Best Primer for Bare Wood in 2022 (TOP 5) – Complete Guide

Regardless of how many paint coats you apply, finished furniture never looks perfect if first the surface was not primed. The best primer for bare wood contributes to enhancing the consistency of the paint and to the perfect conformity to the wood surfaces.

The fact that all wood primers do the same is not actually true; they will not provide the same service to your wooden structures.

When you work on bare wood, make sure you have the right bare wood primers, and then have the best possible formula for your project.

Many of our readers do not find it easy to get the right priming goods out of it.

Therefore, by reviewing some of the best products you can find in the market today, we hope to make your work easier.

Let’s take a look at our top picks below for the best product. 

The Top-Rated Primer for Bare Wood (Recommendation)







What Do You Need To Know To Have The Best Selection Of Primer For Bare Wood?

1. What Is A Primer?

Wood primer is the undercoat applied directly on wood before you use paint.

Having a good foundation improves the paint work’s longevity, guarantees greater conformity to the paint on the surface, and helps to protect the painted wood.

When you should use the type of base depends on the wood you are going to color.

You can use high-quality latex or an oil based primer while painting bare wood that is not stained.

If you want to use a stain-blocking primer, the board should be stained or finished.

Older wood, more weathered, also requires a latex or oil based primer of good quality.

2. Classify

There are three main types: oil based, water based (latex), and shellac pigmentation.

Each of them has its pros and cons and performs well on specific surfaces and conditions.

  • Oil based primer:

These primers, together with oil based paints and latex paints, making them highly versatile and applicable for a variety of surfaces.

Wood (bare or treated), steel, metal, even interior and exterior walls, etc. are all ideal surfaces for oil based primers.

Some types of oil based foundation are excellent “stain killers” to eliminate flecks appearing in your fresh paint coats. The block stains from ink, dust, water on your surface.

This is considered the best primer for bare or unfinished wood for interior and exterior applications because they seal the board’s porous area, allowing the paint to better cover the surface.

It prevents tannins from bleeding into the wood.

It also stops or slows down the paint cracks and blisters.

Disadvantages: Oil based type has a slow drying time and emits many VOCs which can be toxic to individuals at high levels and with prolonged exposure.

It also requires to use of harsh thinners and solvents to clean brushes, and have to be carefully disposed of.

  • Water based primer:

This is more flexible and easy to dry, also less porous than the oil based one, which makes them less vulnerable to peeling and cracking.

Water based primer is preferable to use for softwood such as oak or pine.

This primer is water-soluble and thus can be washed easily.

They are also available in low or no VOC formulations that make them a safer option to oil and shellac.

  • Shellac primer:

This product is perhaps ideally suited for interior painting applications and can operate well on severe water and smoke damage to walls and surfaces – it even locks the smells of smoke damage.

It is also excellent to prevent the bleeding of normal water, rust, and wood tannins.

Shellac type is dry quickly, highly adhesive, and also can be mixed with both oil and water based types.

Disadvantages: It is not as versatile as the other foundations and leaves more fumes.

You need denatured alcohol to dilute and clean them.

3. How To Apply Primer On Bare Wood?

To work properly, the foundation should be mixed well.

You can apply the primers or undercoat on bare wood using a brush, roller, or spray.

If you are interested in a quicker way, choose the spray foundation, but you may need several coats to get sufficient coverage.

Brushing may take longer and more effort, but gives you a thinner and even layer of the timber.

Most of the time, you need to sand the surface as a step of the cleaning process.

The graph below explains why sanding is necessary.


You can follow these steps for a professional foundation:

  • Clean the board well to make sure there are no dust or grease particles.
  • Apply the primers on wood with a suitable tool (brush, roller, sprayer) after proper thinning
  • Let it dry for at least 6 to 8 hours before the polishing paste is used.
  • If the primers raise the wood cell fibers, then sand them with a fine sandpaper grit 180 and go for the second layer of the primer.

Especially, how to priming for painting bare wood outside is guided in this video, or take a look at the guideline graphic below:

Best Primer For Bare Wood Shortlist (Updated List)

Product imagesProduct namesEditor's ratingPrice

Please notice that the reviews and ratings of the following products were recorded on the writing date by the editor. Ratings can be changed over time.

Best Primer For Bare Wood


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Key features:

  • Type: Water based
  • Good bonding primer to adhere to tough-to-paint surfaces
  • Can be used both interior and exterior
  • Impressive coverage
  • Fast drying time

This formula is suitable for both old worn out wood and the new ones.

More than just prevent fresh paint from bleeding, it also gives the surface a glossy appearance.

The water based formulation makes it blend easily with almost every form of board covering.

The ability to dry faster is a specification of this product.

It only takes about 30 minutes to dry to touch, and 1 hour before it becomes ready for another layer.

This product has a broad variety of applications as it can be applied to not only wood but also metal and fiberglass surfaces.

The foundation has impressive coverage of up to 300 square feet per gallon.

In general, the primer is usually quite well adapted to regular uses.


  • It sticks to hard sies such as textured cabinets
  • It can block blemishes
  • Able to seal the porous surfaces
  • Protect from the growth of mildew


  • Only sell a 1-gallon size.
  • Not approved for food touch


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Key features:

  • Apply method: Brush, roll, spray
  • Bring perfect rust protection when used with oil based paint
  • Seals and prepares surfaces for oil painting
  • Affordable price

Since it is an oil based primer, the product of Diamond Brite brings the best result when applying on wood, but it can also be used on even metal.

This item is the best for preparing painting bare wood outside.

The downside of this primer is it only works with the oil based paint, but this is not a big deal for a good and cheap product.

It has an average level of coverage, with under 100 square feet per 1 quart, and one coat is nearly enough for most situations.

It also takes a long time to dry because of the petroleum formulated.

The manufacturer says that you have to wait up to 24 hours to recoat the surface.


  • Durable
  • Can be applied by all methods: brush, roll, or spray
  • Good coverage
  • Easy to apply and clean up
  • Cheap price


  • Only work with oil paint
  • Long drying time


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Key features:

  • Type: Water based
  • Offer the right consistency for a smooth finish
  • Seal porous surfaces and fill in small imperfections
  • Feature mildewcide protection to prevent mildew and mold
  • Coverage: 70 to 100 square feet per quart

High Hide Stain Blocking Latex Primer is a great water based foundation from the premium primer line of KILZ.

It offers you an incredibly smooth coat, which is great to fill the imperfections on porous surfaces, like most other water based primers.

For painting bare softwood decks, this product is a very good alternative. There are also fewer chances of raising the wood grain.

It is slightly superior to most other hiding stain water based products.

The mildewcide is a special feature of this substance, which is rated higher than the counterparts.

This choice can also be considered as the best protective primer for bare softwood as it has excellent adhesive properties and adheres well to old paint.

In addition, this premium product does not contain VOCs and low odor, which means that it is safe for human health and the environment.

So this is exactly what you want to have the best primer for bare wood.


  • Ideal for places exposed to constant moisture
  • Give the surface of bare wood an excellent consistency
  • No releasing VOCs
  • Protects from mold and mildew
  • Can be used both indoor and outdoor


  • A little bit expensive


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Key features:

  • Suitable for both interior and exterior applications.
  • Type: Water based
  • Do not require sanding
  • Clean easily with soap and water
  • Coverage: 100 square feet per 1 quart

Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bull Eye 1-2-3 is our top pick for bare wood paint primers.

This water based foundation has a bright white color and very easy to use.

It works for just about every side, the bright color neatly draws off the paint and covers stains like a champ.

It does an outstanding job of adhering to without sanding on most boards, which saves time and also saves money on sandpaper.

Its density is not too thick or too thin to adhere without leaving any marks, making applying it very fast and simple.

You do not need to think about the topcoat either, because this undercoat fits on almost everything.

The main drawback of this product is the high cost.

This is the costliest thing on our list, although we really do not see anything special to justify this price.

It also does not have high exposure to moisture.

The manufacturer says it should not be used without first adding a sealer layer.

Thus, we can see that many coats are required to attain good humidity resistance in this one.


  • Work well on high pH surfaces
  • Excellent at blocking stains and enhancing color
  • Work well with almost all kind of paint
  • Does not need adhesion sanding
  • Tends to go on nice and smooth


  • High price
  • Not good for particle timbers


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Key features:

  • Ideal for wood surfaces above the waterline
  • Ensure for better adhesion of topcoats and long-lasting finish
  • Fast drying time: 1 hour
  • Coverage: 100 square feet per 1 quart
  • Enhance the gloss and appearance of topcoats

This marine primer is a cost-effective and fuel-efficient solution for surfaces which usually in contact with water.

It is also recommended for species that have a high content of tannins.

It protects large areas, but it is much more costly than most related items.

The Rust-Oleum Marine Wood Primer offers full coverage with just a single product.

This product can dry 100 square feet in just 1 hour.

This natural wood treatment is distinguished by its excellent durability power.

It is resistant to corrosion and UV rays.

One of its outstanding features is its massive potential to remove the appearance of stains.

The quality to avoid the lack of tannin adhesion makes this one of the best wood treatments.


  • Protect the board from stains and other imperfections
  • Prevent lack of cover adhesion
  • Uniform the absorption of color in the real finish
  • Protect from the UV ray
  • Fast drying time


  • Not recommended to use above the waterline

Things To Keep In My When Finding The Best Primer For Your Bare Wood

1. How Much Of Primer Is Enough For One Project?

It depends on how large the lumber needed to be covered is.

Moreover, primers, like several other colors, once opened, have a short shelf life.

So, unless you need one, you do not have to buy a whole huge can.

We would advise you to carefully measure the area you are going to work on before purchasing your product, this could save much of your money.

Furthermore, some may wonder how many coats of primer for bare wood are necessary.

Again, this depends on the sort of product you choose.

Some work with just one coat and others work in several applications.

The use of primers is advised because they save time and money to do the job in only one single layer.

2. Water based or oil based?

In most cases, the oil-based type takes a little longer to dry, making them less convenient for projects with timelines.

Yet they are long-lasting, still worth the choice of many.

On the other side, water based type, as opposed to their oil counterpart, is quick-drying and have little or even no poisonous fumes.

Therefore, in the case of unintended pollution, they are safer to use and are easier to disinfect.

Generally, for bare or untreated wood, high-quality water based or oil based primer is more preferable than the shellac type.

3. Smells

Some foundations can lock up fragrances and odors in your furniture, particularly if it is dry.

If you are living with your pets or smokers, a primer that is capable of against smell would be fit in this situation.

You should also take into consideration the scent of the foundation.

The use of it and paints can be a nasty and smelly process.

If you are sensitive to smell, consider making your project with low odor or low scent formulation products.

As normal, additional costs come with pleasure, but you must be willing to spend if it really means so much to you.

Outdoor primers often operates indoor projects, but the odor may be choking.

4. Project Type

Different types of projects need different primers.

Some work to their fullest potential as it is within the external environment; others do well with the inside environment.

If you are finding a suitable undercoat for your project, read the label and do some research to make sure that the item you settle for is the most excellent for the location of your work – indoors or outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions Best Primer For Bare Wood

1. Are All Primers Suitable For Any Type Of Paint?

No, since with many different kinds of paint, some primers would possibly refuse or form a bad bond.

You should always conduct research to see if they are consistently matched with each other.

Also, if possible, you should find an advisor to ensure that you do the right thing.

2. How Long Do I Have To Wait For My Primer To Dry?

This varies by product, but normally you have to wait from 1 to 4 hours before the first layer can be covered or recoated.

Water based ones generally dry up a little quicker, so if time is a concern, you can go for one of them.

In as short as 30 minutes, some products can dry, but this must be considered as a minimum.

3. What Is The Best Primer For New Bare Wood Kitchen Cabinets?

Kitchen cabinets are preferably primed with two layers.

The right primers should seal the surface of the cabinet and bond well with the timber and the color to avoid rubbing off when doing the cleaning.

Even though there may be the odor, oi based primers are the most suitable options.

Personally, we recommend using the Rust-Oleum Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer for paining bare wood kitchen cabinets because of its perfect protection power, water and mildew resistance, also safe for food touch.

4. What Kind Of Brush Should I Choose To Apply Primer?

For better performance, brushes made from synthetic materials should be used.

However, it might be difficult to purchase these pricey brushes.

Polyester and nylon ones can be obtained inexpensively and quickly, you can use them as well.

5. Can Primers Be Tinted?

For some situations, you totally can tint your primers. You can manage your own DIY primers tinting simply by putting some topcoats into your primer.

You could start with the ratio of 1:4 for topcoat and primer, so long as your foundation is white at first.

This gives you a tint of the topcoat and lets you better cover the base layer with fewer topcoat layers to follow.

Make sure that you combine like paints with like, that means oil and oil, latex and latex.


The best primer for bare wood depends on which kind of wood you are going to use.

A high-quality substance will always give you a satisfactory outcome, never go for the cheapest option when choosing to apply primers on wood.

In summary, the KILZ ADHESION HIGH BONDING LATEX PRIMER is highly recommended by us since it has good features for your bare wood, also affordable, and easy to apply.

However, it is only sold in the size of 1 gallon so if you are going to work on small projects, try using other options.

They may not bring out the best effect like KILZ, but it prevents wasting the product and your money, too. If you can invest a little more money, you can consider RUST-OLEUM ZINSSER BULLS EYE 1-2-3 PRIMER, a rising star in the market nowadays.  

While primer sometimes sounds needless, it saves you time, resources, and effort. Every wooden board, even bare or treated lumber must be primed before being painted. Your furniture may be quickly crack, scratch, or wear off the paint if you avoid this.

Further Reading: 

Tags: paint job, paint color, raise the grain

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