7 Best Primers To Cover Dark Paint [Review & Buyer’s Guide]

Are you tired of looking at your red walls and want to shift to something more soothing? A primer is what you need! 

While some colors might have looked trendy a few years ago, they might not be as appealing today. Many of us may want to shift to white or pastel shades, but the dark walls prove to be a problem. You might believe that multiple coats of paint will manage to lighten the walls, but that is not the case. 

With a primer, you can completely hide the dark colors, making the walls white again. It will also hide stains and prevent splotches on the walls. 

Now we know that choosing one from the multiple choices on the market can be tough. To help you out, we have created this list of the top 7 primers to cover dark paint.

So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and read on! 

Best Primers To Cover Dark Paint

o help you find the best primer to cover dark paint, we’ve compiled a list of the top 8 choices to help you get the job done right. Here’s the list of the 8 best primers to cover dark paint.

1. Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 2004 – Best Versatility

One of our best recommendations is the Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 2004, which is known to be very versatile and perfect for both interior and exterior surfaces. It will provide a flat matte layer that will spread evenly on the wall while you are applying it.

This is a water-based formula that can easily stick to various kinds of surfaces. A great feature here is that it contains a rust inhibitor that will resist rust over time. Consequently, we used it on metal surfaces to keep them safe and to protect them from rust and corrosion. 

Next, a wall covered with this primer is easy to clean, and you can use soap and water for this. The painted layer will stay fresh and look vibrant for a long time. 

Moreover, it can cover 100 square feet per can, and you can paint extensive surfaces. But if you do not want to use all of it at one time, close the lid tightly and store it in a cool dark place. 

Plus, it has the ability to seal mildew and mold, which might be already spreading on the walls. This will also seal porous surfaces, preventing any further damage.

The only downside here is that you will have to apply a few coats to get that perfect finish. This might be more time-consuming, but it is essential if you want to cover an already-painted surface completely. We found that on applying 3-4 layers, the wall looked vibrant and white with no dark spots. 

Type: Primer-Sealer | Base: Water-based | Coverage Area: 300-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 1 hour | VOC Content: 52 g/L | Special Features: Stain-blocking, Fast-drying, Low-odor

2. KILZ 2 Primer 20902 – Best For Mild to Medium Stains

If you are looking to hide stains and dark colors, the KILZ 2 Primer 20902 works perfectly well. It is known to perform well on mild to medium staining, ensuring that none of the stains is visible after you coat the walls. We were very happy with the excellent results that this provided us.

This is a fast-drying formula that will dry to the touch within 30 minutes of application. You can then reapply with another coat in an hour, saving a lot of time. We were able to finish the entire painting job in a day because of this. 

Plus, it is very resistant to mold and mildew growth and will prevent them from appearing on the surface. 

Moving on, the versatility of the paint was very impressive, and you can apply it to both interior and exterior surfaces. It works as a primer, sealer, and stain blocker and will take care of all your needs when it comes to walls. Plus, you get to apply it to metal, glossy, and matte surfaces, stucco, wood, paneling, and plaster. 

That’s not all; you can cover an area of 75 to 100 square feet per can. However, we will recommend measuring the area that needs to be covered before purchasing. You can buy a bigger can too if needed.

So, the first product that we received had a damaged can, which was leaking on arrival. We were disappointed and contacted customer service. They were very helpful and sent us a replacement within days. However, our work did get delayed, and we wish that the brand would improve its packaging. 

Type: Primer-Sealer | Base: Water-based | Coverage Area: 300-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 1 hour | VOC Content: 94 g/L | Special Features: Stain-blocking, Mildew-resistant, Low-odor

3. INSL-X SXA11009A-04 – Best Quality Performance

Up next is a premium quality option that will provide you with unparalleled adhesion qualities. The INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Primer is a brilliant choice to make as it bonds well with any surface to which you are applying it. We were able to cover a number of hard-to-coat materials with this.

Made of acrylic-urethane, this is a bonding primer cum sealer that will work on the most difficult surfaces with ease. We have used this on glossy painted layers, glass, plastic, wood, vinyl, PVC, glossy tile, fiberglass, pre-coated siding, and even galvanized metal. It can be used to protect drywall and coat wooden trims and doors. 

Not only that, but this formula works perfectly as a topcoat too, and will provide a great texture to your surfaces. It also has low VOC content making it easy to clean. We were able to clean with soap and water easily, and the process was quick and smooth. 

Plus, this can cure even at low temperatures, and it will dry at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. You can reapply another coat after 24 hours, and that should take care of surfaces.

While this does the job for a while, you might see the paint chipping off in a few years. In such cases, you can scrape off the top layer and reapply 2 coats of the same option. That will preserve the surface, but we would have been happier if it lasted longer. 

Type: Interior Paint | Base: Acrylic | Coverage Area: 350-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 1 hour | VOC Content: 50 g/L | Special Features: Stain-resistant, Scuff-resistant, Fast-drying

4. KILZ L211101

Do you want to cover tough-to-paint surfaces? The KILZ L211101 Primer will work wonderfully as it is a great bonding agent with excellent adhesion capacities. This unique latex option works on a wide variety of surfaces, including slick and glazy ones.

This is a water-based solution that can be used as a bonding agent on most surfaces, including vinyl, tile, glass, Kynar, PVC, glazed brick, fiberglass, metal, and chalky and glossy finishes. You can also use it as a topcoat with paint that is oil-based or latex. 

Plus, this is known for its versatility, and you can use it for both interior and exterior surfaces. Just remember to use a roller, brush, and spray while applying, and you should get satisfying results. Clean the surface entirely to remove rust, grease, peeling paint, and mold before you begin. This will resist mold and mildew growth to an extent after application too. 

Moreover, you can cover a large surface with one can. You can paint an area of 300 square feet approximately with a 1-gallon can. The formula dries to the touch within 30 minutes and will completely cure in an hour. 

The only downside we noticed here was the smell which was strong and pungent. It will stay for a while, and we will suggest that you paint in a well-ventilated space. In case you are working on the walls, keep every window open for a few days after it has dried to get rid of the smell. 

Type: Interior Paint | Base: Water-based | Coverage Area: 300-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 1 hour | VOC Content: 83 g/L | Special Features: Low-odor, Durable, Stain-resistant

5. Rust-Oleum 276087

Up next is a great anti-bacterial solution that will work well as a top coat too. The Rust-Oleum 276087 has antimicrobial properties making it stand out, and you can use it for your kid’s room or nurseries. This will promote a hygienic and healthy environment, and you should have a delightful experience with it.

This product can be applied over surfaces that have already been infested with mildew, mold, fungi, and moss. It will also prevent odor-causing bacteria from breeding on the walls and will protect the non-porous exterior and interior surfaces. This will not only kill the bacteria that are already growing but will resist any further growth of fungal microorganisms. 

Moving on, a major problem with some of its peers is the smell that sticks on for days. But this one has a very low odor, and you can clean it often with water and soap. So, that will keep it clean and odor-free for years to come. 

Next, a 1-quart can cover an area of 160 square feet and will dry to touch within half an hour. You can apply another coat in an hour. We were able to finish the entire painting job within a day, thanks to this. 

This product has a very thin consistency, and you will have to apply multiple coats to cover stains and marks on the walls. That means you will have to spend more time painting surfaces. However, it dries quickly, and hence, your job can be done in a day provided you have the strength to cover the entire stretch multiple times.

Type: Exterior Paint | Base: Acrylic | Coverage Area: 150-200 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 4 hours | VOC Content: 46 g/L | Special Features: Fade-resistant, Weather-resistant, Low-odor

6. Prestige P500-1

As we are nearing the end of this list, it is time to introduce the Prestige P500-1 Primer for its ultra-premium properties. We were very happy with the smooth application process, and our walls looked bright and vibrant after painting. Also, the white color is durable and will maintain its vibrancy for a long time.

This solution is perfect for walls in dining rooms, media rooms, living spaces, bedrooms, and hallways. It is made for interior use and will provide a semi-glossy layer that can add to the ambiance of the space. 

Plus, it can cover an area of 250 to 400 square feet per gallon. You can measure the entire area that needs to be covered and then purchase accordingly. 

Moreover, once you apply it, wait for 14 days before cleaning the surface. It has low VOC content and is made of acrylic latex, making it easy to clean. You will only need soap and water to do so, and you can lightly scrub the wall if any dirt marks are visible. 

We also loved the smooth and thick consistency that it offered. This is one of those few options where a single coat would suffice.

If you plan to buy this product, we recommend that you order keeping a few days in hand. Although the estimated delivery date was not far from when we ordered, it took an extra 4 days to arrive. That might delay the workflow in case you have already started the renovation process. 

Type: Interior Paint | Base: Acrylic | Coverage Area: 250-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 1 hour | VOC Content: 30 g/L | Special Features: Low-odor, Spatter-resistant, Easy-to-apply

7. Modern Masters AM203GAL

Up next is a product that has the shortest curing time and will ensure you do not have to wait for it to dry for too long. The Modern Masters AM203GAL comes with a quick-drying formula and can cover both interior and exterior surfaces. We were very happy with the smooth performance, and you should read on to know more!

This formula can be used on canvas, drywalls, wood, metal, and wall coverings. You can apply this water-based formula easily on surfaces, and it will dry within 30 minutes of application. Yes, you can paint on it immediately, and within an hour, the wall will be ready with 2 coats of paint. 

What’s more, this has a low odor and VOC content, making it perfect for interior use. The slight smell disappears within a day, and you can sleep in the room after 24 hours of application. 

Moreover, this blocks acid salts, alkaline salts, tannins, and other contaminants, including rust and oxidation. We used it to paint our metal door frames, and they have remained bright and rust-free since then. 

The customer service team is not very responsive, and we failed to connect to them initially. We had some queries about the paint, but we could not get through to them. At last, we took to the internet to find our answers. 

Type: Metallic Paint | Base: Water-based | Coverage Area: 320-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 min | Recoat Time: 2 hours | VOC Content: 0 g/L | Special Features: Non-tarnishing, Durable, Easy-to-apply

Best Primers To Cover Dark Paint Comparison Table

Product Type Base Coverage Area Drying Time Recoat Time VOC Content Special Features
Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 2004 Primer-Sealer Water-based 300-400 sq. ft. 30 min 1 hour 52 g/L Stain-blocking, Fast-drying, Low-odor
KILZ 2 Primer 20902 Primer-Sealer Water-based 300-400 sq. ft. 30 min 1 hour 94 g/L Stain-blocking, Mildew-resistant, Low-odor
INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Interior Paint Acrylic 350-400 sq. ft. 30 min 1 hour 50 g/L Stain-resistant, Scuff-resistant, Fast-drying
KILZ L211101 Interior Paint Water-based 300-400 sq. ft. 30 min 1 hour 83 g/L Low-odor, Durable, Stain-resistant
Rust-Oleum 276087 Exterior Paint Acrylic 150-200 sq. ft. 30 min 4 hours 46 g/L Fade-resistant, Weather-resistant, Low-odor
Prestige P500-1 Interior Paint Acrylic 250-400 sq. ft. 30 min 1 hour 30 g/L Low-odor, Spatter-resistant, Easy-to-apply
Modern Masters AM203GAL Metallic Paint Water-based 320-400 sq. ft. 30 min 2 hours 0 g/L Non-tarnishing, Durable, Easy-to-apply

Buying Guide For The Best Primers To Cover Dark Paint

Now that you know about the top primers to cover dark paint, you might still be confused about which one to choose. To make it easier, we have created this guide where we have jotted down the major factors that need to be kept in mind. Read through this carefully, and we are sure you will have your walls looking beautiful in no time. 

  1. Type Of Surface

What kind of surface do you wish to paint? There are primers available for all kinds of surfaces, including tiles, drywalls, cement, wood, glazed walls, and canvas, to name a few. Now some will work on most of these surfaces while others will only work on some specific ones. 

So, we will recommend reading the back of the pack carefully before purchasing. See if it matches your requirements and then only buy. 

  1. Curing Time

Another consideration here is the amount of time taken to cure. So, different formulas will take different amounts of time, and it usually varies between 1 to 4 hours. There are options that will cure within half an hour too. 

While some products can dry to the touch in 30 minutes, remember that they are not completely dry. Wait for another half an hour and then reapply another coat. If you try to paint it immediately, the layer might get destroyed, and you will then have to scrape the entire thing off and do it again.

  1. Number Of Layers

What is the kind of consistency that you are seeking? Some brands provide very thin consistency, and that means you will have to apply more than 2 layers to cover up dark colors or stains. This is generally time-consuming, but if the curing time is lower, then you might still finish the entire project in a day. 

On the other hand, if the solution is thick, then you might just require a single or 2 coats, and this is generally less time-consuming. However, thick coats may take longer to dry, and we will advise checking the time mentioned in the description before purchasing. 

  1. Cleaning Up

Painted layers need to be cleaned once in a while to get the dirt and dust off the top layer. We always try to choose a paint that is easy to clean. Most of the options here have low VOC content and can be cleaned with soap and water. 

  1. Resistance

Is the surface that you are working on prone to mold and mildew growth? Then it is best to opt for an antimicrobial formula that will resist the growth of any harmful bacteria on the top. 

Now some formulas work on surfaces already infested with mold and kill them when applied. 

For others, you will have to clean off any mildew, microbial growth, or rust from the surface before painting. The paint will then go on to resist further bacterial growth. 

Can I use a tinted primer to cover the dark paint?

Yes, you can use a tinted primer to cover dark paint. Tinted primers are specifically designed to help achieve better coverage when painting over a dark color. It is recommended to choose a tint that closely matches the topcoat color for better coverage.

Is it necessary to sand the dark paint before applying primer?

It is recommended to sand the dark paint lightly before applying primer to ensure that the surface is smooth and clean. However, if the surface is in good condition and the dark paint is not peeling or flaking, sanding may not be necessary.

What is the difference between a stain-blocking primer and a bonding primer?

A stain-blocking primer is designed to cover and block stains and prevent them from bleeding through to the topcoat. A bonding primer, on the other hand, is designed to provide excellent adhesion to surfaces that are difficult to stick to, such as glossy or previously painted surfaces.

Can I use paint and primer in one to cover dark paint?

While paint and primer in one product can be convenient, they may not provide enough coverage to completely cover dark paint. It is recommended to use a separate primer specifically designed for covering dark colors for the best results.

What is the best way to apply primer to cover dark paint?

The best way to apply primer to cover dark paint is to use a high-quality brush or roller and apply thin, even coats. It is also recommended to apply the primer in the same direction as the topcoat for a smoother finish.


Remember to clean the walls well before moving on to painting them with a primer. Sanding is a great idea as it will ensure that no dust, dirt, mold, and mildew remain, and you will achieve a smoother top layer. 

Also, if you live in a dusty area, then close all your windows until the paint has dried. Otherwise, the dust will settle on the paint, hampering its smoothness. 

Now, before we take your leave, let us take a quick recap of our favorites. The Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 2004 is our topmost recommendation because of its versatile nature, while the KILZ 2 Primer 20902 works perfectly on mild to medium stains. 

And if you are looking for a premium option, then the INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Primer works very well. Let us know if you have any queries in the comment section below. Until next time, take care!

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