Best Oil Based Primer for Painting- Our Top 5

Trying to find the best oil based primer for a particular paint job is a common question I get for those who are prepping for a DIY project on their home.  While many people are always worried about paint,  a bad primer can ruin the nicest of paint jobs.

Much like paints,  primers all primers are not created equally.   Much like choosing a paint,  finding an oil based primer is an important step in producing the best paint job possible.

For those of you who have little experience with oil based primers or are wondering what even is an oil based primer I have broke up this article into two parts.

Part 1-   Why You Should Use Oil Based Primers ?

Part 2-   Our Top 5 oil based primers

Much like any of my previous articles that you may have read,  I like to give my readers and easy to follow table for those who just want to make a quick decision without reading all the details.

Before I get into the different parts, I have created an interactive table that has a brief overview of our top 5 oil-based primers with a link to check the current lowest prices on each of these.

Top 5 Oil Based Primers Interactive Table

PrimerCurrent PricesPros
Rust-Oleum Interior/Exterior Oil Primer Sealer Cover StainCheck Prices- Exterior & Interior Projects

- Painting over walls

- Great against chipping
KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based PrimerCheck Prices- Blocks odors & mildew

- Wood, plaster, wallpaper, metal & brick

- Great for ceilings
Rust-Oleum Z-Prime Superfast Oil-based PrimerCheck Prices- Fast Drying

- Great for exterior projects

- Wood, hardboards, & metal
Diamond Brite Paint 1-Gallon Oil Base Industrial PrimerCheck Prices- Great for steel, pipes, hand railings

- Great for oil based paint

- Great for surfaces
True Value Satin Black Anti-Rust Enamel PrimerCheck Prices- Great to stop rust

- Great for metals, wood, etc.

Now that you have seen our table for the top 5 primers, let’s take a look to see if an oil based primer is even the correct choice for your job.   With that being said,  let’s dig in. 

Why You Should Use Oil Based Paint Primers?

Oil based paint primers are important to use if you desire long lasting paint jobs in your life. Most people want their paint work best oil based primerto last as long as possible. This means it makes perfect sense for you to always use a paint primer. This also means that you need to always select the most appropriate and best paint primer. Paint primers in general help paint jobs stick in place and last far longer than if you paint without a suitable paint primer. Paint primers may even improve the appearance of paint work to appear glossier than it would look if it was painted on by itself on a surface without a fitting paint primer.

The oil based paint primers available for do it yourself painters are designed to be used specifically with oil based paint. They may even sometimes be usable with water based paint too. Or course, you should and will have to check the directions of your paint primers to confirm what kind of paint may be used with your oil based paint primer.

Oil Based Primer vs.  Water Based Primer

For the majority of people who are looking to paint, they know that they need primer (not what kind) and paint.   Usually a quick look up on their cell phone or a few minute talk with the worker at Lowe’s or Home Depot is about as far as they get in research.   For those who want  a better comparison, here is our two cents on the water based primer vs. oil based primer debate.

Oil Based Primers Pro & Cons


  • Good for preventing stains
  • Work with oil and latex paints
  • Good on metal, wood and surfaces that have been previously painted
  • Seal wood
  • Best for enamel paint



  • Not good for masonry
  • Hard to clean
Water Based Primers Pros & Cons


  • Great on new drywall
  • Do not crack or peel easily
  • Cover up minor blemishes & stains
  • Easy to clean
  • Best for latex & acrylic paint



  • Not the best for wood & metal

As you can see, just like with paints it is important to pick the right primer to fit your job.   As a rule of thumb if you are painting something walls or ceilings, I would go with the water based primer  +  latex paint combo.  If I were painting over something or painting wood or metal I would choose oil based primers along with enamel paint.  

The Best Oil Based Primers Reviewed

Below is our picks for the best oil based primers that we have previously used or tested.   Much like any painting accessory,  picking the right primer depends on the job needed and your budget.  These primers are not listed in any particular order and we feel that all can do a great job depending on your needs as a painter.

Rust-Oleum Interior/Exterior Oil Primer Sealer Cover Stain
Rust-Oleum  Interior/Exterior Oil primer sealer cover stain is a highly rated oil based paint primer. The paint primer adds some needed shiny gloss to your paint jobs. This primer battles stains furiously. It stops staining from water, nicotine, and smoke from happening to your paint work.

The Rust-Oleum Interior and Exterior oil primer will work on exterior and interior areas. This is a perfect oil based paint primer to create a smooth surface for you to paint over when you are doing interior jobs. For exterior jobs, this paint primer makes the painting surface more flexible and protected from damage to the paint work. Exterior paint work is more prone to damage, but this primer will help to battle exterior forces seeking to chip your paint.  Rust-Oleum works great with paint sprayers also, as it sprays easy and goes on smooth.

KILZ Original Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior Oil-Based Primer
KILZ original multi-surface stain blocking interior oil primer is a high quality paint primer that helps paint stay in place for a longer amount of time. This white hued paint primer additionally helps to block odors and combats mildew from growing on your walls. This paint primer’s can is about a one gallon can or about thirty-two ounces in size. This amount of primer can be used on about 300 square feet of space.

You may use the KILZ original multi-surface stain blocking interior oil based paint primer on a variety of home or building surfaces. It can be used on wood, plaster, wallpaper, metal, and even on bricked areas. It dries in only thirty minutes, so you can quickly get your paint job done within a day’s time. It is not recommended to use this oil based paint primer on flooring though. This oil based primer is more fit for walls and for ceiling paint work. It is an efficient and very easy to use oil based paint primer.

Rust-Oleum Z-Prime Superfast Oil-based Primer

Rust-Oleum Z-Prime is a great choice for those looking for a primer over difficult surfaces.  The Z-prime is not only one of our favorite oil based primers due to its fast drying time,  but also because it is so versatile.  Difficult surfaces such as exterior wood, aluminum and tempered hardboard are all easily finished with the Z-Prime.

As one who does part-time painting on the side, I keep a can of Rust-Oleum Z-Prime in my trunk as it is something I use a lot, especially on metals.   One thing I like the best about this primer is that I can apply it to a surface,  start painting another surface and come back in just a little time.   Overall I would recommend the Z-Prime as a quick and easy primer for those looking to touch up a wide range of items. For more details on the Z-Prime check this out.

Diamond Brite Paint 1-Gallon Oil Base Industrial Primer
Do you need one of the exceptionally strongest paint primers for your next paint project? Then you need look no further than the Diamond Brite paint 31900 one gallon oil base industrial primers. The Diamond Brite paint primer lives up to name to create a glossy and strong as a diamond paint surface.

Diamond Brite paint primer seals up and preps surfaces for oil based paint work. It is usable for many home, building, and equipment surfaces. Some of the recommended surfaces for the Diamond Brite paint primer include: trim work, steel, doors, pipes, hand railings, tanks, walls, interior items, exterior surfaces, and mechanical equipment. The paint primer can be sprayed, brushed, and rolled onto these variety of surfaces. The Diamond Brite paint primer will work flawlessly with any professional oil based paint you have selected for your paint project.

True Value Satin Black Anti-Rust Enamel Primer
True Value has created a solid five star rated oil based paint primer with the creation of their XO18-HP anti-rust enamel primer. This durable True Value oil based paint primer is obviously made to last and to be as flawless as possible. This paint primer is prepared to last on your do it yourself paint projects for a long time.

The True Value Xo18-HP is usable on both exterior and interior surfaces. It is a strong product for both exterior and interior environments. It can be utilized on metal surfaces and will yield excellent anti-rust results. The professional quality level of the True Value paint primers allows for your oil based paint projects to have a lasting and strongly pigmented appearance.

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