Cabinet primers are a must for any kitchen remodel, but with all of the choices on the market, it can be hard to know which one to choose.

Well, look no further! I’ve put together a list of the best cabinet paint primers based on my own personal experience. So whether you’re painting your cabinets white or going for a bold new color, read on for the perfect cabinet primer pick.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Best Primer for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

  1. KILZ Adhesion High Bonding Interior Latex Primer – (Best cabinet primer)
  2. ZINSSER Cover Stain Interior & Exterior Primer(Best Bonding Primer for Cabinets)
  3. KILZ Restoration Primer Maximum Odor and Stain Blocking(Budget Choice )
  4. Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502 Painters Touch Quart Latex(Best water-based primer for kitchen cabinets)
  5. XIM Advanced Technology UMA Bonder and Primer(Best Adhesion to Wood)
  6. INSL-X SXA11009A-01 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer(Best Applying Formula)
  7. KILZ Original Multi-Surface Primer – (Best oil based primer for cabinets)
  8. Rust-Oleum Corporation 270976 Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer(Best cabinet primer for Odor Blocking)
  9. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer(Best kitchen cabinet primer for Bleeding Prevention)

9 Kitchen Cabinets Primer Reviews (Updated List)

We’ve selected the best paint primer for cabinets based on wood type, desired finish and customer feedback. With this information, here are the best primer for painting cabinets.

1. Best primer for cabinets–KILZ Adhesion High Bonding Interior Latex

KILZ Adhesion Primer, Interior/Exterior, 1 Gallon
  • BONDING PRIMER: A high adhesion primer that bonds to a wide range of difficult to adhere to surfaces. It is formulated for situations where a secure bond is critical and use of a traditional water or oil base primer might be questionnable. It increases the possibilities for paintable surfaces.
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: It's advanced styrenated acrylic polymer formula provides a sound anchor for topcoats while reducing or potentially eliminating the need for sanding dense, glossy surfaces. If using as a primer for epoxies, lacquers, products containing xylene or other hot solvents, allow to dry for 24 hours before topcoating and test for compatibility in an inconspicuous area before full coat application.
  • MULTIPLE SURFACES: Use on most interior and exterior surfaces where a secure bond is critical. Bonds to tough-to-paint surfaces including Kynar, PVC, Formica, vinyl, glass, tile, glazed brick, chalky paints, glossy finishes, fiberglass and metals. Topcoat with either water or oil-based paint. For use on interior and exterior surfaces.

If you are looking for a high-quality water-based primer, you might want to try Kilz interior bonding primer. It’s the perfect latex primer for a cabinet paint job, and one gallon of this can cover as much as 300 square feet. 

With superior adhesion properties, this is the perfect choice for using on a difficult surface. It adheres properly, prevents peeling, and dries off in as little as 30 minutes.

It is the perfect primer for kitchen cabinets if you wish to finish with priming and painting, all in one day. For any kind of painting method, you can use this formula. You can roll it, brush it, or even spray it if that’s your preferred method.

Plus, considering that it has a water-based formula, this Kilz primer has quite an impressive coverage.

PROS

  • It dries very fast
  • It can be layered
  • The best primer for cabinets
  • It is compatible with multiple surfaces  
  • Great coverage

CONS

  • High price in comparison to alternatives
  • Requires a second coat for some stains or imperfections



2. Best Bonding Primer for Cabinets –ZINSSER Cover Stain Primer

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Interior/Exterior Oil...
  • Cover stain, QT, Oil based stain killer primer/sealer
  • Adds extra shine to your product
  • Manufactured in United States

If you have a lot of stains on your cabinets or you intend to cover bare wood, then you might want to try the Cover Stain from Zinsser.

Not only is this oil-based primer perfect for covering nasty stains, but it is also great for acting as a base for your paint. 

This primer features a high hiding formula that makes it amazing for kitchen cabinets. Not only will it hide the stains and sap bleed from underneath, but it will also make it easy for you to clean and maintain the cabinets.

While it is an oil-based primer, it dries quickly in comparison to other similar primers.

Plus, the Cover Stain is the best primer for cabinets without sanding. Just make sure that you clean the peeling parts and the grease with denatured alcohol before applying the oil primer.

PROS

  • Very efficient at hiding stains
  • The best primer for cabinets without sanding
  • Dries very quickly
  • The best bonding primer for cabinets
  • Doesn’t usually need two coats

CONS

  • Has a very strong smell
  • It may take longer to dry if you add a second coat



3. Best Budget Primer–KILZ Restoration Primer

Sale
KILZ L200201 Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking...
  • PRIMER | SEALER | STAINBLOCKER: KILZ RESTORATION Primer (Formerly KILZ MAX) is a new generation water-based primer, sealer and stainblocker offering performance of traditional oil and shellac-based primers. It blocks tough stains and odors and provides superior adhesion. Ideal for restoration and disaster recovery painting jobs.
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: The innovative modified acrylic epoxy formula provides superior adhesion and the performance of oil-based and shellac primers with the easy clean-up, low odor and low VOC of water-based. This formula also dries hard and sands easily which makes for a great enamel undercoater.
  • MULTIPLE SURFACES: Use on most interior surfaces including drywall, wood, plaster, masonry, brick, painted metal, ceramic tile, glass and most other glossy surfaces. Surfaces should be free of dust, grease, chalk, rust and peeling paint prior to application. Use as a subcoat for flooring and carpets to block pet odors. Works with oil, alkyd and water-based paints.

If you are on a budget but still want to find a good quality primer for your kitchen cabinets, then you might want to try this product. Its restorative properties can bring run-down cabinets back to their old glory. 

This primer is highly versatile and can be used on anything from wood to metal and glass. This means that this stain blocker primer should offer great coverage if you wish to paint every part of the cabinet – wood, glass, and hardware – a fresh color. 

Since this primer is water-based, it does not take as much time to apply. This makes it the perfect choice for those who are still beginners at cabinet painting.

Since the formula is very easy to apply, you should not have to worry about any stray streaks.

Moreover, the latex formula gives it a very quick drying time. It takes only 30 minutes for one coat to dry – which means that even if you have to do a second coat, you’ll be done within an hour.

If you are in a hurry and want your kitchen renovation project to be done fast, then this is the right primer for you. 

PROS

  • Very affordable primer
  • Quick-drying time, even with multiple layers
  • Streak-free, regardless of the brush used
  • Can cover even difficult stains

CON

  • It takes longer to dry if you use a brush or a roller



4. Best water-based primer for cabinets–Rust-Oleum, Flat Gray Primer 1980502

Rust-Oleum Brush On Acrylic Paint 1980502 Painters Touch...
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and provides long-lasting protection
  • Covers up to 120 sq ft and dries to touch in 30 minutes for quick project completion

If you are looking to paint your cabinets into a deeper color, then you might want to choose a darker, deeper shade as opposed to classic white.

With its gray formula, the Rust-Oleum product will cover cabinet surface imperfections flawlessly and provide you with an even base.

This high-quality primer has a water-based formula, meaning that it is very easy to apply and can even be sprayed on if that’s your preference.

Moreover, it releases a lower odor level, which means that you won’t be as bothered by the smell as compared to other similar products.

The primer dries off with a flat finish, which means that imperfections will not be visible – not even the streak kind. It increases adhesion and bonding with the paint, reducing the chances of peeling.

With that in mind, while you can use it without sanding, you will get the best results if you offer it a smooth base.

PROS

  • Excellent adhesion on different types of wood for kitchen cabinets.
  • Perfect for spray gun use
  • The best water-based primer for cabinets
  • Dries fast even in humid conditions

CONS

  • It is still rather light in color
  • It may take a second coat for proper stain-blocking



5. Best Adhesion to Wood–XIM Advanced Technology Primer

XIM 1 qt Products 11052 White, UMA Acrylic Bonder and...
  • This item is a XIM 11052 Advanced Technology UMA Bonder and Primer/Sealer, 1-Quart, White
  • White Bonding Primer/Sealer provides excellent adhesion
  • Interior or Exterior use

If you are looking for the best bonding primers, then you might want to try this oil based primer from XIM. Its white formula will offer you a flat finish that will not only cover all the imperfections but will also provide excellent adhesion. 

This is because the formula lists three roles in just one product: primer, bonder, and sealer – all at the same time. This will save you quite a bit of time, as you will not have to look for different products to suit each purpose. 

The primer has a low odor as well as low volatile organic compounds (VOC) levels, making it an environmentally friendly option. It is not as toxic as oil based primers, making it the perfect choice for interior and exterior surfaces you touch frequently. 

This primer creates a base that won’t let any dirt from seeping into the surface. This makes maintenance easy to handle, even if it gets really greasy and dirty. All you need is water, soap, and a clean rag.

Bear in mind that if you want to avoid blistering and splinting with this primer for wood cabinets, you might want to sand the surface first. This will prevent the old paint from peeling, particularly if it already has chipped areas all over. 

PROS

  • Low odor and VOCs
  • Great for bonding and sealing
  • Very easy to clean after it has dried
  • Dries quite easily compared to other primers

CONS

  • The layers are thick and unsuitable for sprayers
  • You’ll need to sand the surface for proper adhesion



6. Best Applying Formula–INSL-X SXA11009A-01 Stix Primer

INSL-X SXA11009A-01 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer,...
  • Premium-quality, acrylic-urethane bonding primer-sealer with unparalleled adhesion to the most challenging surfaces, including glossy tile, PVC, vinyl, plastic, glass, glazed block, glossy paint, pre-coated siding, fiberglass, and galvanized metals.
  • Bonding primer for drywall, plaster, ceiling, acoustical tile, wood trim and doors, Formica, ceramic tiles, glossy surfaces, PVC plastic, masonry walls, wood, trim, shutters, masonry, stucco, concrete, cement block, galvanized metal, aluminum, and other challenging surfaces.
  • Bonds to "hard-to-coat" surfaces and can be top coated with almost any product.

If you are not confident in your painting skills and haven’t painted any kitchen cabinets before, then you might want to try the water based Stix primer from INSL-X. 

This one is the perfect choice if you decide to paint your kitchen cabinets, as it can cure even in lower temperatures (as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit).

This primer works on every surface, not just wood – although the best adhesion does occur on properly primed wood. That being said, if your cabinets have metal appliances that you wish to paint as well, this primer will help you out. 

You can also use it on glossy surfaces.

Thanks to the water based formula, this primer for wood cabinets does not release any strong odors either. It has low VOC levels, which means it’s not toxic and it’s safe to touch once it dries.

With proper ventilation, the smell should not linger on your kitchen cabinets for too long either.

The water based primer leaves a flat, matte finish, making it the ideal choice if you want to follow up with water-based matte paint. That being said, even if you want to obtain that glossy look, you may still use oil-based paint instead. 

PROS

  • Very easy to apply
  • Covers even the most difficult stains
  • Can be used with a sprayer gun
  • Beautiful matte finish

CON

  • It peels if you do not prep the surface properly before you prime it



7. Best oil Based Primer for Cabinets –KILZ Original Multi-Surface Primer

KILZ Original Low VOC Primer, Interior, 1 Quart
  • PRIMER|SEALER|STAINBLOCKER: KILZ Original is a fast-drying, oil-based, multi-surface primer-sealer-stainblocker that seals porous surfaces, promotes adhesion, hides previous color, blocks heavy/severe stains and seals odors.
  • ADVANCED FORMULA: This oil-based modified alkyd primer is a powerful stainblocking formula that blocks most heavy/severe interior stains including water, smoke, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker, grease. It also helps block and seal pet and smoke odors. Lower VOC oil-formula has max 350 grams/liter volatile organic compounds level.
  • MULTIPLE SURFACES: Use this versatile primer on interior surfaces including wood, drywall, tannin-staining wood, HDF/Hardboard, MDF, plywood/T1-11 siding, composite wood, concrete, plaster, paneling, wallpaper, masonry, brick, painted and ferrous metal, aluminum, chalky, previously painted and properly prepared glossy surfaces. Surfaces should be free of dust, grease, chalk, rust and peeling paint prior to application.

If you have a problem with covering stains from your kitchen cabinets, then you might want to go straight to the basics and purchase a good oil-based primer. 

An option recommended by most painters is the Kilz original primer. This product can be easily used on any tough surfaces, including wood – bringing back its former shine. 

Even if this primer is an oil based formula, it only takes about 30 minutes for one layer to dry. The cases when you’ll need a second layer are rare, but if you do, the drying time should only go down to about one hour at most. 

The formula for this primer works for both bonding and sealing at the same time. This makes it quite resistant to stains, and just as easy to clean in case it gets dirty.

All you need is soap and some water, and you’ll be good to go.

The thick formula for this product makes it easy for you to cover even the more difficult stains with just one layer. Despite that, you can still have an easy time applying it, due to its easy flowing formula.

The chances for streaking to occur are very low with this oil primer. ]

PROS

  • Very efficient at covering odors
  • Excellent coverage with just a single coat
  • The best oil based primer for cabinets
  • Dries very quickly compared to other oil based primers

CON

  • The smell and fumes are strong when you are painting



8. Best Cabinet Primer for Odor Blocking – Rust-Oleum Corporation 270976

Rust-Oleum Corporation 270976 Advanced Synthetic Shellac...
  • This item is a Rust-Oleum Corporation 270976 Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer, 1-Gallon, White
  • Purpose of use for Painting Supplies, house-primers
  • This product is manufactured in United States

Everyone needs a primer that can effectively seal off odors and stains, and these Rust-Oleum shellac primers can do the paint job. The formula was made to help anyone fight stubborn stains and obtain a uniform, impeccable surface.

This synthetic shellac primer has incredible stain-blocking properties, and it can get rid of unpleasant smells, thus creating a better working environment for you.

It also has a low odor itself, and it dries very quickly, which makes the process much faster too.

What is great is that even more severe stains are covered by this solution. For example, if you want to do any water and fire restoration or remodel, it will work amazingly.

It is a shellac primer, and it is great for both interior and exterior priming. The product is easy to work with, and the coverage is ensured by the thick texture.

PROS

  • It will not take ages to dry
  • It can cover even some of the most stubborn stains
  • You will not feel any odor anymore
  • It is easy to apply
  • It is great for both interior and exterior surfaces

CON

  • It does not have the smoothest finish after sanding



9. Best Kitchen Cabinet Primer for Bleeding Prevention – Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Oil Primer, 1-Gallon, White
  • This item is a Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer, 1-Gallon, White
  • Purpose of use for Painting Supplies, house-primers
  • This product is manufactured in United States

The Zinsser B-I-N shellac-base primer is great if you have kitchen cabinets you want to paint. This is because the primer has some incredible adhesion – not only will it stick to the surface and help the paint resist for a longer period too, but it will also adhere despite any imperfections on your kitchen cabinets.

One thing that the product is known for is that it prevents bleeding. If there is any tannin bleed, then you can rest assured that this product will stop it.

The shellac primer can cover any stain effectively, and it will not allow any odor to pass through either.

The formula is a fast-drying one, so you will have your surface ready for a recoat in no time. Besides, it also makes sure you get to paint the cabinets faster, saving time this way.

These shellac primers may be a bit watery, though, so you may need to spend more time trying to obtain an even finish.

PROS

  • It will prevent bleeding
  • It can effectively cover stains and seal off odors
  • It adheres to the surface for a long time
  • It dries very fast

CON

  • It is very watery



Best primer for Painting Cabinets Comparison Table

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Kitchen Cabinet Primer

There are several aspects that you may want to consider when picking the best primer for kitchen cabinets, mainly depending on the type of paint that you are using.

Here is what you need to keep in mind, based on the different multiple surfaces. 

1. New Wood 

New wood is likely the easiest to prime, particularly if it’s unstained and unpainted. Beginners might want to try rolling an oil-based primer over the surfaces of the cabinets, as a base primer will protect the wood while adhering to the surface. 

Also, if you want a smoother application and want to experiment with the paint patterns, then you might want to try a latex primer instead. It will give you a different finish.

Unless you feel like you need to somehow smooth up the interior and exterior surfaces of the wood, you can likely paint your cabinets without sanding. 

Read Also: Should You Paint The Inside Of Cabinets?

2. Stained Wood

If you have stained cabinets, then you might want to get a primer with stain blocking properties. This is very often the case with cedar and redwood cabinets, as they often have a lot of texture.

Very often, this is a default feature of most kitchen cabinet primers, so you should not be worried about stain blocking. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure the primer says it’s specifically covering stains. 

3. Painted Wood

More often than not, if the old paint is in good condition and you just need a color change, you probably don’t even need to prime the wood. You already have a good base to work with when you know how to professionally paint kitchen cabinets.

However, if the old paint is chipping or chalking, you might want to use an oil-based paint primer. Make sure that you sand the surface before applying the primer, as this will remove the chipped paint and give you an even surface to work with.  

4. Weathered Wood

With weathered wood, you could probably get away with the same treatment as you would with new wood. You either need a good quality oil based primer or latex primer to give the weathered woods a new look. 

Similar to painted wood, make sure that you sand the surface of the cabinets or use any other method to remove the paint. This will make sure to remove any impurities or remaining paint.

Once you see that the newer wood fibers are inching more towards the surface, you may get started with the paint job. 

Types of Primers for Wood Cabinets

 Primers for Wood Cabinets

There are several types of primers on the market that you may use based on your own convenience. Here are your options:

1. Latex Primers

Latex primers are the beginner’s choice and can be applied with anything, from sprayers to rollers and brushes. Moreover, since the latex paint primer dries much faster, they are a great choice if you wish to finish priming cabinets and painting, all in one day.

The latex primer also has low VOC levels, making it an environmentally friendly option that does not smell as much. 

2. Oil Based

The oil based primer is the type that you’ll want to get if you’re looking to achieve that glossy-satin-like feeling. These primers are the best in terms of bonding, as they prevent staining from the penetration of the top coat. 

It takes a bit longer for oil based primers to cure, but they can easily be used on any type of surface – including wood. This is why most experts use oil based primers. Bear in mind that oil based primers and paint are quite toxic, so you need good ventilation.

3. Shellac Based

The shellac based primer is the type of multifunctional product that can work on wood and metallic surfaces alike, offering a smooth layer with a stain blocking properties.

Shellac is also very easy to clean and maintain, making it a great choice for a house with kids. Even better, it keeps the crayon marks and other prints from sticking.

4. Primer and Paint in One

If you are running low on time and do not want to bother with waiting for the primer to dry, then you might want to try a primer and paint combo option.

The risk of peeling is a bit higher, as it is basically a thicker kind of paint – but if you only want to use one product, then you should try this one. Self-priming paints usually do the trick, particularly if you like to paint your cabinets often.

Related: Zinsser 123 primer vs kilz

How to Apply Primer on Kitchen Cabinets

Applying the best bonding primer for kitchen cabinets is not that complicated. Here are the main steps that you’ll want to have in mind: 

1. Remove the Cabinet Door 

When painting cabinets, you need to remove the cabinet door first. This way, you should be able to paint over the surface without awkward twisting and turning around the cabinet doors.

The result will be smoother paint, and fewer missed spots. 

2. Degrease Cabinets 

If the cabinets are greasy, the paint won’t be able to stick – even if you use an oil or water based primer. This is why you need to degrease them to get a smooth surface. 

3. Sand the Cabinets 

If you have peeling paint or porous surfaces, the primer will not adhere properly. To avoid any peeling or paint cracking, the third step should be to use sandpaper to remove the imperfections.

4. Apply the Primer 

Whether you are using an oil based primer, shellac based primer, or waterborne, now it’s time to apply it. Once the surface is all smooth, you can proceed.

One coat of paint should usually be enough when you apply the primer, but a thinner primer or darker cabinets may need two coats.

Ideally, you should wait about 24 hours before applying the paint depending on how many coats you used. That being said, if you use latex paints primer on your raw wood kitchen cabinets, you might be able to paint them on the same day.

Latex paints cure much faster. 

How Long Should Primer Dry on Kitchen Cabinets

Generally, you should wait about 24 hours for the primer to dry. Some primers, such as the water-based primers kind can take as little as 30 minutes to cure. 

It mostly depends on the primer that you have chosen, so you might want to make sure that it has mostly dried before you add the actual paint. This way, you won’t have to worry that the primer will mix in with the paint job.

FAQs

Should I Roll or Spray the Primer?

This depends on the type of primer that you are using. For example, while latex based primer can be applied with anything, things are different with oil based primers. Water-based primers can be sprayed, whereas an oil based primer is much better rolled.

What primer to use on cabinets with laminate wood?

Laminate kitchen cabinets are slightly more difficult to paint, as they require you to prime them with a special kind of product – formulated just for laminate cabinets. After the specially formulated primer dries off, you might want to follow up with latex or oil based primers.

What is the Best Bonding Primer for Kitchen Cabinets?

Typically, oil based primers are the best bonding primer options for kitchen cabinets, particularly oak cabinets. An oil primer is very efficient in covering the stains, giving better adhesion for the coming paint.

Can I Prime and Paint Over Chipping and Peeling Paint?

You can prime and paint – but there’s no guarantee that the peeling problem won’t happen again. For you to prevent peeling, you need to prep and prime the entire surface correctly. This includes sanding and using the proper primer. Unless you have a solid foundation for the paint, it will continue to chip and peel, particularly if you use oil based primers.

What is the best primer for oak cabinets

Zinsser BIN Shellac is the best primer for oak cabinets. Because oak is a coarse, naturally golden wood, this is the reason it has such a gritty texture. As a result, you must carefully seal it. For the best results, use a 4”, mini foam roller and brush to apply 2-3 coats.

What is the best primer for kitchen cabinets?

The best primers are essential if you wish to get that smooth, stain-free coverage for your kitchen cabinets. 

The best paint primer for cabinets is the KILZ Adhesion High Bonding latex primer, but you may get results that are just as good with the ZINSSER Cover Stain. Those who are on a budget might also find the KILZ Restoration primer to be a good alternative.

These products have the best coverage and are the least likely to require two coats. Moreover, they are very quick to dry. Just make sure that you prep the cabinet wood properly and remove any chipped paint, lest you could end up with a case of peeling even in a good primer. 

As long as you choose the best primer for cabinets the final surface should look flawless.

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