Best Spray Paint Primer for Wood

Aside from spray paint, spray paint primer is also one of the furniture painting tools and supplies that can help make painting even more convenient and efficient. And choosing the best spray paint primer for wood is important so you get the best results for your furniture project.

So we’ve narrowed down the top 3 spray paint primers that are specifically designed for wood surfaces. Let’s look at each product’s pros and cons to realistically compare which primer you should get and use.

Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer, BIN Shellac Primer and clear shellac with text overlay

If you’re going to paint a wooden surface, priming is an important step to make sure you get a smooth and long lasting finish. Priming helps seal the wood, preventing any stains or discoloration from showing through the paint.

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And while priming can be done with traditional brush on primers, spray paint primer offers a faster and more convenient option. You won’t need to use a brush or roller, and you can easily cover large areas in less time.

Using spray paint primer on wood can help create a more even and consistent base for your paint to stick to. This is especially useful for older or uneven wood surfaces with imperfections, or those with intricate designs or carvings. With spray paint primer, you can easily reach into every nook and cranny without worrying about brush strokes or missed spots.

It’s clear that using spray paint primer for wood is a smart choice! So let’s explore the options and find the best one for your furniture makeover.

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Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer

First up on our list is the Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer. This oil based primer is able to block bleed through, which can be a common issue when painting wood surfaces. You don’t want those unsightly stains seeping through your beautiful paint job!

spraying bullsyeye 123 primer onto furniture

Of course, this primer also helps the paint stick to the surface better. But one thing to keep in mind with this primer is that it takes 24-48 hours to fully dry, especially before you can sand it without clogging up your sandpaper. So if you’re looking for a quick project, you may want to consider using a different primer.

And since it’s oil based, it does have a strong smell. So it’s important to use this product in a well ventilated area and consider wearing a mask if you’re sensitive to strong scents. Overall, if you’re willing to wait a bit longer and can handle the smell, the Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer is a solid choice.


  • Oil based, durable
  • Blocks bleedthrough
  • Helps paint stick to the surface better


  • Takes 24-48 hours to dry completely
  • Strong smell due to oil based formula

BIN Shellac Primer

If you’re looking for a primer that dries quickly, then the BIN Shellac Primer is a great option. In fact, it only takes about an hour after spraying before you can sand and smooth out the surface. Plus, it also sands to a fine powder.

spraying BIN shellac primer onto furniture

For adhesion, this primer is top notch. It helps paint stick to surfaces very well, so you don’t have to worry about any peeling or chipping in the future. And it’s also able to block bleedthrough stains, which is a must have feature for any primer. No one wants to see those pesky stains coming through their paint!

BIN Shellac Primer is stinky though, so make sure you have proper ventilation when using it. Wear a mask or respirator to avoid breathing in the strong smell. Check out this blog post on how to use BIN Shellac primer for a detailed guide on using this primer.

And while it dries quickly, it dries to a rough texture. You need to sand it down before painting or you’ll end up with a very rough and uneven surface. Here’s sanding for paint prep for everything you need to know about this process.


  • Shellac based
  • Dries quickly
  • Can be sanded smooth within an hour
  • Helps paint stick to surfaces very well
  • Blocks bleedthrough stains


  • Has a strong smell
  • Dries to a rough texture, and requires sanding before painting

You can check out how BIN Shellac is one of the best primers for laminate furniture in our best paint for laminate furniture post as well as our best bonding primer for laminate furniture post here. So if you have a laminate piece, you should definitely consider this primer!

Clear Shellac

Another shellac based primer is the Clear Shellac. As with the other primers, it’s a big help for paint to stick to surfaces and it can also block bleedthrough stains from coming through the paint. It’s also quick to dry, within an hour, so you don’t have to wait as long for your project to move along.

spraying clear shellac primer onto furniture

The best thing about this primer is that it dries to a very smooth finish. This means you won’t have to spend time sanding the primed surface before painting. This primer is clear so if you want a distressed finish, you can easily create it with this primer.

However, if you’re looking for a primer that helps with coverage or sheen differences, clear shellac is not the one for you. It’s mainly there to seal and prime the surface, not change how it looks. This one also has a strong smell so keep that in mind when using it.

For best results, pair the clear shellac with chalk, mineral, or acrylic paints. Here are the top chalk paint brands as well as the best mineral paint for furniture and the best acrylic paint for furniture for our recommendations.


  • Shellac based
  • Dries quickly, within an hour
  • Dries to a smooth finish, don’t need to sand
  • Can be used to create distressed finishes with clear coat


  • Does not help with coverage or sheen differences
  • Strong smell when using

While all three primers have their own strengths and can provide a good base for your wood painting projects, the Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer, BIN Shellac Primer, and Clear Shellac each have their own unique features to consider. They are all awesome when it comes to blocking bleedthrough and helping paint stick to surfaces, but their unique features and differences can also play a role in your decision.

Zinsser primer takes longer to dry but is more durable with its oil based formula. BIN primer dries quickly but requires sanding for a smooth surface. And Clear Shellac dries to a smooth finish without the need for sanding, but coverage and sheen differences may not be affected.

Consider your specific project and needs when choosing a primer for your wood furniture. Whether you’re looking for durability, speed, or ease of use, you definitely have options from our list above!

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