Zinsser Primers Best For All Painting Applications

Zinsser primers offer the broadest range of stain blocking and bonding solutions, making it the best primer for any home or commercial painting project.

Priming before painting can be the difference between a paint job that fails and one that lasts a long time. 

Even though it’s off-brand, other competing paint stores often offer Zinsser, a Rustoleum product. That’s a testament to how good this primer is.

Primers Explained

Buying quality paint for your interior or exterior project is the most critical step of any painting process, whether a surface is being painted for the first time or is ongoing a color change.

The best stain-blocking primers will prevent materials from leaching through a paint coating, blocking wood tannins, sap, water stains, ink, and more. 


Bonding primers promote proper paint adhesion to slick and unpainted surfaces. These primers also will transition from one paint material to another, such as from oil to acrylic

Primers for interior wood and drywall are often clay-based primers that condition surfaces for the first coat of paint. So, bonding additives projects such as new home construction are less critical.

Professional cabinet painting is a critical paint application for selecting the proper primer. The best cabinet primers will promote advanced adhesion, dry quickly, resist stains, and transition from one painted surface often to another paint material.

Zinsser BIN Primer

Zinsser BIN is one of the best mass-market primers available. The price of this primer has increased the most due to the raw materials required to manufacture shellac. 


BIN is best sprayed with an airless or VLP sprayer, dries, and is ready to sand in 20 minutes. We used BIN for priming cabinets, which is ideal for transitioning from stained wood to paint. 

Shellac-based primers are the best at blocking stains. When two coats of Zinsser BIN primer are applied, it blocks almost any stain you can throw at it, even grease.

Zinsser 123 Primer

Zinsser 123, also known as Bullseye, is the most versatile primer that outperforms any acrylic latex primer for the cost. Although, just like all paints and primers, 123 has increased in price. Relative to other primer pricing, it’s the best-priced interior and exterior primer money can buy.


Zinnser excels at priming exterior raw wood and is perfect for priming interior walls before installing wallpaper. 

The secret behind this high-performing primer is its 50% of solids by volume. Zinsser 123 also has a Plus version that retains the same adhesion properties at a lower viscosity. Therefore, we recommend the non-Plus version.

Zinsser Cover Stain

Rustoleum Zinsser Cover Stain primer is one of their oldest skews. It is also the slowest-drying oil-based primer. It takes roughly 3-4 days for Zinsser Cover Stain to dry. But once it dries, it bonds as well as any other bonding primer. 


The major drawback of Cover Stain oil-based primer is that it runs easily and has a strong odor. Cleanup also requires paint thinner or mineral spirits.

But this primer still has a place and is outstanding at eliminating unwanted odor from smoke, mold, and mildew.

Smart Prime

Modified acrylic paint and primers are often referred to as hybrids. The term hybrid simplifies the overall process of combining oil and acrylic resins. Hybrid paint and primers often provide adhesion and a solid coating, with the ease of a water solvent for better clean-up and usage. 

Zinsser Smart Primer cross-links oil and acrylic to offer increased bonding power with substantially lower VOC. Think of Smart Prime as the successor to Cover Stain. 

Smart Prime dries within two hours and is Rostoleum’s most advanced primer.

Peel Stop Binding Primer

Peel Stop Primer will blanket old blistering paint, providing a thin transparent layer that covers the existing surface to prevent further peeling. 


Interior walls with flat paint exposed to excessive moisture will have minor hairline cracks, also known as spider cracking. Peel Stop is the ideal primer to seal moisture-damaged interior walls. 

Peel stop will also mitigate light exterior paint peel, but we recommend applying Peel Stop after the surface has been lightly scrapped and sanded for best results. 

Mold Killing Primer

Painting over mold and mildew will trap the organic growth between paint coats, making mold and mildew growth nearly impossible to remove. The best way to treat trapped mildew growth is to prime it with a paint primer that will seal the surface from moisture and has agents to kill future surface growth.


The manufacturer does not guarantee this primer’s performance on porous surfaces, but Zinsser Mold Killing Primer is the best EPA-approved anti-fungicidal primer.

Gardz Surface Sealer

When you are having issues with interior painting applications, Gardz offers a wide range of solutions, from sealing drywall patches to preventing paint bubbling, and is a low-odor water-based formula that dries clear.

All Coat

Zinsser All Coat is an exterior-specific paint offered in the UK. So, this product is not available if you live in the US. 

This paint is limited in color selections offered but has a 15-year warranty and is unique in that it protects and coats nearly any exterior surface. All Coat requires two coats and provides a simplistic approach to exterior painting.

Water Tight

Basement waterproofing sealers are a vital element to basement indoor air quality. Zinsser Water Tight seals up to 35 lbs of water pressure while preventing future mold and mildew growth. Rustoleum guarantees protection for a minimum of 10 years. 

Water Tight is an innovative product developed alongside Portland Cement for improved concrete protection technology.  

Priming Before Painting

Don’t fall into the paint and primers in one marketing trap. Primers are still a critical part of the process.

Contact us if you live in Raleigh and need professional interior or exterior painting services.

Similar Posts