What is the Best Spray Paint Primer for Wood? (2023)

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Priming the wood surface is a critical step for achieving a beautiful finish. However, it’s important to note that the wrong type of primer can do more harm than good, leading to issues like fading, chipping, or peeling.

To avoid this, I’ve tested the popular brands in the market to find the best spray paint primer for wood. If you want to know the verdict, keep reading! 

Premium Option
Tamiya TAM87042
Editor’s Choice
Zinsser 272479
Budget Option
Rust-Oleum 249088
Surface Primer by Tamiya
Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer by Zinsser
2X Ultra Cover Flat Gray Primer by Rust-Oleum
• Effective on multiple surfaces
• Made of highest quality ingredients
• Strong adhesion
• Excellent coverage
• Ideal for all types of surfaces
• Dries fast
• Great adhesion without sanding
• Excellent stain blocking
• Suitable for many types of surfaces
• Hides surface imperfections
• Long-lasting protection
• Dries fast
Premium Option
Tamiya TAM87042
Surface Primer by Tamiya
• Effective on multiple surfaces
• Made of highest quality ingredients
• Strong adhesion
• Excellent coverage
Editor’s Choice
Zinsser 272479
Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer by Zinsser
• Ideal for all types of surfaces
• Dries fast
• Great adhesion without sanding
• Excellent stain blocking
Budget Option
Rust-Oleum 249088
2X Ultra Cover Flat Gray Primer by Rust-Oleum
• Suitable for many types of surfaces
• Hides surface imperfections
• Long-lasting protection
• Dries fast

Reviews of the Top Spray Paint Primers for Wood

1. Zinsser 272479 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer

This Zinsser 272479 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer made the top of my list for many reasons, such as its unquestionable effectivity and great value for money. Compared to other brands, its extraordinary oil-based formula works well with almost all types of surfaces. 

What impresses me the most is its ability to stick to surfaces without the need for sanding. This is a game-changer because most primers demand meticulous surface preparation to ensure a quality finish.

With Zinsser’s spray primer, you can save more time as it can easily cover 12 square feet and dries in 30 minutes. You can cover the surface imperfections with one coat and achieve a seamless finish.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. Tamiya TAM87042 87042 Surface Primer L Gray

If you do not have any budget constraints and are willing to spend a little extra on a premium primer for your project, I recommend the Tamiya TAM87042 87042 Surface Primer. This primer is 100 percent made of high-quality materials that ensure long-lasting protection. 

It creates a strong foundation that guarantees a durable surface finish. Another remarkable feature of this product is its clog-free and sputter-resistant spray nozzle. So, you can use all the content of the spray can without any waste. 

Also, only a small amount of this product can effectively give high coverage and hide any imperfections on the surface. Undoubtedly, every ounce of this product is worth it.   

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Rust-Oleum 249088 Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover Flat Gray Primer

If you’re on a budget and looking for a high-quality primer at a reasonable price, I highly recommend the Rust-Oleum 249088 Ultra Cover Primer in Flat Gray. This is the cheapest primer in the market but has excellent coverage and powerful adhesion on many surfaces. 

This primer ensures that your paint job will not only adhere well but will also resist chipping, thanks to its durable formula that offers long-lasting protection.

Another best thing about this brand is it has a low odor and no harmful effects, so you can use it indoors. Also, it dries in just 20 minutes upon application so you can save more time and finish your project sooner. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. Krylon K05131507 ColorMaster Paint + Primer

If you need to finish your project sooner, this Krylon K05131507 ColorMaster Paint + Primer can help you deal with the time constraint as it is the fastest drying primer available in the market. 

After only 10 minutes of application, your surface is fully dry and ready for painting. The flat white base of this primer is not only effective but also enhances the true color of the paint applied over it. This means you’re not limited in your color choices; it’s versatile enough to work with any hue you select.

Another aspect where this primer shines is in its ability to conceal surface imperfections, such as dark spots and stains. It does so effortlessly, ensuring a quick, smooth, and flawless base for your final paint job.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. Rust-Oleum 7582838 Professional Primer Spray Paint

If you’re working on a larger project and looking for an economical spray paint primer, this professional primer by Rust-Oleum is your best bet. It is ideal for big surfaces, covering up to 14 square feet with high-quality coverage.

The Rust-Oleum 7582838 Professional Primer Sprat also provides excellent adhesion and can withstand heavy-use environments. It’s easier to apply due to its industrial formula that can be sprayed and adhered to the surface at any angle. 

In just 15 minutes, the sprayed surface will be ready for painting. So, if need to finish a bigger project sooner, this product is the right product.

(But is it really advisable to use Rust-Oleum on wood? Let’s find out.)

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. Rust-Oleum 327918-6 PK American Accents Spray Paint

If you’re working on difficult surfaces with a lot of nooks and crannies, the Rust-Oleum 327918-6 PK  can help you make your job easier. With its 360-degree spray comfort nozzle, you can apply the primer evenly at any angle, reducing finger fatigue. 

It offers strong adhesion on various types of surfaces including metal, wood, plaster, and other glossy and sleek surfaces. It comes in pure white, so you can pick any paint color as it guarantees to bring out your paint’s real color. 

This product is really an excellent choice, especially for beginners. Though it can be expensive, it will give you good value for your money. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. Krylon K08818001 Dual Superbond Paint + Primer

If you want a shinier finish with a sparkle of silver on your wood surface, this Krylon K08818001 Dual Superbond Paint + Primer is the right choice for you. It has a unique super bond formula designed to adhere well on smooth and glossy surfaces including metal, wood, plastic, wood, and more. 

Although it dries slower, it’s worth the long wait since it’s already a primer and paint in one application. In the end, it even saves you more time and money as you no longer need to apply paint. 

And you don’t have to worry about repainting sooner since this paint and primer duo is durable and can protect the wood for ages. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

What’s a Spray Paint Primer?

Paint primer is a formulated substance used to prepare wood surfaces for staining or painting. Essentially, primer helps the stain or paint to properly adhere to the wood surface. They are ideal for unfinished wood surfaces or other types of surfaces that do not readily accept paint. 

Generally, primers are in aerosol form and are available in spray bottles or cans designed for surface application. The best spray paint primers for wood can penetrate the crannies and nooks, providing better adhesion and protection. 

There are many types of paint primers depending on the type of surface materials you will use them on. You can also choose from a huge range of colors. However, you must keep in mind that primers should be compatible with the paint you’ll use. 

What are the Types of Spray Paint Primers?

Latex Primers

These paint primers are water-based and compatible with water-based paints like acrylic latex. Since they have a water-based formula, they work well on various types of surfaces. They dry faster, allowing a quick wood preparation for staining or painting. 

Also, water-based primers are stain-resistant, helping to preserve the wood. They are more eco-friendly and do not have harmful effects on your health, making them ideal for furniture and other wood products inside your home. 

Oil-Based Spray Primers

Oil-based primers are compatible with latex and oil-based paints on exterior and interior wood surfaces. But can you paint latex over oil-based primers? Yes, you can, but make sure to do the right approach for better results. 

They provide excellent coverage and prevent wood tannins from seeping into the stain or paint layer. In addition, they are highly durable and resistant to blistering and peeling. 

However, oil-based paint primers have high volatile organic compounds (VOC) content, which can present risks to your health if you’re exposed to them for extended periods. So, ensure that your work area is well-ventilated when working with this primer. 

When and Where to Use

The best oil-based primers are commonly used in the painting industry due to their versatility. Typically, they are used on wood, metal, steel, and other painter surfaces. 

But they are particularly excellent on wood surfaces for the following reasons:

Shellac Primers

These paint primers are formulated to dry fast. They are designed to block stains and provide better coverage with both water and oil-based paints. 

Why Use Shellac Primer on Wood Projects?

Shellac primer is popular among woodworkers due to its versatility as it can be used with either oil-based or water-based paints. Below are some of the advantages of using shellac primer on your woodworking projects.

Spray Paint Primers for Wood Buyer’s Guide

Paint Type

When choosing a primer, you must first consider the type of paint you’ll be using over it. If you use an oil-based primer, you must also choose an oil-based paint. Meanwhile, if you choose a water-based primer, then you must use water-based paint.

On the other hand, you may want to consider using shellac primer since you can use it on either oil-based or water-based paint. This type of primer is considered a universal primer as it’s compatible with all types of paint. 

Spray vs Roll-on Primer

Using a spray paint primer is more convenient than a roll-on primer. Also, using a spray primer does not require a high level of expertise as it’s easier to achieve a smooth and even finish. 

On the other hand, a roll-on primer will require certain skills to apply even coatings. In addition, a roll-on primer will take longer to apply.


A spray primer is more expensive than a roll-on primer. Therefore, it’s only ideal for small projects since a small spray can of primer only covers 12 square feet. So, if your project has a larger surface, you will need several cans, which can be costly.

Therefore, for bigger projects, it’s more suitable to use a large can of roll-on primer. The application process may be more difficult and longer compared to spray primer but it’s more economical. 


Most spray primers available in the market are now compatible with various types of surfaces like wood, plastic, metal, and more. 

However, always check the can label before buying to ensure that it’s compatible with your project, especially if you’re painting plastic since not all primers work well on it. 

Coverage and How Much Primer You Need

Choose a high-quality primer that can cover dark marks and stains on the surface and ensure they are not visible over your paint. However, a good primer should not affect or alter the color of your paint even after applying thick layers of primer.


A good primer helps in bringing out the true color of the paint, so most primers come in neutral colors like grey and white. In choosing your primer, you must ensure that it’s compatible with the paint color you want to use. 

You should refer to the product label to know if it can affect the paint color you’ll use on your project.

When to Use a Spray Paint Primer

The best spray paint primer for wood ensures that the paint will adhere properly, which results in a smooth and flawless surface finish. 

I’d also recommend opting for a spray paint primer when dealing with intricate surfaces full of nooks and crannies. It’s incredibly effective for covering challenging materials like plastic, thanks to its ability to penetrate all those small, hard-to-reach areas.

Also, applying primer before painting the wood surface makes the paint more durable, preventing the coating to peel and chip sooner.

Advantages of Wood Primer Sprays

Improves Adhesion

Spray paint primers provide a crucial advantage in terms of adhesion. If a surface is painted without priming, the layer may deteriorate and peel off prematurely. 

If you are dealing with a sleek surface that doesn’t readily adhere to paint, using a primer can ensure the paint stick to the surface properly.

Enhances Paint Colors

Some paint colors may have difficulty showing on some types of wood surfaces due to potential bleeding of stains. However, using a spray paint primer prior to painting can effectively seal the wood pores and conceal any stains.

purple vase painted with Rust-Oleum

For example, some types of wood may release tannins over time, which can penetrate through your paint and harm the surface’s overall look. But by utilizing a paint primer, you can obstruct these stains and preserve the topcoat from damage.

As most primers are colorless, they can effectively bring out the paint color you’ve selected. Overall, they can improve the wood color, making it look more striking, vibrant, and distinct.

Makes the Paint Job More Durable

Paint primers strengthen the bond between the wood surface and the paint. So, it’s important to select a high-quality durable primer. 

They make the wood surface smoother, and more resilient in maintaining the paint. Consequently, it prevents the paint from chipping and peeling. 

By using a high-quality paint primer, you can ensure the longevity and durability of the paint, saving you any repainting or repairing costs. 

Makes Painting Easier

Using a primer can make your painting process easier and faster to achieve excellent coverage. As a primer improves paint adhesion, you will not need to wait longer for the paint to stick on the surface, allowing you to complete your project sooner.

Why Use Spray Paint Primers?

Fast Drying

Essentially, the drying time of spray paint primers take about 30 minutes after application as compared to using a paintbrush or a roller. It also affects a faster drying time of the paint or stain, completing your project sooner.

Ensures Smooth Finish

Spraying paint primers gives you more control over the thickness of the coat. With this, you can ensure that the amount of primer is even on the entire surface, allowing you to achieve a smoother finish.

restoring metal with Krylon K08818001

Easy to Use

The aerosol technology of spray primer makes it easy to apply and produces an even coat. Some brands have a special nozzle that makes it even easier. 

Using a spray primer also avoids imperfections, such as drips or brush marks. 

Using a Spray Paint Primer in 4 Steps

Spray paint primers are made to make your job easier by simplifying the surface preparation needed to produce a great finish. 

Although the application process may vary depending on the type of primer and surface you’re working on, there are important steps you should take in using a spray paint primer:


Step #1: Prepare the Surface

Start preparing the wood surface by sanding using fine-grit sandpaper. You can also simply clean the surface using water with dish soap to remove grease and dirt. 

It is essential to read the label of the primer and follow the instructions on how to clean the wood surface before applying the primer. 

sanding wood surface

Step #2: Start Cleaning the Surface

After sanding the wood surface, you must wipe the dust off using a damp rag or a tack cloth to ensure that no debris will be trapped underneath the primer coat. Otherwise, your paint finish will be uneven. 

If you used water with dish soap to clean the wood surface, you must wipe it with a clean dry cloth to remove moisture.

Step #3: Spray the Paint Primer

Once the wood surface is thoroughly clean, you can now start spraying primer on it. Hold the spray can following the suggested distance from the wood surface. 

spray painting cabinet drawer

You must first test the primer on scrap wood to ensure it’s working properly. Once you’ve determined the correct distance from the surface, proceed in spraying the primer steadily and evenly. 

Step #4: Allow it to Dry

Finally, let the primer dry completely. Typically, primers dry fast but I recommend waiting for about 30 minutes to one hour for the wood surface to dry before applying paint or stain on it.

7 Steps to Make Your Painted Wood Projects Professional-Grade

Step #1: Cover Surfaces You Won’t Work On

If you’re painting a fixed item inside your house, it is important to clear the area near it. Cover other furniture and surfaces. If you’re painting a wall, ensure to cover the floor and the ceiling line. 

Step #2: Now, Clean the Surface You’ll Work On

I recommend you mix tri-sodium phosphate or TSP with warm water in cleaning the wood surface you need to paint. 

cloth and white bottle

Pour it on a clean rag, then gently wipe on the entire area to remove grime and dirt buildup. After wiping it with TSP, get a dry rag and wipe it on the surface to remove the solution residue.

Step #3: Start Sanding the Wood

Once you’ve cleaned the wood surface, you must sand it using fine-grit sandpaper. Gently scrape the wood surface until it’s smooth enough to help the paint and primer to bond strongly. 

Step #4: Clean the Leftover Dust from Sanding

You must ensure to remove the sanding residue to avoid it sticking to the paint. I recommend using a vacuum to thoroughly remove all dust and debris from the surface.

After vacuuming, take a clean, damp cloth and wipe down the surface to catch any remaining particles. Make sure to let the surface completely dry before moving on to the next step in your project.

Step #5: Start Priming the Wood

Spray the paint primer on the wood surface. You may work by section to ensure even coverage. If the surface looks transparent after one coating, you must apply another primer coat. 

See Also: Best Paint Sprayer for Furniture

Step #6: Smoothen the Primer by Sanding It

Primers may look chalky and have a rough texture, so I suggest you sand the final coat with ultra-fine sandpaper. Apply a slight pressure only so it won’t remove the primer but just to smoothen it. 

Step #7: Now, Paint Your Wood

Finally, the wood surface is now ready for painting. Ensure to use the appropriate type of paint that works well with the primer and the type of wood you’re using. 

You may need to apply another coat of paint depending on your desired result, then allow the paint to fully dry before using the surface.


How many coats of spray paint primer do you need?

You need two coats of spray paint primer on bare wood or unfinished surface if you’re using an oil-based or latex [1] primer. It is important to apply a second coat on unfinished wood to fully cover the porous surfaces and achieve a smooth finish. 

Should you sand between primer coats?

You should not sand between primer coats, but it is necessary to sand the final primer coat once it’s fully dry. Sanding the surface prior to applying the base coat will help the paint to adhere properly.

How long should I wait to paint after priming?

You should wait at least three hours to apply paint after priming. Although most latex or spray primers can dry in 30 minutes, the low temperature and high humidity conditions in your area can affect the drying time.

What is the recommended grit of sandpaper to use on primer?

The recommended grit of sandpaper to use on primer is an ultra-fine with 600 to 800 sanding block grit. This type of sandpaper is suitable for removing wood surface imperfections.

My Top Pick For a Spray Paint Primer for Wood:
Zinsser 272479 Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer

After testing the popular primer options in the market, I can confidently say that the Zinsser 272479 is the best spray paint primer for wood today. It has excellent coverage performance, hiding the imperfections on wood surfaces in just one coat. 

It’s also very affordable for its versatile quality, allowing you to use it on many types of surfaces. It’s easy to apply and dries fast, helping you finish your project instantly and successfully.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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