8 Best Primers for Exterior Walls -Buying Guide

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Exterior painting is the perfect way to enhance the appearance and protect the longevity of your home. A fresh coat of paint can completely transform the look of your property, adding curb appeal and increasing its overall value. Not only does it improve the aesthetics of your home, but it also serves as a protective barrier against weather elements such as rain, snow, and UV rays.

However, when it comes to exterior painting, a quality primer is essential to ensure a long-lasting and durable finish. The best paint primers are designed for exterior surfaces, providing excellent adhesion, moisture resistance, and flexibility.

With so many options, which primer should you select for your exterior?

So, to save you from the inconvenience, we scoured through the internet and came up with a list of the eight best primers for your exterior so you can paint over a smooth surface and remain in peace for a long time.

OUR TOP 3 PICKS OF BEST PRIMER FOR EXTERIOR WALLS

Best overall

ZINSSER White, Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer

811+yX3C NL. AC SL1500 8 Best Primers for Exterior Walls -Buying Guide
  • Extra durable
  • Multi-surface – interior and exterior
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Primer and sealer
  • Stain blocking

budget friendly

INSL-X AP100009A-04

813hvctbaVL. AC SL1500 8 Best Primers for Exterior Walls -Buying Guide
  • Highly cost-effective
  • Easy to Apply
  • Quick drying
  • Flat finish type

most durable

THE ONE Paint & Primer

616+mwaP4SL. AC SL1500 8 Best Primers for Exterior Walls -Buying Guide
  • Most durable
  • Works great on furniture
  • Water-based formula
  • Comes in a variety of finishes

Rating Criteria

Not all products are built equal. Each primer enlisted on the internet has its pros and cons. Some may tend to one’s needs better than the other. To address this issue, we devised strict rating criteria, which allowed us to finalize 25 products from all over the internet and then finalize a list of the 8 best exterior primers for your exterior.

1. Coverage Area

Generally, we consider large-sized walls, floors, doors, or windows with a wide surface area when discussing exterior surfaces. That is why coverage area was one of our significant concerns while finalizing the list of best exterior primers. The primers we selected had to cover at least 300 sq ft per gallon, so you guys don’t have to buy a bucket load of primer with a ton leftover.

2. Cost

A primer is something other than what you account for in your monthly expense. So nobody would be willing to spend much of it to get a smoother surface. That is why we ensured that the selected products were the most cost-effective and provided the most value for money. This cost criterion will save you from the hustle of choosing between an expensive or a low-quality paint project.

3. Environmental Friendly

Finally, one of our primary concerns was to list down environmentally friendly products. To do that, we ensured that the products emit either zero or ultra-low VOC levels in the atmosphere. On top of that, we also eliminated any products that can cause irritating fumes or odors that will cause inconvenience for the users.

8 Best Primers For Exterior Surfaces

Now that we have explained our strict rating criteria and our top 3 picks for you, you can fully trust our choices. The products mentioned below are the best in the market, with good to great customer reviews. So let’s dive into the list of 8 premium primers that will make your exterior surface as good as new.

1. ZINSSER Bulls Eye 1-2-3 – Best Overall

Key Features

  • Water-based formula
  • Works as both primer and sealer
  • Matt-type finish
  • Provides a wide area for coverage


What do we like best?

The Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is all you want in a primer for your exterior walls. The product comes from a trusted brand and is easy to use, even for beginners. The product works as a primer and a sealer, reducing your effort and keeping your surface stain free for a long time. This exterior primer also covers a large surface area of 82 to 110 square feet per quart, which reduces the overall cost.

The bull’s Eye 1-2-3 has a water-based formula allowing it to cover even the most complex surfaces without prior sanding or thorough cleaning. The water-based formula is also the reason behind its long-term durability and weather resistance. Finally, the primer dries up in 35 minutes and is ready for the top coat in an hour which is a cherry on top for such a dynamic product!

What needs to be improved?

The water-based formula can have adherence problems on glossy surfaces. The product is relatively thin and spills directly off, so this issue needs to be addressed to make the product a universal primer.

Pros

  • It covers a large surface area
  • Works as both primer and sealer
  • Dries up relatively quickly
  • Lasts very long in harsh conditions
  • Provides a matt-type finish to the surface

Cons

  • Can prove to be costly on a smaller project
  • Does not work well on glossy surfaces

2. INSL-X AP100009A-04 – Budget Friendly

Key Features

  • Acrylic type paint
  • Provides mildew resistant coating
  • Not recommended to use on floors
  • Covers up to 400 to 450 sq ft per gallon

What do we like best?

Spending a hefty amount to prime your exterior surfaces does not seem prudent for most people. To get around this budget constraint, INSL-X came up with the AP100009-04. Despite a relatively lower price, the product stands out from its competitors due to its strong adhesion and large application area.

This primer also has its fair share of features, including a quick drying ability that allows you to paint a second coat in just over an hour. The primer is easy to apply and sticks very well to wooden surfaces and windows. It provides a flat type finish to the surface, which works wonders if you are looking to smoothen out your rough or chalky exterior walls.

What needs to be improved?

This product is not recommended to be used on floors, limiting its usability and forcing you to buy a different one if floors are included in your project.

Pros

  • Provides most value for money
  • Elementary to apply even for beginners
  • Flat type finish smoothens outs the surface
  • Coating is mildew resistant and even resists minor stains.
  • Strong adhesive abilities

Cons

  • Can cause issues with temperatures of over 40 degrees
  • Limited in its use

Note: If you want paint and primer together, it is next in the list at # 3. It is also odorless and has a non-toxic formula.  

3. THE ONE Paint & Primer – Most Durable

Key Features

  • Non-toxic formula
  • Odorless application with low VOC
  • 2 in 1 paint and primer mix
  • Available in vibrant colors

What do we like best?

Sometimes money is not your concern; all you need is a high-quality primer to save you the trouble of painting every few years. If that is your need, then One Paint and primer is your go-to choice. The product is highly durable, and it is a 2 in 1 paint and primer mix, so it will also massively reduce the time and effort of your project.

The product is multifunctional and dynamic; this primer can be applied to exterior and interior furniture. It also applies on brick walls with almost no prep, making it well-disposed. Finally, the product has a non-toxic water-based formula, which makes it long-lasting despite ultra-low VOC emissions.

What needs to be improved?

The primer is not self-leveling, which can cause problems if one has no prior experience with painting. The primer surface can be left with stroke marks if the paint is applied by an unequipped hand.

Pros

  • Highly durable and long-lasting
  • Works on walls, and furniture
  • Requires little to zero prep work
  • Nontoxic formula with low VOC emissions
  • Odourless application makes it user-friendly

Cons

  • No self-leveling feature
  • Price is slightly higher

4. KILZ Adhesion Primer – Best for Glass Surfaces

Key Features

  • Gloss-type finish
  • Oil-based formula
  • Specifically made for hard-to-adhere surfaces
  • Can be painted through a spray gun

What do we like best?

When it comes to priming, the job’s most challenging and frustrating part is to coat a glossy surface (mainly glass and vinyl). These surfaces are slippery, making it hard for the paint to adhere to them. To counter this problem, KILZ developed their Adhesion primer, a unique latex-based formula that allows the primer to stick right to these surfaces without running off.

The product can be applied in multiple ways, including coming through brushes, rollers, and even paint guns, making it very convenient to use. The company recommends a half or quarter-inch tip with a 2500-3200 psi paint gun to get the best priming results on your exterior walls.

Moreover, the product’s usability is limited to glossy surfaces and provides excellent results on rough areas like wood or metal windows.

What needs to be improved?

This primer requires thorough prior cleaning before application. Although inconvenient, this prior prep is vital in all products used on these rigid surfaces, so it is not a make-or-break deal.

Pros

  • Works best on harsh surfaces
  • Strong latex-based formula increase adhesion
  • Can be applied through a paint gun
  • Dry-to-touch in an hour
  • Works excellent on other chalky and rough surfaces

Cons

  • Requires prior cleanup
  • Doesn’t give you the best coverage area

Note: If you want an odorless paint with non-toxic formula jump straight to our product number 6

5. KILZ 3 Premium Primer -Best Stain Blocking

Key Features

  • High stain-blocking capabilities
  • Matte type finish 
  • Highly stain-resistant formula
  • Self-leveling feature

What do we like best?

If you have kids at home likely to stain your exterior surfaces, get the KILZ 3 premium primer. KILZ is one of the leading brands in the market, known for making high-end products. This specific primer has a specialized water-based formula that acts as a strong sealer and prevents most stains from coming to the surface.

The KILZ 3 premium is a high-end primer with a formula that emits no harmful VOCs into the environment. The product requires a minor prior clean-up and can smoothen even the most uneven and masonry surfaces by following their little imperfections. The primer also has a self-leveling feature, making it very easy to use, even for a beginner.

What needs to be improved?

This product has an application area of about 300 square feet per gallon which is okay, but it is relatively little less than other water-based primers in the market.

Pros

  • Prevents most types of stains
  • Self-leveling provides uniform finish
  • Does not emit any harmful VOCs in the environment
  • Works well in humid environment
  • Works great on masonry surfaces

Cons

  • Smaller coverage area
  • Slightly pricey

Note: If you want a primer best fit for metal surfaces, jump straight to number 7.

6. KILZ Klear Primer – Best for Clear Coats

Key Features

  • Provides a clear coat to the surface
  • Best for wood and aluminum surfaces
  • Alkali resistant feature
  • Dries up very quickly

What do we like best?

As someone who prefers the classic wooden look of my exterior instead of a different vibrant paint, finding a primer that does not change the classic color was challenging until I came across this KILZ Klear primer. As the name suggests, this product provides a clear coating over your surface while filling all its pores and making it as smooth as possible.

This clear primer has a specialized alkali-resistant formula perfect for masonry and chalky exterior surfaces that can release alkaline chemicals in hot water. The clear coat provided by this product is breathable and flexible, which increases its long-term durability and increases the adhesion of the product. The primer requires minimum soap and water cleanup. This primer can be sprayed through a paint gun and dries up quickly, reducing the overall project time and making it very convenient.

What needs to be improved?

This primer is only applicable in a limited temperature, which can be troublesome in areas with extreme weather conditions. But once applied, the product will stand in any weather conditions for an extended period.

Pros

  • Provides a clear breathable coat on the surface
  • Dry-to-touch in less than 30 minutes
  • Alkaline resistance makes it perfect for cement surfaces
  • Preserves the classic color of wooden exteriors
  • Can be sprayed, which reduces time and effort

Cons

  • Needs proportionate mixing before use
  • Limited in application in extreme weather areas

7. Rust-Oleum 7780502 – Best for Metals

Key Features

  • Rust and corrosion resistant
  • Dries in 2 to 4 hours
  • Strong oil-based formula
  • Provides a clear flat finish

What do we like best?

No prime list of paint products is complete without the mention of Rust-Oleum. They are one of the most trusted brands regarding metallic and masonry surfaces. This specific Rust-Oleum 7780502 primer is tailor-made for exterior metal surfaces by providing a flat solid base finish.

This product has a robust oil-based formula which is the reason behind its strong adhesion to metal surfaces. In addition, the product also features a non-corrosive paint base perfect for restoring old and dingy metal door surfaces or even roofs. Finally, the product’s ultra-wide coverage and extreme weather resistance separate it from its competitors in the primer market.

What needs to be improved?

This oil-based primer requires at least 2 to 4 hours to dry to touch (varying due to weather conditions). But the benefits it provides in return are more than enough to make for some extra few hours of effort.

Pros

  • Prevents the metal surface from rusting
  • Withstands extreme weather conditions
  • Provides a flat white base for a smoother top coat
  • Lasts for a very long time
  • Works well on wooden surfaces as well

Cons

  • Very long drying time
  • Can be tricky to spray through a gun

Note: If you want a primer that can be used with a spray gun, scroll up and checkout number 4

8. KILZ Restoration Primer – Odor resistant

Key Features

  • Odor blocking ability
  • Provides matt finish
  • Resists a variety of hard stains
  • Water-based formula

What do we like best?

Finally, this product is for all pet owners worried about their homes smelling bad. The KILZ restoration primer is one of the most dynamic products in the market due to its highly advanced water-based formula that acts like an oil-based formula by sealing the surface and providing super adhesion without the long dry-up time.

This primer has many special features, but its stain-resisting and odor-blocking capabilities are perfect for painting a dog house outside your home. Despite being so durable, the product has a water-based formula that lowers the dripping time and increases the coverage area by many folds compared to other-based competitors. Finally, the product dries hard, providing a straightforward surface to coat with the paint.

What needs to be improved?

This primer requires a sanded and properly cleaned surface which can take time and effort. But the quick drying time and hard finish make up for these shortcomings quite well.

Pros

  • Completely seals off any type of odors
  • Reduces heavy water and smoke stains
  • Super adhesion makes it durable
  • Dries up in no time.
  • Provides a hard finish to paint on.

Cons

  • Requires prior sanding and cleaning
  • Product can harden up if left uncovered for a long time

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRIMER FOR EXTERIOR WALLS

All the products mentioned above are best at one thing or another. But that does not mean each will satisfy your needs equally. Many beginners make the mistake of buying our best pic or most budget-friendly option without realizing the specifics of their project. To save you the trouble, we will provide a buying guide to help you identify which product will suit your project the best.

The Type of Surface

Even the best product will not work if applied on the wrong surface. Every surfacer is different. A primer made for masonry surfaces will not work on a metal surface (it will drop off). Similarly, a glossy primer will not work on a wooden surface, so whenever you buy a primer, make sure it applies to your required surface.

Tintability

A primer is not the final coat on your surface. Instead, it provides a base for your top coat. A tintable primer will provide a much more uniform and rich color. On top of that, buying the right level of tintablity will also do wonders for your project by reducing the number of paint coats significantly if you change from a dark color to a lighter one.

Drying Time

Drying time is one of the most critical components of a project. Most people are unwilling to paint their patio or exterior furniture for multiple days. That is why whenever you are buying a primer, note the drying time carefully, and if you have a limited time ( a day or two), buy a primer that dries up in an hour or so you can complete the project as soon as possible.

Conclusion

We have provided you with a list of the 8 best primers for your exterior, and our strict rating criteria are more than enough to justify the credibility of these products. 

But keep in mind this list is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds of products in the market, and one may suit your project better than any on our list. That is why we have provided you with a buying guide to help you identify your specific primer so you can paint on an accessible surface and have peace of mind for a long time.

So, What are you waiting for now? Pick up that brush and start painting and enjoy the whole process!

You can also check out the article of 6 best primers for interior walls and see the common ones so you can use them on both surfaces. 

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