood, and glossy surfaces, thus providing a smooth surface for easy application. In addition, it effectively hides stains, mold, and water damage to give a flawless base for latex and oil-based topcoats. Not just that, the drywall primer is mildew-resistant and enhances the longevity of the painted surface. 

The quick-drying properties prepare the surface within half an hour, and you can apply the topcoat within an hour after drying. So, your paint job will be completed in one day. In addition, the one-gallon container can cover up to 400 sq. ft. with ease. 

Lastly, since it is an acrylic-based drywall primer, it emits no harmful compounds or odor and meets all industry standards for safety. 

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the efficacy of this product. However, you need to pay careful attention to the surface preparation, or else the primed surface may develop cracks and chips. 

Also, a few buyers complained about receiving damaged cans, so the manufacturers need to ensure proper shipping for a hassle-free customer experience. 

Color: White | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic | Coverage: 400 sq ft | Usage: Interior/Exterior | Drying Time: 30 min

Best Primers for Drywall Comparison Table

Product Color Finish Paint Type Coverage Usage Drying Time
20002 Qt Kilz 2 White n/a Water Based,Oil n/a Interior/Exterior n/a
Zinsser 286258 Gray Gloss Acrylic 100 sq ft Interior/Exterior 30 min
INSL-X SXA11009A-04 White Flat Acrylic 100 sq ft Interior/Exterior n/a
Rust-Oleum 2104 Clear Gloss Acrylic 12 sq ft Interior/Exterior n/a
ROMAN Rx-35 Clear Clear ‎Non Toxic 450 sq ft n/a 3 hours
PRESTIGE Interior Mountain Gray Satin Acrylic 325 sq ft Interior n/a
KILZ Kitchen & Bath White Matte Water Based 400 sq ft Interior 1 hour
Modern Masters White Metallic Acrylic 320 sq ft Interior n/a
XIM White Matte ‎Solvent_based n/a Interior/Exterior n/a
INSL-X AQ040009A-01 White Flat Acrylic 400 sq ft Interior/Exterior 30 min

Buying Guide For The Best Drywall Paint Primer

With that, we come to the end of our reviews of the top ten paint primers for drywall. Proper priming is necessary to get the best out of your topcoat and to enhance its longevity. 

Besides, a good drywall primer will block out water, mold, and grease stains and offer an even surface by reducing porosity. Thus, you wouldn’t have to apply multiple layers of the topcoat to get a smooth finish. Although all the products we have recommended here are great, they have unique features to suit specialized priming tasks. 

No two priming jobs are the same, and it is essential to get a drywall primer that can work adequately for your surface. In this section, we’ll look at some of the critical factors you need to keep in mind while buying a primer. So, let’s get started. 

  1. Type Of Primer

Primers are of three types: water-based, shellac-based, and oil-based primers. 

Water-based primers have low or no VOC, emit minimal odor, and effectively block solvent-based stains such as grease, ink, felt marks, and crayons. In addition, they are less likely to peel or chip and are easy to clean.

On the other hand, oil-based primers work very well on wood and metal and can cover tannins and rust. However, they emit a strong smell, take longer to dry, and are difficult to clean up. Shellac-based primers are meant for blocking stains, covering smoke and soot patches, and sealing the wood. They can also block out smoke or pet odor.

You can choose a suitable drywall primer depending on the type of coverage and surface requirements. In addition, you can tint the primer to match the color of your topcoat. 

  1. Stain and Moisture Resistance

You should always be on the lookout for a primer that provides excellent coverage and hides all stained surfaces. 

It should be able to hide stains of water damage, mold formation, and general wear and tear. It is only when it manages to conceal those stains that the topcoat can look flawless on your wall. 

Besides, if you plan to paint the bathroom and kitchen, you’ll need a primer resistant to mold and mildew formation. 

  1. Adhesive and Sealing Properties

It’s essential to purchase a primer with excellent adhesive properties since it allows the topcoat to glide over the surface without chipping or peeling. 

Proper adhesion makes the painted surface more durable and uniform. In addition, we recommend investing in a primer that doubles as a sealer since it binds the porous surface and reduces the volume of paint required for the painting job.

  1. Drying Time

Another thing you need to check is the dry time of the primer you choose. Usually, most latex-based primers take no more than 30 minutes to dry, and you can recoat them in an hour or two. However, oil-based primers take much longer to dry. 

You should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to better understand the dry time and wait time and strictly adhere to them. This is because if you paint the walls in a hurry, the chances are that the paint will begin to peel or chip in a few years due to insufficient adhesion. 

What are the advantages of using a paint primer for drywall?

Primers help to create an even and seamless finish when painting drywall. They also help to ensure that the paint adheres well to the surface and can help to prevent peeling or bubbling.

How should a paint primer be applied to drywall?

Before applying the primer, it is important to make sure the surface is clean and free of dust and debris. The primer should then be applied evenly with a brush or roller, taking care to make sure the entire surface is covered.

What are some tips for choosing the best paint primer for drywall?

When choosing a paint primer for drywall, it is important to consider the quality of the primer, as well as the type of paint you will be using. Consider the finish you want to achieve and choose the primer accordingly.


Those were our recommendations for the best paint primers for drywall. And, we hope you will now be able to pick a product suitable to your project environment and budget. After careful inspection, testing, and going through many customer reviews, we have selected a few top products for your convenience. 

The KILZ L204511 is the best primer for covering bathroom and kitchen surfaces and other moisture-prone areas. 

Besides, the KILZ 20902 Latex Primer is the best product overall and is highly versatile. So, it can work on all your exterior and interior surfaces. If you are looking for something specifically meant for wallpapers and borders, then the Rust-Oleum 2104 Shieldz primer will be a perfect choice. 

With that, we will take our leave. Do let us know your final pick in the comments below. 

Until next time, take care!

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