Best Primer for Oak Cabinets

Best Primer for Oak Cabinets – Our Favorite and Top Picks!

The right primer can make a huge difference in the final look of your oak cabinets. With the best primer and paint combination, your oak cabinets will achieve the best impression.

Since there are numerous primer options out there, it can get tough to settle for a single option. You need to have a clear knowledge about which one would be the best primer for oak cabinets based on individual features and specifications.

Don’t worry about going through so much work because we’ve reviewed 5 amazing options for you to choose from. With these 5 ideal primer options, you can easily find the one that works best for your oak cabinets.

Our Top 5 Best Primer for Oak Cabinets

Painting your oak cabinets always requires a good primer that will ensure the longevity of the paint. This is why you need a satisfactory primer for your oak kitchen cabinets.

Here are 5 good quality primers to choose from;

1. KILZ L211101 Adhesion High Bonding Interior Latex Primer

KILZ has been renowned for its high-quality primers, especially latex ones. This high-bonding primer is no exception to their line of amazing primers.

Being a high adhesion primer, you can expect this primer to stick to surfaces that are very difficult to paint, e.g., brick, fiberglass, vinyl, Kynar, etc. With a feature like this, this primer works as a versatile option for your upper cabinets as well.

A remarkable feature of this primer is its ability to adhere to oiled surfaces where traditional primers fail to stick. This latex primer works better than oil-based primers because of its flexibility.

It is very convenient to use and is capable of offering good coverage no matter which paints you’re going for.


  • Easy to use
  • Works on different surfaces
  • Strong adherent property
  • Provides maximum coverage


  • Does not work on moldy surfaces

Verdict: Overall, this is the best primer for oak cabinets, thanks to its amazing ability to stick to difficult surfaces.

2. Prestige Interior Paint And Primer In One

Prestige is another great brand that you can choose for primers. Especially if you’re new to cabinet painting, this primer will be a perfect option for you.

You can actually think of this one as both a water-based primer and paint. As a primer, it offers a semi-gloss finish, whereas its white color can work as a top paint coat. Due to its versatile use, it is more useful for beginners who are experimenting with oak cabinet and cabinet doors painting.

It offers a smooth and sleek finish to any surface you’re applying for. The primer is long-lasting due to its strong and solid components. Its semi-gloss finish improves the overall interior appearance and also helps to illuminate the walls. You can use it with pale tones to bring more vibrance to the color.


  • Dual function as primer and paint
  • Offers semi-gloss and shiny finish
  • Provides maximum longevity
  • Enhances the color of interior walls


  • Cannot hide prominent imperfections due to semi-gloss finish

Verdict: If you’re just beginning with painting kitchen cabinets, this is a primer you can blindly go for.

3. Nuvo Coconut Espresso Cabinet Makeover Kit

We have another brand that can take care of your old cabinets with only a roller or a brush! This makeover kit from Nuvo features two 31 oz. cans of Nuvo cabinet paint, angled paintbrushes as well as roller covers. So, you don’t need anything additional to start priming and painting your oak kitchen cabinets.

This makeover kit is capable of providing coverage to around 100 square feet of kitchen cabinets, which is pretty impressive. A unique feature of the paint included is that it is designed with a modified acrylic formula that adheres well to multiple surfaces.

It is also easy to clean up, so it is the best option for quick projects. From cabinet frames to oak cabinet doors- there’s nothing you can’t work on with this paint.


  • Offers high coverage
  • Can be used on multiple surfaces
  • Suitable for frames and doors
  • Provides a smooth and glossy finish


  • Paint might crack initially and requires touch-ups

Verdict: If you’re looking for a decent quality kit to use with your everyday projects, this is the one you should go for.

4. Giani Countertop Paint Kit

Giani is another good-quality brand that makes amazing paint kits. This countertop paint kit is a great option for those who want something convenient for everyday use.

With the ability to cover 35 square feet of space, the paint from this Giani kit is ideal for almost any kind of kitchen cabinet.  It is easy to work with and takes no time to clean up with the help of a tack cloth.

Being a water-based acrylic paint, it offers a high gloss finish and works with most old and outworn kitchen countertops. It is capable of completely changing the outlook of granite stone by enhancing the brightness and color.

There are 5 colors to choose from, and each color is ideal for different kitchen models.


  • Provides a high gloss finish
  • Offers 5 color varieties for kitchen cabinets
  • Easy to clean and use
  • Delivers high coverage to cabinets


  • Cannot completely erase dark imperfections

Verdict: Overall, this is a decent paint kit that you can consider for using on your base cabinets on a frequent basis.

5. Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Base Primer

Lastly, we have another great primer from the brand Zinsser. This is one of the most popular brands that deal with designing high-quality and versatile primers.

This shellac-based primer is capable of covering stains to a maximum extent compared to traditional primers. A remarkable feature of this primer is that it can eliminate pet stains to a high degree. You can clean up easily with a drop cloth in no time.

Besides, this primer is ideal for both indoor and outdoor projects because of its flexibility. Shellac-based primers comprise alcohol in their compositions, so make sure you’re working in a space with maximum ventilation.

Another ideal feature of this primer is its ability to adhere to multiple surfaces on cabinets without sanding beforehand.


  • Excellent stain sealer property
  • Sticks to multiple surfaces
  • Suitable for both indoor and outdoor projects
  • Durable and long-lasting composition


  • Contains a faint alcohol odor

Verdict: As a whole, this primer works best with different surfaces and can be used for a wide range of painting projects.

KILZ L211101 Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer  Latex Primer12.21 pounds1 gallon300-400 sq. ft.
Prestige Interior Paint and Primer in One  Water-Based Primer12 pounds1 gallon‎250-400 sq. ft. 
Nuvo Coconut Espresso 1 Day Cabinet Makeover Kit  Water-based Acrylic Paint7 pounds0.5 gallon100 sq. ft. 
Giani White Diamond Countertop Paint Kit  Water-Based Acrylic6.05 pounds0.5 gallon35 sq. ft. 
Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer  Shellac Primer10.5 pounds1 gallon200 sq. ft. 
Comparison Table

Oak Cabinets Primer Buying Guide for Beginner

oak cabinets primer buying guide

Now that you’re familiar with different primers for oak cabinets, it’s time for you to learn about some of the essential factors to consider before buying a primer.

Here are some important things you should keep in mind before selecting a primer for cabinets;

Types of Primers

This is the most important point you should take into account before buying a primer. Since there are different types of primers, you should choose the one that meets your requirements. Here are some primer categories;

  • Water-Based Primers

Also known as latex primers, these are the most convenient ones you’ll find. They are perfect for easy and quick projects and require very little time to dry down. These primers also work with different surfaces and provide smooth finishes.

  • Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primers are preferable to professionals because of their multiple benefits. They are perfect for two-toned cabinets and can totally change the look of your outworn cabinets.

Besides, they minimize stain bleeding through the paint to a great extent. Although they take a longer time to dry down, most people like this feature for a more stable paint output.

  • Shellac Primer

Lastly, we have shellac-based primers, which are quite effective for damaged and outdated cabinets. They have the most powerful stain-resistant property, and they are also capable of sealing odors and taking care of wood tannins.

These primers also work with a huge variety of surfaces and dry quicker than traditional primers.

So, you should pick the primer that will suit your needs and working projects. For the best quality and finish, shellac-based primers would be the ideal option.

Working Surface

primer for oak cabinets

Most primers would work on almost any surface, but the net result varies from primer to primer.

So, pick your primer depending on the surface of your kitchen cabinets. If you have imperfections and stubborn stains on your surface, go for shellac primers.

For painted wood surfaces as well as surfaces that have paint cracks, go for oil-based primers.

You can pick water-based primers for most working surfaces, especially tough-to-paint ones. 


This is another important factor to consider before choosing your primer.

Primers come in different finishes-satin, semi-gloss, high-gloss, and so on. Choose a primer that offers the best glossy and smooth finishes possible. The glossier your primer finish is, the better will be the multiple coats of paint.


Since primers comprise different chemical combinations, this is another important factor to keep in mind before buying primers for your cabinets. Most primers have low levels of harmful chemicals within them and are tend to be more suitable for the environment and health aspect of the user.

Look for primers that have minimum levels of harsh chemicals and that do not offer a ton of threat to the environment and health of working individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What color oak cabinets never go out of style?

Answer: Neutral and light color oak cabinets never go out of style. With neutral and pale undertones, your cabinets will always stay bright and illuminated without looking too flashy.

2. What is the best primer for oak cabinets?

Answer: KILZ latex primer is the finest primer for oak cabinets. This primer works best for oak cabinets because of its durability and maximum coverage. It also bears strong adherence, for which it applies to oak cabinets smoothly.

3. What kind of paint do you use on oak cabinets?

Answer: Enamel paints are the best paints you can use on oak cabinets because of their longevity and durability. They also have the best finish for oak cabinets and can look quite attractive. With enamel paints, you can add topcoats and the surface still looks smooth as the first time.

4. Is it better to roll or brush paint cabinets?

Answer: Painting cabinets are best with roll painting since they are easy to work with and take a lot less time compared to brushes. Of course, you can use brushes later for tighter corners and touching up the areas that need additional coats.

5. Do you need to prime oak before painting?

Answer: Yes, like other wood categories, oak also requires priming before painting. By priming oak, you can get rid of any cracks and imperfections. You can also increase the longevity of the paint by priming oak beforehand.

Final Words

Wrapping up, it can be said that finding the best primer for oak cabinets can be quite challenging if you’re new to the realm. Choosing the ideal primers requires a thorough analysis of all the features that come with each product.

With one wrong choice, your oak cabinets might end up with a bad paint result. In this case, our detailed reviews on some of the most suitable primers can be effective and helpful for you.

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