Inspiring Ideas for Modern Home

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

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

Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint

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!

Listed below are the 5 best primers to cover dark paint from our list:

  • KILZ 2 20902. The KILZ 2 20902, a product by a leading primer manufacturer, is a versatile and budget-friendly option that works well on an array of surfaces and dries within 30 minutes, facilitating quick recoating.
  • INSL-X SXA11009A-04. A product by INSL-X, part of the renowned Benjamin Moore and Co., the SXA11009A-04 primer offers superior adhesion to different surfaces, has a low VOC, and is easy to clean, enhancing its appeal for users.
  • Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye. Manufactured by Rust-Oleum, a leading paint material producer, the 2004 Zinsser Bulls Eye primer offers industrial strength endurance and smoother, evenly applied coatings, making it ideal for DIY décor projects.
  • KILZ L211101. Another excellent product from KILZ, the L211101 high-bonding primer allows recoating within an hour thanks to its quick-drying ability, works well on various surfaces, and offers a durable and glossy finish, making it a worthy investment.
  • Prestige P500-1. The P500-1 unit from Prestige is a primer and an ultra-premium paint rolled into one, offering a smooth texture and a quick curing time of only 4 hours, offering users the convenience of a two-in-one solution suitable for different rooms.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 blocks, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Coverage: 350-400 sq. ft. per gallon | Adhesion: Good | Stain Blocking: Yes | Drying Time: 30 minutes (dry to touch)

What is the Best Primer to Cover Dark Paint?

Outlined below is a comparison table, thoughtfully orchestrated to highlight the critical attributes of high-performing primers for covering dark paint. The table delves into factors like coverage capability, adhesion properties, stain-blocking effectiveness, and drying time.

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 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 they help 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.

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.

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.