Best Exterior Primer


Plunging into the world of home improvement and DIY projects, have you ever considered the crucial role of a primer when painting the exterior of your house or any outdoor structure? Not only does it ensure your paint adheres properly, but a good primer can also provide a layer of protection against the elements. Selecting the right exterior primer can be the difference between a paint job that stays vibrant and smooth for years and one that flakes and fades prematurely.

Our Top Picks

Our #1 Top Pick: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer

When it comes to versatility and performance, Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 stands out as a top contender. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, this primer is a water-based formula offering excellent adhesion to even the most challenging surfaces. It’s renowned for its strong bonding properties, which means you can apply it on wood, plaster, concrete, gloss enamels, hardboard, glass, and even tile. The Bulls Eye 1-2-3 does a superb job of resisting mold and mildew, making it ideal for areas exposed to high humidity. Its quick-dry feature allows for the application of a topcoat in just an hour, facilitating faster project completion.

Pick #2: KILZ Exterior Siding, Fence, and Barn Paint

KILZ brings to the table a specially designed primer, that not only primes but also paints, targeted for specific exterior surfaces like siding, fences, and barns. It is an all-in-one product that saves time and energy without compromising on quality. This water-based primer and paint offer excellent hide capabilities alongside a noteworthy adhesion to wood and masonry. Its durability is a major advantage, along with resistance to cracking, peeling, and blistering. Mildew-resistant coating further solidifies its standing as a formidable option for exterior applications.

Pick #3: Rust-Oleum Zinsser Peel Stop Triple-Thick Primer

Rust-Oleum’s Zinsser Peel Stop Triple-Thick Primer is tailor-made for those troublesome, peeling, or weatherworn surfaces. The high-build formula effortlessly smooths out imperfections, creating a solid base for topcoating. It’s quite flexible and can bridge small gaps and cracks, preventing future peeling and flaking of paint. Even though it’s thicker than your standard primer, it still applies easily and can be used with both latex and oil-based paints. For rough and damaged exteriors, this product is nothing short of a magic eraser.

Pick #4: BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Multi-Surface Primer & Sealer

The BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Multi-Surface Primer & Sealer offers a reliable base for any type of exterior paint. It’s a 100% styrene acrylic formula that ensures a uniform appearance of the topcoat. Not only does it adhere well to a variety of exterior surfaces, but it also provides a mildew resistant finish, sealing both uncoated and previously painted surfaces effectively. It dries to the touch in just an hour, allowing for quicker completion of projects. This primer works marvelously to block out previous colors and improve paint adhesion for a long-lasting finish.

Pick #5: Sherwin-Williams Loxon Concrete & Masonry Primer

Specifically engineered for challenging concrete and masonry surfaces, Sherwin-Williams’ Loxon Primer earns its spot on our list for being a workhorse in the priming world. It seamlessly adheres to surfaces that are typically tricky for paint to bind to, such as concrete block, brick, and all forms of masonry. Apart from its tenacious grip, it notably tolerates high pH surfaces and can resist efflorescence, the unsightly white powder that can form on masonry. With Loxon, your paint job is fortified against the typical pitfalls that come with painting porous stone surfaces.

What to Know Before You Buy

  • The Surface You’re Priming: Consider the material you are planning to prime. Is it wood, metal, masonry, or vinyl? Each material might require a different type of primer for optimal results.
  • Interior vs. Exterior Primers: Exterior primers are formulated to withstand environmental conditions such as UV rays, temperature changes, and moisture. Do not substitute an interior primer for exterior use.
  • Adhesion: The main job of a primer is to provide a sticky surface for paint to hold onto. A primer that doesn’t adhere well will lead to paint failure.
  • Mildew Resistance: Outdoor surfaces are prone to mildew growth. It’s essential to choose a primer that has mildew-resistant properties.
  • Drying Time: Depending on your timeline, you may want a primer that dries quickly for faster recoating.
  • Primer Base: Typically, you’ll choose between water-based (acrylic), oil-based, or shellac-based primers. Consider what is recommended for your project and the type of topcoat you’ll use.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

  • Climate and Weather Conditions: If you live in an area with high humidity or extreme temperatures, looking for a primer that’s specifically designed for those conditions is a wise move.
  • Color Tinting: Some primers can be tinted to a color close to your paint. This can improve coverage and reduce the number of paint coats needed.
  • VOC Content: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in many paint products, including primers. If you’re environmentally conscious or have sensitivity to chemicals, low or no VOC primers might be appropriate.
  • Brand Reputation: Stick to well-known brands that have a track record of producing high-quality primers. This can often guarantee a certain level of performance and reliability.
  • Cost: While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, investing a bit more in a quality primer can save money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent repainting.

Why Trust ChooseRight?

At ChooseRight, we take the process of selecting the best exterior primers seriously. Our reviews are the product of extensive research, where we pore over thousands of reviews from verified customers who have used these products in real-world scenarios. We also seek feedback from professional painters and contractors who have hands-on experience with these primers, ensuring that the ones we recommend are not just good on paper, but in action as well. Our commitment is to provide you with trustworthy and unbiased recommendations so that you can make the best choice for your exterior painting project.

Finishing Thoughts

Equipping yourself with the best exterior primer is a pivotal step in achieving a lasting and beautiful finish for your outdoor projects. From addressing specific surface issues to meeting regional climate demands, your choice of primer can significantly influence the success and longevity of your work. By considering our top picks and taking into account the listed factors before buying, you will be prepared to select a primer that ensures your paint adheres properly while providing lasting protection against the unforgiving outdoor elements. Always remember, the right primer is not just about preparing the surface; it’s about setting the stage for excellence in your exterior painting projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best exterior primer for bare wood?

The best exterior primer for bare wood typically contains a high-quality stain-blocking formula to prevent tannin bleed, offers excellent adhesion to the surface, and is designed for exterior use to withstand the elements. Look for products with high ratings and positive reviews from professionals and DIYers. Brands like Kilz, Zinsser, and Sherwin-Williams are often recommended.

Do I need to prime the exterior of my house before painting?

Yes, priming is an important step in the painting process. Primer helps the paint adhere better and last longer, and it provides a uniform base for the topcoat. It is particularly important on bare wood and surfaces that are stained or have areas of previous peeling paint.

How do I choose the right primer for my exterior surface?

Choose a primer based on the type of surface you are painting, the condition of the surface, and the type of paint you plan to use. For example, if you are painting a masonry surface, use a masonry primer. If using a latex paint, a latex-based primer is typically recommended, whereas oil-based primer works well with oil-based paint.

Can I use an interior primer on the exterior surface?

It’s not recommended to use an interior primer on an exterior surface. Exterior primers are specifically formulated to withstand outdoor weather conditions, such as UV exposure and temperature fluctuations, which interior primers are not designed to endure.

How long should exterior primer dry before painting?

The drying time may vary based on the primer brand, temperature, and humidity conditions. Typically, exterior primers require anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to be touch-dry and 24 hours before applying the topcoat. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact drying time.

Is it necessary to sand the surface before applying exterior primer?

Yes, it is generally recommended to sand the surface before priming, especially if the surface is glossy or has loose, peeling paint. Sanding helps to create a rougher surface for the primer to grip on to and ensures better adhesion of the paint layers.

Can I apply exterior primer over old paint?

Yes, you can apply exterior primer over old paint, as long as the surface is clean, dry, and free of peeling paint or other defects. Primer will help to cover imperfections and provide a good base for new paint.

What is the difference between oil-based and water-based exterior primers?

Oil-based primers are known for their durability and stain-blocking ability, and they’re suitable for raw wood and metal surfaces. Water-based primers, also known as latex or acrylic primers, are easier to clean up, less odorous, and dry faster. They are often better for the environment and suitable for a wide variety of surfaces.

How many coats of exterior primer should I apply?

Typically, one coat of primer is sufficient for most exterior surfaces. However, if you are working with a particularly porous surface, or are changing the color from dark to light, you might need to apply two coats. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Does temperature affect the application of exterior primer?

Yes, temperature can affect the application and drying time of exterior primer. Most primers are best applied at temperatures between 50°F and 90°F. Too hot or too cold temperatures can lead to improper drying and less effective adhesion. Check the primer’s specifications for the best temperature range for application.

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