Kilz vs Kilz 2 (Is There a Difference?)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Kilz is a stain-blocking primer that prevents moisture and grease from affecting a surface. The top two types of Kilz primer are Kilz and Kilz 2. So, what’s the difference between both Kilz products?

The difference between Kilz and Kilz 2 is that Kilz primer is oil-based while Kilz 2 is water-based. The oil-based nature of Kilz makes it airtight and more resistant to moisture, stains, and grease, better than Kilz 2.

However, Kilz 2 contains a lower amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) meaning that Kilz 2 is less toxic than Kilz primer. Also, Kilz 2 dries faster than Kilz because Kilz is oil-based and it takes longer for oil to dry.

This post reveals more differences between Kilz and Kilz 2 including a guide on when to use each product. Let’s dive in.

What is Kilz Original Primer?

What is Kilz Original Primer?

Kilz primer also known as Kilz original is a powerful stain-blocking coat that shields the surface from moisture, pet urine, food and drink spills, grease, and stains.

The Kilz primer coating is very effective at blocking moisture and stains due to its oil-based content. When dry, the oil deposits in the primer coating polymerize to become hard and tightly packed. This makes it very difficult for stains and moisture (water) to pass through the Kilz coating.

What is Kilz Primer Used For?

  1. Kilz primer is used on porous surfaces like hardwood before applying paint – This prevents the wood from sucking the paint.
  2. Kilz primer is used to curb mold growth.
  3. Kilz primer is used on stained areas so the stains on the surface don’t affect the topcoat.
  4. Kilz primer is industry-standard meaning it can be used on large-scale tasks.
  5. Kilz primer is used on wood floors to protect the wood against pet urine and food and drink spills.

Related Read: Is Kilz Originals Recommended For Flooring?

What is Kilz 2?

What is Kilz 2?

Kilz 2 is a water-based primer and repair coating that works on virtually all types of surfaces. Kilz 2 contains a low level of additives and solvents which allows the primer to dry fast.

Kilz 2 primer works great when you want to switch colors as it helps to seal the existing color. Kilz 2 primer is specially designed to be thick and the thick texture allows it to seal surfaces, hide imperfections, and reduce the number of paint coats needed.

What is Kilz 2 Used For?

  1. Kilz 2 is used to protect against small to medium stains like felt markers, pencil marks, and water stains.
  2. Kilz 2 is used for simple color changes.
  3. Kilz 2 is ideal for protecting slick surfaces from stains, grease, ink, and moisture.
  4. Kilz 2 helps to improve surface adhesion.
  5. Kilz 2 protects against mildew.
  6. Kilz 2 is perfect for priming wood cabinets, wood trims, and doors.

Related Read: Kilz 2 vs Kilz 3?

So, is Kilz better than Kilz 2? Let’s find out.

Kilz vs Kilz 2

The main differences between Kilz and Kilz 2 are identified in the table below:

KilzKilz 2
Surface AdhesionDoesn’t stick to all surfacesSticks to all surfaces
Stain BlockingBlocks all types of stainsMainly blocks water-based stains
Dry TimeTakes about an hour to dryDries in 30 minutes
ToxicitySlightly toxicNon-toxic
UsageGoes on small and large surfacesKilz 2 is ideal for priming small areas like trims.

Surface Adhesion

How well does the primer stick to the surface?

Kilz original primer sticks well to porous and textured surfaces like wood, drywall, and concrete. However, the primer coating can’t stick to slick or glossy surfaces like glass and ceramic tiles.

This is because Kilz is oil-based and as such will slide off slick surfaces. You should also know that Kilz takes some time to stick to the surface because it takes longer for the oils to penetrate and adhere properly.

Kilz 2 has impressive adhesive qualities. Kilz 2 can stick to just about any type of surface including slick and sealed surfaces like glass.

You can even use Kilz 2 on an existing paint and it will stick. The main reason for this improved surface adhesion is the water-based nature. Since the primer is water-based, it is compatible with different surfaces.

Verdict: Kilz 2 primer sticks better than Kilz because Kilz 2 is water-based. Also, Kilz 2 sticks to just about any surface including slick surfaces like glass and tiles. Kilz will not stick to slick surfaces since it’s oil-based.

Stain Blocking

How well does the primer block stains?

Kilz is very effective at blocking stains. The presence of essential oils in its formula helps the primer coating to block severe stains and grease including tannins.

You can also use Kilz to protect against pet urine and food and drink spills. The oils in the primer also help to hide color so you can use the Kilz primer when you want to do major color changes.

Kilz 2 primer offers good stain-blocking but the primer coating can only block small to medium stains like pencil marks, light scratches, and the like.

Since the Kilz 2 primer is water-based, it doesn’t hide stains very well. This means you can only use Kilz 2 when doing simple color changes or when changing shades of the same color.

Verdict: Kilz offers superior stain-blocking because it is oil-based. Kilz 2 is better suited to blocking small to medium stains.

Dry Time

How long does the primer take to dry?

Kilz is a quick-drying oil-based primer. On average, Kilz primer takes 1 hour to dry enough for a top coat which is a quick dry time considering that the coat is oil-based. Other oil-based primers require at least 2 hours to dry enough for top coat application.

Kilz 2 is a quick-drying water-based primer. On average, Kilz 2 takes 30 minutes to dry enough for top coat application. The reason Kilz 2 dries quickly is that it is water-based and has a low level of VOCs and solvents.

Verdict: Kilz 2 dries faster than Kilz because Kilz 2 is water-based and as such will evaporate and dry faster than the oil-based Kilz coating.


How toxic is the primer?

Kilz primer is slightly toxic and this is due to the oil-based nature of the primer. Since the primer is oil-based, it usually contains a thinning medium that allows the primer coating to flow and seep into surfaces better.

Some of these thinning agents contain toxins that make the Kilz primer slightly toxic. This is why you aren’t advised to use Kilz oil-based primer on kitchen equipment and other sensitive surfaces like baby furniture.

However, you should know that the toxicity of Kilz primer is not at a level that will harm you. The primer can only cause problems if you use it on the wrong surface.

Kilz 2 primer is non-toxic and since it is water-based, you can use it on sensitive areas. Kilz 2 is already water-based and as such has a good flow and absorption. So the primer doesn’t contain solvents or thinners that can make it toxic.

Verdict: Kilz is more toxic than Kilz 2 but you should know that the toxicity of Kilz primer wouldn’t harm you unless you use it on the wrong surface.


Where can you use the primer coating?

Kilz primer can be used on large surfaces and you can even use it to prep outdoor furniture. Since the primer offers superior stain-blocking, it would also help to block large stains from affecting the top coat. This means you can use Kilz primer on surfaces that have been affected by water stains and oily stains.

Kilz 2 primers can be used on small areas. The primer coating is ideal for surfaces like trims, doors, wood tool handles, and furniture. Since Kilz 2 doesn’t offer good stain-blocking, you can only use it to block small stains from affecting the finish.

Verdict: Kilz can be used on larger areas and can block severe stains while Kilz 2 can be used on smaller areas.

When Should You Use Kilz Primer?

  1. You should use Kilz primer when dealing with heavy stains.
  2. Use Kilz to cover existing colors when doing major color changes.
  3. You should use Kilz primer to improve adhesion.
  4. Use Kilz primer when working on textured surfaces like masonry and concrete.
  5. Kilz exterior primer can be used outdoors.

When Should You Use Kilz 2 Primer?

  1. You should use Kilz 2 when working on slick and sealed surfaces like glass and tiles.
  2. Use Kilz 2 when working on drywall.
  3. You should use Kilz 2 to hide small to medium stains.
  4. Use Kilz 2 on indoor surfaces since it has low VOCs.
  5. Kilz 2 should be used when switching simple colors or switching between shades of the same color.

Final Words

In summary, Kilz and Kilz 2 primers are both great all purpose-primers. Both seal, block stains and improve adhesion. You should use Kilz when working on drywall or other interior surfaces while Kilz can be used on outdoor surfaces and to hide major stains.

You should remember that Kilz 2 is water-based while Kilz is oil-based so don’t use Kilz in sensitive areas. Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when working with any Kilz primer product.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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