Best Ceiling Paint Primer in 2024

Painting the ceiling is definitely a daunting task. But with the right tools and techniques you can make it easier.

In fact, what we found through our tests and primers trial is that the best way to ensure a successful paint job is to use the right primer. This may sound like a simple remark, but it is definitely a point that you need to take seriously. Using the right primer will save you time, effort, and as such money. But using the right primer will also ensure you have a great finish job.

Overall, using a primer before painting your ceiling will help create an even, smoother finish and also make clean-up easier. Do not forget this simple fact, it important to choose the right primer for your ceiling paint as this will determine how well your end result looks.

#1. Zinsser Covers Up – Best Paint for Ceiling & Primer all in One

Primer paint for ceiling

When it comes to the best ceiling primer, we think Zinsser is definitely a winner.

This stuff works great at easily covering up stains on your ceiling without the need to clean it first.

It also primes quite well and is great at spot repairs.

Everybody should just keep a can of this stuff around the house.

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What is a good primer for ceilings?

A good primer for ceilings is one that provides an even, strong base for the finished coat of paint.

So an oil primer is great as you can apply latex paint on top of it for a great finish. The reason why an oil primer is a very popular choice is that it generally dries quickly and does not drip. This type of primer also stops humidity.

What you need to think of when shopping for a ceiling primer is to look for one with good viscosity. This will ensure complete coverage of any wall even drywalls.

When you finish applying the primer, you may want to use a nice satin or semi-gloss paint. These are often recommended for ceilings for their durability and ability to hide imperfections.

What we prefer is to use full gloss for bathroom ceilings, and a little semi-gloss for the kitchen, while a nice satin is good for the walls (we do not use these for ceilings).

For best results, apply a maximum of two coats so that the ceiling is completely covered and any flaws in the drywall are completely filled in.

Best Ceiling Primer

#1. Zinsser Covers Up Ceiling Paint & Primer – Best Overall Value

Primer paint for ceiling

We consider the Zinsser Covers Up to be the best ceiling primer just because it is so simple and convenient to use.

With just a few sprays you can easily cover up stains and touch up ceilings from imperfections.

This actually makes it a lot easier for your life because you don’t even need to clean up the stain first. And if there are more stains, just simply spray again.

Besides stain removal, this stuff is of course an excellent spot primer as well.

We wouldn’t recommend it for a big project but for small touch-ups, this is the perfect primer.

Finally, we just want to mention that the Zinsser Covers Up is incredibly cheap and well worth the money just to try it out.

Note that it is a small spray, so this will only cover small surfaces like bathrooms. You may want to buy many sprays or choose another larger primer solution (see below for other options).

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#2. KILZ Interior Best Ceiling Paint & Primer – For budget for large surfaces

Primer paint
When looking for the best ceiling primer, we think that the KILZ Interior Ceiling Paint & Primer is a good choice. It works wonderfully for both smooth and textured ceilings.

This is a water based primer and paint combo that changes from pink to white as it dries out, which makes it easy to figure out the dry time and when you can touch it.

Additionally, the application is very simple with a roller and it even applies smoothly over non-smoother surfaces.

Finally, just know as a reference point that it dries to touch in about 1 hour and you can recoat in 2 hours.

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#3. Rust-Oleum Oil Based Ceiling Primer – Best for small ceiling surfaces

Ceiling Primer paint
The Zinsser is made by Rust Oleum and it is a Cover Stain Oil Based Primer Spray that  is very similar to the Zinsser Cover Up except that it does better in terms of sealing porous surfaces.

We consider this the best ceiling primer for those who an easy-to-use all-purpose primer for the ceiling that both removes stains and seals very well.

It just simply works better than others in terms of penetrating the surface and filling in small cracks.

So it prepares the surface wonderfully for a topcoat.

In terms of staining, it also works great with its high hide properties. So it is able to properly cover up water and smoke stains.

The only downside is that the spray can is small. So, this is best for small surfaces.

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#4. Zinsser Ceiling Best Paint Brand and Primer in One

Ceiling Primer paint

As you can see, we really like Zinsser/ Rust Oleum products as they are a very reputable company that knows exactly what they are doing.

The Zinsser Ceiling Paint and Primer in One is no exception.

What we like about this ceiling primer is that it is so pretty thick so one coat is basically all you really need to get full coverage.

Next, it has great mold and mildew resistance over long periods of time, which is something many of the other ceiling primers lack.

Finally, it has stain-blocking and removal technology and works better than the spray versions. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy to use.

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#5. Kilz Upshot Spray Ceiling Primer – Best for Bathrooms

The Kilz Upshot Spray is a great ceiling primer for those who want to try an alternative to Zinsser/Rust-Oleum.

This is an interior oil-based primer and sealer spray that primarily is used for spot stain removal.

With just a few vertical sprays, you can easily spot prime a surface as well as remove the stain from the same area at once.

Overall, we find the stain removal on par with Zinsser but we think Zinsser has a bit of a leg up on various priming metrics like durability and coverage.

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Frequently asked questions

What is ceiling primer?

A ceiling primer is what we would call a preparation coat before applying the real paint. Usually, the final pain cost more money than a primer. So, we tend to apply a white pre-paint primer coat before applying expensive paint on a ceiling.

In essence, the role of a primer is to provide a neutral pre-paint coat and remove any imperfections on the ceiling.

That’s why a primer is an important part of the painting process when it comes to giving your ceiling a professional-looking finish.

Whether you are painting a new ceiling or refreshing an existing one, using a ceiling primer can help protect both your paint job and the walls themselves.

Priming the surface of a wall or ceiling helps provide protection against moisture and staining while also allowing you to achieve better coverage from your topcoat.

It is especially important for ceilings because they are more prone to dampness and staining than other types of surfaces.

The primer acts as a barrier between the surface and whatever will be applied above it, creating added durability for your finished work.

For best results, choose a high-quality primer (see above) specifically designed for use on ceilings.

Should you prime a new drywall ceiling to remove any stains and prepare the surface for paint?

Priming a new drywall ceiling is an important step in the painting process. So, yes you need to apply a prime coat on new drywalls.

Primer helps to seal the drywall, ensuring that it will be less likely to absorb moisture and have a longer lifespan.

It also helps the paint adhere more effectively on difficult ceiling surfaces. Primer prevents unsightly blotching and streaking, as well as provides a more even finish.

Applying primer before painting also reduces the number of coats needed for complete coverage, saving time and money.

For best results, use a high-quality acrylic primer formulated specifically for use on drywall ceilings.

If you’re working with water-resistant or mildew-resistant paint, make sure you use the appropriate primer for your project.

Taking the time to prime your new drywall ceiling before painting will save you from having to redo it later on down the line.


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