Inspiring Ideas for Modern Home

7 Best Exterior Primer Paints Of 2023 | Tested + Reviewed

On the hunt for the perfect primer for application on exterior surfaces? You’ve come to the right place!

Best Exterior Primer Paints

Whether you’re planning to redo the exterior of your home or paint an outdoor patio table, primers are crucial for a high-quality paint job. However, it’s easy to be confused or feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to figure out the right primer to use for your project. 

This is especially true if you’re new to doing these projects by yourself. But don’t worry, as that’s exactly what we’re here for!

To make this process a little bit easier for you, we have tried and tested a bunch of top-rated primers available on the market. And finally, we come to you with a guide detailing the 7 best options of 2023.

So, now that we’ve got you hooked, let’s dive straight into it, shall we?

Best Exterior Primer Paints

Close up of dipping brush into grey paint outside. Home renovation. Grey paint running of the brush. Best Exterior Primer Paints

Here is the list of the 7 best exterior primer paints that you can use to prepare your walls for a perfect topcoat finish.

1. Rust-Oleum 286258 - Best for Versatile Use

Zinsser 286258 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 All Surface Primer, Quart,...
  • Interior/Exterior use on new or previously painted drywall,...
  • Water-based formula seals uniformly and will stick to...

Rust-Oleum’s reputation is notably well-deserved and has led them to develop a broad range of paints and primers to meet your requirements. That said, its Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 primer in gray is a high-performing formulation meant to provide you with smooth coverage on a variety of exterior surfaces. 

Why Did We Like It?

This primer by Rust-Oleum is light gray in color and is made for application under comparatively deep and vibrant paint shades. Moreover, it is tintable and can be applied both as an undercoat and as a topcoat after tinting with paint. 

Straight off the bat, we would like to mention that this primer is rather versatile and; thereby,  compatible with a variety of interior and exterior surfaces. Starting from previously painted, drywall, masonry, wood, concrete, and metal, it can be applied on varied glossy and difficult-to-paint surfaces. 

What’s more, it forms an incredibly durable mold, mildew-resistant, anti-rust, stain, and odor-blocking film that provides surface protection from weather damage. 

That’s not all; the water-based formulation of this primer makes it very easy to apply and sticks on all surfaces without prior sanding. It dries to touch in just 30 minutes and can be re-applied within the hour facilitating a fast-application process. 

What Could've Been Better?

The shipping procedures followed by the company are subpar at best. Quite a few customers have voiced grievances regarding having received leaking and banged up or dented paint cans. This can be really messy and difficult to handle for people on the receiving end. 


  • Mold and mildew-resistant formulation
  • Rust-inhibitive, stain-blocking
  • Tintable primer perfect under deep colors
  • Versatile and quick-drying
  • Can be used with any topcoat


  • Dented paint cans

Color: Gray | Finish: Gloss | Paint Type: Acrylic | Volume: 31.5fl oz | Coverage: 100sq ft | Drying Time: Dries to Touch in 30 Minutes, Ready to Recoat in 1 Hour

2. KILZ ‎10111 - Best for Vibrant Exteriors

Kilz 1682863 1 gal Oil & Water-Based Siding Fence & Barn...
  • Dry Ice Antiperserant & Deodorant
  • Pack of 4Specifications

KILZ is one of the leading premium painting manufacturing companies, especially among home-based DIY enthusiasts. In the 40 years since its inception, this brand has gained large-scale popularity and was even declared the “Paint Brand of the Year” by Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings in 2015.

Why Did We Like It?

If you’re looking for a product that combines the features of both oil and water-based paint, then this paint is the one for you. Its unparalleled adhesion makes it one of the most unique yet durable paints available on the market. This is also a great option if you’re looking to add a pop of vibrant color to your exterior surfaces!

Furthermore, this paint is easy to clean and apply because of its water-based properties. Simultaneously, it provides a remarkably enduring and mildew-resistant finish that resists fading, cracking, and peeling in the long run. Apart from that, this paint is applicable on a variety of properly-prepared exterior surfaces including, plywood, fences, laminates, masonry, stucco, and more. 

Moving on, this paint provides excellent coverage ranging from 200-500 square feet per gallon, depending on the porosity of the surface it’s applied on. Last but not least, it has a versatile application method and can be applied using a roller, brush, as well as a spray gun. This enables users to choose the process they are most comfortable with. 

What Could've Been Better?

This paint takes about 2-3 hours to dry to touch, and at least 6-8 hours to dry completely before it can be repainted. And since most painting projects require you to recoat at least 2-3 times, this paint considerably extends the project duration. It’s also essential to properly prep all the surfaces you apply this paint to. 


  • Offers good protection against weather elements
  • Provides great coverage
  • Supports versatile application methods
  • Resists peeling, cracking, and blistering
  • Mildew-resistant and long-lasting


  • Long drying time

Color: White | Finish: N/A | Paint Type: Oil & Water-Based | Volume: 512fl oz | Coverage: 200 to 500sq ft | Drying Time: Dries to Touch in 2 to 3 Hours, Ready to Repaint in 6 to 8 Hours

3. Prestige ‎E500-9 - Best for High-Humidity Areas

PRESTIGE Exterior Paint and Primer In One, 1-Gallon,...
  • Ultra premium paint and primer in one
  • High hiding formula for excellent coverage with smooth...

Prestige has developed a high-end paint and primer that effectively coats a variety of exterior surfaces to provide a smooth and glossy finish. This includes cement boards, masonry walls, properly prepared wood, aluminum, factory-primed siding, and other unconventional surfaces.

Why Did We Like It?

This ultra-premium paint and primer two-in-one offers users the benefits of a topcoat while eliminating the need of applying an undercoat. It’s 100% acrylic-based latex paint and therefore easy to apply, and even simpler to clean and maintain in the long run. 

Furthermore, this paint provides excellent opaque coverage with a smooth dewy finish that hides all kinds of old paints and stains effectively. One gallon of this paint can comfortably cover from 200-400 square feet of area depending on the porosity of the surface it’s applied to. Besides that, it supports multiple application methods, such as roller, brush, and spray gun once the paint is sparingly thinned. 

That’s not all though, because the mildew-resistant coating of this paint and primer makes it perfect for application in high-humidity areas. Additionally, formulated with a remarkably low VOC count of 50 gms/L, this is very safe to apply yourself and can even be used around children and pets. 

What Could've Been Better?

While glossy paints provide a lot of aesthetic benefits, they also tend to highlight the imperfections of the surface it’s applied on. Hence, it’s necessary to properly prep a surface you plan to apply this on. Apart from that, the manufacturer recommends keeping the paint overnight before recoating. Sometimes this drying time extends even further depending on the weather. 


  • Provides impressive coverage
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Supports versatile application methods
  • Mildew-resistant coating ideal for high-humidity areas
  • Extremely easy to clean and maintain


  • The gloss highlights imperfections
  • May take a long while to dry

Color: White | Finish: Semi-Gloss | Paint Type: Acrylic | Volume: 128fl oz | Coverage: 200 to 400sq ft | Drying Time: ‎Dries in 1 to 2 Hours

4. Rust-Oleum Zinsser 3134

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 31.5 fl oz. PermaWhite Exterior...
  • The product is qt sg mildew ext paint
  • Easy and simple use kit

Rust-Oleum, as we mentioned before, is an extremely well-established brand in the paint and home improvement industry. The Zinser 3134 from its range is specifically formulated for households exposed to high humidity and therefore prone to mold and mildew concerns.

Why Did We Like It?

If you’re searching for a paint that is specifically formulated to tackle frequent mold and mildew issues, this exterior paint by Rust-Oleum is hand-down the perfect product for you. It comes equipped with a 5-year mold and mildew-resistant paint film guarantee. Hence, you can rest assured of a highly effective and premium performance when using this product in high-humidity areas. 

Besides that, the brand also provides a whopping 15-year blister, fade, peel, and crack resistance guarantee. This further endorses the enhanced durability and long-lasting performance of this product. Additionally, this white coating is tintable, allowing you to mix other shades of paint to alter its final color according to your preferences. 

What’s more, this paint is self-priming and requires no prior application of an undercoat to provide a smooth and durable surface. It also considerably reduces the preparation process because it requires no sanding and hence ensures minimal prep before painting. 

What Could've Been Better?

A few customers found this paint to have a clumpy texture. To get rid of these clumps, you will need to vigorously stir the paint and maybe even thin it with some water. Other than that, users also noted that it offered very low coverage. Hence, they were forced to apply multiple coats to achieve the finish they desired.  


  • Guaranteed mold and mildew-resistant paint
  • Crack, fade and peel resistant
  • Tintable
  • Self-priming, therefore, requires minimal prep
  • Simple and easy to clean and apply


  • Low coverage

Color: White | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic | Volume: 31.5fl oz | Coverage: ‎100sq ft | Drying Time: N/A

5. Rust-Oleum 1980502

Rust-Oleum Brush On Acrylic Paint 1980502 Painters Touch...
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces...
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and...

Next up in our guide, we have yet another Rust-Oleum variant. This premium latex primer belongs to their Painters Touch range and offers a durable flat finish on a variety of surfaces. This includes surfaces such as bare or painted metal, wood, wicker, unglazed ceramic, plaster, and so on.

Why Did We Like It?

Are you looking for a paint primer with exceptional coverage? If that is the case, then look no further, because this primer is what you’re looking for. Equipped with a double cover technology, this primer provides exceptional coverage effectively hiding all kinds of paints and stains on varied surfaces.

In addition to the above, this primer offers a remarkable bonding capacity enabling it to adhere to any surface with vigor and forming an excellent base coat. This facilitates the topcoat to adhere to the surface optimally and therefore provides a smooth and uniform look. The flat finish of this primer further minimizes the appearance of imperfections on the surface it’s applied to. 

If that wasn’t enough, this primer dries to touch in just 30 minutes enabling fast and efficient project completion. Moreover, one quart of this primer can in fact, efficiently cover up to 120 square feet of area with relative ease. Lastly, this enhanced coating offers long-lasting indoor as well as outdoor durability that resists fading and chipping to provide a flawless finish. 

What Could've Been Better?

The manufacturer highly recommends that you sand the surface you are planning to paint with 180/200 grit sandpaper and then wash it with a degreaser. This ensures that the primer goes on to provide a smooth finish. If these instructions aren’t followed then the paint surface tends to crack apart a while after application.


  • Provides enhances coverage
  • Has a strong bonding and adhesive capacity
  • Long-lasting and resists paint chipping
  • Easy to clean and apply
  • Has a fast drying time


  • Paint prone to cracking after application

Color: Gray | Finish: Flat | Paint Type: Acrylic | Volume: 32fl oz | Coverage: 120sq ft | Drying Time: Dries to Touch in 30 Minutes

6. KILZ ‎L220105

KILZ Klear Primer, Interior/Exterior, Clear, 1 Gallon
  • PRIMER | CLEAR SEALER | BONDING PRIMER: A high-performance...
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: This incredibly versatile styrene acrylic...

KILZ, as we mentioned earlier, is a popular brand that has been in the premium paint and primer manufacturing game for over 40 years. It has consequently developed a high-performing clear primer that is specifically formulated to bond chalky and porous interior and exterior surfaces.

Why Did We Like It?

The KILZ L220105 is an exceptionally powerful primer, bonder, and sealer that is created to seal porous and difficult-to-paint interior and exterior surfaces. Its superior stain-blocking capacity and enhanced topcoat adhesion have made it a hot favorite among many DIY home development enthusiasts. 

It can effectively coat a variety of surfaces to create a tough, breathable, yet flexible film that can readily accept the paint you wish to apply. 

Furthermore, this primer, although water-based, is compatible with a versatile selection of topcoats including alkyd, and oil-based paints. This is the ideal primer to consider if you’re planning to repaint an exterior surface with the same color because the transparent color makes an ideal base coat. 

If that wasn’t enough, one gallon of this primer can effectively cover an area of 300-400 square feet. What's more, it dries to touch within half an hour and can be recoated in one hour with the help of either a brush roller or spray, Hence, it also supports versatile application methods to allow customers to choose the method they are most comfortable with. 

What Could've Been Better?

This primer has an extremely thin consistency that makes it difficult to apply on most surfaces. Customers mentioned that they found this product difficult to apply, especially on unprepared surfaces. They were additionally forced to apply multiple layers of this primer to achieve the desired coverage on their walls. 


  • Fast drying time
  • Alkali-resistant primer
  • Works with all kinds of topcoats
  • Versatile application methods
  • Tough, breathable, and flexible stain-blocking properties


  • Has a very thin consistency

Color: Transparent | Finish: Matte | Paint Type: Water-Based | Volume: 128fl oz | Coverage: 300 to 400sq ft | Drying Time: Dries to Touch in 30 Minutes, Dries to Recoat in 1 Hour

7. INSL-X AQ040009A-01

INSL-X AQ040009A-01 Aqua Lock Plus 100% Acrylic Water-Based...
  • Multipurpose, 100% acrylic primer sealer that provides...
  • Superior sealing and coverage qualities, product versatility...

INSL-X is a company committed to producing superior quality multi-purpose paints and primers for everyday use. And this acrylic primer for interior and exterior surfaces is no exception. For this particular guide, we have tested and are reviewing the white variant only.

Why Did We Like It?

This multi-purpose primer and sealer by INSL-X from their Aqua Lock Plus series can be applied on a multitude of interior and exterior surfaces. It provides excellent sealing properties that actively block out all the imperfections and stains on the surface you are priming. Additionally, the final film of its form is mold-resistant, thereby ideal for application in high-humidity areas.

Furthermore, this primer is very versatile and compatible with a variety of topcoats that have latex as well as oil-based finishes. Its superior quality adhesiveness offers unmatched adherence that helps all kinds of paint stick to an array of difficult-to-paint surfaces.

Apart from that, it takes only 30 minutes to dry, offering an unparalleled coverage that rarely requires you to apply a second coating. The topcoat can then be applied over this paint in an hour, making it one of the quickest priming solutions on the market. 

One gallon of this product provides complete coverage of about 300-400 square feet of area, which is something we absolutely love!

What Could've Been Better?

Some customers have expressed that the primer they bought from INSL-X was more light gray than white as mentioned in the description. A few of them also received defective items where the product was completely cured, and chunky; hence, practically impossible to stir or apply. 


  • Excellent stain-blocking properties
  • Enhanced adhesion and sealing capacity
  • Easy to clean and apply
  • High coverage and quick drying


  • Primer does not match the description provided

Color: White | Finish: N/A | Paint Type: Acrylic | Volume: 128fl oz | Coverage: 300 to 400sq ft | Drying Time: ‎Dries in 30 Minutes, Ready for Topcoat in 1 Hour

Best Exterior Primer Paint Comparison Table

ProductColorFinishPaint TypeVolumeCoverageDrying Time
Rust-Oleum 286258GrayGlossAcrylic31.5fl oz100sq ftDries to Touch in 30 Minutes, Ready to Recoat in 1 Hour
KILZ ‎10111WhiteN/AOil & Water-Based512fl oz200 to 500sq ftDries to Touch in 2 to 3 Hours, Ready to Repaint in 6 to 8 Hours
Prestige ‎E500-9WhiteSemi-GlossAcrylic128fl oz200 to 400sq ft‎Dries in 1 to 2 Hours
Rust-Oleum Zinsser 3134WhiteFlatAcrylic31.5fl oz‎100sq ftN/A
Rust-Oleum 1980502‎GrayFlatAcrylic32fl oz120sq ftDries to Touch in 30 Minutes
KILZ ‎L220105TransparentMatteWater-Based128fl oz300 to 400sq ft‎Dries to Touch in 30 Minutes, Dries to Recoat in 1 Hour
INSL-X AQ040009A-01WhiteN/AAcrylic128fl oz300 to 400sq ft‎Dries in 30 Minutes, Ready for Topcoat in 1 Hour

Buying Guide For The Best Exterior Primer Paint

With that, we’ve come to the end of our top 7 reviews. But are you still confused about which of these products is the best option for you? To help you answer this question, we have compiled a comprehensive buyer’s guide for you. In this guide, we have listed some of the key factors to consider while purchasing primer paint for your exterior projects. 

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump right into it!

  1. Environment

The environment you will be working in or the climate that you live in is a very crucial factor to consider while buying primer. The environment determines the temperature of your location and some primers out there have a very specific range of temperatures in which they can be applied. 

Furthermore, the environment contributes to issues such as mold and mildew formation. So, if you’re living in a high-humidity area that is prone to these issues, you might want to buy a paint primer that is mold and mildew resistant.

  1. Drying Time

The drying time is the amount of time a primer requires to dry to the touch. Alternatively, cure time is the duration it takes for primers to dry completely after which you can either recoat or apply the topcoat of your project. These are significant when it comes to determining the overall project duration time. 

  1. Coverage Provided

This factor includes two very important aspects of primers you need to consider. First of all, how much area one tin of this product can cover and secondly, how many coats you require to cover it. Both of these together determine how much paint you will require to cover a certain surface area. Hence, they also simultaneously help you understand how affordable a primer really is.

  1. Finish Of The Primer

Different products offer an assortment of different finishes to your project, ranging from flat, glossy, satin, and so on. Each finish has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, for example, a glossy finish is really easy to maintain but they tend to highlight the imperfections of the surface. 

Alternatively, a flat finish primer offers more coverage and sealing properties but is difficult to maintain in the long run. Hence you need to decide on the finish depending on your surface type and preparation.

  1. Versatility

This includes both versatility in paint application surfaces as well as paint application methods. Although this article is specifically for exterior primer paints, there are a lot of products in our guide that caters to a wider variety of surfaces. Similarly, most of our primers support varied application methods and allow you to choose what you’re most comfortable with.

Exterior Primer Paints FAQs

  • Can I use interior primer for the exterior surfaces of my house?

    It’s not recommended because exterior primers are formulated to withstand weather conditions like rain, hail, snow, and sunlight, unlike interior primers.

  • Is it important to clean the surface before applying exterior primer paint?

    Yes, for the primer to adhere properly, the surface should be clean, dry, and free of loose or peeling paint, mildew stains, dirt, and rust.

  • What's the best way to apply exterior primer paint?

    Exterior primer paint can be applied by rolling, brushing, or spraying. Each method has its pros and cons, so choose the one which suits your project and skill level best.

  • How many coats of primer do I need to apply?

    Most of the time, one coat of primer should be sufficient. However, if the surface is highly porous, stained, or if there will be a dramatic color change, additional coats may be necessary.

  • A painter paints a concrete wall with white paint, a male hand with a paint roller for painting a wall. Top Exterior Primer Paint Verdict


    Understanding the perk of a good-quality exterior primer paint is important if you're looking to wholly revamp the look of your house or even a particular exterior structure. An ideal exterior primer not only serves as a protective layer for your exteriors but also enhances the aesthetic value by providing a smoothened base for the final topcoat. Primers, in general, prevent stains, rust, and peeling, and they also enhance the durability of the topcoat paint.

    From the above seven best exterior primer paints, here are the top three expert recommendations:

    The Rust-Oleum Zinsser 286258 Bulls Eye primer is an ideal option for those looking for a deceptively simple and versatile primer. This high-performing primer is noted for its smooth coverage, compatibility with a broad range of surfaces, and its water-based formulation that makes it easy to apply and reapply within a short duration. It's ideal for surfaces that have been previously painted, including masonry, wood, metal, and drywall. In spite of some complaints about poor shipping procedures, the overall performance of this primer is commendable.

    The KILZ ‎10111, an oil and water-based primer, is a good option for those who desire a blend of premium performance and durability. This primer offers excellent coverage and a highly resistant finish, and it supports various application methods including using a roller, brush, or spray gun. If prepped properly, it adheres and covers brilliantly on surfaces like plywood, fences, and laminates. Despite its long drying time, its enduring finish is worth the wait.

    Lastly, for someone who is looking to get the double benefits of a primer and a topcoat, the Prestige ‎E500-9 is the right choice. This two-in-one paint and primer has an easy-to-apply formula with excellent coverage and a high-end finish. It's mildew-resistant, which makes it perfect for high-humidity areas. But for best results, you need to give the surface a good preparation, given its semi-gloss finish tends to highlight imperfections.

    While shopping for the right primer, some might compromise on certain factors, but as long as you're aware of what you require in your primer, you'll make the right decision. Each primer mentioned above excels in its quality, versatility, and protection, while also offering aesthetic benefits to your exterior surfaces. Explore each of these options and choose what suits you best.

    Remember, a good painting job starts with a good primer. So invest wisely!

    Related Articles

    Alcohol Ink Art Tutorial

    7 Best Latex Paint Remover

    6 Best One Coat Paint and Primer

    7 Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint

    7 Best Exterior Primer For Peeling Paint

    9 Best Deck Stains

    6 Best Paint Primer For Rusted Metal

    9 Best Stains For Cedar

    9 Best Pump Sprayers For Staining Fence

    10 Best Wood Wax

    Learn How To Soften A Hard Paint Brush

    5 Best Paints For Stucco

    11 Best Paint For Concrete Walls In Basement

    9 Best Paint Brushes For Chalk Paint

    13 Best Paint for Furniture

    10 Highest CFM Air Compressors

    9 Best 6 Gallon Air Compressors for Your Home & Garage

    13 Best Paints for Bathroom Ceilings

    13 Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets This Year

    2 Luminess Silk Reviews

    HVLP vs. LVLP [All You Need to Know & Winner]

    5 Best Sprayers For Plasti Dip

    9 Best Chrome Spray Paint

    How Much Does It Cost To Bottom Paint A Boat

    How To Thin Latex Paint For A Wagner Spray Gun

    How Much Does Benjamin Moore Paint Cost

    9 Best Paint Stripper For Metal

    11 Best Paint Scrapers to Rock

    How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete

    11 Best Paint Roller To Hide Imperfections

    9 Best Paints For Closets

    How To Paint Trim Near Carpet