Wood Whiz

wood primer

Best primer for bare wood

Best primer for bare wood

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Top Choice

KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer

KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer

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Top Value

Zinsser B-1-N Primer Sealer

Zinsser B-1-N Primer Sealer

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Top of Line

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 1-2-3

Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, 1 Quart, 946 ml, White

Our Top pick is KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer. This product is a fantastic pick because of its super smooth surface and high stain blocking. The primer is arguably the best when it comes to filling porous surfaces and concealing imperfections on a bare wood surface.

Wood Whiz- Eric Hawkings

Welcome to woodwhiz.com. My name is Eric Hawkins. I love all things wood. After getting a degree in engineering, I followed my passion of working with wood in different capacities like woodworking, staining, polishing, oils, crafts, finishing, refinishing and much more. Read More

Top 10 Primer for bare wood in the Market

Best Quality PRODUCTS


KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer

KILZ Premium Stain Blocking Latex Primer/Sealer

This product is a fantastic pick because of its super smooth surface and high stain blocking. The primer is arguably the best when it comes to filling porous surfaces and concealing imperfections on a bare wood surface. The two in one primer and sealer is appropriate for both exterior and interior use with extensive coverage of 300-400 square feet per gallon.

The product contains a mildewcide additive that protects wood surfaces from mildew growth. This makes it ideal to use in high humidity areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and other similar rooms.

The primer comes with low volatile organic compounds, which makes it environmentally friendly and ideal to use in the indoor environment.

  • Offers excellent adhesion for bare wood and is ideal to use in high humidity areas

  • Powerful stain-blocking water-based formula designed help achieve a uniform finish

  • The primer does not raise the wood grain

  • Costly


Zinsser B-1-N Primer Sealer

Zinsser B-1-N Primer Sealer

By all standards, this is one of the best primers for bare wood. The shellac-based primer works perfectly well if you want to hide stains on wood, making your finish stand out. If the surface is exposed to water and smoke stains, then this product is for you. 

It offers protection against the elements, providing resistance to tannins, ink, and smoke stains. Besides, the product withstands fresh paint from bleeding.

The shellac-based primer contains high levels of VOCs and high odor. If you are going to use this product indoors, your room must be well ventilated.

Compared to other shellac-based and oil-based primers, this product dries relatively fast. It dries even faster than some water-based primers- you can apply the second coat in 20 minutes. Check out this video for a deeper insight into how the product works

  • Suitable for sealing and hiding stains

  • Does not need sanding

  • Excellent for both interior and exterior use

  • Contain high levels of VOCs


Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, 1 Quart, 946 ml, White

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 1-2-3

This water-based product from Rust-Oleum is one of the best primers in the market today. It is easy to use a product with multiple applications; you can brush or spray it on a bare wood surface. This primer-sealer adheres to surfaces without sanding and seals stains and tannin bleed.

The formula dries in 30 minutes and is ready for recoat in 45 minutes. It contains low VOCs and odor, thus environmentally friendly.

You do not need to sand the priming before doing the final finish. It dries to form mildew resistant film making it ideal to use in areas with high humidity.

  • Smooth

  • Sanding is not needed

  • Ideal for both indoors and outdoors

  • Low coverage of 100 square feet per quart


Zinsser Cover Stain Sealer (03504)-1 Quart

Zinsser Cover Stain Sealer (03504)-1 Quart

This is an oil-based product from Rust-Oleum that gives a wood surface a glossy finish. The product helps hide rough and patched stains on a wooden surface. Since it is an oil primer, you will want to sand the surface after priming to remove the oil consistency and to give the surface a shiny look.

Compared to other oil-based primers, the primer dries relatively faster, making it easy to handle. Zinsser Cover Stain Sealer adheres to surfaces both in the interior and exterior environments.

The product is only available in quart size only, making it uneconomical to use in large paint jobs. It would be better if it were available in large volumes.

  • Adds a lustrous finish to our product

  • It offers a flexible finish.

  • Toxic and Flammable

  • Available in low quantities


KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer

KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer

This product offers good bonding capacity, which ensures topcoats adhere to a wood surface. It is a latex-based primer with water consistency that makes it compatible with every kind of coat on the wooden surfaces. The formula is perfect for both old, worn-out bare wood as well as new wood surfaces.

Its adhesion prevents paint bleeding and provides a smooth finish on the wood. What’s more, the primer can dry fast- it takes about 30 minutes for dry for application of another layer.

One gallon of this product covers approximately 300-400 square feet. It is ideal to use both interior and exterior projects.

  • Works well with textured surfaces

  • Can block stains

  • Adhesion from this primer is a superior choice for use with other paints.

  • It is not ideal for spray painting.


Rust-Oleum Painters Touch 1/2 –Pint latex

Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch

We have listed this product as one of the best primers from Rust-Oleum for bare wood because of its diverse use. It can be applied on various surfaces, both in interior and exterior environments. The fast-drying formula makes it ideal for projects that need quick completion.

If you are pressed with time and need a primer that dries fast, this product is a perfect choice. It dries up in 30 minutes, and you can add another coat within 2 hours.

Before applying the formula, you will want to do thorough prep-work to remove grease, to create a base coat that adds to the adhesive performance of paints.

  • Ideal for both the indoor and outdoor wood projects

  • The Water-based acrylic formula has low VOCs and low odor

  • Durable and does not chip

  • Low coverage of about 30 square feet

  • Does not work well with lustrous surfaces


Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Spray Primer

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Spray Primer

This is your perfect choice, especially if you have minimal time and looking for a fast way to prime your projects. It is excellent in hiding stain marks on the wood surface. Also, it comes in a bright white color, which enhances the color of the topcoat.

This product is ideal for use both in exterior and interior projects. The oil-based formula is excellent in sealing surfaces, and it adheres to surfaces without sanding.

The product may not be a cost-effective option for medium-sized to large scale jobs as it comes in small sizes, each covering about 10 square feet.

  • Ideal for both interior and exterior surfaces

  • Versatile in use on either oil or latex paint topcoat

  • Dries approximately 5 minutes

  • Great choice for DIY projects

  • Not economical for large-sized jobs

  • It only covers 10 square feet.


INSL-X Stix Waterborne

INSL-X Stix Waterborne

This is an acrylic-based primer perfect for painting the most challenging situations in your wood surface. It is ideal for bare wood and has a firm adherence to surfaces giving your wooden structure incredible strength and resistance against moisture. For large projects, we would not recommend this product due to its high price.

And since it is only available in quart cans, it is clearly intended for small projects.

The product can be used as a primer or a sealer, making it suitable for wet surfaces to lock moisture that may cause wood rot. However, according to the manufacturer, you should not use it on surfaces underwater.

  • After drying, it forms a tough-moisture resistant film

  • Provides smooth leveling which makes the surface resistant to blistering, cracking and wrinkling

  • Offers large coverage- one gallon covers 300-400 square feet surface

  • It is suitable for both exterior and interior wood surfaces

  • Takes 3-4 hours to fully dry

  • Expensive


KILZ Restoration Interior Latex Primer/Sealer

KILZ Restoration Interior Latex Primer/Sealer

This is a water-based product with an excellent ability to lockout stain and moistures. You can use it on surfaces with the most contact, such as flooring, to keep stains and odor from getting through the paint. Much as it is water-based, it’s performance resembles that of oil-based primers. 

It is tough like an oil finish but easy to clean up like water-based. However, it is not as tough as oil-based, but it offers more durability.

Although the product is generally excellent, you need to apply multiple coats to achieve the durability is designed for. Much as it is in small cans, it is generally a good a primer for bare wood.

  • Made to block stain and odor

  • Water-based thus easy to cleanup

  • Dries to form a hard enamel undercoat

  • Short life span

  • Requires multiple coats


KIlZ Original Stain Blocking Oil Based Primer

KIlZ Original Stain Blocking Oil Based Primer

This is an excellent product for interior wood doors and cabinets. It offers versatility to work with any kind of topcoat with a coverage of about 75-100. Although it is an oil-based primer, the formulation is highly advanced.

Solely designed for interior use, the product dries faster than most oil-based primers, taking less than 1 hour to dry.

It is ideal for hiding flaws in a wooden surface, drywall, getting rid of stains, and hiding them. Additionally, the formula contains very low VOC levels, making it ideal for interior projects.

Multiple options for applications exist for this product, from brush, roller to spray technique to reach the hardest corners.

  • Easy to sand

  • Works with any type of topcoat

  • Not difficult to sand

  • Makes an excellent stain-blocking primer

  • Strong odor

  • For indoor use only

FAQ's about best wood primer

No. Keep in mind that no paint is actually waterproof, but depending on how glossy the paint is, it may bead out a certain content of moisture. Just like any paint, wood primer is also not water-resistant. If you are looking to make wood water-resistant, you must use polyurethane finish to provide a protective layer that is a lot less porous than traditional paint primer products.

You should always sand before and after any coat of paint except the final coat. This includes primer. When dealing with a rough texture use coarse grit sandpaper and move to finer grit sandpaper as you apply coats. When using a primer, use 220 grit sandpaper after the coat to ensure a smooth surface.

Usually, one coat of primer is all you need. A primer is not so much about evening out the color, but just getting coverage to avoiding stain leaks and hiding knots.

Yes if you used a wood filler or equivalent material to repair cracks and gaps, primer is acceptable after allowing these materials to dry. Again the key is making sure these surfaces are properly sanded down before and after applying the primer, to ensure a smooth finish.

Primer dry’s very quickly and can be dry to the touch within 30 minutes to an hour. However, it is recommended to wait until it is fully dry for optimal results, which can take up to three hours depending on humidity.

Like any painting job, the biggest concern is humidity. Humidity means there is moisture in the air and when it interacts with the paint, it will prolong the drying process of beading moisture out from the paint. Temperature is less of a concern but should be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit and no more than 85 degrees, to avoid water spots and poor uniformity.


  • Goeth joe says:

    What is the purpose of a primer?

  • Eric Hawkins says:

    Hello Goeth,

    Thanks for your question.A primer undercoat is a coating put on materials before painting. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability and provides increased protection to the surface being painted. Thanks

  • Joe Morgan says:

    Are there different primers for indoor and outdoor use?

  • Eric Hawkins says:

    Thank you for your question. Most of the primers can be used for interior and exterior purposes. Primers mentioned in the article above can be used for both indoor and outdoor wood projects.
    There are some types of primers that are designed exclusively for interior or exterior purposes. Interior primer seals, boost adhesion and helps to create a smooth plane for walls. Exterior primers decrease cracking and mildew growth, and protect the brickwork from alkalinity and crystalline or powdery deposit.
    We have outlined some of the best ones on our website here and explained the features of each.
Hope that helps.

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