Best Spray Paint Primer – How to Choose the Right Primer Spray Paint

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Can I paint my surface without priming? Not all the time! Priming is often necessary in order to paint. Painting without priming is the same as baking with a cold oven. Priming gives your surface an even and smooth finish. Without it, your paint peels off far more easily. You cannot always get away without priming, and the end result will be seriously affected So, let’s get started on finding the best spray primer, and understanding exactly why priming is so important.




Understanding Spray Paint Primer

A primer is usually applied to unfinished or difficult surfaces to enhance their adhesion properties. It is a substance that is used in preparing the surfaces for painting. A primer can be applied to various surfaces such as metal, wood, resin, and so on. The main reason for buying a primer is to help and allow the paint to stick better to the surfaces.

A primer is also useful in enhancing the durability of your paint, minimizing the risk of chipping, or peeling away from the surface. Spray paint primers are available in various colors. The color of the primer you choose should match the color of the paint. This means that light primers will work well with light paints, dark primers go for darker paints. The most commonly used primers are white and grey.

Note: Choose a primer based on the type of paint you will be using and the type of surface you will be working on.



The Importance of a Primer

Painting without priming can cause a lot of problems. For instance, applying paint without a primer may affect the adherence properties of the paint. This causes the paint not to stick properly to the surface. This could also affect the durability properties of the paint which could easily fade away. The primer enhances the adhesion properties of most paints, thus making the painting process more effective. Primer also protects the painted surface from damage.

Note: A primer is not always essential, at times you can get away without priming. It all depends on the surface you will be working on,  so on some surfaces it will not matter. If you happen to be working on a surface that needs primer, then here are some key benefits:

  • Adhesion: This is the most important benefit of using a primer because it increases the adhesion properties of the surface. The primer is important for smooth surfaces that do not hold paint very well. The decision to prime or not should be decided when analyzing the surface and the type of paint you will be using.
  • Stronger Coating: The primer enhances the paint colors to come out stronger. It should be used if you are interested in achieving solid colors without the underlying colors showing through. The primer allows the paints to shine through more clearly and much bolder. This will bring out a more sophisticated and vivid look.
  • Durability: Not only does the primer enhance the adherence properties of the paint, but it also makes the surface stronger so that it can maintain and protect the paint. This will reduce the problem of peeling, chipping, and so on. Durability will give you a chance to enjoy your painted surfaces for longer. The best spray primer is essential especially for outdoor surfaces that are prone to a lot of damaging factors.
  • Easier Painting: A primer is also necessary for making the painting process easier. This is because the enhanced adhesion properties will give you fewer problems and you will be able to work faster. The colors will come out much fuller and problems of runs will be reduced. Primer makes it easier for you to achieve your desired and expected results.

spray primer



Benefits of Using a Spray Paint Primer

You can choose your preferred method of application when it comes to the primer. This could be a paintbrush/roller or you can spray it on. Spraying can be a lot easier compared to the brush/roller. Some of the benefits of spraying the primer include:

  • Fast Drying : Brushed/rolled-on primer does not dry fast as compared to spray paint primer. This is because the spray paint primer applies thinner coats that do not take long to dry. For the best results, you should apply multiple coats of the primer. Using a spray paint primer makes the process faster.
  • Smooth Finish: A spray paint primer gives an even and smooth coating. You can do this process quite quickly and easily. However, this is not the case when using a brush/roller. They leave brush marks, runs, and drips. A spray primer will leave an even coated surface. The spray paint primer is suitable for those delicate and hard-to-get-areas.
  • Easy to use: If you get the best spray paint primer, then you might have to say goodbye to a lot of problems. You will no longer have to worry about brush strokes or leaving an unevenly coated surface. The whole painting process will be much quicker.

Types of Spray Paint Primers

Just like choosing the best paint, you need to take your time and get the best primer. While you are at it, you must know the different types of primers and the ones that work best. Knowledge is power, so get to know and understand more about the primers before you go shopping:


Latex Primers

This falls in the best spray paint primers group because it can work well with acrylic- and water-based paints. Since it is a water-based product, it works very well on many surfaces. You can apply it to softwoods, galvanized metals, and so on. Latex primers tend to dry quite fast, and they do not crack. This formula is less toxic so it is very safe to use, thus you can use it on minor stains. Latex primers are quite easy to use because they are water-soluble.


Shellac Primers

They can block stains. This means that their coverage can minimize the appearance of stains from the surface. They are also good at covering smoke and water damage. They are also effective in stopping new stains from developing. You can use these primers on plastic, metal, and so on. They also come in a variety of colors. You can also use them with water-based and oil-based paints.

Note: Shellac primers emit strong fumes that can be very harmful. These primers are difficult to clean and they dry quite fast. Shellac primers offer strong bonds.


Oil-Based Spray Primers

You can use oil-based spray primers on various surfaces that are compatible with latex and oil-based paints. They are also suitable for both interior and exterior painted surfaces. You can use oil-based spray primers as a wood primer spray because they can seal porous wooden surfaces. These wood primer sprays can stop the wood tannins from bleeding into the top coating layer of paint. Applying this primer would ensure that blistering and peeling would be prevented.

Note: Oil-based spray primers are suitable for outdoor use because they are durable. They are excellent primers when it comes to covering marks and stains. However, do not use an oil-based spray primer with water-based paints. Oil-based primers can be toxic because they contain a lot of VOCs. The other disadvantage is that they take very long to dry.

spray can primer



Best Spray Paint Primers

Only the best spray paint primers can offer the advantages listed above. The best primer you choose should be compatible with the type of paint you will be using. This also includes the type of surface you will be working on. We have listed some of the best spray paint primers below:


Best Overall: ZINSSER BULLS Eye Plus Spray Primer

This is top-rated as being one of the best spray primers because it is suitable for various surfaces. You will not be limited in your applications when you buy this bottle. This spray paint primer has strong bonding properties thanks to its powerful oil-based formula.

You can use it both indoors and outdoors. This spray paint primer works well on wood, metal, concrete, and so on. This primer is very durable and long-lasting. Zinsser Bulls Eye Plus Spray Primer is effective when it comes to blocking stains and works well with all paint colors.

It seals quite evenly, and it is quite easy to apply. It also sticks to the surface easily without sanding. You can finish your projects in no time because it dries to touch within 30 minutes. It can cover a surface of about 12 sq. ft. whether for interior or exterior use. You can easily block any sought of imperfections with one coat only. The primer offers a white and smooth finish.

Note: The topcoat of this formula usually dries within 30 minutes, and you only need a single coat for full coverage. The single coat can block marks and stains effectively.

RUST-OLEUM Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Spray Primer
  • Oil-based formula seals uniformly and has great adhesion
  • Get a smooth, white finish with excellent stain blocking resistance
  • Dries to the touch quickly and can be used on almost all surfaces 
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  • You can easily apply it in even coats
  • It forms a white finish once it has dried
  • Dries quite fast
  • Can block stains quite effectively
  • Can be used on many different surfaces


  • It is not suitable to use with some types of paint


Best Value for Money: RUST-OLEUM Painters Touch Ultra Cover Primer

This is the best plastic primer spray paint that works very well on various surfaces. It has excellent adhesion properties. You can use this formula on unglazed ceramics, plastic, and so on, thus you can use it indoors and outdoors.

It offers solid long-lasting protection, is easy to apply, and dries to touch within 20 minutes. Getting this primer means less waiting time. It provides a great hide for marks and scratches with a high level of coverage. The finish provided by this formula is smooth and highly durable.

When it has dried, it forms a flat grey finish, so it is mostly used as a neutral choice for all other paint colors. The product does not emit any odors, and it is safe to use in any room. One spray can cover as much as 12 sq. ft. It can resist chips and offers long-lasting protection.

RUST-OLEUM Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover
  • An interior/exterior primer suitable for various surfaces
  • Durable and long-lasting oil-based formula
  • A grey primer with excellent hide and a smooth finish
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  • Great value for money
  • Quite easy to apply
  • Offers a great, long-lasting smooth finish
  • It dries fast
  • Exceptionally durable
  • Can be used on many surfaces


  • It is not suitable for all paint types
  • Spray nozzles can get clogged


Best Premium: RUST-OLEUM American Accents Spray Paint and Primer

This product is best suited for any difficult surface that you can think of. Grab one of these and give it a try, you will not regret it! It is the best plastic paint and primer spray paint combination out there that easily adheres to metal, plaster, wicker, and so on.

You can use this product indoors and outdoors. It quickly dries to touch, making it possible to apply multiple thin coats for a premium finish. This primer offers a smooth shiny surface that will be ready for painting. It works well on different surfaces by providing an even finish. You get good coverage in a range of vivid colors.

It is very quick to dry as it dries to touch within 20 minutes. If you use this product, then be guaranteed a quick project completion. One can is sufficient to provide an awesome painting experience without hassle or regrets.

RUST-OLEUM American Accents Ultra Cover Spray Paint
  • Paint and primer for various interior and exterior surfaces
  • Durable formula designed to hide surface imperfections
  • Touch-dry in 20 minutes and one can covers up to 12 sq. ft.
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  • It offers great coverage
  • Very quick to dry
  • Suitable for various difficult surfaces
  • Offers superior durability
  • Superior adhesion means no need to apply a separate primer


  • Quite expensive
  • Not effective in producing a smooth finish



Choosing the Best Spray Paint Primer

Primers differ in texture because they all have been produced differently. You should choose your primer based on the project you would want to undertake. The most important things to consider is the surface you will be painting on and the paint you will be using for that specific project.


Spray Primer vs. Paint On

When buying a primer, most people prefer a spray bottle. Some primers are sold in cans, which means you must use a brush or roller to apply them. This has the advantage of offering you a thick coat that can cover a large surface area. The disadvantage of using a brush/roller is that it will be quite difficult to achieve an even and smooth finish. It also takes longer to apply, and it difficult to get into fine details and curves.

Brushes and rollers tend to leave marks on the surface, and it is quite impossible to prime in the most delicate areas of the surface using them. However, the best spray paint primer should be quite easy to apply because they offer an even and smooth finish.

It is also faster to apply layers using a spray paint primer. This is because the layers made by the spray primer are quite thin so they dry a little bit faster. The spray paint primer is most suited for small objects, projects with a lot of details, curves, corners, and so on.

primer spray paint


Type of Paint

The other thing you should consider is your type of paint. This is the paint that you will apply after using the primer. The general rule of thumb states that it is wise to get a primer that is compatible with the paint you will be using. This means that if you are using an oil-based primer then you should also opt for oil-based paint. The same goes for water-based products. This will enhance the bonding properties between the primer and the paint.

Note: Purchase a primer that is compatible with the paint you will be using, preferably from the same brand. You can make use of the product instructions to ensure that you get the right primer for your paint.


The Surface

Make sure you choose a primer that is compatible with the surface you will be working on. Not every primer is suitable for the same surface. This means that a wood primer spray is not the same as a plastic primer spray paint. They have different properties and they work on different surfaces. Check and see first if the primer that you want to buy will be suitable for the surface you want to work on.


Stain Covering

If you are going to be painting on a surface that has dark stains or marks, then you need a primer that offers full coverage. Choose a primer that is effective in stain-blocking so that the marks will not come out once you apply the paint.



Choose a primer with a color that is compatible with the color of the paint you will apply. This is because primers are available in different colors. What works for one paint color may not be suitable for the next paint color. Light primers will be suitable for light-colored paints, while the darker ones are suitable for dark-colored paints. However, a neutral grey or white color works on any paint color.

best spray can primer



How to Apply a Spray Can Primer

When you use the best spray primer, you will get the best results without putting in too much effort. Application processes differ from primer to primer, or brand to brand. This also goes for surfaces too, some surfaces must be sanded, others are good to go just like that. Here are a few tips that you can make use of:

  • Begin by preparing the surface for the priming session. Depending on the type of surface you will be working on, some surfaces must be sanded first to get an even and smooth finish. This is because primers must not be applied on top of finishes. For the best results, sand your surface first, if there is a need.
  • Make sure the surface you will be working on is clean before you start the sanding process. This will enhance the adhesion properties of your paint when you finally apply it. Make sure you get rid of all the dirt dust or any other unwanted stuff that can get trapped beneath the primer.
  • When you begin spraying the primer, hold the can at a certain distance then spray the product. Do a test spray on a sheet of paper to ensure that the spray is working well. Be sure to maintain the same steady distance when you start spraying so that you avoid build-ups in certain spots.
  • You should leave the primer to dry before moving on with the next coat. You can also opt to sand the first coat of primer to enhance your adhesion properties. Usually, primers should be applied in at least 3-4 coats.

best spray paint primer



Frequently Asked Questions


Can Primer be Sprayed in a Paint Sprayer?

Yes, you can spray your primer in a sprayer, but you may have to thin it first for the best results. This is because primers tend to be thick, so you must thin it down before you begin. Just be cautious when doing so, do not alter it too much.


How Long Does It Take for the Sprayed Primer to Dry?

Most primers dry to touch within 20-30 minutes. However, this depends on the type of product you will be using, air temperature, and the amount of primer applied. Some primers even take up to an hour for them to dry completely.


How Long Should You Wait Before You Paint on a Primer?

Most primers are good for painting after 30 minutes. However, be sure to check the manufacturer`s instructions to understand what type of product you will be dealing with.


Choosing the best spray paint primer can prove to be a bit complicated and tiresome. At times, most people are confused about whether they should prime their surfaces first or leave them just like that. We have answered all your questions in this article on the benefits of priming and the surfaces that must be primed first. You can get away without priming some surfaces but make sure it is the right surface that does not require priming.