Kilz vs Zinsser Primer (What’s The Difference?)

Kilz and Zinsser primers are both preparation coatings applied over surfaces to enhance paint penetration and adhesion.

Kilz primers have a faster dry time and are easier to apply than Zinsser primers. Zinsser primers are more durable, have better surface adhesion and coverage, better mold resistance, and a thicker viscosity than Kilz primers.

What is Kilz Primer?

What Is Kilz Primer?

Kilz offers different primer types including general-purpose, stain-blocking, and high adhesion primers. They are known to enhance paint penetration and adhesion and cover surface stains, tannins, and oils, and prevent them from bleeding through.

You can use Kilz primer for the following things.

  1. Changing Surface Color Shade: Use Kilz primer if you want to change the surface color shade and prevent the existing finish from bleeding through.
  2. Blocking Stains: Use Kilz primer if you want to block stains, moisture, and oils from bleeding through the new paint finish.

What is Zinsser Primer?

What is Zinsser Primer?

Zinsser is a brand that produces different primer types to address specific problems, such as water stains, adhesion challenges, surface moisture, etc. They have a thick viscosity and good surface coverage and adhesion.

Zinsser primers include Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3, Zinsser BIN, Zinsser Cover Stain. Each of these products has different features and qualities.

Kilz Primer vs Zinsser Primer

The differences between Kilz and Zinsser primer are listed below.

The Base

Kilz and Zinsser primers have both products with water-based and oil-based formulas.

Dry Time

Kilz primer dries faster than Zinsser primer as it has fewer additives that evaporate faster.


Zinsser primer is more durable and lasts longer than Kilz as it’s formulated with more additives and dries slower. Since it dries slower, the primer particles have more time to harden and compact.

Surface Adhesion

Zinsser primer has better surface adhesion than Kilz primer because it has more binder on its formula. It adheres over most surfaces without sanding.


Zinsser primer has better surface coverage than Kilz as it has a thicker viscosity and covers more area with one coat.

Preventing Bleed Through

Zinsser and Kilz primers are both good at preventing stain or moisture bleed-through to paint. However, Zinsser primer requires fewer coats to prevent bleed-through.

Mold Resistance

Zinsser mold-resistant primer offers better mold resistance than Kilz 3 Premium. Other Zinsser and Kilz primers types don’t have good mold resistance.


Zinsser and Kilz primers have a similar price tag.


Zinsser primers have a larger product range to choose from than Kilz. Zinsser primers often address specific problems, such as moisture or stain blocking. Kilz creates general-purpose primers that address large problems into one product.

Primer Application

Kilz primer is easier to apply than Zinsser as it has a thinner viscosity and is easier to clean and maintain. Zinsser primer has a thicker viscosity and is harder to control and apply.

Rust Inhibition

Both primers come with rust inhibition in their formula, but the Zinsser has better rust prevention qualities. The rust inhibition protects the metal from corrosion and helps the paint to stick better.

Number of Coats

You need fewer Zinsser primer coats as it has a thicker viscosity that covers more surface area with one coat.

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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