Top 5 Best Exterior Primer Paints (2020 Review)

If you're looking to refinish the exterior of your home and you want to know what exterior primer to use, you're in the right place!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you will learn the following:

  • How exterior primer paints work
  • Different types of primers
  • How to choose the best primer for your project

And much more!

hand rolling on the best exterior primer paint

Exterior primer paints are very important for sealing your surface, blocking stains, and preparing your surface to take on a new paint or stain.

That's why we put together this helpful guide of the top 4 exterior primer paints to use of your next DIY exterior project!

Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use the best exterior primer paints!

Image Product

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KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Low-VOC
  • Stain Blocking
  • Seals Surfaces
  • Low-VOC
  • Stain Blocking
  • Seals Surfaces
View on Amazon

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Rust-Oleum 286258 Primer
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Applies easily
  • Super stain resistant
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Applies easily
  • Super stain resistant
View on Amazon

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KILZ General Purpose Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Fast-drying
  • Seals well
  • Latex-based
  • Fast-drying
  • Seals well
  • Latex-based
View on Amazon

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INSL-X AQ040009A-01 Aqua Lock Plus 100% Acrylic Water-Based Sealer Primer
  • Excellent sealant
  • Mold-resistant coating
  • Quick-drying
  • Excellent sealant
  • Mold-resistant coating
  • Quick-drying
View on Amazon

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KILZ L220101 KLEAR Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Transparent
  • Multiple-uses
  • Breathable coating
  • Transparent
  • Multiple-uses
  • Breathable coating
View on Amazon

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

(updated 4/13/2020)

This primer is a fantastic pick for an exterior primer paint because it's highly stain blocking. This stuff will seal your surface like no other and it'll adhere easily, too. 

This primer has a texture that goes on super smooth and can be adhered on rough exterior surfaces such as drywall, plaster, and bare wood.

This stuff blocks is completely stain-blocking so it's great for changing colors or covering up discolorations on your old surface.

Top 5 Best Exterior Primer Paints

Did you know: Not only does paint primer increase your paint's adhesion to the surface, but it also improves corrosion resistance for a long-lasting paint job. 

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Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How Do Exterior Primer Paints Work?

Exterior primers work by binding together and creating a seal along the entire surface. There are currently 2 main types of paint primers that most people use for DIY painting projects, oil-based primers and latex-based primers.

Oil-Based Primers

Some primers are made with acrylic to block out mildew, mold, and moisture from the surface. Not only that, but these primers block stains and prevent the tannins from natural woods like cedar from seeping through your paint top coat and ruining your finish.

The draw-back of most oil-based primers is that they are higher in VOC's, which generally cause more odor off-gassing and can create health issues with prolonged exposure.

They also require harsher chemicals like paint thinner for cleanup and require more careful disposal.

Latex-Based Primers

Latex-based primers are fantastic for when a surface needs more breathability and flexibility because they're much less likely to create flaking or peeling paint.

They're also much easier to clean up since they're water-soluble and they're low-VOC so they're much less odorous and better for your health.

While they can still cover stains, they're not great at covering bigger or darker stains like oil-based primers.

What Are Exterior Primer Paints?

Exterior primer paints act as a sealant for your surface that allows you to create a beautiful, smooth surface for all of your top coats of paint.

Primers help you not only resurface rougher textured surfaces like drywall, bare wood, plywood, and concrete without sanding, but they also lead to "improved filling and binding properties with the material underneath."

If you're looking for the most professional paint job, and you're getting ready to paint the exterior of your home, this is the perfect time to consider whether you're going to need a primer.

The best part is, choosing a good primer (the right primer) and exterior paint can truly keep your paint job looking fantastic for much longer and prevent the need for re-painting for years.

Read More >> What Are the Best Primers to Cover Dark Paint?

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

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Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How to Choose the Best Primer for your Project

Luckily for you, different primers do different things and help with different issues.

For example, some primers, like our top pick, are specifically designed to block out stains. So if you're planning on completely change the color of your wall, or you have a wall that has some paint damage and staining, you'd want to look for a stain-blocking primer.

However, there are others that are better for brick, or better for tile, and some are really great for blocking out water.

This is why it's best to truly consider the project at hand and what your particular surface needs before you run out and buy an exterior primer.

Our Reviews Of The Best Exterior Primer Paints

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer is our top pick for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that it's a workhorse.

This stuff is durable, and it adheres to porous surfaces very easily for a fast drying finish.

It's also zero-VOC which means there's no-odor to deal with and it can be cleaned with soap and water.

Plus, since KILZ has been making primers for over 40 years, you know you're going to get an excellent value out of this primer.

Pros

  • Mildew-resistant
  • Works with latex or oil-based paints
  • Zero-VOC

Cons

  • Not great for blocking large stains
  • Not great for covering bold paint colors

Rust-Oleum 286258 Primer is a fantastic choice for several reasons, one of which being the price point.

A 31oz can of this stuff is usually only around $10. The beauty of this Zinsser primer is it can be used for both interior and exterior use, and it's great for covering tile as well!

This primer is known to offer an amazing finish coat and is great on old paint or previously painted surfaces.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Doesn't require sanding
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not great over dark colors
  • Some size discrepancies on Amazon

KILZ General Purpose Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer is a fantastic choice for highly porous surfaces or surfaces that have uneven texture.

It's a latex-based primer so it does dry very quickly and is formulated to adhere to outdoor surfaces. It can even be used on stucco and brick, which is not something all primers are built for.

It can be applied with a paint roller or a paint sprayer (we would recommend a paint sprayer for the best finish) and each gallon covers 300-400 square feet.

Pros

  • Versatile on rough surfaces
  • Super fast-drying

Cons

  • Not good on glossy surfaces
  • Not mildew-resistant

INSL-X AQ040009A-01 Aqua Lock Plus 100% Acrylic Water-Based Sealer Primer is a fantastic option for blocking out water from your surfaces.

The INSL-X Aqua Lock primer is a water-based sealer that offers a mold-resistant finish to your surface. Plus, it's excellent and blocking out stains and can be applied to various indoor and outdoor surfaces.

Pros

  • Thick texture but goes a long way
  • Thorough coverage

Cons

  • Must apply at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees (Fahrenheit)

KILZ L220101 KLEAR Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer is a fantastic option for anyone working with masonry, cement, or plaster.

It's much more heavy-duty than the other primers on this list and is primarily meant for sealing porous surfaces like galvanized metals, drywall, and brick. 

This primer creates a clear, but breathable film that is great for prepping outdoor surfaces to accept paint. It'll help maintain a stunning finish even in harsh conditions.

Pros

  • Highly durable
  • Can use on rougher surfaces
  • Super versatile

Cons

  • Not mold/mildew resistant

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Our Top Pick: KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer

KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer is still the best choice for your exterior primer paint, simply because of the durability you'll get at this price point.

This stuff is highly protective and will obliterate any stains you're trying to cover up so you can properly refinish your home.

It can be used alongside latex or oil-based paints as well, making it a versatile choice no matter what paint you're working with.

Plus, it’s an excellent value for the money! Check the low price now on Amazon.

Final Thoughts On The Best Exterior Primer Paints

When you're looking for the best exterior primer for your next paint job, it's important to really consider exactly what you need in a primer.

If you're going to be using it on rougher, highly porous surfaces it's best to go with one like the KILZ Multi-Surface or the KILZ General purpose that can handle stucco, brick, and cement.

However, if you want something that you can use on both interior and exterior surfaces, the Rust-Oleum 286258 Primer.

Choosing the best primer for the job can be the difference between getting an amateur finish and getting a professional finish on your next DIY project, so be sure to choose wisely!

Read More >> Top 5 Professional Airless Paint Sprayers

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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