Painter using a roller brush to apply white primer on a bright red wall

Applying a layer of good-quality primer is an important step in any paint project. Primers help paint adhere well to the surface, minimize peeling, and ensure color precision. In this guide, we'll cover the best primers to use for a variety of DIY paint projects. Choosing the right product will help make sure your hard work pays off for years to come!

Interior Paint Primers

Interior bedroom wall painted in Benjamin Moore October Mist 1495

Re-painting interior walls, cabinets, and doors are popular home improvement projects that can transform your home’s atmosphere. Whether you’ve already picked out the perfect colors and paint products for your home interior or you’re just getting started, read on for tips on the best interior primers.

Best Primer for Painting Drywall

Painting drywall is a relatively straightforward DIY project, affording a large, flat surface area that is quickly covered using a paint roller brush. But one of the major challenges in a drywall project is accounting for the previous paint job. The paint pros at Ring’s End recommend applying a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start, High-Hiding primer before painting either new drywall or previously painted drywall. This acrylic primer is formulated to accommodate major color changes and even features a mildew-resistant coating for homes that experience high humidity.


For Drywall: Benjamin Moore Fresh Start High-Hiding Primer

All-purpose acrylic primer with mildew-resistant coating and maximum hiding. This product makes an excellent drywall primer and can also be used on a variety of substrates, including new or previously painted wood, plywood, ceiling tile, Formica®, Masonite®, ceramic tile, and cured plaster. 

Best Primer for Painting Cabinets or Doors

Kitchen cabinets and other interior doors are frequently used fixtures within a house that require durable paint products and a stain-blocking primer. Applying a high-quality primer will help maximize the lifespan of the paint job and accomplish better color precision. An acrylic primer like Benjamin Moore Fresh Start High-Hiding Primer is a great choice for paint projects that involve a major color change. This acrylic primer is also mildew-resistant, making it a great choice for kitchens with high moisture levels. Fresh Start High Hiding also acts as a stain-blocker, covering water stains, scuff marks, and other damage to interior woodwork.


For Cabinets and Woodwork: Benjamin Moore Fresh Start High-Hiding Primer

All-purpose acrylic primer with mildew-resistant coating and maximum hiding.

Alkyd paints and primers are a popular choice for wood doors, creating a thick, smooth coating with superior stain blocking. Benjamin Moore Fresh Start All-Purpose Primer is an excellent alkyd primer for interior doors that can be applied ​​over oil or latex paint – and it will cover stains effectively — including crayon, grease marks, tannin bleeding, water stains, rust, and smoke stains. This oil-like primer performs well under all of Benjamin Moore’s architectural finish coats.


For Doors or Wood with Stains: Benjamin Moore Fresh Start All-Purpose Primer

All-purpose alkyd primer with excellent adhesion, sealing, and stain blocking properties.

Exterior Paint Primers

House siding painted in Benjamin Moore Nimbus Gray 2131-50

Weather exposure and temperature fluctuations mean priming first is essential to making sure your exterior paint job will last. Whether you’re painting wood surfaces or working with fabricated materials, the following exterior primers are formulated to give you long-lasting results.

Best Primer for Siding

The right primer for your house exterior will depend on the siding material and whether or not it was previously painted. Benjamin Moore Fresh Start High-Hiding Primer is a multi-purpose primer that performs well on both interior and exterior surfaces. If your house exterior is comprised of fiber cement boards or hardboard siding, this mildew-resistant acrylic primer will create an adhesive base layer and let you successfully accomplish a major color change.


Exterior Solution: Benjamin Moore Fresh Start High-Hiding Primer

All-purpose acrylic primer with mildew-resistant coating and maximum hiding. For use on a variety of substrates, including new or previously painted wood, fiber cement board, hardboard siding, aluminum, galvanized, cured masonry, and previously coated ferrous metal surfaces.

If your house features vinyl siding or a different material that was previously painted with a glossy finish, you’ll want to use a primer formulated for hard-to-coat surfaces, also called a “bonding primer.” Bonding primers are necessary to ensure coats of paint will adhere to difficult substrates.

Best Primer for Exterior Wood Surfaces

Exterior wood surfaces such as wood siding, decking, or shutters require high-quality wood primer for paint to adhere properly and perform well under weather exposure. An alkyd wood primer like Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Exterior Wood Primer will penetrate the porous surface, sealing it against the elements and suppressing stains.


Wood Siding, Decking, Shutters: Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Exterior Wood Primer

A premium exterior alkyd primer that performs well on tannin-rich woods, providing excellent stain suppression and penetration. For use on bare wood or previously coated wood.

Best Primer for Hard-to-Coat Surfaces

Pink tile being painted with white primer

At some point during your home renovation or home improvement projects, you will encounter materials that are too difficult to paint with normal interior or exterior paint products. These include smooth surfaces such as glossy tile, PVC, vinyl, plastic, and fiberglass – as well as previously painted surfaces that now have a slick, glossy finish. For projects like these, we recommend a high-quality bonding primer like INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer. Formulated for maximum adhesion, this primer forms a strong bond with the most difficult substrates, allowing you to apply a coat of paint that will last. And unlike a shellac-based primer, INSL-X STIX is a water-based product with low VOCs and easy cleanup.


Hard-to-Coat Surfaces: INSL-X STIX Waterborne Bonding Primer

Acrylic primer/sealer that adheres to almost any type of substrate, and cures to an extremely hard, smooth film. INSL-X- STIX is intended for use on both exterior and interior surfaces, and can be painted over with Alkyd, Acrylic Latex, Urethane, Epoxy, Lacquer, and other types of topcoats.


Alkyd vs. Acrylic Primers

Alkyd primers have largely replaced oil-based products, achieving their hard, thick coating with fewer environmental effects. Oil-based primers were appreciated for their smooth, durable finish, but released harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air and would yellow with age. Alkyd primers create a similarly tough finish that covers deep stains, but they’re low-VOC products that retain color well.

Acrylic primers are water-based primers that work well on a variety of substrates, clean up easily, and dry quickly. Unlike latex primers, which are also water-based, acrylic primers have additional chemical properties that make them a more durable product with a wider color range. This type of primer is a go-to, multipurpose product ideal for major color changes and surfaces that don’t have significant damage. A high-quality acrylic primer will feature stain-blocking qualities but is thinner than an alkyd primer.

Shop Quality Paint Primers for Any Project at Ring’s End

Professional painters and homeowners alike appreciate the premium quality, richness of color, and durable finish provided by Benjamin Moore paints and primers. We’re confident you’ll find the right products for any paint project – interior, exterior, or both – among their extensive collection sold through Ring’s End. If you have remaining questions about whether or not you should use primer, how much to use, and what kind – contact the paint experts at Ring’s End using our online chat or by texting (203)-PRO HELP. We’ll be happy to help!

Paint Primer FAQs

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