Benjamin Moore Primer vs Kilz (Detailed Review and Comparison Guide)

Primers are the most essential part of any paint job. For many DIYers, choosing the right primer can be the difference between a good paint job and an eyesore.

Two of the most well-known primer brands are Benjamin Moore and Kilz, which you can usually find in any hardware store. If your choices have come down to these two respected brands, how do you choose?

Both Benjamin Moore and Kilz primers dry within a couple of hours of applying a coat, and both brands can cover the same surface area with a five-gallon jug. The main difference is the price point, as Kilz is generally about half as expensive as Benjamin Moore.

Yet the price isn’t everything. This article will go into more detail about the differences between these two brands. That way, you can be more informed and make the best decision for your project.

 benjamin moore vs kilz primers

Why Choose Between Benjamin Moore and Kilz Primers? 

Pro painters swear by these premium brands for their versatility and wide range of products. For example, the Kilz Premium High-Hide Stain is a latex primer suitable both for covering stains and sealing off odors with ease.

On the other hand, the Benjamin Moore Stix Waterborne Primer is perfect for hard-to-coat, glossy surfaces like glass and ceramic wall tiles. No doubt, these are some of the top primers. But it can be challenging to spot a difference.

Main Differences Between Benjamin Moore and Kilz

using primer to cover the concrete base

Ready to invest in a primer for your wooden, concrete, or metal surfaces? Before you do, understand there’s no one-for-all primer. Regardless of the brand, primers are designed to work on specific surfaces or substrates. 

Furthermore, some Benjamin Moore paints have built-in primers. The Natura, Aura, and Regal product lines are examples of these self-primers. A few coats of paint with these, and you won’t need additional primer coats.

Read on for more comparisons between Benjamin Moore and Kilz.

Benjamin Moore Primer vs Kilz: Which Has a Faster Drying Time?

The drying time is how long it takes before you can apply another coat over the primer. On average, it takes one to four hours for primers to dry. 

In painting, a fast-drying primer is much preferred since it reduces the chances of errors and time spent painting. 

The Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start primer is dry enough to touch within one to two hours. You can apply a fresh coat as soon as two hours after the primer. But it will take 14 days to be fully cured. Kilz dries to the touch within about 30 to 90 minutes, depending on humidity and temperature.

For both brands of primer, you can add another coat as soon as about two hours after applying the last one. Overall, both products have similar drying times. 

Note: Latex-based primers will dry faster at higher temperatures. 

Is Benjamin Moore or Kilz More Expensive?

benjamin moore primer vs kilz primer

The price range of these brands may differ depending on location. This section compares Lowe’s and Home Depot prices.

According to Benjamin Moore’s official e-commerce store, a five-gallon Fresh Start Primer costs $42.99. A five-gallon jar of Kilz Original Interior Primer runs for $25.98 on Home Depot’s online store. The interior/exterior version of the primer goes for a slightly higher price at $30.98.

So even the premium Kilz primers are more affordable. But do they provide the same value in terms of coverage and versatility?

Benjamin Moore Primer vs Kilz: Which Has More Coverage 

For this section, we’ll evaluate the coverage per square foot of a five-gallon primer and answer questions like: How many square feet can you cover with each primer? Can you easily apply more than one coat on any surface? Etc.

A gallon of Kilz Complete can cover about 300 to 400 square feet of interior or exterior surfaces. This is the average size of most rooms. Benjamin Moore primers can cover about 350 to 400 square feet per gallon.

Therefore, a five-gallon bucket will cover 1,500 to 2,000 square feet with either of these products.

Note: A rough-textured surface will “eat up” more primer. So you may need to purchase more gallons of primer for rough and uneven surfaces.

Kilz vs Benjamin Moore Primer: Which Brand is Better for Different Surfaces?

A home builder paints primer white on a concrete wall with a long-handled roller brush.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for primers. Professional painters will select the best primers based on the specific surface they’re priming. However, most DIYers don’t have this luxury; it’s more convenient to get a primer that works for a lot of surfaces without compromising quality. 

Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start is a multi-purpose primer designed to work on interior and exterior surfaces like wood, drywall, brick, and plaster. It also suppresses stains, including wood stains, rust, water stains, smoke stains, and grease marks. 

Although it’s latex-based, you can use it to prime oil-based paints. However, it doesn’t work well on hard, non-porous surfaces. The primer takes three to four days to dry on such surfaces. 

In addition, don’t use it on galvanized iron. When working with galvanized iron, turn to the Fresh Start High-Hiding All Purpose Primer

The Kilz 2 All Purpose Primer is also an alternative option. It is a fast-drying, latex-based primer that works well on different surfaces.

Most users talk about the primer’s efficiency in covering dark tanin bleeds on wood surfaces, but it also serves as an odor sealer with great adhesion properties. Keep in mind that the product has a mild odor. 


Both Benjamin Moore and Kilz primers have similar drying times, but Kilz primers are considerably more affordable. Nevertheless, both brands have roughly equivalent features and benefits. 

Which one you choose will probably come down to price point and whether you need specialized paint for your surfaces.