Kilz VS Zinsser: 6 Big Differences You Need To Know Now

When it comes to your painting project, a paint primer plays an essential role – especially if you’re painting a challenging, uneven surface or a material that isn’t easy to paint over.

However, not every primer is suitable for every paint job, surface, or material. While both Kilz and Zinsser are top-notch paint primers, they tend to have different performances on different surfaces.

The main differences between Kilz and Zinsser are adhesion power, price, suitability for different surfaces and materials, and dry time.

Stay tuned as we compare the two paint primers and present their pros and cons.

What is Kilz primer?

Kilz primer is a paint primer used by professionals and homeowners alike in various projects

This type of primer can be found in many different colors, providing several different types of protection for your surfaces, such as moisture resistance, stain blocking, hiding surface imperfections, hiding tannin bleed, fire resistance, and odor control. 

For instance, Kilz restoration primer is used to seal and protect your surfaces against the harsh elements in a home. It will ensure that the surface you are painting is adequately sealed, preventing the elements. 

The Kilz mold-killing primer is another paint primer specifically used to help seal mold and prevent it from growing.

Finally, the original Kilz primer is used for priming surfaces that have previously been painted and look dull or dingy. It can help to revive your paint and create a beautiful

Kilz primer is frequently used inside the home to seal woodwork such as cabinets or trim on walls before applying a fresh coat of paint. 

It also serves extremely well on exterior surfaces, where it helps repel moisture from the surface, which prevents mold or mildew growth.

Kilz primer is made with special additives that act like a binding agent, so it adheres very well to most surfaces, making it ideal for anything that needs pretreatment. 

It seals in stains, preventing them from leaking through a new paint job. Likewise, any imperfections on the surface will be covered up by applying this type of primer. 

Additionally, some types of Kilz primer are designed to block tannins that bleed through from wood or other porous surfaces. Although the primer itself may not have many colors, it can still effectively hide what is underneath. 

This can be particularly useful when painting over stained woodwork or cabinets where there may be spots of discoloration that you do not want to show up in your new paint.

Some varieties of Kilz primer are fire retardant, and others offer odor protection. Whether you need your new paint job to be not just resistant to moisture but also fire and smoke damage or want your new paint job to smell fresh and clean when it is done, Kilz makes sure that your surface has the coverage it needs. 

It can even help control odors from pets or other sources inside the home.

Regardless of the type of project you have in mind where a good quality primer might come in handy, Kilz primer should be considered one option because it provides exceptional coverage and protection against most of the toughest surfaces. 

Its versatility helps set this product apart, and its ease of use on practically any surface. 

Whether you are a professional contractor or want to try painting something around the house, this primer can help make your next paint project a little bit easier.

What is Zinsser?

The Zinsser paint primer is a water-based acrylic primer used to prepare the wood and other surfaces for paint, stain, or varnish. 

It’s easy to use and has excellent bonding properties, making it a popular choice among professionals and homeowners. 

The primer comes in various sizes (including quart cans and gallons), making it ideal for any project – whether you’re painting an entire room or just touching up one corner of the closet.

The Zinsser paint primer is handy when working with a non-porous surface like metal or glass because it provides excellent adhesion even on those surfaces. 

Furthermore, the primer can be used for indoor and outdoor projects: In the kitchen or bathroom, you can paint directly over tile, linoleum, Formica, and metal; outdoors, you can use it on concrete or masonry. 

The Zinsser primer is also a good choice if you are working with new wood, as it will provide a smooth surface for painting.

The Zinsser cover stain primer is a popular choice, specifically designed to cover old oil or water-based stains on wood surfaces. 

It can also be used under latex paint and has effective stain-blocking properties, ensuring that the surface’s original color won’t bleed through your paint job.

The Zinsser Bulls Eye primer can be used on any surface and is one of the most popular primers on the market. 

Many people prefer it because it can cover many substrates, including wood (with or without its original coating), plaster, drywall, and masonry. Bulls Eye primer can also be used under latex paint and provides excellent adhesion.

If you’re struggling with mold in your house, the Zinsser mold-killing primer is a great option. 

It contains an anti-mold ingredient, which is particularly effective against mold, mildew, and fungi. This primer can be used on almost any surface and is ideal if you are looking for a primer that can tackle the effects of water damage or leaks.

Finally, the Zinsser BIN primer sealer is a good choice if you are working with a porous surface like wood, plaster, or drywall. This primer can be used either to seal the surface or to coat it

What are the differences between Kilz and Zinsser?

BothThesemers are top-notch, high-quality options, but there are a couple of important distinctions between them that will help you make up your mind. 

1. Adhesion power

It is safe to say that the Zinsser primers have better adhesion to most surfaces,  including imperfect surfaces. 

If you are repainting your cabinets or something else that has been painted previously and is no longer in good condition, it is best to use Zinsser due to its ability to stick.

Kilz, on the other hand, is suitable for new projects and working on surfaces that have not previously been painted. Kilz is used by many people who like to paint the outside of their houses.

Whether you’re repainting something that has been painted previously or starting a new project, the choice between Zinsser and Kilz is up to you. Remember that Zinsser offers better adhesion, while Kilz offers easier application.

2. Application

As we’ve mentioned, Kilz primers offer easier application, as they’re thinner and don’t require a longer drying time. After applying Kilz to your walls, you can easily paint right over it. 

Also, due to its thin consistency, Kilz is easier to spread and will not show as much brushstroke pattern on the finish coat of paint.

3. Suitability for different surfaces

Regarding suitability for different surfaces and projects, it is safe to say that Zinsser primers offer more versatility. They’re suitable for many surfaces and projects, while Kilz primers are more limited in scope.

Zinsser primers can be used on furniture, kitchen cabinets, wood, stubborn stains, masonry, and surfaces in humid areas. 

Kilz, on the other hand, is suitable for furniture, masonry, and concrete – but not so much in humid areas.

Zinsser primers are also more effective at covering stubborn stains than Kilz primers. 

In general, Zinsser primer paints tend to be more durable and longer-lasting than Kilz primer paints, as well. 

This is because Zinsser primers are formulated with a higher concentration of resins. As a result, they are more durable and last longer on the surface they’re applied.

4. Price

While the difference in cost isn’t significant, it is still worth mentioning. As you can already guess, Zinsser’s more versatile, durable option is also the more expensive.

This is precisely why choosing the paint primer according to your needs and the nature of your project is essential, as Kilz is suitable for various surfaces and is also beginner-friendly.

However, we recommend a Zinsser primer for uneven, challenging surfaces, especially outdoors. 

5. Sanding 

It is also essential to mention that working with a Kilz primer, even though it is easier to spread, may take more time since it requires sanding beforehand.

A Zinsser primer is thick enough to fill gaps and crevices, so you don’t have to worry about creating a perfect surface for your primer to lay on.

Therefore, even though Zinsser primers may be a bit more challenging to apply, there’s no sanding involved

Remember that, due to their thickness, a Zinsser primer coat takes more time to dry thoroughly.

6. Overall performance

Zinsser primers don’t only offer excellent adhesion and longevity, but they also provide a high level of protection against mold and mildew.

They also offer maximum coverage, and you don’t have to worry about bleed-through, or rust, as it has powerful rust-inhibiting properties.

While Kilz primers prevent rust and mold to a certain extent, the level of protection isn’t as high, and you can expect some bleed-through as the primers aren’t as thick and saturated.

Kilz vs Zinsser: Are they the same?

Many of their uses and applications are the same, but Kilz and Zinsser primers aren’t. Zinsser paint primers are superior to Kilz products in pretty much all aspects.

A Zinsser primer offers a high level of rust, mold, mildew protection, and maximum coverage with no bleed-through. It is also suitable for many projects and surfaces and provides excellent adhesion even to old and uneven surfaces.

A Kilz primer, on the other hand, is more affordable and easier to apply since it isn’t as thick. It also dries faster, but it requires sanding beforehand, which isn’t the case with Zinsser.

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