Zinsser Vs. Kilz Primer (Pros and Cons)

Getting ready for a big painting project? One important step in the painting process is priming. Priming seals the surface, keeping water from damaging it. It also acts as a natural adhesive, allowing the paint to stick smoothly and beautifully. But needing a primer poses one question- which one should I go with?

Both Zinsser and Kilz are highly recommended for durability, mold prevention and their standing reputation. Depending on the project, both offer something beneficial. If you need to cover cracks and have coverage, Zinsser is your go-to. For a cost effective option, Kilz is the best solution. 

While both are consumer favorites, they definitely have their drawbacks. After reading this article, you’ll be able to choose which primer is better for you personally and the project at hand. Keep in mind, there are many different varieties of each so you may have to do a little research once you’ve decided which brand is better. 

What is Zinsser Primer? 

This popular primer is a white variety that is made by the brand called Rustoleum. This well known brand is considered the leading paint and primer market in the world. The Zinsser primer is highly versatile as it comes in a collection of different coatings: choose from shellac, oil or water based. 

Consumers love the interior and exterior options as they are plentiful and easy to find. It’s also a suitable primer for any and all surfaces without any necessary prep. Combine the versatility with the durability and ease of use and it makes for a fan favorite!

Benefits of Zinsser Primer 

Zinsser has a tried and true reputation- consumers rave over the Rustoleum brand for its durability and user-friendly approach. The Zinsser primer dries quickly, requires no preparation and has great coverage on all surfaces. It is also mold resistant which is a great perk. Let’s dive into the specifics:

Zinsser Primer

Dries Quickly 

One fantastic perk to the Zinsser primer is that it dries super fast. In only 30 minutes, it’s dry to the touch. In one hour you can retouch and in 24 hours it’s completely cured. You can’t ask for a faster drying option- it makes your whole process go faster and smoother. 

With a fast drying primer, you can move on to the next steps sooner. You can’t say that for every primer so this is extremely helpful for those on a time frame.

Doesn’t Require Sanding  

When you start a paint project, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the prep work. The great part about the Zinsser primer is that there is zero preparation required. No sanding necessary. As long as you’ve got a clean surface, you are good to apply. 

This time consuming step is usually one you can’t skip over, but thanks to Zinsser’s smooth texture and sealing properties, you can save time once again. 

Higher Coverage 

One great perk to the Zinsser primer is that it has high coverage. This means its thickness hides flaws perfectly. Cover your holes and cracks effortlessly with this primer all while sealing your surface and getting ready for paint. 

Higher coverage also means you don’t have to spend time filling holes with putty. Another step to skip? Zinsser really does seem to be the time saving option! 

Mold Resistant 

Zinsser primers contain biocides- this chemical is responsible for killing any growth of mold spores. This will kill any mold on the surface and prevent any new mold from appearing. 

This is a fantastic preventative benefit as water damage can happen anywhere and form mold in no time at all. The ability to keep it away means your surfaces stay smooth, healthy and protected.

Drawbacks of Zinsser Primer 

While this Zinsser may seem like the perfect go-to, nothing is perfect. Let’s discuss some of the drawbacks of this popular primer. You can expect to pay a higher ticket price for this quality item. It also has a thicker texture which means it may not glide on as you expect and it does have an odor. Let’s get into the specifics:

More Expensive 

This primer is definitely more expensive than some others. You can buy in different varieties and sizes but expect to pay roughly $10 for a small quart. If you are doing a big project and need more, this could turn out to be a pricey venture.

While many other gallons in different brands start at roughly the same price, you are paying for the quality when you go with Zinsser. If you don’t have a tight budget, Zinsser primer should be an excellent option!

Thicker Texture 

Zinsser is well known for its high coverage thanks to the thick texture. It also makes for an easier project at times, only needing one coat! But that comes with one drawback- it’s thickness sometimes makes it harder and more tedious to apply.

Zinsser Primer Sample

While DIY lovers may be used to working with all textures, some people prefer a thinner option so it goes on smoothly. However, no risk, no reward. You can go with a harder application if you have lots of stains and holes to cover because in the end,  it will be worth it. 

Bad Odor 

While all primers have some level of odor, this particular one falls in the category of somewhat unpleasant. While they have a low VOC, generally, this blend of compound chemicals is known to give off some level of odor.

If you’re prone to headaches, make sure you paint in a well-ventilated area. Luckily the lack of VOC’s means you won’t be inhaling anything dangerous but primer odor doesn’t always make for a pleasant process.

What is Kilz Primer? 

Kilz is another tried and true brand manufactured by the company, Masterchem Industries. For years, this primer has been a consumer go-to. From its thin, smooth texture to the effective price point, there are many benefits to this product.

Cover stains and seal your surfaces before you paint with one of the best primers on the market. This water based option dries fast and goes on effortlessly with a paintbrush. 

Benefits of Kilz Primer 

Consumers across the world have all depended on the Kilz brand for years. This primer has a variety of benefits. It’s easy to clean, apply and is very cost effective. It also prevents mold which is a huge perk. Protect your surface easily with Kilz- let’s discuss the pros of this ever popular primer:

Kilz Primer

Easy To Clean 

This fast drying, low VOC primer is also water based which means cleaning it is a breeze. This smooth sealing primer can be washed with soap and water in no time at all. Some other primers require a specific method of cleaning due to the texture and chemicals included in the ingredients. 

If you’re looking for an easy clean surface, going with Kilz primer will guarantee it! You won’t find any difficult processes with cleaning your project post priming. 

Mold Resistant 

Thanks to the active biocides in this blended formula, you can say goodbye to any mold growth on your surface. Biocides kill the growth of any and all mold spores so if your project is subject to water damage, this will take care of any mold issue.

It also prevents any new mold from forming so whether you use it as a solution or preventative purpose, this mold killing primer is a great go-to. Keep mold from ruining the integrity of your surfaces by going with a mold resistant formula.

More Cost Effective 

If you’re on a tight budget, Kilz primer is a great option for you. You can get a whole gallon starting at just roughly $10 per can, dependent on the type. Most gallons range from $10-$40 so you’ll have to research the type that will be best used for your project. 

Keep in mind that Kilz is one of the more affordable types on the market. Primers like Zinsser can get pricey even for a small quart. If you have a big project and need more coverage, you can get more for less with the Kilz brand. 

Seals Off Odors 

In addition to sealing those irritating stains, you can also seal off any odors. Whether you live in a home with pets or have just discovered a project with an unpleasant smell, Kilz offers a line of formula designed to seal and block odors.

Protect your home from any seeping smells through walls or barriers effortlessly. More specifically, pet stains are the perfect example of an odor protecting primer. Sealing the unsightly stain is a must but you also want to eradicate the odor. Stains that cause odor such as smoke, ink, markers and pets are the perfect candidates for Kilz Primer.

Drawbacks of Kilz Primer 

Despite its strength when it comes to sealing and fighting odors, its low cost and easy application, it doesn’t come as perfection in a can. You can’t ignore the odor that comes with working with a Kilz primer and you certainly don’t want to inhale it. Let’s dive into these points a bit further.

Bad Odor 

Unfortunately, Kilz has a very distinct odor that is not pleasant. If you are one that is sensitive to smell, this may be a difficult product to work with. While many varieties are low VOC, there is still a foul smell that comes from applying Kilz Primer.

When compared to other brands, such as Zinsser, Kilz has the stronger, more repugnant smell. While it’s overall manageable, people that are prone to headaches and are sensitive to strong smells may have issues working with a Kilz primer. 

Kilz Primer Paint Sample

Dangerous To Inhale 

It has been known to give various side effects when it comes to inhalation of Kilz Primer. Though many are non-toxic, they still include a variety of ingredients that can be detrimental to your health if inhaled continuously.

Signs of a toxic effect include dizziness, respiratory problems, nausea, headaches and vomiting. While there is no specific toxic chemical, they can have toxic effects after continuous inhalation, therefore it’s important to take proper precautions when applying. 

Which Primer Should You Use? 

While it will be dependent on the project and purpose, both have outstanding reviews and are consumer recommended products. If you are looking for extra coverage, Zinsser offers a thick, high coverage formula. For a cost effective option, you get the most bang for your buck out of a Kilz Primer. 

Sensitive to odor? Kilz is not the best solution for you. They both have a variety of perks but this will all come down to the job at hand and your budget. You simply can’t go wrong with either when it comes to durability and reputation. 

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