Is Kilz Primer Supposed To Be Watery? (Oil vs Water-Based Primers)

Giving your living space fresh coats of paint is always an exciting endeavor, and it can be tempting for you to grab a brush or roller and just jump right into your task. 

However, one of the most important first steps is to prime your surfaces—before ever painting them. 

Priming ensures maximum adhesion of the paint to the surface. It also covers any existing water stains, nicotine stains, previous paint colors, and more to prevent stain bleed-through into the final coat.

 water-based vs oil-based primer

Kilz’s latex primers are more likely to have a watery consistency because they’re water-based. But oil-based primers should have a thicker, smoother texture. 

Below, we detail why a primer might be watery, whether it should be, and which primer you should choose for your painting project.

Is Kilz Primer Supposed To Be Watery?

Kilz primers have a thinner consistency than many similar products available on the market, regardless of whether you purchase a water-based primer or oil-based product. 

a water-based primer

Despite being more watery by comparison, Kilz Primer does generally thicken if you stir it extensively, and the wateriness shouldn’t affect product performance.

However, the thickness of your Kilz will depend on the type of surface that you need to work on. The manufacturers of Kilz actually offer their customers extensive advice on just how watery their primer should be.

Kilz Primers That Should Be Runny

Some primers by this brand are actually intended to be a thinner consistency, including the following:

Kilz PVA Primer

Kilz PVA

Kilz PVA Primer is a water-based drywall primer designed to dry quickly on newly completed walls in your home. 

The one major drawback with this product is that it will not allow you to cover the surface you are working on completely, which will present a problem if you expect a strong stain blocker.

You will still be able to see things like pencil marks or cut corners, which is disappointing. 

The Kilz PVA Primer is marketed as a product designed to seal surfaces and does not promise to cover existing marks and surfaces. That is just something to keep in mind.

There have also been some reports of lumps forming in this primer—the opposite of wateriness. The manufacturers assure that these cases are anomalies, though. It is not supposed to be that thick.

Kilz 1 Standard Interior Primer

Kilz Standard Interior primer is another water-based primer designed to seal porous surfaces like drywall. 

It has also been marketed as a product that promotes adhesion, so you should expect it to be a little thicker than the PVA offering.

Note, however, that there have been multiple complaints about this primer needing numerous coats to help conceal darker colors, with some referencing up to as many as four coats. 

Kilz Adhesion Interior/Exterior

The Kilz Adhesion Interior and Exterior Primer have been designed for surfaces like aluminum, vinyl, ceramic tile, and glass. These are all surfaces that are typically difficult to paint over. 

So the adhesive component is essential here, which means the primer should also be a little thicker even though it is water-based. Another compelling feature of this primer is that it doesn’t lift or bubble.

Kilz 2 All-Purpose Interior/Exterior Primer

The Kilz 2 Primer performs the primary function of sealing porous surfaces and promoting adhesion. Kilz 2 is also a water-based primer, but it has been designed to cover multiple surfaces.

It has also been marketed as a mildew-resistant product that is great for covering heavy stains and hiding previous colors, which means its functionality extends beyond conventional drywall. 

There are mixed reviews on the coverage of the product. But the general sentiment from consumers is that the product has been watered down too much, meaning they have to apply multiple coats. So, the advertised coverage has been underwhelming for many.

Kilz Primers That Should Not Be Runny

While the above primers should be thinner, the ones listed below should not be a watery consistency: 

Kilz Original Interior Primer

As the name of the Kilz Original Interior Primer would suggest, this one is the real deal. The primer has been designed to block out all water and smoke stains.

It has also been designed to deal with all manner of odors, ranging from pet odors to food odors, along with smoke smells that are notoriously difficult to mask. 

This product should always be thicker in order to promote stain and odor blocking.

Kilz Original Low Odor

Something that puts consumers off most primers is the odor and fumes associated with them. Sometimes, measures like ventilating your room or home just aren’t enough to overcome the problem. 

This oil-based primer has been designed to overcome that problem and is produced to be a thicker consistency.

This is the type of primer that you would purchase for living and working spaces with high traffic, like officers, schools, apartments, and eateries.

Kilz Original Interior and Exterior Primer

The defining feature of this flagship Kilz product is that you can use it both inside and outside your home. Kilz Original definitely should not be runny, as it has been marketed as something that delivers well on masonry, metal, and even bare wood.

Kilz Restoration Interior Primer

The Kilz Restoration Interior Primer has a water-based formula. Still, it has been marketed as a product that performs just as well as an oil-based primer, which means it is supposed to be much thicker than anything we have reviewed in the first half of this article. 

This primer is supposed to do it all, from sealing to adhesion. It is the stuff that you want to have for strong odors and even fire damage. 

The general sentiment from consumers who have used this product is that the coverage is good, and it generally performs well in dealing with odors, too. Most surfaces only needed one coat.

Kilz 3 Premium Primer

The Kilz 3 Premium Interior and Exterior Primer is a water-based primer that has been designed for heavy-duty jobs. So, we are talking about very old, dark stains here, including smoke and pet odors that need to be blocked. 

This should be the least runny of the water-based products that Kilz have within their stable. You will seldom need more than one coat of coverage for this job.


Some Kilz water-based products should have a thinner consistency, but most oil-based primers should not. Additionally, some water-based primers are designed to be thicker. 

Be sure to check the can of primer you’re getting against the list above to ensure it’s the correct consistency for that product.