Skip to content
Best Bonding Primer

Best Bonding Primer

Best Bonding Primer

If you have attempted to paint some patio furniture or a water damaged ceiling, then you may have experienced the frustration of having the paint peel off within a short period of time or had stains bleed through your topcoat and ruin it.

This is frustrating and expensive, both in terms of your time and money. Not only do you have to do the whole job over again, but you now have to remove the layers of paint and primer that you have already applied, more time and expense.

Enter a bonding primer. This product is designed to adhere to the most challenging surfaces to create a strong bond between the substrate and your topcoat or final finish. It can also work effectively without keying or sanding the surface prior to application.

Many bonding primers will also provide excellent stain blocking, even preventing tannin bleed through from cedar, redwood or mahogany. Strong odors are covered up too, making your clean-up task even easier.

We have looked at some of the best bonding primers available for you to use on your project. Whether that is painting over fire damaged timber or preparing metal surfaces, there is a bonding primer for the job.

Zinsser B-I-N


Zinsser B-I-N

A shellac primer that offers outstanding adhesion and excellent stain-blocking properties, Zinsser B-I-N is one of the most popular amongst professional decorators.

It covers everything that you want to hide on surfaces, including wood knots, stains and even odors.

This primer can be used on most surfaces without the need to sand down or key the surface, and will cover dark colors with ease.

Drying time is rapid and ventilation is recommended as the odor can be strong. It will cover almost any surface, even metal, and is very reliable.

Recommended by professional decorators, Zinsser B-I-N goes on thinly but dries to a tough, durable coat which will provide adhesion for your topcoat.

It can be used on all interior surfaces and for spot priming externally. It will seal, prime and block out most stains.

Not only does it dry quickly, but it also cures rapidly, meaning your second or topcoat can be applied without too much delay.

It works extremely well over fire damaged surfaces as it will not only stain block but also seal in the acrid smell of smoke and soot.


  • Primes most interior surfaces without the need to key
  • Excellent adhesion for topcoats
  • Spot priming for external surfaces
  • Stain blocks grease, wood knots and most other blemishes
  • Rapid drying time


  • Strong smelling, so adequate ventilation should be available during use

Also available at: Home Depot, Lowes

KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Primer


KILZ Adhesion High-Bonding Primer

This adhesion primer offers excellent bonding to many surfaces which other primers could not achieve.

It can be painted over PVC, vinyl, glossy finishes, fiberglass and metal amongst others ensuring that the topcoat adheres strongly to the surface, regardless of material.

KILZ adhesion high-bonding primer is suitable as a basis for oil based or latex paint and can also be used under lacquers, epoxies,  Xylene products or other solvents.

Where a secure bond is crucial, you will not be disappointed with the performance of this primer, as it can solve most of your priming problems.

It is touch dry in thirty minutes and can be re-coated in just an hour. Coverage is around 300 square feet per gallon.

KILZ’s adhesion high-bonding primer will work where oil based or water based primers fail.

Slick, glossy surfaces can be painted to provide a secure adhesion for topcoats. It can be applied by roller, brush or a sprayer and is good for external application too.

This is a premium primer from a well respected manufacturer and will deliver excellent results consistently. Proper surface preparation is essential for a good finish, so clean grease, chalk, rust and peeling paint prior to application.


  • High bonding strength
  • Provides adhesion on multiple surface types
  • Can be used under oil or water based paints
  • Also suitable as a primer for lacquers, epoxies and solvent based paints
  • Excellent for slick surfaces


  • Key surfaces for durability

Also available at: Lowes, Home Depot

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus


Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus

Zinsser’s Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is a water based acrylic primer with zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) and low odor.

With the ability to block all stains including tannin bleed, smoke, water and graffiti, there are multiple applications for this primer both inside and outside the home.

Not only does it work effectively as an adhesion primer, but it also seals most porous surfaces such as drywall and ensures that your topcoat doesn’t sink in, disappear or leave a patchy surface. You can confidently prime walls, ceilings, fences and furniture.

The primer is tintable, so you can customize it to your particular paint job, and it is touch dry in an hour.

It will adhere to almost any surface such as ceramic, metal, glass or wood and is also available as an aerosol for hard to reach areas of your home.

For use on metal surfaces, this primer contains a rust inhibitor, which means it will protect as well as provide a strong bond for a topcoat.

The flexible acrylic bonding also provides leveling to surfaces, and forms a barrier to mold and mildew formation.

This is a primer for all surfaces and will provide a strong bond to your topcoat, whether that is latex or acrylic based.


  • Zero volatile organic compounds
  • Low odor
  • Seals most stains such as tannin bleeds, smoke and graffiti
  • Flexible so provides leveling to most surfaces


  • Users report problems with peeling 

Also available at: Ace Hardware, Home Depot

KILZ Original Primer Interior


KILZ Original Primer Interior

This primer from KILZ offers excellent adhesion and also acts as a sealer and stain blocker.

It has ultra low odor unlike oil based paints and is perfect for using in areas where high odor would be a problem, such as public spaces. Any slight odor will dissipate soon after drying.

The formula used in this primer gives excellent results in stain blocking. Stains from grease, ink, tannin or smoke will be hidden and odors from pets or smoking will be sealed.

However, the proper preparation of surfaces is vital in order for the primer to be fully effective.

When carefully prepared, surfaces such as masonry, drywall, wood or glossy surfaces will be sealed and primed for a topcoat of your choice.

They should be free of grease, chalk, peeling paint or rust. The primer should be well stirred and applied by roller, brush or spray.

KILZ original primer will be touch dry in thirty minutes and ready for re-coating in just an hour.

A one gallon container is sufficient to cover 300 square feet with proper preparation and cleaning. It is a brilliant white and non-yellowing primer, perfect for all interior surfaces.


  • Excellent adhesion
  • Works as a primer, sealer and stain blocker
  • Ultra low odor
  • Hides most stains such as grease, smoke and tannin
  • Can be used with oil based or latex topcoat paints


  • Not suitable for use on floors

Also available at: Lowes, Home Depot

INSL-X Prime Lock Plus


INSL-X Prime Lock Plus

An alkyd resin based primer, INSL-X Prime Lock Plus, is a multi-surface coating that provides outstanding adhesion. It works as a primer and sealer on a multitude of substrates and offers excellent stain blocking power.

Smoke and water stains are well hidden with this primer, and it performs very well on glossy surfaces.

Although it works equally well on drywall, plaster, wallpaper or varnished wood. Oil based or latex paints can be successfully applied on top of this primer.

Coverage is 300-350 square feet and the primer can be applied by brush, roller or by spray. It provides a better gloss to a topcoat than if painting over a bare surface, and it does not raise wood grain.

For stain blocking it will effectively hide fire damage, water stains, crayon or wood tannin.

However, severe water stains may require a second coat for optimum effect and pine knots should be pre-treated with pure shellac to prevent bleed through of resin.

Prime Lock Plus is a multi-purpose primer for difficult stains and to provide a strong bond between a surface and topcoat.

It effectively seals stains and provides excellent adhesion. It is a fast drying alkyd primer that will not raise the grain on bare wood.


  • Excellent adhesion for topcoat
  • Effectively seals stains
  • Fast drying with 1-2 hour re-coat time
  • Works on multiple surfaces


  • Some stains will need to be pre-treated to prevent bleed through

Also available at: The Paint Store, Benjamin Moore

Buyer’s Guide

There are many things to consider when choosing a primer for your painting project.

Depending on the surface that you are going to paint, you will need to look carefully at the features of different primers to make sure you choose the right one for the job.


The first and arguably most important factor will be the adhesion of the primer. This is the ability to promote a chemical bond between the substrate and the eventual topcoat.

In essence, the primer wets, seals and prepares the surface for the final coat of paint.

In a bonding primer, this job is to create a suitable surface for the topcoat on what is a challenging substrate. This may be a glossy surface, PVC, ceramic tile or similar.

Effectively, anything that would not naturally grip a typical topcoat and would end up peeling.

While most primers will have adhesive and bonding qualities, a specific bonding primer is more potent at sticking a topcoat of paint to denser surfaces.

The best bonding products will provide adhesion for a variety of final coats, including solvents, oil based, latex and acrylic.

The chemistry of a bonding primer is different from more universal versions, and this is why it can create strong adhesion.

It also speeds up the painting process. Many bonding primers do not need a keyed surface, and they often dry within an hour, so are quick to topcoat.

Stain Blocking

Many bonding primers will cover and block even heavy and strong stains. Tannin bleed is one of the most common issues that stain blocking primers deal with.

This natural component of timber such as redwood or cedar can leach through paint to cause staining.

The same is true for pine knots, which will bleed through a paint job if not effectively primed and sealed.

Damage such as caused by water leaks or fires can be hidden with a good quality stain blocking primer, as can the yellowing caused by heavy smoking and nicotine.

Odor blocking is another feature of high quality bonding primers.

As well as covering the visual effects of a fire, a good primer with stain blocking qualities can also effectively hide the acrid smell of smoke and soot. Some will even cover up the ammonia smell of pet urine.

To save time and effort, if you need to prime a challenging surface which is also stained, choose a bonding primer that will hide the staining before applying a top coat.

Make sure you leave adequate time for the primer to cure before attempting to apply a finishing coat.

Surface Suitability

The efficacy of any primer or paint will depend on the surface that it is being applied to.

It is important to make sure that the bonding primer that you are using will create a strong bond between the substrate or surface and the topcoat that you are planning to use.

As bonding primers are developed to create a suitable finish for topcoats on challenging surfaces, it should be easy to determine which is the best primer for the job.

However, even with the aid of a high quality bonding primer, you should still properly prepare your surface.

Many primers can be applied without sanding or keying the substrate, but this doesn’t mean you can’t sand down the surface.

The better the preparation, the more likely the end result will be what you want and will be durable. Cleaning the surface is highly advised too.

Even if you take the promises of a bonding primer that works for example on chipping paint, that doesn’t mean that you can use the same primer on glass or brick.

Each surface will have a bonding primer that works best on a particular substrate, so check before you buy.

Drying Times

A bonding primer can be a useful time saving product, reducing the need to sand or key a surface and working to both seal and prime a substrate.

Rapid drying times are also an advantage when using an adhesion primer because there is less waiting time to re-coat.

You should note the recommended waiting times for allowing the primer to dry. This is particularly important when using bonding primers outside.

They are designed to provide a bond for the topcoat, but they do not provide the same protection as a finish coat.

If you wait too long to apply your topcoat, the bonding primer may be damaged by the elements such as moisture and UV light. This can mean that they will not grip the topcoat adequately when it is applied and the application could fail.

If you want to test that the primer is holding, carry out a test in an inconspicuous area. Apply a piece of tape to the primer and then pull it off.

The primer should remain in place if it has bonded properly, if it comes off with the tape then it has not.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aren’t All Primers Bonding Primers?

While all primers have certain adhesive properties, not all can be called bonding primers.

Many primers simply seal the surface they are applied to, but a bonding primer forms an adhesive link between the substrate and the eventual topcoat or finish.

Bonding primers have been specially developed for challenging surfaces such as PVC, ceramic, previously painted or varnished surfaces among many others. Normal primers will not have the same gripping properties as a bonding primer.

The particular chemical composition of a bonding primer will be different to other primers, making it more adhesive to surfaces such as metal coatings like Kynar, which are notoriously difficult to prime.

Expecting a normal primer to behave like a bonding primer will result in disappointment, a bad paint job, and the prospect and expense of doing the job over.

Can Bonding Primers Be Used On Everything?

Not all bonding primers can be used on all surfaces. This is why it is important to do your research and find the right primer for your job and your particular substrate.

An adhesion primer that is used on glass brick may not be the best to use over seared wood, for example.

Aside from choosing the correct primer, it is essential to carry out good preparation of the substrate.

A bonding primer is no substitute for good preparation, which should always be of prime importance.

Cleaning and if necessary sanding will give you the best surface to work on and ultimately the best and most durable finish.

Learn more on our Farmhouse Blog!
Looking to learn more about the Best Ceiling Paint? Read more here!
Previous article How To Decorate A Small Living Room With Sectional Couch