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Kilz Vs Zinsser Primer: An In-Depth Comparison

By Kravelv
Kilz vs Zinsser Primer: An In-Depth Comparison

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Kravelv

Choosing the right primer is a crucial step in any painting project. Among the top brands in the market, Kilz and Zinsser stand out for their quality and performance. Both brands offer a range of primers designed for different surfaces and conditions, making the choice between them dependent on specific project requirements. This article provides a comprehensive comparison of Kilz vs Zinsser primers, highlighting their features, advantages, and best use cases to help you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways:
  • Zinsser primers, particularly Bulls Eye 1-2-3, offer superior adhesion to glossy surfaces without the need for sanding.
  • Zinsser BIN excels in stain blocking, outperforming Kilz primers in handling tough stains like nicotine and tannin.
  • Zinsser BIN dries the fastest among the compared products, making it ideal for projects requiring quick turnaround.
  • Kilz water-based primers have lower odor, making them more suitable for indoor projects where strong smells can be disruptive.

Kilz vs Primers At a Glance

When choosing between Kilz vs Zinsser primers, understanding their key features and differences can help you select the right product for your painting project. Here's a detailed comparison highlighting what sets each brand apart:

Popular Kilz and Zinsser Products

Kilz Primers

Kilz primers are renowned for their stain-blocking capabilities and versatility. They come in various formulations to cater to different needs, such as water-based, oil-based, and shellac-based primers.

Popular Kilz Primer Products:
  1. Kilz Original: Oil-based primer known for exceptional stain blocking and sealing properties. Ideal for tough stains like water, smoke, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker, and grease.
  2. Kilz 2: Water-based primer that offers excellent adhesion, mildew resistance, and sealing properties. Suitable for both interior and exterior applications.
  3. Kilz Premium: High-hide stain-blocking water-based primer that also provides superior adhesion and mildew resistance. It's thicker, providing better coverage and sealing properties.

Zinsser Primers

Zinsser primers are celebrated for their quick drying times and excellent adhesion to various surfaces, including glossy ones. Zinsser offers a diverse range of primers, each designed for specific conditions and surfaces.

Popular Zinsser Primer Products:
  1. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3: Water-based primer that adheres to all surfaces without sanding. It's mold and mildew resistant and works well on both interior and exterior surfaces.
  2. Zinsser Cover Stain: Oil-based primer known for excellent stain-blocking and sealing properties. It can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces and is great for blocking nicotine and water stains.
  3. Zinsser BIN: Shellac-based primer that provides the ultimate stain blocking, sealing, and adhesion. It dries quickly and is perfect for spot priming and larger areas.

Kilz vs Zinsser Primers Comparison

Adhesion: Zinsser

Kilz Primers:
    Kilz 2 and Kilz Premium offer good adhesion on most surfaces, including drywall, wood, masonry, and painted metal. However, they may require sanding on very glossy surfaces.
Zinsser Primers:
    Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 excels in adhesion, adhering to glossy surfaces like tiles, glass, and metal without the need for sanding. Zinsser BIN also offers excellent adhesion to all surfaces.

Winner: Zinsser for superior adhesion, especially on glossy surfaces.

Stain Blocking: Zinsser

Kilz Primers:
    Kilz Original and Kilz Premium are outstanding in blocking a variety of tough stains, including water, smoke, tannin, and ink. Kilz Premium is particularly effective for high-hiding and stain-blocking.
Zinsser Primers:
    Zinsser Cover Stain and Zinsser BIN are exceptional in blocking stains. BIN, with its shellac base, is the best for the most challenging stains like nicotine and tannin bleed.

Winner: Zinsser BIN for unparalleled stain blocking.

Drying Time: Zinsser

Kilz Primers:
    Kilz 2 and Kilz Premium generally dry to the touch in 30 minutes and are ready for recoating in an hour. Kilz Original takes about an hour to dry to the touch and can be recoated in 2-4 hours.
Zinsser Primers:
    Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 dries in 30 minutes and can be recoated in an hour. Zinsser Cover Stain dries to the touch in 30 minutes and can be recoated in 2 hours. Zinsser BIN is fast-drying, taking only 15 minutes to dry to the touch and ready for recoating in 45 minutes.

Winner: Zinsser BIN for the fastest drying time.

Odor: Kilz

Kilz Primers:
    Kilz Original has a strong odor due to its oil base. Kilz 2 and Kilz Premium, being water-based, have low odor, making them more pleasant to work with indoors.
Zinsser Primers:
    Zinsser Cover Stain has a noticeable odor because it is oil-based. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 has a low odor, and Zinsser BIN, while shellac-based, also has a strong odor.

Winner: Kilz for lower odor options with their water-based primers.

Coverage: Zinsser

Kilz Primers:
    Kilz primers typically cover between 300-400 square feet per gallon, depending on the surface and porosity.
Zinsser Primers:
    Zinsser primers generally offer coverage of 300-450 square feet per gallon. Zinsser BIN, being thicker, tends to cover slightly less but provides excellent hiding power.

Winner: Slight edge to Zinsser for higher potential coverage, depending on the specific product.

Specialty Uses: Tie

Kilz Primers:
  • Kilz Adhesion is specially formulated for slick surfaces like glass and tile.
  • Kilz Restoration (formerly Kilz MAX) is a water-based primer that performs like an oil-based product, suitable for fire, smoke, and water damage.
Zinsser Primers:
  • Zinsser Mold Killing Primer contains an EPA-registered antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Zinsser Peel Stop is designed to prevent peeling and improve adhesion on weathered surfaces.

Winner: Tie, as both brands offer excellent specialty products tailored for unique situations.

Kilz vs Zinsser Primer FAQs

Which primer is better for glossy surfaces, Kilz or Zinsser?

Zinsser primers, especially Bulls Eye 1-2-3, are better for glossy surfaces as they adhere well without the need for sanding.

What primer should I use for tough stains like nicotine and tannin?

Zinsser BIN is highly recommended for tough stains due to its superior stain-blocking capabilities.

Which primer dries the fastest, Kilz or Zinsser?

Zinsser BIN dries the fastest, making it ideal for projects that require a quick turnaround time.

Final Words

Both Kilz and Zinsser offer high-quality primers that can meet the demands of various painting projects. The choice between them often depends on the specific requirements of the job:

  • For adhesion on glossy surfaces: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3.
  • For the toughest stain blocking: Zinsser BIN.
  • For fast drying times: Zinsser BIN.
  • For lower odor: Kilz 2 or Kilz Premium.
  • For specialty applications: Both brands have strong contenders, depending on the need.

Ultimately, the best primer for your project will depend on the specific conditions and requirements you are dealing with. Consider the surface, the type of stain or problem you are addressing, and the working environment to choose the primer that will deliver the best results.

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