primers for bare wood

7 Best Primer for Bare Wood – In-depth Reviews & Buyers Guide

Not all wood primers are the same. If you will be working with bare wood, then picking the suitable one for that is what will bring you a satisfactory result. Professionals know which one to pick for what but beginners struggle a lot in this phrase.

There are dozens of bare wood primers displayed in the market and not all of them are worth investing in. This could be extremely confusing for beginners and they might end up picking the wrong one which is not surprising at all.

However, if you are a beginner and looking for the best primer for bare wood, then we urge you to go through this guide. We have aligned 7 best bare wood primers of the market which users seem to be pretty satisfied with.

7 Best Primers for Bare Wood Reviewed

How do we know that these 7 are the best bare wood primers? Well, we relied on the users who have been using these models for long. Who can provide you better information than a user?

According to our research, these primers are living up to the user’s expectations and users are pretty satisfied with these models. You can check that by yourself, head over to the feedback section and you will be convinced by the high amount of 5-star reviews. So that is how these models made their way to this list.

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer

Rust-Oleum is a well-known brand and when it is about primer you can put trust in it. The Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer is one of the Rust-Oleum’s top-rated primers. As the name suggests it is a shellac-based primer which is known for its ability to block stains coming through the paint coating. Hiding hard and strong stains are effortless for this primer. Plus it ensures a good finish on the wood.

This primer works properly even on the water and smoke damage. Moreover, along with hiding the stains it blocks smoke damage smell as well from the wood. It isn’t too thick nor it is too thin, the consistency of this primer is balanced. And seals extremely well. Apart from wood it can be used in metal and glass material.

It is compatible with oil-based paints and since the consistency is balanced applying this primer is pretty easy as well. Talking about applying unlike some primers you don’t need to do sand or polish the surface before applying it. It will work well without that. And lastly, it is highly durable, and will serve for years if applied well.

Special Features
  • Compatible with Oil-based paints.
  • Seal odors occurring from smoke damage.
  • Blocks tannin, ink, and other stains.
  • Doesn’t require polishing or sanding.
  • One of the best primers for unfinished wood.
  • Shellac based primer.

Buy at Amazon


INSL-X PS800009A-04 Prime Lock Plus Alkyd Primer

If you are looking for a fast-drying primer then you might be interested in this INSL-X-PS800009A primer. Not only fast-drying, but it is also durable as well. It is a multi-purpose primer that can be used in several materials. Comes with great adhesion ability, especially on the glossy surface. And seals stains that are hard to block. Wouldn’t let tannins, or inks or any other stain coming through the paint coating. Having that said, like a shellac-based primer, it doesn’t block the odor.

It is a 1-quart primer and with it, you will be able to cover up to 87 square feet very easily. For better effectiveness, the manufacturer recommends not applying this primer under 45-degree F temperature, and we suggest to follow the manufacturer recommendation, it will bring the best.

Compatible with latex or oil-based coating. Suitable both interior and spot exterior application. However, you will need to sand and clean the surface before applying this primer, so that it will adapt though not every primer requires that. And for this primer clean up you will require mineral spirits.

Special Features
  • It is Alkyd Based Primer.
  • Dries pretty quick.
  • Blocks hard to seal stains.
  • Compatible with oil and latex-based coating.
  • Interior and Spot Exterior application.

Buy at Amazon


KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain Interior Latex Primer

This one is pretty interesting. The KILZ restoration is a water-based primer not only a primer, it is a sealer and stain blocker. The interesting thing is, the way it is developed, it acts like an oil-based primer as well. Medium to heavy most kinds of stains such as smoke damage, grease, tannin, rust, water damage, pet stain, pencil stain, marker, ink, etc. this very primer will block all of them easily. All you have to ensure is, you apply it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Whether it is brick, glass, masonry, ceramic tile, plaster, stucco, wood, or painted metal, this primer can be used in all of these materials. Having that said, you will have to make sure they are sanded or cleaned thoroughly. With this 1-gallon primer, you will be covering up to 400 square feet effortlessly. Brush or air spray can be used for the application but air spray would be a better choice.

One more thing, it has a very short storage life. Once the gallon is opened the primer would not remain good for long. If you have a very small task such as priming a 50 or 80 square feet area, don’t go with this one. It is for bigger tasks up to 400 square feet.

Special Features
  • Seals hard to block stains.
  • Long-lasting and durable.
  • Acts like an oil-based primer.
  • Requires sanding and polishing.
  • Can be applied on several materials.

Buy at Amazon


KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer

Water, tannin, smoke, pencil, felt marker, or grease stain, this KILZ Original is a primer that will take care of all of these. Not only stain sealing, along with that it blocks smoke odors as well. It can be applied to one various material such as plaster, wood, drywall, brick, painted metal, masonry, paneling, etc. which makes it an extremely versatile primer. However, this primer isn’t suitable for using on the floorings.

It is a fast-drying primer, takes around 30-minutes to dry, and within 1 hour gets ready for the topcoat or recoat. Before applying you will have to make sure that the surface is cleaned properly, no chalk, grease, rust, mold, peeling paint, dust, etc. Otherwise, the primer wouldn’t be able to adhere properly, resulting in a short lifespan.

Special Features
  • Oil-based primer.
  • Dries within 30-minutes.
  • Can be applied on various materials.
  • Top-notch Stain and odor sealing.

Buy at Amazon


INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer

Surfaces which most primers find hard to adhere to, this INSL X SXA11009A adheres to those surfaces very easily. PVC, fiberglass, laminate wood, glazed bricks, glossy tiles, galvanized metal, you can use this primer on all these materials and it will adhere properly. Once you apply this primer it creates a hard film along with good enamel holdout and you can topcoat that with the most product within three to four hours.

It levels very smoothly, and is crack, wrinkling, and blister-resistant, making it an ideal primer for people. Comes with a very low amount of VOC which makes it safe. Remember, any primer will serve you their best when applying them well, the way you are applying plays a major role, so follow manufacturer recommendations always. This primer cannot be applied in direct sunlight and when the temperature of both air and surface is more than 35-degree F.

Special Features
  • Adheres to tough surfaces easily.
  • Compatible with most products.
  • Crack, wrinkle, and blister-resistant.
  • Suitable for different material applications.
  • Water-based primer.

Buy at Amazon


Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil Primer

Another top-quality primer from mighty Rust-Oleum. It is an oil-based primer and is specialized in covering stains. It has incredible hiding capability and will block most of the heavy stains effortlessly. Water stain, nicotine stain or smoke stain will hide all of them. And the extra perk adds shine to the surface which makes it look good.

Suitable for both interior and exterior surfaces dries pretty fast as well. Before applying this primer sanding the surface isn’t necessary, but still, if you want to be on the safer side do a little sanding and cleaning.

Special Features
  • Seals bare wood perfectly.
  • Dries within 1-hour.
  • Doesn’t require sanding.
  • Blocks tannins or ink bleeding.
  • Makes the surface a little shiny.

Buy at Amazon


Rust-Oleum 272479 Zinsser Bulls Eye Spray Primer

Last but not least, we have the Rust-Oleum 272479 primer and this one is different from other primers on this guide. It is a spray primer that is very easy to apply. Suitable for wood, masonry, glossy surfaces, drywall, concrete and metal. Being an oil-based primer it seals the surface incredibly. Will block most kinds of stains and it is compatible with latex or oil-based topcoats.

This primer has great adhesion to the surface very easily and that too when the surface isn’t sanded. Dries very fast don’t take more than 30-minutes and gets ready for recoating within an hour. With this single spray you will be able to cover 12 square feet pretty easily. You will get a smooth sealed surface for painting with this spray primer.

Special Features
  • Doesn’t require sanding.
  • Adheres to surfaces very easily.
  • Very easy to apply.
  • Covers 12 sq feet.
  • Dries within 30-minutes.

Buy at Amazon


What Kind of Primer Should I Use on Bare Wood?

For bare and unfinished woods oil-based primers are what works the best. They can be used in both indoor and outdoor wood items. The reason why they are good for bare wood is, oil-based formula seals off the wood porous. When the porous surface is sealed properly, you can expect higher efficiency from the paint.

Cedar, redwood, these types of woods release tannins, this makes the wood looks really bad. And oil-based primer plays a major role here as well. It prevents tannins from bleeding. And lastly, this primer slows down the paint cracking, blistering, and peeling. So when it comes to bare woods, you better stick to Oil-based primers.

That being said, there is another primer that works well for bare woods is the Shellac primer. You will learn more about these types in the buying guide section.

Is Drywall Primer Used on Bare Wood?

Drywall primer isn’t ideal for using bare wood. It is only meant for use in drywalls, that’s it. Using that on bare wood won’t do any good. In fact, that can ruin all your effort since paint won’t be able to adapt to the surface created by the drywall primer. However below we have listed three reasons why you shouldn’t use drywall primer on bare woods. Take a look!

● Drywall primer is a water-based formula. Wood and water never gel up nicely. Water on the primer will go into the wood fibers and will cause it to swell with time. And that will make the wood uneven.

● As we have mentioned earlier, some wood types release a substance called Tannic acid, we call it tannins. Bare wood needs to be primed properly so that it could prevent the release of this substance. But drywall cannot prevent it and as a result, the tannins come through the paint making the paint yellowish. It is extremely visible when you have painted a light color.

● Primers need to be soaked by wood, that gives a good surface and makes wood fibers effective. But Drywall primers are not soaked by woods, and nor do they give a good surface. Instead of the betterment of the wood fibers, they cause them to swell.

Factors Need to Consider While Choosing the Best Primer for Bare Wood

There must be something that separates an ideal primer from the rest right? If you want to end up picking the right primer for the job there are a bunch of factors that need to be considered right before making the purchase decision.
And here are they;


There are 3 types of primers that are used in woods. All of them come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages which you will find out below. They serve a different purpose and understanding each of them is mandatory, so that you will be able to choose the one you need.

Oil-based primer

For bare wood, this one is great. We have talked about this at the beginning of the guide but here we are going to little deep so that you understand better. Oil-based primers are extremely versatile, they work on varieties of surfaces. Whether it is wood, steel, metal, wall or any other surface it works well. Compatible with both latex and oil paints.

They block the stains greatly and don’t let it show through the paint coating and that is why they are best for bare wood. However, there are some drawbacks too of oil-based primers as well. They take really long to dry. You cannot work over it unless it dries properly so it is time-consuming. And another one contains a high amount of VOCs which is harmful to people working without the safety gear such as respirator masks and all.

Water-based Primer

They are also known as a latex-based primer and are best for using on unfinished drywall. Unlike oil-based primers, they dry way too fast and are pretty flexible as well. It is suitable for priming brick, concrete, galvanized metals etc. Even few people use this primer on softwoods like pine. Works okay on softwoods but we wouldn’t suggest.

This formula evens the wallboard surface and gives an even finish. Plus stains from lipsticks, smoke, crayon, pencil colors etc. This primer can seal and cover these. As the name implies it is water-soluble and is extremely easy to clean. Another best part of this primer doesn’t contain high VOCs like an oil-based primer. It contains very little to no VOCs at all. If we talk about the flaw they cannot block stains as oil-based primers do.

Shellac Primer

This one is pretty old being used for 100 years. For any interior painting this would work great as a primer. Wood, metal, plaster, plastic works on all of these materials. Works incredibly in blocking stains. Doesn’t let tannins bleed through the new coat of paint just like Oil-based primers. It seals smoke stains rust and gives an even surface to paint on.

Dries pretty fast and is highly adhesive. It is also compatible with oil and latex-based paints. However, they are not as versatile as water-based paint. And contains harmful components. This primer exhales more fume. So wearing a respirator mask is mandatory.


It plays a major role. If the primer isn’t durable enough you will see paints wearing off very soon. Plus you might see stains bleeding through the paint as well. So before you pick a primer make sure that last long. One of the easiest ways to determine that is to check for user feedback. You won’t need anything else. See what the majority of the users are saying about that primer model. If you see people are pretty satisfied then go with that. Otherwise move on to another one.


The action of primer refers to how fast the primer dries. Some primers take a long time to dry and some dries faster. However, the action of the primer should be your second priority. First make sure the durability is on the top even if that takes longer to dry such primers are worth spending time on. But don’t go mad after the drying time and pick one that isn’t durable.


Some primers perform great in the humid condition and some don’t. So checking this factor is also important. Pick a primer that suits your environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many coats of primer do I need for bare wood?

If you are using an oil-based or shellac-based primer then two coats should be enough to block all the stains and odors. And you should be able to paint easily as well.

How do you prepare bare wood for painting?

The best way to prepare bare wood for painting is to sand down the wood with fine-grit paper. And then applying the right primer lets it dry fully. Wood is ready for painting.

Is Kilz or Zinsser better?

Both are kind of the same. But if we talk about the stain bleed blocking somehow Zinsser climbs up.


If you have gone through the reviews you must have got your hands on the best bare wood primer by now. Picking the best primer for bare wood isn’t a hard task. You just need to have little knowledge, and you can easily pull out the suitable one from the bunch. However, I hope this guide helps.