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Best Oil Based Primer for Exterior Wood and Cabinets

Priming a surface before you paint it will allow you to get the best coverage with your paint. Many homeowners are confused by the myriad of primers available and wonder, what is the best oil based primer for homeowners to use?

To determine which primers will be the best ones to recommend our experts and a panel of inexperienced homeowners tested primers and created a list of their favorites.

The 5 Best Primer for Oil Based Paint Comparison Chart

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior
KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain
  • Weight: 11.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 7.2 x 7.8
  • Material: Water_based
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KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain
  • Weight: 12.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.2 x 7.2 x 7.8
  • Material: Water_based
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Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex
Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters
  • Weight: 2.12 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 5 
  • Material: Water_based
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Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior
Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain
  • Weight: 1.79 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 4.2 x 5
  • Material: oil_based
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Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls
  • Weight: 2.15 pounds
  • Dimensions: 4.2 x 4.2 x 5
  • Material: Water_based
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Best Oil Based Primers for Cabinets, Exterior and Roller Reviewes in 2021

1. KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior painterscare

One of the winning points amongst the professionals and the novices using the KILZ brand primers was the fact that KILZ is manufactured in the United States.

The KILZ premium high grade is a powerful stain blocking primer that seals the surface it is applied to so whatever is on the surface will not bleed through and destroy the look of the paint you want to apply.

Not only does this primer stop the bleeding through of water stains, old paint colors, and damages, it creates a smooth surface so that your finished project has a more uniform finish with fewer imperfections.

2. KILZ MAX Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior

KILZ MAX Maximum Stain Oil Based Primer

KILZ MAX is not actually an oil based primer, but it is engineered to perform like an oil or shellac based product would. That means that it provides the coverage you expect from an oil based product with the easy cleanup of the water-based formulas.

This is a low odor stain blocker that can be applied to drywall, paneling, plaster, masonry, painted metals, brick surfaces, ceramic tiles, glass, and many other surfaces.

Not only is the odor from the KILZ hardly noticeable the sealer actually works to cover up odors that have permeated the surface you are painting. Say goodbye to old pet odors and odors from things like cigarettes.

3. Rust-Oleum 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex

Rust-Oleum Touch Quart Latex Primer for Exterior Wood

Rust Oleum Painter’s Touch is a flat gray primer that can be used on a variety of surfaces both on the interior and exterior portions of your home. You can even use this unique sealer on lawn furniture and metal components of lawn décor in your yard.

One of the best things about this product is that it dries to the touch in as few as thirty minutes. As soon as it dries to the touch you can apply your finish coat of paint over it so your projects are completed quickly.

When you use this product you will need to apply fewer coats of finish paint to the surface.

4. Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior

Zinsser Cover Stain for Exterior Wood

Zinsser 035 4 is a primer and sealer that adheres to both interior surfaces and exterior surfaces around your home. It can be used in new construction applications and to hide damages and stains before you do a repainting project.

If you have water or smoke stains on a surface you can apply this product and forget that those stains ever existed. They will not bleed through to your finish paint.

This best oil based primer can be sanded after it is applied if you feel that you need a smoother finish. It is flexible and absolutely perfect for those small projects around the house.

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

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Oil Based Primer for Cabinets

This sealer is intended to be used to stop stains and to seal surfaces so that stains are not seen and rust cannot develop. It is the perfect sealer for new metal objects because it stops rust before it can start.

Each quart of this sealer will cover one hundred square feet. You can put it on metal, wood, glass, tile, concrete, and most interior and exterior surfaces.

When the work is finished you will be delighted to find out that this product cleans up with simple soap and water. It also has a formula that stops mildew from forming, resists blistering, and resists peeling.

6. KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior

KILZ Original Stain Blocking Interior

When you want the paint that you have chosen to be the exact color that you have chosen then you want to use KILZ original multi-surface primer on the surface you are painting prior to using your finish paint.

KILZ multi-surface will stop any existing stains and odors from leaking through your paint and being seen. It will also stop new stains and odors from being able to get established on your surfaces.

You can use this product on plaster, drywall, paneling, wood surfaces, painted metal, brick, concrete and more. It can be applied with a roller, a brush, or a paint gun.

7. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer

KILZ Adhesion Interior Latex Oil Based Primer

KILZ adhesion is not just a high-quality sealer that stops stains from forming and stops stains from bleeding through your finish coat. It is also an adhering agent that will make the finish paint you use stick to the surface area more completely so it reduces peeling, blistering, and it makes the finish long lasting.

It easily bonds to slick surfaces like glass, tile, and ceramics that other sealers cannot stick to.

You can apply either latex or oil-based paints to the surface after you have used this product. One gallon will cover about 3oo square feet.

8. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer, 1-Gallon


Zinsser is a product manufactured by Rustoleum. You know the name Rustoleum and you probably have faith that their products will work.

You can use this product on both interior and exterior projects with equal success. It is a shellac based primer so it can block even the toughest stubborn water stains and other stains that are stopping your surface from looking its best.

This product is great for homeowners, and many professional painters keep some of this on hand to help them hide unsightly stains and blemishes in a surface. It not only stops the stains it can eliminate pet odors and musty odors that are present on a surface.

9. Rust-Oleum 7582838 Professional Primer Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum Professional Primer Spray Paint

If you plan to be painting a non-ferrous material (materials that do not contain iron) then this is the perfect product for you to use when priming your project.

You will get a surface that is protected from the elements because this primer creates an excellent seal. You will also have a finished project that costs less to finish because after using this primer you will need fewer coats of your finish paint.

One can of this primer cover as much as fourteen feet, and you will be ready to apply the topcoat to the primed item in as little as fifteen minutes. Your work will be done quickly and your finished item will look better after using this primer sealer.

Different Types of Primers in the Market

You know that you need to buy different types of paint according to the material you are painting and whether the item will be exposed to the elements or not. The same thing is true of primer.

The following categories of primer are available to homeowners and commercial painters.

Oil Based Primer

These primers work their best when they are used on wooden surfaces. When you use an oil based primer the finish paint that you apply will take fewer coats, can be put on thinner, and will dry quicker.

Dry Wall Primers

These primers are often referred to as PVA primers. They are specifically designed to be used on drywall surfaces. Drywall tends to drink up any paint placed on it so this type of sealer makes you use less paint when you finish a room. They also cover stains and watermarks that might be on the drywall so that you get a better finish when you paint.

Bonding Primers

If you are painting something that allows the paint to easily buckle or flake off after it is applied, like smooth metals or glass, then you want to use a bonding primer. These primers adhere well to the surface and they make the paint you apply adhere better so the finish on the project looks better for a longer period of time.

Benefits of Oil-Based Primers

Oil-based primers are specifically crafted to be used on wooden surfaces. Wood can often absorb large amounts of the paint you try to apply and it also takes a long time for the paint to dry on wooden surfaces. The oil-based primer will:

  • Coat the wood so you can use less finish paint
  • It fills in minor imperfections so you get a smoother finish
  • The paint you use will dry faster because the primer creates a new surface
  • It reduces the chances of mold and mildew forming on the wooden surface
  • It helps seal the wood to protect it from moisture damage or the damages caused by the sun, heat, and humidity

Experts Guide to Help You Choose The Right Primers

When you are going to buy a primer you should consider the following features in the primer.

Surfaces it can be used on

You need to be certain that the primer you are purchasing can be used on the surface material you will be working with. You also want to make certain that you can use oil-based or latex paints with the primer.


Make sure that the primer you purchase can be applied in the method you want to paint such as, brush on, roll on, or spray on.


Check the label of the product to see how many square feet the container will cover. Different products cover different amounts.

Drying Time

Check the label and see how long it will take for the primed surface to be ready to paint. Some primers will be dry and paintable in less than an hour and some of them will take 24 hours or more to dry.


You want a low odor primer if you are painting interior surfaces. You also want a primer that has the ability to block existing odors like smoke odors and pet odors.

Stain blocker

You want to buy a primer that will cover any watermarks or stains that are evident in the material you are about to paint. Many of these products seal the surface areas so thoroughly that they can guarantee to reduce the possibility of future stains.

Rust Prevention

If you are painting a metal surface get a primer that covers rust and stops future rust from forming.

Tips for Applying Oil Based Primer

The following tips will help you get better results

  1. Stir it. You need to stir the primer completely so that all of the oil mixes in before you begin to apply
  2. Pour it into a new container. This step is often omitted but it will keep trash and dirt particles out of your primer and allow you to ascertain if the primer is totally stirred.
  3. If you need to thin the primer use mineral spirits not water
  4. Use a high quality brush when you are applying primer to reduce the number of brush hairs left behind and to reduce the visibility of brush marks
  5. Let the primer dry completely before you try to paint over it.

Here is a video guide for you to paint your cabinets:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why use oil based primer?

Some stains and paints can bleed through ordinary water based primers so using an oil based primer stops the bleeding, and this can fix minor imperfections in the surface area creating a smoother and more uniform look to the finished product. this primers also decrease the amount of finish paint you need and they help decrease the length of time it takes for the finish paint to dry.

Can you use oil based Kilz with latex paint?

The original KILZ is an oil-based primer that can be used under latex or oil-based paints. There are special types of KILZ that are designed to bond better or prevent staining better, but for the most part, all KILZ products are designed to be used under any paint you choose.

How long should oil based primer dry before painting?

The drying time for each primer is different and you will need to read the manufacturer instructions to determine the drying time for the primer you use.

How each primer affects paint?

Primer is painting best friend. Primer causes the paint to adhere better, last longer, go on smoother, and it makes you use less paint when you are working.

Final Word on Oil based primer

Priming a surface before painting is just as important, maybe more important than getting the right paint. The best paint in the world cannot create the best finish if it is not used after a good primer. A quality primer saves you time and money and helps you to create the masterpiece you desire.

When you want professional looking finishes that will last for a long time before needing repainting then make sure you apply the primer first.

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About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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