Friday, September 22nd, 2023
search icon

7 Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint of 2023 [Tested]

3d illustration. Brick wall of a street facade at night. Entrance to the room. Dirty old gateway. Lamp. Background banner wallpaper

Are you tired of the old dark look of your kitchen cabinet? All you need to do is paint it with some dazzling colors.

For this, you will need to invest in a top-notch primer that is capable of covering dark paint and changing the décor of your house. Sounds easy? Well, to be honest, choosing the best primer that covers dark paint is easier said than done.

The market is filled with a ton of options, so choosing the best among the lot can be pretty confusing and time-consuming. Since you will be busy deciding the colors, we thought of helping out a little by compiling the top 7 primers currently available on the market.

We have personally handpicked each of these options and provided detailed reviews for each of them after extensive research and rigorous testing. Also, we have included a buyer’s guide towards the end of the article to help you a bit more.

So, without any further ado, let’s get down to business!

Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint

Close up photo of hand painting wall with roller in white color. Copy space.

So, if you’re ready to tackle your painting project with confidence, here’s the list of the 7 best primers to cover dark paint that will help you achieve the desired results with ease.

1. KILZ 2 20902 – Best for Budget-Friendly Option

Introduced in 1974, KILZ is one of the leading manufacturers of top-grade primers in the US. And the 2 20902 unit is certainly not any different. Made using latex, this versatile primer is perfect for hiding the old colors and allowing a firm adhesion for new paint.

20002 Qt Kilz 2
  • Hides previous colors well
  • Kilz 2 blocks medium stains

Why Did We Like It?

There are quite a few things that we really liked about KILZ 2 20902. To begin with, it can be applied on a wide variety of interior and exterior surfaces such as plaster, wood, drywall, painted metal, and even bricks. It does a pretty good job of providing strong adhesion for new paint.

Furthermore, you would be pleased to know that it takes only 30 minutes to dry up, enabling you to recoat within an hour. It really comes in handy for hiding previous colors and blocking medium stains. Plus, 1 quart of this water-based primer can easily cover an area of up to 100 square feet.

Finally, it is one of the most budget-friendly options on this list that delivers an excellent matte finish on surfaces. All of these features make it one of the most sought-after primers on the market.

What Could’ve Been Better?

KILZ 2 20902 does a decent job in all aspects, and honestly, we did not have much to complain about. However, we would have preferred if it came in better packaging. Other than this minor drawback, we were really impressed with the results it offered.

  • Can be applied on a wide variety of surfaces
  • Dries up within 30 minutes
  • Useful in hiding previous color and spots
  • Extremely affordable
  • Poor packaging
Coverage: 400-450 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Excellent | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 30 minutes (dry to touch)

2. INSL-X SXA11009A-04 – Best for Low VOC Formula

Next up, we bring you INSL-X SXA11009A-04. This brand is a part of Benjamin Moore and Co., established in 1883; it has been manufacturing some top-grade paints on the market. Having said that, this particular primer from the brand is capable of bonding with the most challenging surfaces.

INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer,...
  • Premium-quality, acrylic-urethane bonding primer-sealer with...
  • Bonding primer for drywall, plaster, ceiling, acoustical...

Why Did We Like It?

As a primer from a company that has been in the business since 1883, INSL-X SXA11009A-04 exceeds expectations in all departments. For starters, it features an outstanding enamel holdout, which allows it to offer a firm base for a smooth topcoat finish. Made using acrylic urethane, it bonds to pretty much all hard-to-coat surfaces.

Furthermore, 1 quart of this primer can cover up to 100 square feet. This primer is suitable for both interior and exterior use; it can be applied on ceilings, drywall, glossy surfaces, masonry walls, concrete cement block, and plaster. Plus, the matte finish makes it a lot more visually appealing.

However, the best thing about this primer is that it features a very low VOC. Also, it can be cleaned with just soap and water. And lastly, if you are concerned with the drying time, you would be glad to know that it dries rather quickly.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The INSL-X SXA11009A-04 is undoubtedly a great choice when it comes to primers. However, while testing it, we found that it does not adhere to tiles. Also, it is a tad thinner for our liking. Apart from these two issues, it does a great job.

  • Contains low VOC
  • Features acrylic-urethane
  • Can be applied on a wide range of surfaces
  • Easy to clean
  • Does not adhere to tiles
Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Strong | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)

3. Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye – Best for DIY Decor Projects

Founded in 1921, Rust-Oleum is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of paint-related materials. That being said, we thought of including one of the most popular products of this brand on this list. Featuring industrial strength endurance, the Rust-Oleum 2004 offers durability and strong adhesion to a wide variety of coatings.

ZINSSER 1 qt 02004 White, Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Stain...
  • Interior/exterior use on new or previously painted drywall,...
  • Water-based formula seals uniformly and will stick to...

Why Did We Like It?

To be fair, we were thoroughly impressed with all the exceptional features that Rust-Oleum 2004 had to bring to the table. What really drew our attention right from the start was its premium quality; it offers top-notch adhesion to a wide variety of hard-to-coat surfaces.

Plus, it does a spectacular job of getting rid of odor, water damage, and dark spots, allowing you to paint directly over the coating without the hassle of repairs. What’s more? Well, it creates an extremely smooth coating that allows you to paint evenly and effortlessly.

Furthermore, one quart of this top-grade primer can cover an area as large as 100 square feet. It dries up relatively more quickly than many options on the market, and also, it is odorless. That being said, it is one of the most suitable options for DIY décor projects.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Even though the Rust-Oleum 2004 does a decent job in most aspects, there are a couple of things that could have been better. Firstly, we did not like the package at all, it was very poor, and the cans came dented. Plus, it is on the thinner side of things and, therefore, tends to drip.

  • Applies on a wide range of surfaces
  • Odorless
  • Dries up very quickly
  • Suitable for DIY décor projects
  • Poor packaging
Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Excellent | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 30 minutes (dry to touch)

4. KILZ L211101

As you already know, KILZ is one of the leading names in the painting industry, so we thought it would be reasonable to add another marvelous product from this brand. With that being said, KILZ L211101 is a primer that offers everything you would expect from a top-notch primer, making it a must-have for all DIYers.

KILZ Adhesion Primer, Interior/Exterior, 1 Gallon
  • BONDING PRIMER: A high adhesion primer that bonds to a wide...
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: It's advanced styrenated acrylic polymer...

Why Did We Like It?

We were pretty impressed with its dry time, for starters, which is less than 30 minutes, allowing you to recoat within an hour of applying. Also, 1 gallon of this high-bonding primer can cover a whopping 400 square feet.

Besides being water-based, it can be applied on a wide range of interior and exterior surfaces, including tile, glass, glossy finishes, Kynar, etc. Also, it gives a gloss finish which is very durable; in fact, you would be delighted to know that we tried scratching it after 12 hours and nothing came up.

You do not even need to sand the surface before applying it; its smooth and glossy texture does the job. Overall, the KILZ L211101, given all the features, is certainly worth the investment.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We were quite happy with the performance of the KILZ L211101. However, while testing, we found two significant drawbacks: its poor packaging, and the one that we received was dented. The other issue is its odor; we strongly recommend you use it outdoors.

  • Features a very durable finish
  • It does not require sanding
  • Dries up within 30 minutes
  • It can be applied on a wide variety of surfaces
  • Significantly strong odor
Coverage: 300-400 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Good | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)

5. Prestige P500-1

If you did not already know, Prestige Paints are one of the best-selling paint product brands. On that note, the P500-1 unit is both an ultra-premium paint and a primer, capable of delivering ideal results.

Prestige Paints Interior Paint and Primer in One, 1 Gallon,...
  • Ultra premium paint and primer in one
  • Ideal for living rooms, family rooms, media rooms, bedrooms,...

Why Did We Like It?

First off, we really liked its versatility; it can be used as paint as well as a primer, which is like killing two birds with a single stone. Having said that, it is most suitable for all kinds of rooms such as bedrooms, family rooms, and living rooms.

In addition, it has got a very smooth texture, allowing you to paint evenly without sanding the surface. It has a curing time of only 4 hours, unlike most other primers whose curing time exceeds 12 hours. Impressive, right? Well, there is more.

Made using acrylic latex, this primer cum paint ensures that it is both durable and washable. Furthermore, it features a VOC of 5 g/l, which is considered to be on the lower side of things. If you are looking to go with a good quality primer and paint, this product may as well be a good option.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Despite being such a versatile and premium primer, there are a couple of areas that need improvement. Firstly, you will require multiple coats to cover. The other issue is that it generates an extremely strong odor. So, we would strongly advise you to use it in a properly ventilated room.

  • Dual-functionality
  • Features low VOC
  • It has a curing time of only 4 hours
  • Works on a wide range of interiors
  • Requires multiple coatings
Coverage: 400-450 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Strong | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 30 minutes (dry to touch)

6. Rust-Oleum 276087

Now that we are nearing the end of the list, here’s another primer from Rust-Oleum that you simply cannot afford to miss out on. On that note, allow us to introduce you to the Rust-Oleum 276087, specifically designed for painting over existing fungi, mind dew, and mold.

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 276087 Mold Killing Primer, Quart, White
  • Protective primer specially formulated to paint over and...
  • Low odor, water-based coating cleans up easily with soap and...

Why Did We Like It?

Rust-Oleum 276087 generates a very low odor; being a water-based primer, it cleans up rather easily. However, we consider the main USP its mold-killing feature, which sets it apart from most primers on this list, all thanks to the EPA-registered antimicrobial. You do not need to worry about any fungal growth on the coating.

Apart from that, it boasts a curing time of just an hour, which is significantly lesser than most primer options currently available on the market. Plus, this mold-killing primer is suitable for both interior and exterior purposes. What’s more? Well, one quart of it can cover up to 160 square feet.

Furthermore, it binds with various materials, including metal, masonry, and chalky siding. It can also be used to cover fungal stains without the need for sanding. Overall, the Rust-Oleum 276087 is one of the top-rated primers available out there.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Despite being such a versatile primer, the Rust-Oleum 276087 has its fair share of drawbacks. When we received this product, it was rock solid, which made it quite difficult to use, and also the packaging was not that remarkable. The manufacturer should have kept a check on the shipping process.

  • It comes with a mold-killing feature
  • Curing time is just an hour
  • Suitable on both interior and exterior use
  • Produces very low odor
  • Poor packaging
Coverage: 400-450 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Excellent | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)

7. Modern Masters AM203GAL

To be fair, our list of top 7 primers would have remained incomplete without the inclusion of Modern Masters AM20GAL. This leading brand, known for delivering top-notch specialty paints, has recently joined the family of Rust-Oleum to take its manufacturing process to the next level. That said, the AM203GAL stands up to the name of its makers in all aspects.

Modern Masters 1 gal AM203 Metal Effects Blocking Primer
  • Suitable for interior/exterior surfaces such as metal, wood,...
  • Low odor, low VOC, water-based formula is easy to apply

Why Did We Like It?

To begin with, we really liked the fact that it comes with low VOC. It also generates a very low odor; therefore, you can use it indoors without any problem. On that note, it can be used on a wide range of interior and exterior surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal, etc.

And since this primer is water-based, it is very easy to use and clean up. You would be delighted to know that a gallon of it can easily cover up an area of about 320 square feet. Furthermore, its unique formulation prevents rust from the paint coating by blocking all contaminates.

Apart from that, it dries up for 30 minutes, allowing you to recoat it without waiting much longer. And the good news is, it works like a charm with a sprayer. Overall, the Modern Masters AM20GAL is one of the most effective primers to cover dark paint.

 What Could’ve Been Better?

Without a doubt, Modern Masters AM20GAL delivers outstanding results as a primer, but it may not be for those who are on a humble budget. On that note, it is certainly an investment worth making, given all the features it comes with.

  • Produces very little odor
  • Dries up within 30 minutes
  • Prevents rusting
  • Super easy to use
  • Tad bit expensive
Coverage: 350-400 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Good | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 30 minutes (dry to touch)

Best Priers to Cover Dark Paint Comparison Table

ProductCoverageAdhesionStain BlockingDrying Time
KILZ 2 20902400-450 sq. ft. per gallonExcellentYes30 minutes (dry to touch)
INSL-X SXA11009A-04300-400 sq. ft. per gallonStrongYes1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)
Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye300-400 sq. ft. per gallonExcellentYes30 minutes (dry to touch)
KILZ L211101300-400 sq. ft. per gallonGoodYes1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)
Prestige P500-1400-450 sq. ft. per gallonStrongYes30 minutes (dry to touch)
Rust-Oleum 276087400-450 sq. ft. per gallonExcellentYes1 hour (recoat in 4 hours)
Modern Masters AM203GAL350-400 sq. ft. per gallonGoodYes30 minutes (dry to touch)

Buying Guide For The Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint

With that, we have come to the end of our recommendations, so were you able to make a decision? Something tells us you still are not quite sure. Truth be told, there are a few other factors other than the price and the brand that need to be considered before buying the best primer.

In this section, we will briefly explain the importance of those factors; it will give you a clear idea as to why you cannot afford to ignore them. Also, it will help you make an informed choice. We strongly recommend reading this part very carefully.

  1. Dry Time

Keep a check on the dry time; it should be specified on the package. Most primers dry within 30 minutes and get ready to be recoated with a layer of paint within an hour.

Moreover, primer made using latex takes a shorter time to dry up; on the other hand, oil-based primers need a few hours to become recoat-ready.

  1. Environment Suitability

Environment suitability is an important factor; there are mainly three types of primers available on the market. The ones that are suitable for both interior and exterior use, for only interior use, and the ones only appropriate for outdoor use.

That being said, we suggest going with the ones that are suitable for both interior and exterior use. This is because they are a lot more flexible and save you from the hassle of buying separate exterior and interior primers.

  1. Surface Suitability

Different primers adhere well to different surfaces. For instance, oil-based primers adhere well to wood and metal. On the other hand, latex primers adhere well to walls and stain-prone surfaces, as it helps in making the surface look flat.

In general, however, latex primes are considered better and more widely used than oil-based ones. It mostly depends on your requirements, so choose wisely.

Primers to Cover Dark Paint FAQ's

  • Can I use any primer to cover dark paint?

    While some general primers may provide decent coverage, it’s best to use primers specifically designed to cover dark paint. These primers are formulated with higher opacity and better stain-blocking capabilities, ensuring optimal coverage and a smoother transition to the new paint color.

  • How many coats of primer should I apply to cover dark paint?

    The number of primer coats needed to cover dark paint may vary depending on factors such as the intensity of the dark color and the opacity of the primer. In most cases, one to two coats of a high-quality, dedicated primer should be sufficient. However, it’s advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific primer you choose.

  • Can I skip using a primer and apply multiple coats of paint instead?

    While it’s possible to apply multiple coats of paint to cover dark colors, using a primer is highly recommended. Primers provide a solid base, improve paint adhesion, and help prevent color bleed-through. Using a primer specifically formulated to cover dark paint will save you time and ensure better results.

  • Are there any additional tips for using primers to cover dark paint?
    • Clean the surface thoroughly before applying the primer to ensure proper adhesion.
    • Stir the primer well before use to ensure uniformity.
    • Apply the primer evenly using a brush or roller, following the manufacturer’s recommended drying time between coats.
    • Once the primer is dry, inspect the surface for any uneven spots or bleed-through. If necessary, apply an additional coat of primer before applying the topcoat.
  • Colorful brush stroke textured background


    It is nice to change the décor once in a while. Primers play a very important role in ensuring that the paint sits properly on the material’s surface. So, if you want to cover dark paint without much hassle, a good-quality primer is a must-have.

    With that, we have come to the end of this article. We hope this review-based article has provided some useful information about buying the best primer of 2023.

    Before we bid farewell, we would like to mention our favorite primers on this list. KILZ 2 20902 is the best overall. INSL-X SXA11009A-04 contains low VOC, while Rust-Oleum 2004 dries up very quickly and is odorless.

    Now, it is time for us to say goodbye. Until next time!

    Related Articles

    Alcohol Ink Art Tutorial [Alcohol Inks 101]

    7 Best Latex Paint Remover [Reviewed]

    9 Best HVLP Spray Gun [Review & Buyer’s Guide]

    6 Best One Coat Paint and Primer

    Best Exterior Primer Paints

    7 Best Exterior Primer For Peeling Paint

    9 Best Deck Stains Today [Reviews & Buyer’s Guide]

    6 Best Paint Primer For Rusted Metal

    9 Best Stains For Cedar

    9 Best Pump Sprayers For Staining Fence

    10 Best Wood Wax

    9 Best Concrete Stains to Consider

    Learn How To Soften A Hard Paint Brush

    5 Best Paints For Stucco Reviewed

    11 Best Paint For Concrete Walls In Basement

    9 Best Paint Brushes For Chalk Paint

    13 Best Professional Airless Paint Sprayer

    13 Best Paint for Furniture | Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

    43 Insanely Cool Basement Bar Ideas for Your Home

    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 [All You Need to Know]

    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? [Guide]

    9 Best Paint Stripper For Metal 

    7 Best Cold Galvanizing Paints

    11 Best Paint Scrapers to Rock

    How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete

    7 Best Primers For Covering Red Paint

    11 Best Paint Roller To Hide Imperfections Tested

    9 Best Paints For Closets 

    How To Paint Trim Near Carpet

    Read next

    Best Tamale Steamer

    8 Best Tamale Steamers Of 2023 [Reviewed & Buyer’s Guide]

    Best Brick Sealers

    9 Best Brick Sealer of 2023 [Reviews & Buyer’s Guide]