Best Primer for Nicotine Stained Walls: Reviews You Need to Know

By admin | Tools and Equipment

It can be a tough challenge to deal with nicotine-stained walls. If you go ahead and apply a coat of white wall paint, the stain will remain and be visible. A second coat will still not hide the nicotine stain. Apply the best primer for nicotine stained walls before starting your painting job.

Nicotine can cause yellow stains on your walls. Nicotine seeps into the walls leaving greasy stains. Stains that have been on your walls for a long time can be difficult to cover. Choosing the Best Primer for Nicotine Stained Walls will hide and stains and make your walls ready for a fresh coat of paint. 

1. Oil-based Primers

Oil-based primers are ideal for use with latex and oil-based paints making them versatile because you can use these primers with almost all of your projects, oil-based primers are best suited for steel, wood, and most metal surfaces.

You can apply this primer over existing paint. Oil-based primers work well in killing stains and preventing future stains. Oil-based primers, however, contain large amounts of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) which are dangerous to you and the environment. This primer takes longer to dry, too.

2. Latex-based Primers

Latex-based or water-based primers are perfect for incomplete drywalls. They are quick to dry and are not as brittle as oil-based primers so they can prevent cracking and peeling. Latex-based primers work best with concrete, galvanized, metal, and brick.
Latex-based primers also work well with softwoods. It comes with a low VOC and some do not contain VOCs at all.

3. Shellac

Shellac has been used as a primer for centuries. It works well for sealing wood as well as in plaster, metal, and plastic surfaces. Shellac comes with a high-powered adhesive and it is fast to dry. It also works well in stain-blocking (water, smoke stains, rust), prevents future stains, and odor protection. 

Choosing the Best Primer for Nicotine Stained Walls

Properly sealing nicotine-stained walls with primer and paint can easily cover the nicotine stains. It can also prevent the nicotine stain from contaminating the air. How then do you choose the best primer for nicotine stained walls? Here are some factors you need to consider.

1. The Top Coat

There are primers that are applicable only for specific surfaces while some primers are for multiple surfaces. If you are working on a wood surface, choose a primer that is solely for wooden surfaces. Primers made for a specific surface gives top-quality performance.

To create a perfect finish, the primer and the top coat or paint needs to be a perfect combination. If they do not complement each other; your project may turn out to be a disaster.

The best way to choose a primer is to have in mind the paint you are going to use or before choosing the paint, know what primer you are going to use. If you are using an oil-based or latex top coat that is quick-drying, and will be applied using rollers, choose a primer with the same qualities or vice-versa.

While primers are less durable than paints, they contain resins that can easily penetrate imperfect and porous surfaces. Paints or top coats, on the other hand, contain pigments that adhere well to surfaces.

2. Adhesiveness

Whether or not the paint will stick on the primer depends on the adhesiveness of the primer. The primer needs to be adhesive so it will stick to the wall. If the primer peels off the wall, the paint will peel off as well. It is therefore critical that you choose a primer with superior adhesive power.

3. Stain Coverage

Primers are able to cover stains on surfaces. Paints can also cover stains but the result is different for different materials. Sometimes stains are still visible after applying the top coat because they appear differently than the rest of the wall.

A primer that is good at covering stains will create a wall that is consistent in appearance than the rest of the wall without stains.

4. Covering Odor 

The adhesiveness of a primer also covers the odor of a specific surface. There are primers specifically made to cover the odor of smoke and nicotine. There are primers that are known to have good odor-blocking qualities.

When it comes to smell, consider the smell coming from the stained wall and the smell itself of the primer. Some primers can lock in the smell of nicotine accumulated over time in your walls, especially in drywalls.

Primers can be smelly. It is best to go for primers with low-smell formulations. Be wary of primers that are intended for exterior use if you are working on interior walls. Primers labeled as for exterior use only, may in some instances, release fumes that may be too overwhelming when used in enclosed spaces.

5. Indoor / Outdoor Use

Take into consideration the location of the wall you are going to paint. There are primers specifically for indoor use only and primers for outdoor use only.

6. Oil-Based Primers

Primers that are oil-based have better quality than their water-based counterpart. Oil-based primers are known for their superior cover-up ability, especially for stained surfaces. Oil-based primers can also prevent future staining of the surface.

7. Drying Time

Primers vary in drying times. If you are in a hurry, choose a quick-drying primer. Different brands of primers come with different drying times. Even if you are working with a primer that says the top coat can be applied after 30 minutes, it is best to wait for about 24 hours before doing so.

The longer the time you wait to apply the top coat over the primer creates a better bond between the primer, paint, and wall. This will make your walls more beautiful.

8. Price

Primers are available in various price range. Obviously, the costlier ones come with more features. Choose the primer that fits your budget without compromising the features you need to cover your nicotine-stained walls.

Best Primer for Nicotine Stained Walls Review

KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer

The KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer is one of the best primers for nicotine-stained walls. This water-based primer making it easy to prepare and apply. While water-based, this primer is designed for maximum performance similar to oil-based primers.

This KILZ Max primer can smoothly deal with all kinds of tough stains, especially smoke, nicotine, watermarks, ink, and pet marks. This primer adds in a strong layer to your walls. It can also seal off almost all kinds of odors on the walls. It is quick to dry, too.

The KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer works well on any surface type such as drywalls, brick walls, painted metal, wood, or glass. 


  • Non-flammable
  • Non-toxic
  • Superior bonding properties
  • Seals off all kinds of odor
  • Quick-drying
  • Works well on almost all surfaces


  • Suitable only for indoor use
  • Should be used only on surfaces with prior oil-based topcoat
  • Requires thorough sanding after application
  • Pricey

The KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer should be applied on surfaces free of grease, dust. Rust, mold, and peeling paint. This primer is best applied with an airless sprayer, brush, or roller. 

Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Oil Primer

​The Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Oil Primer is suitable for interior and exterior use. It works well in covering nicotine stains and odor in walls. It also prevents the walls from having any further stains in the future.

This primer can conceal marks and stains in wood. It is an exterior wood sealer so it can block any bleeds form redwood and cedar. It is, however, also suitable for all interior and exterior types of surfaces.
It is an oil-based primer thus, it absorbs deep into surfaces to seal them permanently and prevent any odor from coming out.

The Zinsser 03504 is great for beginner painters because even if the surface is not well-sanded or not sanded, this primer will still stick to the surface. It will also give wood a brilliant luster and shine. It will also provide a good enamel coating on surfaces making them flawless and clean.


  • Great adherence properties
  • Permanently hides stains
  • Gets rid of odor
  • Suitable for interior and exterior use
  • Fast drying time
  • Works well on all types of surfaces
  • Good for beginner painters
  • Reasonably-priced


  • Initially emits odor so needs to be used in a well-ventilated area
  • Thick primer
  • Not mold and mildew-resistant
  • Can cause skin irritations

The Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Oil Primer comes in a white color making it suitable for all surfaces without the need for sanding. It also only takes about an hour to dry. 

KILZ Original Multi-Surface Oil-Based Primer

​The KILZ Original Multi-Surface Oil-Based Primer can be used in almost all surfaces including drywall, wood, painted metal, masonry, and plaster. It comes with great stain and color blocking abilities. It can also block rust, mold, and mildew.

This KILZ oil-based primer can conceal stains due to nicotine, marker pens, water damage, etc. it can also block smells from nicotine, pets, and water damage.

This oil-based primer can make paint adhere well to the surface to achieve a more realistic color. It also dries in about 30 minutes making walls ready for the topcoat in about an hour. The most idea, however, is to wait for about a day or two before applying the top coat.


  • Blocks stains and odors
  • Ensures good color consistency
  • Works well with almost all wall surfaces
  • Smooth to apply
  • Comes with great adhesion


  • Contains VOCs
  • Dull looking
  • Emits strong fumes while drying
  • Not good for outdoor use

Each galloon of the KILZ Original Multi-Surface Oil-Based Primer can cover up to 400 square feet of area. It can be applied using a sprayer, brush, or roller. 

Rust-Oleum Corporation 271009 Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer

​The Zinsser BIN, the Rust-Oleum Corporation 271009 Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer, is a synthetic shellac primer. It is a great stain blocker. Sap is a hard and difficult substance to cover and using a shellac type of primer cam stop the bleeding especially when working on highly-oiled wood which can still show the stains even after two or more layers of primer.

This shellac primer can block stains such as nicotine stains, crayons, graffiti, and water stains. It can easily stick to the surface in the same manner as glossy paints, tiles, and varnish.

The Zinsser BIN can also block nicotine odors, smoke odors, and pet odors. It can be used for interior and exterior surfaces.


  • Can deal with sap
  • Excellent stain-blocking ability
  • Can effectively remove any type of odor
  • Quick-drying
  • Comes with a smooth finish
  • Low in odor


  • Can emit some odor
  • Does not give a smooth coat on MDF

The Rust-Oleum Corporation 271009 Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer is a superior stain-blocking primer. It is a synthetic shellac that can seal tannin, knots, and sap for good.

Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer

​The Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer works well with wooden surfaces. It can be applied to finished or unfinished surfaces. This shellac-based primer comes with a thin consistency. It is an excellent stain sealer. It dries fast and allows light sanding, A second coat can be applied on the same day.

This shellac-based primer is environmentally-friendly. It only contains odor-free substances. It can cover a wide surface with less quantity of primer. It can protect wood against fire and water. It is a versatile primer because it not only blocks stains, it seals off odors, too. This primer will stick to the surface even without sanding.


  • Can be applied on all wooden surfaces, finished and unfinished
  • Gives perfectly bright-colored results
  • Suitable for interior and exterior use
  • Seals surfaces with unpleasant odors
  • Does not require sanding
  • Quick-drying
  • Creates lighter shades out of dark surfaces
  • Works well with almost all surfaces


  • Emits a certain kind of smell
  • Needs thinner
  • Expensive

The Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer can cover almost all wounds and scratches on wooden surfaces. It is available in quarts to 5-gallon containers.


The KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer is one of the best primers for nicotine-stained walls because while it is a water-based primer, it gives superior performance similar to oil-based primers. It can deal with almost all kinds of stains, especially nicotine stains, and effectively seal off all kinds of odor. It dries fast, too.