Can We Use Kilz Primer on Basement Walls?


You can use Kilz primer on your basement walls; however, other types of primer are more suited for this type of project. Learn the pros and cons associated with Kilz primer before you begin this type of do-it-yourself job. If you choose to use this type of primer, take the proper safety precautions, or you may become overwhelmed by noxious fumes.

Kilz Primer

  • Kilz is a specific brand of primer renowned for its impressive adhesive qualities and stain-blocking ability. Typically used to seal and prepare finished wood and stained drywall for better adhesion, this type of primer is not typically applied to basement walls. Because it is oil-based, Kilz primer emits noxious fumes. Although you can use it in a basement, a water-based primer will prove just as effective and is safer and easier to use.

Better Options

  • Whether your basement walls are bare concrete or lined with drywall or wood paneling, they require a base coat of primer prior to painting. Because basements tend to be poorly ventilated, fumes can accumulate. A water-based latex or acrylic-based primer will prove just as effective as Kilz oil-based primer and won't emit the same harmful fumes.

Safety Precautions

  • If you do choose to use Kilz primer on your basement walls, be sure to open all of the windows, and wear a respirator as you apply the primer. Don't use the same type of synthetic nylon or polyester paintbrush you'd use to apply water-based acrylic and latex primer; instead, use a paintbrush equipped with natural bristles.


  • If your basement walls are marred by crayon, marker, smoke or water stains, a water-based latex or acrylic primer will not provide effective coverage. Kilz primer will seal these types of stains. If you would like to seal problematic stains on your basement walls prior to painting but don't want to have to deal with noxious fumes, you can use a shellac-based stain-blocking primer instead.

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