There are three different types of primers: water base, oil base and shellac base.
Water Base: Water-base primers are the most commonly used because they are low odor and easy to clean up with soap and water. Typically, they dry in one hour and can be used to hide oil-based stains such as handprints, crayon, pen and marker. Water-base primers are great for new drywall, changing the color of a room or painting over existing murals.
*Our favorite water-base primer is Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3.
Oil Base: Oil-base primers are a pro painter favorite. They are fantastic at hiding water stains and tannin bleed. (Tannin bleed is when the tannins from wood show through a painted surface, normally appearing as a yellow/brownish stain.) Oil-base primers do have a stronger odor than water-base primer and require mineral spirits to clean up. They are great for painting wood substrates like siding, trim or cabinets.
*Our favorite oil-base primer is Zinsser Cover Stain.
Shellac Base: Shellac-base primers are the ultimate sealer. Shellac is a unique excrete from the lac beetle that quickly dries into a rock-hard coating, giving it superior sealing abilities. Shellac-base primers block water and oil stains while sealing in strong odors from nicotine smoke, fire damage and pet urine. Due to the shellac’s rigid nature, we recommend only using shellac-base products indoors and cleaning up with ammonia and water or denatured alcohol. Shellac-base primers are the superior choice for kitchen cabinets, disaster restoration projects and pet odors.
*Our favorite shellac-base primer is Zinsser B-I-N.