5 Best Drywall Primers – Buying Guide & Reviews

Best Drywall Primer

A drywall primer is a layer of product that is applied to the wall just like paint. It is applied directly to raw drywall to seal it and create a smooth surface on which you can then apply finishing layers of paint. You can also apply it to older drywall when you want to change the color of the wall and improve the finish.

When to Use Drywall Primer

Drywall primers can be used for a number of reasons. It is designed to seal the surface of the drywall and create a base that paint can go directly on top of. As drywall has a porous quality, if you were to paint directly onto it, then the new drywall would absorb the paint, meaning you would need a lot of layers of paint to get a reasonable depth of color. Getting a smooth finish on the paint would also be unlikely due to the texture of the drywall.

A drywall primer will seal the tiny holes in the new drywall and create a film over the whole surface. This allows the paint to cover much more easily and will make for a much better finish. It will also seal tape joints on new drywall and give a seamless look. Drywall primer can also be used on older drywall that has suffered from stains, such as water damage stains, mold stains, or stains caused by marker pens. A stain-blocking drywall primer will prevent the stains from showing through and make the drywall look new again. When thinking about when you should use drywall primer, the simple answer is every time you use drywall! Drywall primer is an essential purchase for drywall projects, which will give you the best finish and save time and money.

Benefits of Drywall Primer

Professional Smooth Finish

If you have installed new drywall, then using a primer is the best way to get a professional finish. Drywall primer will ensure a smooth surface that is non-porous to allow your paint to glide right onto.

Use Less Paint

If you don’t use a drywall primer on new drywall, then you’ll find that your paint absorbs into the drywall, and you’ll need a lot of coats to achieve the color and finish you want. This not only takes up a lot more time, but it also means spending more money on a larger quantity of paint. A drywall primer will seal the drywall and create a neutral-colored surface which is an ideal base for paint. Most good quality paints will only need one or two coats on top of the primer, and in many cases, you can opt for a more budget-friendly paint because the primer is doing most of the work when it comes to the finish.

Block Stains

Some drywall primers have a stain-blocking ability, which is great if your drywall is stained and you want to bring it back to its former glory. Anyone who has tried to cover stains with paint will know that over time the stain will show right through. Using a drywall primer intended for stain blocking will prevent this issue and ensure a clean, stain-free surface.

Improves Paint Adhesion

Drywall primer improves paint adhesion, so that even lower quality paints will stick well to the primed drywall and cover more easily. This means that painting becomes a breeze, and you won’t have the annoying issue of more paint sticking to the roller than the wall.

Seals Joins and Surfaces

The drywall primer seals the surface of the drywall, as well as any taped joins. This creates a smooth surface for the paint to be applied on top of.

How to Choose the Right Drywall Primer

To find the right primer for your project, you’ll need to consider the following points.

State of Drywall

The condition of your drywall can dictate which primer you need. Some primers are designed specifically for new drywall, while others can be used on any type of drywall.

Application Type

If you are using a paint sprayer to apply your primer, then you’ll need to choose a water-based formula. This is because it cleans up more easily if you aim off target and also because oil-based primers are too thick to work well in a sprayer. If you intend to use a roller or paintbrush, then you can use any type of drywall primer.

Paint Type

The type of paint you intend to use to finish your walls can affect your choice of primer. Latex or oil-based paints work best with latex primers. Some people even choose to use their primer as both a base and final coat if the primer has a nice finish, which is typically achieved with latex primers that have a very slight sheen.

Water-Based vs. Oil-based

Water-based drywall primer is generally more preferable to oil-based primer for interior applications because it has a low odor and dries quickly. Water-based primer is also easier to clean up, so it won’t ruin your paintbrushes or paint rollers if you don’t have any paint thinners handy to wash them with.

Rust-Oleum Corporation 01501 Drywall Primer

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This primer is designed to be used on new interior drywall and is a flat white. It seals the fresh drywall and tape joints and will not raise the nap on new drywall. This is a low odor primer that should make for a more enjoyable experience while using it and will be particularly beneficial to anyone sensitive to strong scents. It is water-based, which means it will clean up easily, and any brushes or rollers used can be brought back to their original state by simply running them underwater. This primer is fast drying and enables a coat of paint to be added on top of it after just one hour. It can be sanded, which makes for a smooth surface underneath the paint. The primer comes in a one-gallon tub.

Users of this primer rate it as a basic, budget-friendly primer that does the job. It is one of the lowest-priced drywall primers available, so if you’re trying to keep to a tight budget, then this is a good option. It covers new drywall well, though the formula is thin, so many users recommend giving new drywall at least two coats with this primer. Some users found the thin consistency to be problematic as it caused small spatters to go everywhere when being applied with a roller, while others found it to be a benefit because it meant that a little primer went a long way. The primer is described as being ‘flat white,’ though a minority of users believed that it had a gray tint to it. Some users noted that using painter’s tape on top of the primer should be avoided, as it will peel the primer away when you remove the tape.


  • Low odor
  • Fast drying
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy cleanup


  • Thin consistency
  • Not compatible with painters tape
  • Several coats required

Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer

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This is a multi-use primer that is suitable for use on both interiors and exteriors on a variety of surfaces, including drywall. It can also be used on metal and even adheres well to glossy surfaces such as tile, which makes it a great product to have on hand for various projects around the home. The primer has a water-based formula which makes for easy cleanup and also means the dried product is flexible and will resist cracking, peeling, or blistering. It works by creating a film over the surface of drywall which will be smooth and prevent the formation of mold or mildew. It does not require sanding after use and can be painted directly on top of. The color of the primer is white, and it comes in a one-quart container.

Users of this product highly recommend it due to its excellent coverage and long-lasting durability. Some buyers of this product used it to prime damaged drywall, which had been filled and sanded, and found it to cover well and provide a smooth surface. Some users were so impressed with the color and sheen of the primer that they did not use paint over it and instead used the primer as both the base and topcoat. In these instances, users were pleased to report that the primer did not yellow over time like some white primers and remained a very bright white.

Some users noted that the walls need to be adequately prepared before using the primer in order to get the best finish from the product. Users also recommended avoiding using painter’s tape and instead cut in by hand because the primer will peel away in chunks when the tape is peeled off. Users were pleased that the primer could be used in a variety of applications, as it meant that any leftover primer could be saved and used for future projects around the home.


  • Suitable for multiple surface types
  • Good coverage
  • Easy cleanup
  • No fading


  • Not compatible with painters tape

KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer

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This is a latex primer that is water-based, which means cleanup can be achieved easily with just soap and water. It offers superior adhesion and so is suitable for use on surfaces that would typically be difficult for paint to adhere to. It is designed as a problem solver so that glossy or slick surfaces can be painted, but it also works well for sealing drywall. The primer is white and comes in a one-gallon container. It creates a film over surfaces while bonding tightly to the underneath surface, sealing any porous materials and creating a smooth finish. For a topcoat over the primer, use latex or oil-based paint.

Users of this primer rate it very highly. It is a little more expensive than some other primers, but most users agree that it is worth the money to have a more superior product. Users note that this primer gives a very smooth finish and doesn’t require any sanding, which saves time and inconvenience when it comes to renovating a home. It is easy to use and bonds easily to a wide array of surface types due to its latex formula; however, it is still water-based, which means cleaning application tools is a breeze, and the odor isn’t as strong as oil-based primers. The fact that this primer bonds so strongly to surfaces means that it is compatible with the painter’s tape, as the primer resists peeling even when the tape is pulled off. Users love how quickly it dries, being dry to the touch in just thirty minutes, and suitable for recoating in an hour.


  • Quick-drying
  • Won’t peel
  • It doesn’t need sanding
  • Suitable for many surface types


  • Expensive

KILZ 2 Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer

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This is a versatile primer that can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces. It seals, primes, and blocks stains, all with just one product. It is suitable for blocking mild to moderate stains, including stains that have resulted from water damage, oil, marker pens, or previous paint colors. This primer comes in a one-gallon container and has a flat white finish. It is ideal for use on both new or old drywall, as well as masonry, wood, or glossy surfaces. It can be applied in a variety of ways, including with a roller, sprayer, or paintbrush. The primer is touch dry within thirty minutes and can be recoated after an hour. This is a latex primer that is water-based; this allows it to be cleaned up easily but also offers excellent adhesion to surfaces. It is mold and mildew resistant and will help to prevent the appearance of mildew in the future. It has a low odor.

Users of this primer found it to perform very well. Users noted that it covered up stains easily and only required one coat in most cases, though darker stains would benefit from two coats. Users found the primer to be of a thin consistency which was easy to apply, and sealed surfaces surprisingly well. It absorbed into porous surfaces such as drywall and created a smooth film as a base for finishing coats of paint. Users love that the primer is able to perform so well while still being water-based, so they don’t have to deal with the messy cleanup and nasty odors associated with oil-based primers. Most users agreed that this primer performed better than more expensive primers, making it excellent value for money. The vast majority of buyers of this product would recommend it to friends and agree that this is the primer they would choose again for future projects.


  • Quick-drying
  • Low odor
  • Covers stains
  • Prevents mildew
  • Good value for money
  • Easy cleanup


  • Darker stains may require more coats

3M High Strength Small Hole Repair, All in One Applicator Tool

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This clever tool features a primer, spackle, a putty knife, and sanding pad, providing the user with everything they need to fill any holes or cracks in drywall. It is an all-in-one tool for repairing small imperfections in drywall, and unlike other types of spackle, this formula is laced with a primer which means that after the hole has been filled, you won’t need to cover it over with a separate primer. The tool promises to fix holes three times faster than when using traditional vinyl spackling, and the improved formula ensures that cracking, sagging, and shrinking is not an issue. The formula is white and is supplied in a three-fluid-ounce tube, which is enough for filling approximately 60 to 80 small holes.

Users of this tool found it to be a very convenient and cost-effective method for filling and priming small imperfections in drywall. It is ideal for use on drywall repairs to create a smooth surface and give older or damaged drywall a new and fresh, smooth finish. Some users, who had never filled any type of holes before, agreed that the tool was very easy to use, and they were pleased with the results. Users also commented that this tool provided them with a very low-cost solution to small holes or damage to their walls. Some users were distressed to find a caution on the back of the tools label, which warns that inhaling dust from the product can cause irritation to the nose and throat and also that the spackling contains carcinogens which are known to be a cause of cancer. For this reason, some users decided against using the product due to not wishing to put their families at risk.


  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Good finish


  • It contains cancer-causing chemicals

Steve is the chief editor of Homenish. He has keen eyes on all things interior design and realized that there was a lack of sound and practical knowledge about home decor/interior design. That's motivated him to help others with their home decorating & improvement projects.

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