Kilz vs Zinsser Primer: What’s The Difference?

You can not have the best result of paint without the application of primer before the application of paint. Applying paint primer is one of the most important steps in the whole painting process for having the best, most durable, and smooth finish. But which brand of primer is best? If you have no idea about the best brand, you not only have to repeat the whole process but also have to spend extra money.

To avoid that struggle, I have come up with the description of Kilz vs Zinsser Primer: What’s The Difference? The professional workers of my team have opted out of these two names when it comes to the best brands of primers and this is why I have planned to write on these two.

Let us now focus on what are the exact differences between Kilz and Zinsser, so you can make the right choice without spending extra money and wasting time.

Kilz vs Zinsser Primer – Major Difference Explained

Kilz vs Zinsser Primer

Although both of these brands are the top renowned brands for primers, some difference lies in the adhesiveness, odor, and consistency of both products. The following details cover all those differences and what exactly are the key features present in Kilz and Zinsser primers.

The first thing that we will focus on in this article is what is Kilz and what is Zinsser. And then will look into what are the differences between these two.

What Is Kilz Primer?

Masterchem Industries introduced kilz as a water-based primer. This primer is known for blocking the odor and covering all those stubborn stains that aren’t easy to remove, otherwise. It is said to be one of the best primers for indoor projects because of the presence of effortless use and low fumes. Moreover, this primer dries quickly and is very easy to apply either with a spray or with a paintbrush.

Kilz Primer

Advantages of Kilz Primer

  • Dries quickly
  • Water based nature
  • Effortless to use
  • Can cover stains
  • Can work on concrete, stucco, and masonry

Disadvantages of Kilz Primer

  • Harmful in case of inhaling

You can also read my write up on semi gloss vs eggshell paint

What Is Zinser Primer?

This primer belongs to one of the best-renowned brands, rust oleum. It is a white primer and is highly versatile in its functions. It comes in all three the water-based, the oil-based, and the Shellac-based coating. You may have question in mind that can you paint oil based paint over water based paint.

Furthermore, if you are looking for a primer to be used on both indoor and outdoor surfaces, you can go with this model. Zinser blocks the water stains and makes sure all the bad odors are sealed.

Zinsser Primer

Advantages of Zinser Primer

  • Effortless to use
  • Block water stains and marks
  • Minimum coating requirements
  • Blocks the bad odors
  • Ideal for most projects
  • Demands no sanding

Disadvantages of Zinser Primer

  • Tough to spread finely
  • Difference Between Kilz And Zinsser

You can also read about valspar vs behr paint

Major Difference between Kilz and Zinsser Primer

There are many characteristics of both of these primers that are different from each other. We are going to explain some of the major differences between these two, so you can choose the product by looking at its specifications.

Major Difference between Kilz and Zinsser Primer


Kilz is a non-toxic substance that creates a strong smell, as soon as you apply it. But keep in mind that Kilz usually gives off a foul odor. Alternatively, Zinsser because of being water-based gives a comparatively lesser unpleasant smell. It means Kilz is a winner here with a highly strong odor.


The ideal level of consistency demanded by the paint is determined by the project. In case you are a beginner with the paint and are using the paint for the very first time or specifically for DIY projects, you should select the Kilz one. And this is because the Kilz paint comes with thin consistency. This thin consistency of the paint makes it easy to apply, spread and stir.

On the other hand, the Zinsser is one of the best durable and long-lasting primers that make sure you don’t have to struggle with the application of multiple layers of paint at a time.

Covering Stains

Zinsser is one of the most renowned primers for covering stains in a better way. So if you are painting on a surface with lots of stains and marks, you go with Zinser and not Kilz. On the other hand, the Kilz sometimes may demand additional coats for proper coverage of the stains.

Rust Inhibition

Getting a primer to block rust development should be kept in mind when painting. Primers that come with rust-inhibitive properties are preferable and recommended for such purposes. And when it comes to painting on a metal surface, I will recommend you to go with Zinsser. This is because Zinserr serves you in a better way by cleaning the service and making a stronger bond.

Most painters and users recommend going with Bulls Eye 1-2-3 for priming the surface of the metal. This Zinsser is one of the most outstanding metal primers, to give you a nice base by covering and blocking the rusty surface.

Drying Time

Because of being thin in consistency, the Kilz dries more quickly than the Zinsser. Moreover, it is also water-based in construction which results in making the drying time quicker than other primers available. On the other hand, the Zinser takes much more time in drying as compared to Kilz.

Sanding Before Application

Most of the primers demand sanding before their application. When it comes to the comparison between Kilz and Zinsser primers, the Kilz demands sanding but the Zinsser just does not. Zinsser comes with a powerful combination of materials and substances that do not demand sand. This Zinsser is comparatively thicker than Kilz, making it somehow difficult to apply but saving time and effort of re-application.


Zinsser is a winner when it comes to being more adhesive. It creates a stronger bond with the surface to which it is applied, even without sanding. You do not have to sand the surface unless and until you need the strongest bond possible.

If you are working and painting on a high gloss surface, the Zinsser is the best choice that you can make over Kilz. Alternatively, the Kilz demands sanding first hand and then its application. Moreover, it does not create a bond similar in strength and adhesiveness to the bond created by Zinser.


Durability comes from consistency and the consistency of Zinsser is comparatively much thicker than Kilz. It is more durable and long-lasting and produces a stronger bond with the surface it is applied on. Moreover, the paint you are applying over the layer of Zinsser primer makes its bond with the primer more strongly and firmly.

You can also read difference between interior and exterior paint

FAQs about Zinsser and Kilz Primer

Why is it important to apply primer before painting a surface?

There are times when you just can’t paint the surface, without creating a neat base. Primer makes the surface ready for painting. Most of the painting procedures demand prime. Using a high-quality primer and applying them on the surface you are painting on before the application of paints makes the surface clean, neat, smooth, long-lasting and extremely fine, and ready for the layer of paint. The basic function of the primer is to seal the surface and I am sure you will get the experience of a flawless finish at the end.

What is Zinsser primer used for?

Zinsser primer is used for giving a perfect base for the painting. It is reliable for covering and controlling the mold on the surface and ceiling of all the poles that otherwise, can give a dirtier look after painting. It prevents bleed-through and blocks all the stains and marks on the surface. Moreover, Zinsser is also reliable for layering on wood furniture to make it waterproof by creating a barrier between the surrounding environment and the surface of the furniture.

Can You Use Kilz or Zinsser as a final coat?

No. Both the Zinsser and Kilz are not reliable for use as a final coat. They are made in a way that they just cannot resist the elements from the surrounding environment, ultimately resulting in making them prone to damage and defacing the surface. Both of these demand additional coats of painting on the top surfaces.

Final Thoughts on Kilz and Zinsser Primer

I hope you have gone through the above-mentioned article with full concentration and attention. I have tried my best to explain everything about both the Kilz and the Zinsser. Both of these products are the top renowned primers used for priming the surface for the application of the paint. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The above-mentioned article tells you about both of these primers individually with their pros and cons and then I have listed a comparative study to give you detailed knowledge about Zinsser and Kilz. This helps you in making the right choice quickly and easily.

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