Best Exterior Wood Primer for your Paint job in 2024

Using the best exterior wood primer is essential in order to ensure that your paint job lasts.

The reason is that it helps protect the wood from moisture and other elements such as dust.

With so many primers on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

To help make your decision, we researched over 25 products and outlined some of the top choices when it comes to exterior wood primers.

#1. KILZ General Purpose Exterior Wood Primer

When it comes to the best exterior wood primer, we think that the KILZ General Purpose should be your go-to primer.

This fast-drying latex primer really does a good job on exterior wood surfaces that are uneven with varying porosity levels.

It provides excellent durability and protects your wood very well against the elements. Also, it is great value for your money.

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What is Wood Primer?

Wood primer is a particular type of pre-paint that helps protect bare wood from the elements, both indoors and outdoors.

This essential coating can be either water-based or oil-based, though most primers today are oil-based as these provide the best protection from the elements.

Note that primers work by forming a protective film on the surface of the wood that shields it from moisture, sun damage, mildew, dust, and other pollutants.

Properly applied wood primer ensures that whatever paint or sealer is used afterward will last longer and look better over time.

When painting exterior surfaces like doors and siding, using an appropriate primer is necessary to get the maximum performance out of any finish paint coatings you apply afterward.

Best Wood Primers – Reviews


#1. KILZ General Purpose Exterior Wood Primer

We think the KILZ General Purpose is the best exterior wood primer for those who want a fast-drying latex primer that is specifically designed for outdoor use and it works very well on wood.

The biggest reason we really like this primer is that it really does a great job in sealing porous surfaces like wood and provides excellent adhesion.

Since wood doesn’t exactly have a smooth surface texture and will have porosity differences, you need a primer that can handle this.

The KILZ General Purpose is one such primer.

Also, it has pretty good coverage as 1 gallon of this stuff can cover about 300-400 square feet. It can be top-coated in about an hour with latex or oil-based paint.

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#2. XIM Peel Bond Exterior Wood Primer

The XIM Peel Bond Exterior Wood Primer is the best exterior wood primer for those who want to paint over cracked and weathered surfaces such as wood outdoors.

This stuff does an excellent job of creating a perfectly bonded, sealed, and smooth surface for latex topcoats. It is also a great penetrating primer that seals in the pores in the wood.

We also like the color indicator to help you know when you can paint. It goes on milky white and then dries clear.

When it is clear, you can go ahead and apply topcoats.

Overall, we just to say that this primer helps reduce cracking and peeling due to its excellent filling and sealing properties. It also bridges low areas in just one pass.

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#3. Rust-Oleum RockSolid Deck Start Wood Primer

We really like the Rust-Oleum RockSolid and think it is the best exterior wood primer for those who want a product specifically designed for exterior wood surfaces.

It can be applied to both damp and dry wood.

One of the standout features is that it is really good at adhering to weathered and worn-out wood that has previously been coated already without the need to sand down or strip the old coating.

This is a low-VOC exterior wood primer that has very little odor. Also, we like the fact that it works with pretty much any topcoat.

We can’t say the same with other brands.

Finally, just know that it dries to the touch in just one hour and takes up to 2 hours of dry time before applying any topcoat.

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#4. KILZ Over Armor Wood Primer – Best exterior primer

KILZ Complete Exterior Wood PrimerNext, we have the KILZ Armor, which is another KILZ product you can use to prime your exterior wood surfaces but also concrete (so it is definitely a strong option with a great brand).

And yes, we certainly do love KILZ products, especially on wood.

The reason it is called the KILZ over armor is that it is a primer, sealer, and stain blocker all in one. It offers high adhesion to various wood surfaces and has great stain-blocking abilities.

Perhaps our favorite reason for getting this primer over others and even other KILZ wood primers is the fact that it is probably the most durable out of all the primers we have tried.

This means that it is the product that lasts the longest and provides the best protection for your wood while letting your oil or latex-based paint stick flawlessly.

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#5. Rust-Oleum 207014 Marine – Best Wood Primer

Finally, we have the Rust-Oleum Marine Wood Primer.

Although it is designed for priming wood on boats and whatnot, you can certainly use it for all types of wood outdoors.

This product really stands out as it provides a long-lasting finish on wood that can withstand lots of crazy weather and storms.

Also, this primer sands pretty easily and does a good job of applying over previously painted surfaces without the need to strip off the old paint or primer.

Finally, we like it because it does a decent job of enhancing the gloss and appearance of any topcoat that you apply over it and it can go not top of nails too.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use any type of paint with any exterior primer?

The answer is simply no – not all types of primers are compatible with every type of paint.

When selecting a primer, it’s important to consider what kind of project you’re working on.

For instance, if you’re painting an outdoor surface like your house, and you used an exterior-rated water-based primer that can withstand moisture and temperature changes, then you must use a water-based paint.

In the same way, if you use an oil based exterior primer, then the paint should be oil based. This is a simple rule that you can use for all your painting work.

Oil painting will stick onto an oil primer, and water painting will stick best on the best water primer.

This will help ensure that the paint lasts longer in those more extreme conditions.

Is the best wood oil based primer better than latex primer?

Oil-based primers have long been used as the de-facto primers by the industry. They are versatile, durable, and often the go-to choice for those looking to get a quality paint job on both interior and exterior surfaces. But is oil based primer better than its latex counterpart?

The answer is that it depends on the application.

Oil-based primers are great for use with wood surfaces, as it offers good adhesion and create an even surface for the finish coat to adhere to. It also provides extra protection against moisture damage and wears from the elements.

On the other hand, latex primer works best with drywall or concrete surfaces due to its flexibility and ease of applying multiple coats if necessary.

However, lately, it was shown that if you are in a position to sand any any previously painted surfaces back to bright wood, (you need to sand till you see the wood), then latex primer will work best.

The reason is really simple. We all know and make the assumption that oil-based primers penetrate wood fibers better than latex. That is definitely true. But the issue is that oil primers continue to harden over time. And as it hardens, it eventually becomes inflexible, rigid, and start to brittle.

How long does a bonding primer take to dry off after application?

Most primers will only take four hours to dry. This is true for oil-based primers from the time you apply it to the time it is fully dried.

On the other hand, a water-based primer dries much faster. The reason is that water just needs to evaporate while oil takes longer to evaporate. By the way, hours for oil is an average time. It may take a lot more if you live and apply the primer in cold conditions.

Can white paint be used instead of the best primer?

White paint can be used as a primer in certain situations, but it should not be a regular practice. The reality is that white paint may stop the natural nice wood color from coming through. So you look that natural look.

In addition, the white paint will not ensure the surface painted is smooth. It will also not seal the wood, while a really good primer will do. So it is best to use a transparent primer.

In summary, a primer is important to use before putting down a coat of paint. It not only helps the paint adhere to the surface better, but it also seals and protects it from the elements.


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