Best Primer for Plywood

I Tested 5 Primers for Plywood: Here are the Best (2024)

Are you looking to give your plywood a new look?

Priming and painting plywood can be a great way to get the finish you want. Whether you’re using plywood for cabinets, subfloor, or exterior projects – painting plywood can yield the durable finish you’re looking for.

I tested several of the most popular primers for plywood – here are the best!

The best primer for plywood is Zinsser Bulls Eye primer for several reasons. It’s a great quality primer that’s perfect for plywood because of how durable it is. It’s also priced right and only requires a single coat before painting.

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Best Primers for Plywood

1. Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer

Applying primer on plywood

If you’re looking for a versatile primer that’s great for a wide range of projects including plywood, this Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer is your best bet.

It works great for both interior and exterior surfaces and it makes painting plywood a breeze.

Whether you’re working on plywood floors, plywood walls, or other plywood surfaces – this is a great primer that does an amazing job.

What I Liked:

  • Only requires one coat, so you can save money and work less
  • Affordable for the quality

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not the best primer for oil based paints

My Thoughts:

Overall, if you’re looking to painting plywood, this Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer is the best plywood primer you’ll find. It’s versatile, affordable, and only requires a single coat before painting. I highly recommend this product to prime plywood for interior surfaces.

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2. KILZ 2 All-Purpose Primer – Runner Up

Applying KILZ 2

My second choice is the KILZ 2 All Purpose Primer. This is a great primer for plywood because of how well it covers and how strong of a bond it creates with paint.

While you can technically use it on both indoor and outdoor applications, I recommend this one more for interior projects and wouldn’t use it as much on exterior projects.

This is a latex primer for plywood surfaces that did an amazing job of covering up stains and it has a mildew resistant formula.

What I Liked:

  • Versatile primer that works on many different surfaces
  • Prevents mildew
  • Low VOCs

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not great for exterior paint
  • More expensive than other primers

My Thoughts:

If you’re working on an interior plywood surface, this KILZ 2 Primer is a perfect choice that I recommend. It’s a high quality primer that does a great job of hiding the existing surface of your plywood and it allows paint to easily adhere to the surface. The only reason I rated this primer as my second choice is the price. It’s more expensive than the Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer but does a similar job.

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3. Stone Coat White Epoxy Undercoat

White Epoxy Undercoat

If you’re looking to paint plywood cabinets, using this White Epoxy Undercoat Primer is the perfect option for maximum protection and superior coverage.

In addition to plywood cabinets, it can also be used on countertops, table tops, and many other surfaces which makes it a great primer for many different applications.

What I Liked:

  • Very affordable primer
  • Works on multiple different surfaces

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Required a couple of thin coats

My Thoughts:

If you’re searching for a sealant for plywood cabinets – this White Epoxy Undercoat is the best choice for your project. It’s an affordable primer that works great on plywood and many other surfaces to ensure a superior paint job.

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4. Rust-Oleum Marine Wood and Fiberglass Primer

Rust-Oleum Marine Wood and Fiberglass Primer

If you’re looking for a plywood primer for exterior projects, this Rust-Oleum Marine Primer is the best for your job.

This primer is specifically made for exterior projects, so it can protect your plywood surface no matter what the conditions are.

It dries relatively quickly and can easily be applied to previously painted surfaces.

If you’re working on an exterior plywood project, this is a perfect primer for your wood surface and it makes painting simple and easy.

What I Liked:

  • Great for exterior plywood projects
  • Did a great job at absorbing paint for an accurate color

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Somewhat more expensive than other options
  • More VOCs and strong odor

My Thoughts:

If you’re priming plywood that’s going to be used outdoors, this Rust-Oleum Primer is the best option for you. It offers more protection than other multi purpose primers and it provides a better hold for plywood paint.

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5. INSL-X Multi-Surface Acrylic Latex Primer

INSL-X Primer

If you’re looking for a primer for plywood subfloors, this INSL-X Acrylic Primer is a great choice that I recommend.

This is an affordable primer that offers pretty good coverage for the price. It dries quickly and can be used on multiple surfaces including plywood floors.

This primer works with both oil based paints and latex paints which is convenient.

What I Liked:

  • Extremely affordable primer
  • Dried quickly
  • Versatile primer that can be used on many surfaces
  • Works with both oil based paint and latex based paint

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not as durable as other options
  • Required a few coats of primer

My Thoughts:

If you’re looking for the best primer for a plywood floor, this INSL-X Multi Surface Latex Primer is a superb choice. It’s an affordable primer that can be used on several wooden surfaces and it works with all types of paint.

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Does Plywood Need to be Primed before Painting?

Yes, you should always aim to prime plywood before painting it.

Wether you’re spray painting plywood or brushing it on, a primer will help the surface better absorb the paint for maximum protection and the best color.

In addition, by priming the surface first you can avoid odors and stains underneath the woods surface.

If you want a durable smooth surface, priming is essential.

Check out my Zinsser vs Kilz primer comparison to find out which is best for your project!

Which Type of Primer Should I Use for Plywood?

There are a few different types of primers for plywood that you’ll want to consider for your project.

First are oil based primers. Oil based primer is a great choice for projects that require more durability. They’ll take longer to dry and contain more VOCs than a latex primer, but they are longer lasting and great at adhering paint to your plywood project.

Next are latex based primers. Latex primer, also know as water based primer, are great for projects that don’t require as much durability. These primers will dry quicker and are more environmentally friendly than oil based options.

Finally, there are shellac based primers. These primers offer the most protection possible and are great for both interior and exterior projects.

Do you have to sand plywood before priming?

Depending on the grade of your plywood, you may not have to sand plywood before priming. If you want to make plywood look good, I recommend giving it a light sand after applying a wood filler to get a smooth surface.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of great primers for plywood, but my favorite is the Zinsser Bulls Eye Primer. This primer worked great for painting plywood edges as well as the surface. It’s an affordable primer that is perfect for all sorts of projects.