Zinsser vs Kilz for Odor: (Comparison and Guide)

Zinnser or Kilz primers provide some of the best stain-blocking, adhesion, and odor removal. 

However, choosing between these products to remove odors is difficult—even expert painters have trouble deciding. Are there any features that distinguish the two?

Oil-based Kilz primers have an unpleasant smell that may linger in poorly-ventilated spaces, while Zinsser brands are generally low-odor and leave a thicker coat on almost any type of surface. But Kilz primers are more affordable than Zinsser.  

Zinsser vs Kilz for odor

This review should clear up which product is better for clearing up and preventing foul odors for whatever type of project you are undertaking.

Kilz vs Zinsser: Which Is Better for…

Both products have solid reputations for being able to hide stains and reduce unpleasant odors. But they aren’t equally effective for all types of smells.

Which Is Better for Pet Urine?

pet urine stain on floor

Our furry friends can leave some of the nastiest odors. Sometimes, the stench may linger despite scrubbing with bleach or soapy water. The best option is to seal in the smells with an oil- or water-based primer.

For this review, we’ll compare the Kilz Restoration Interior Primer with the Zinsser BIN and Zinsser Odor Killing Primer. 

The Kilz Restoration Interior Primer is a latex-based primer designed to trap odors in porous surfaces like carpets, subfloors, walls, and furniture. According to reviewers, it dries to the touch within 30 minutes and has less odor.

But this primer’s thinner consistency can make it less effective than comparable primers like Zinsser BIN.

Zinsser BIN is the top choice for removing pet urine smells and stains, and its thicker consistency seals in tough odors with just a single coat. However, you can only use it on interior surfaces, not exterior surfaces.

Likewise, the Zinsser Odor Killing primer is ideal for covering stains and odors on painted and unpainted walls to cover strong smells. It works on walls, cabinets, PVC, metal, etc. The advanced formula adheres properly to even glossy and glass surfaces and has excellent coverage of 100 spare feet per quart.

Upon application, it applies white and dries clear, making it easy to top coat. It is also fast drying and easy to use.

Final verdict: Zinsser BIN’s thicker consistency makes it ideal for blocking the pungent stench of pet urine. However, you can’t use Zinsser BIN on exterior surfaces, only interior ones. Zinsser Odor Killing Primer is also an ideal choice.

Which Is Better for Cigarette Smoke?

cigarette smoke

Carpets, furniture, and drywalls absorb everything from cigarette smoke, including its smell, and it’s difficult to remove via conventional means. Instead, you need a solid primer to block the odor on multiple surfaces.

For this section, we will review the Kilz Original and the Zinsser BIN primer.

The Kilz Original is an oil-based primer for sealing stubborn stains and odors. It can be used on various surfaces and has strong adhesion. A double coat of this product can easily seal in nicotine stains and odors. 

Oil-based primers like the Kilz Original form an oil barrier that traps odors and moisture. However, it’s not suitable for most floors and doesn’t create a durable coating on surfaces with heavy foot traffic. It also sometimes emits noxious fumes.

Zinsser’s BIN brand is also famous for blocking tough stains and odors. Similar to the Kilz Restoration primer, it works on walls, carpets, PVC, metal surfaces, cabinets, and drywall. 

Final verdict: Zinsser BIN primer is the better choice for covering cigarette smoke odors on indoor surfaces. However, the Kilz Original is more effective as a general odor-blocker due to its oil base. 

Which is Better for Mold and Mildew Odors?

mold in the wall

The Zinsser Mold Blocking Primer and the Kilz Mold and Mildew Primer are high-quality primer options for this purpose. Why? Because both products contain biocides that kill organisms like fungi and bacteria.

Kilz Mold and Mildew primer has a thinner consistency which seeps into the pores of drywall, ceilings, and basement walls. Further, it blocks the damp odor by killing mold spores and mildew. 

Zinsser Mold Blocking Primer creates a thick coating on different wall surfaces. It forms a slightly thicker coat than the Kilz Mold and Mildew, making it less effective for getting into the pores where mold and mildew form. 

Final verdict: The Kilz Mold and Mildew’s watery consistency allows it to get into the pores where mold and mildew grow, making it the better choice for blocking mildew and mold smells.

Which is More Affordable? 

Zinsser vs Kilz comparison

For many DIYers, price plays an essential part in their buying decision, and they want the most affordable product without compromising quality. 

This section will compare the prices of these primers in popular eCommerce stores. Keep in mind that the price may be different in your local hardware store.

Kilz primers are considerably more affordable. You can get the Kilz Restoration Primer at just $42 per gallon. Meanwhile, Zinsser BIN costs $104.49 per gallon, and Zinsser Odor Killing primer costs $60.73 per gallon.

This makes Kilz better for painters on a strict budget.


Both brands are reputable and practical for covering surface stains and masking odors. Zinsser provides more coverage, while Kilz is more affordable for tight budgets and better for mold or mildew-based odors. You can’t really go wrong with either brand.