When it comes to painting projects, ensuring a smooth and long-lasting finish is crucial. Many homeowners and professionals use primers like Kilz to prepare surfaces before applying paint. Kilz is a popular brand of primer known for its ability to block stains, cover imperfections, and enhance paint adhesion. 

However, a common question that arises is, “Do you have to paint over Kilz? In this article, we will explore the purpose of using Kilz, its benefits, and whether or not it requires an additional coat of paint.

While we are learning more about Kilz primer and Kilz paint, you might also want to know how often to paint house exterior.

What is Kilz? Understanding Kilz Primer

Kilz is a brand of primer that comes in various formulations, each designed for specific purposes. The primary function of Kilz primer is to prepare surfaces for painting by sealing, blocking stains, and promoting adhesion. 

It helps to create a uniform surface, enhances the color and durability of the paint, and prevents the bleed-through of stains or odors. Kilz is available in different types, such as Kilz Original, Kilz 2 Latex, Kilz High-Build, and Kilz Adhesion, among others. 

Each variant is formulated to address different surface conditions and requirements. All these types of Kilz primers are briefly explained later in the article, along with information on a common question inquiring, “Can Kilz be used as paint?”

Benefits of Using Kilz Primer

Benefits of Using Kilz Primer

Source: Houseoverhaul.com

Here are some of the basic benefits of using Kilz primer or Kilz paint:

  • Stain Blocking

One of the major benefits of using Kilz is its exceptional stain-blocking properties. It effectively seals and covers various types of stains, including watermarks, smoke damage, grease, crayon marks, and tannin bleed from wood.

  • Odor Sealing

Kilz also helps in sealing unpleasant odors that may be present on the surface, such as pet odors, smoke smells, or musty odors.

This is particularly useful when painting areas like basements, kitchens, or rooms that have been affected by smoke or water damage.

  • Enhanced Adhesion

Kilz primer promotes better adhesion of the paint to the surface, resulting in a longer-lasting finish. It forms a bonding layer between the surface and the paint, ensuring that the paint adheres properly and does not peel or flake over time.

  • Hides Imperfections

Kilz primer is designed to cover imperfections on the surface, such as minor cracks, holes, or texture differences. It creates a smooth and even base for the paint, allowing it to go on more evenly and reducing the visibility of surface flaws.

  • Enhanced Paint Durability

By using Kilz as a primer, you can significantly enhance the durability and longevity of the paint. It helps to protect the paint from moisture, mildew, and other environmental factors, ensuring that the paint stays fresh and vibrant for an extended period.

Cons of Using Kilz Primer

Cons of Using Kilz Primer

Source: Houseoverhaul.com

  • Additional Cost

Using Kilz primer adds an extra cost to your painting project. Primers are typically priced separately from paint, so you will need to budget for both the primer and the paint itself. 

However, considering the benefits it offers in terms of stain blocking, adhesion, and longevity, the cost can be seen as an investment in achieving a high-quality paint finish.

  • Extra Step in the Painting Process

Extra Step in the Painting Process

Source: Houseoverhaul.com

Using painting over Kilz primer adds an additional step to the painting process.

Before applying the paint, you will need to properly prepare the surface, apply the primer, and allow it to dry before proceeding with the paint application. This can prolong the overall time required to complete the painting project.

  • Limited Color Options

Kilz primer typically comes in a neutral white color. While this may not be an issue if you plan to paint the surface with a lighter color, it can pose a challenge if you are aiming for a darker or more vibrant color. In such cases, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint to achieve the desired color intensity.

  • Cleanup and Ventilation

Kilz primer, like most primers, is typically oil-based or water-based, depending on the specific variant. Oil-based primers require solvents for cleanup, which can be more challenging and time-consuming compared to water-based primers.

Oil and water-based primers may also emit strong odors, so proper ventilation is necessary during application and drying.

Do You Have To Paint Over Kilz?

Do You Have To Paint Over Kilz?

Source: Projectperfecthome.com

Now that we understand the benefits of using Kilz primer, let’s address the question, “Do you have to paint over Kilz?” Get an answer to whether or not it requires an additional coat of paint. 

The answer mainly depends on the specific type of Kilz primer you have used and the desired outcome of your project. The different types of Kilz and their uses are briefly explained below:

  • Kilz Original and Kilz 2 Latex

Kilz Original and Kilz 2 Latex are oil-based and water-based primers, respectively. These types of Kilz primers are designed to be top-coated with paint.

Applying at least one coat of paint over Kilz primer is generally recommended to achieve the desired finish and protection.

  • Kilz High-Build and Kilz Adhesion

Kilz High-Build and Kilz Adhesion

Source: Kilz.com

Kilz High-Build and Kilz Adhesion are specialty primers that are formulated to create a thicker and more adhesive base. These primers are often used on challenging surfaces like glossy or slick materials, tile, glass, or previously painted surfaces. 

While these primers can be left unpainted, applying a topcoat for better aesthetics and improved protection is still advisable.

  • Kilz 3 Premium

Kilz 3 Premium

Source: Kilz.com

Kilz 3 Premium is a water-based primer with superior stain and odor blocking properties. It also provides excellent adhesion and is mold and mildew resistant. Kilz 3 Premium can be left unpainted in certain cases, such as when used as a spot primer for small areas or as a standalone finish on surfaces that do not require paint, like ceilings.

Applying paint over Kilz primers is recommended to achieve the desired final appearance, color, and protection. While some Kilz variants can be left unpainted, adding a coat of paint enhances the aesthetic appeal and provides an extra layer of durability and protection to the surface.

Can Kilz Be Used As Paint?

No, Kilz cannot be used as paint. Kilz is a brand of primer specifically designed to prepare surfaces for painting.

While they offer a paint and primer in one product called Kilz Tribute, standard Kilz primers are not intended to be used as standalone paint. It is recommended to use dedicated paint products for the final coat.

While certain types of Kilz primers can be left unpainted, applying a topcoat of paint is generally recommended to achieve the desired finish and ensure long-lasting durability. 


Hopefully, this article answered your query, “Do you have to paint over kilz” and provided satisfactory answers. Kilz primer is a versatile and effective product for preparing surfaces before painting.

Its stain-blocking, adhesion-promoting, and surface-smoothing properties make it a popular choice among homeowners and professionals. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you have to paint over Kilz on the ceiling?

Kilz is beneficial in many ways as it makes it simpler to paint over other colors or stains. Kilz needs to be covered since it leaves a chalky look and texture.

Q: Can you paint Kilz over paint?

Kilz primer is suitable for both interior and exterior surfaces, such as woodwork, drywall, plaster, paneling, masonry, brick, painted metal, and properly prepared glossy surfaces.

Q: Can you leave primer unpainted?

Primer makes the base for paint. It provides a stable surface area for the paint to stick. If you leave primer unpainted for long, you will have to sand and redo the primer.


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