What are the Best Primers for Covering Dark Paint?

By admin | Tools and Equipment

If you're planning to change your room's color from a dark color to a lighter one, you’re going to have to decide first if you need a primer and then what would be the best primer for covering the dark paint. This review answers both questions and gives useful information that makes the selection process a breeze.

Primers are useful before painting over any surface. They become mandatory in certain situations, like switching from a darker to a lighter color or painting over repaired, patched, or stained walls. You can also use it when painting porous surfaces and walls that are more likely to develop mildew; for example, bathrooms.

In these situations, they serve the following purposes:

  • Primers help to block out stains that may be present on the walls. This is particularly important when using a dark color over a lighter coat of paint as it eliminates any unevenness in the new coat of paint you apply.
  • On walls that have rough patches or have been recently repaired, the primers eliminate these imperfections. This is critical in ensuring that the new coat of paint sticks appropriately to the wall.
  • Primers also help in eliminating shiny surfaces. This is a common feature in dark paints as they tend to have a glossy finish that makes it difficult for a new coat of paint to stick to the wall.
  • It neutralizes the old layer's color so that when the new coat of paint is applied, its actual color shines through

What Types of Primers are Available on The Market?

Before shopping for a primer for your paint job, you need to be aware that different types of primers exist to avoid unfortunate mishaps. First, you need to identify your needs; then you select the type that best suits them as all of them have their pros and cons. The three choices of primers are:

Oil-based primers

These primers are compatible with both oil and latex paints, making them flexible to work on a wide variety of surfaces like wood, metals, and surfaces with the existing paint.


  • They are great at concealing underlying stains, even the more stubborn, persistent kinds.
  • They work perfectly in sealing porous surfaces of wood, which enable the coat of paint to cover the surface.
  • They retard paint from peeling or blistering.
  • They also prevent tannins produced by some types of wood like cedar from sieving through to the paint's surface.


  • They are usually slow-drying.
  • They are useful over masonry.
  • They produce volatile vapors (VOCs), which may be toxic in high concentrations and on prolonged exposure.

Latex-based primers

These are water-based primers and are ideal for priming drywall, galvanized metal, concrete, and bricks for painting. They are great for drywall because they smoothen the wallboard's surface and patched or repaired parts of the wall.


  • They dry faster and less brittle than the oil-based kinds.
  • They eliminate patches virtually.
  • They lack entirely or at least have lower levels of volatile chemicals, making them less toxic.
  • Latex-based primers are water-soluble, so they are easier to clean if you make a mess while painting. 


They are not as effective in concealing stains as the oil-based and shellac types.

Shellac primers


  • These are the most effective options for covering stains and are employed for even severe stains from smoke, water, or ink.
  • They effectively block the leakage of water and tannins from the underlying wood.
  • They can be used on wood, plastic, metal, and even plaster.
  • They work well with both oil and latex paints.
  • They dry fast and bond well to a variety of surfaces. 


  • They give off more volatile chemicals than their latex and oil-based counterparts.
  • Their thinning process requires mixing with alcohol, which can be quite complicated.

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What to Look for When Purchasing Primers for Covering Dark Paint?

By now, you've decided that you need a primer, and you've also assessed what type of primer would suit your needs. It would be best if you looked out for these other factors before finally making a purchase.

  • Project environment: Some primers are more suitable for indoor use, outdoor use, or both. Ensuring you purchase the kind compatible with the environment you intend to use as a mismatch can significantly reduce the primer's lifespan.
  • Surface to be used on: Different primers work better with different surfaces. This is covered earlier when I described the types of primers available.
  • Length of time it takes to dry: Oil-based primers generally have longer drying times (up to 3 hours) than the latex and shellac types (less than an hour).
  • Ease of tintability: Tinting primers from their original white or grey shades is not always necessary. It becomes particularly important when you're going from a darker to a lighter color or switching from a bright color to a darker color, for instance, from white to navy blue.
  • Ease of use: The primer you purchase should be easy to use and not require complicated mixing procedures before use. This was even a first-timer can make use of the product.
  • Safety: Primers should be safe and have a low index of emission of volatile chemicals, which may be harmful on prolonged exposure. It should also be non-flammable and non-corrosive.
  • Value for money: Even though the price shouldn’t be the primary determining factor when purchasing a primer, you should always feel like you got your money’s worth. Ensure you compare the features offered by the primer to the price tag attached.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Primer

Getting a primer is one thing; getting the best out of the primer you got is another. Follow these tips to prevent avoidable mistakes:

  • Make use of appropriate products in fixing any cracks or gaps in the wall.
  • Use sanding paper to smoothen out any visibly noticeable bumps or patches in the wall. This helps the primer set ultimately and adequately increases the bond between the primer and the overlying coat.
  • Use a damp sponge to remove dust and other particles that may have settled on the wall during the sanding process.

Best Primers for Covering Dark Paint Review

The list of recommended products was compiled based on professional purchaser opinions and is based on several criteria, including user reviews, durability, efficiency at concealing the underlying dark coat of paint, and value for money. And now, the best primers for covering dark paint are:


  • This is perfect for interior use and uses in residential rooms.
  • It effectively seals off moisture and can be used in high-humidity and moist environments like kitchens, bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms.
  • They emit minimal volatile chemicals, and so is a healthy option.
  • It has a low odor and is still effective at blocking odor from smoke found on the walls.
  • It has a short dry time. The overcoat can be applied about an hour later.
  • A prominent and trustworthy brand manufactures it.
  • This is a versatile product and can be used on drywall, plaster, paneling, stucco, wood, brick, masonry, galvanized metal, etc.
  • Effectively prevents the growth of mildew and mold in areas prone to moisture and warm temperatures.
  • Can efficiently block out light to medium stains.
  • Properly adheres to the underlying surface and overlying coat of paint.


  • It doesn’t work well with very severe stains like very dark and thick smoke.

KILZ 2 Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior


  • This product is excellent at adhering the overlying layer to itself.
  • It has excellent sealing properties for both porous external and internal surfaces.
  • Dual-purposed as can be used to prime both exterior and interior surfaces.
  • It is excellent for color changes and has a strong stain blocking performance for light to medium stains like ink, felt, pencil, grease, and rust.
  • Works on a wide range of surfaces, including drywall, plaster, woodwork, paneling, masonry, and even glossy surfaces.
  • It is ideal for walls, ceilings, and doors.
  • It has a mildew-resistant exterior finish.
  • It has a quick dry time; recoating can be done within an hour.
  • It possesses a low odor, and low emission rate of volatile chemicals and so are airway-friendly.
  • It is water-based and hence easy to clean when a mess is made.
  • High value for money
  • Trusted brand name


A single coat wouldn’t be sufficient to hide severe stains properly.


  • Meager emission rates of volatile gases and low odor. Safe for home and workspaces.
  • It can be used on both interior and exterior drywall, plaster, woodwork, paneling, masonry, and brick.
  • KILZ premium primer is utterly resistant to mildew and mold growth.
  • KILZ is ideal for high humidity areas like laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.
  • Efficiently blocks light to medium stains.
  • It would completely block out the dark paint beneath, letting the overcoat shine properly.
  • Can eliminate small elevations and grooves and effectively seal off porous surfaces and other imperfections.
  • Excesses can be cleaned easily with water.
  • Easy to use.
  • High value for money.
  • A trusted manufacturing brand makes it.

Cons: None

KILZ Restoration Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Interior Latex Primer


  • This the gold standard for concealing heavy stains from cooking oils, grease, rust, smoke, nicotine, and permanent marker ink.
  • Highly efficient for most interior surfaces, including drywall, woodwork, plaster, masonry, brick, painted metal, ceramic tiles, glass, and even surfaces with a glossy finish.
  • Compatible and adheres firmly to both latex and oil-based.
  • Low odor and volatile gas emissions, so it’s safe for home and office use.
  • Dries up to the touch in under 30 minutes and is ready for recoating after an hour.
  • The ultimate odor blocker can seal out medium to severe odors, including smoke, pet, and food odors.
  • Non-inflammable and non-combustible.
  • KILZ is a reliable primer and paints manufacturing brand.

Cons: It isn’t suitable for use on exterior surfaces.

Zinsser 03504 Cover Stain Oil Primer


  • Adds a shiny, glossy finish to your walls.
  • Hides most stains, even the severe forms like smoke, grease, or large water stains.
  • Suitable for use over nu
  • it completely seals off the bleeding of tannins in underlying wood.
  • It can be used in moisture and temperature-intensity rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries due to superior sealing properties.
  • This product has relatively quick drying times compared to other oil-based primers.
  • This works best for wooden surfaces.
  • This primer adheres fully to external and internal surfaces.
  • The high-hiding formula completely hides the underlying dark coat of paint while accenting the overlying coat's sheen.
  • Easy to use.
  • It is worth the price tag.


  • It may take longer to dry (up to 3 hours) than the latex-based primers.
  • The odor is not so friendly on the nose.
  • It possesses a relatively higher volatile chemical emission rate.


Dark paints are challenging to paint over, mainly if you directly apply coats of lighter-colored paint. It would require too many coats, which isn't efficient or logical in any way. A primer makes the process a lot easier. The best primers should efficiently carry out all their functions while also offering high durability and user safety. We reviewed a couple of incredibly efficient products. Still, the clear winner based on user feedbacks, versatility, ease of use, drying time, chemical emission levels, and tintability is the KILZ premium high-hide primer. This product beat our expectations based on every functional criterion and comes with a beautiful and reasonable price tag.

What to Look for When Purchasing Primers for Covering Dark Paint?