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Product Review: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1.2.3 Primer

A few years ago my eagerness would have gotten the better of me and I would have skipped some very important steps to achieving high quality, long lasting paint results. Not anymore. :) In this review we’ll be getting to know a little bit more about  my favorite primer; Zinsser Bulls Eye 1.2.3  Water-Based Primer. I should note that I’m not being paid for this review, so this is my honest feedback on a product that I consider a must have when it comes to most painting projects.

Preparing any item prior to painting is truly the most important part of the process. A huge part of preparation  is priming.

Here’s my prepping process: Although Zinsser  Bullseye Primer instructions say not to clean with TSP, I clean all the pieces I paint with TSP Substitute.  If your project surface isn’t particularly dirty or oily, you can clean it thoroughly with warm soapy water and let dry. Lightly sand the piece with a medium grit sand paper (I use 220) to give it some “tooth”. This is just a quick sanding to rough up the surface a little bit so the primer and paint not only go onto the surface better, but stay on. There’s nothing worse than spending money and working your tail off on a project to watch your hard work peel right off your project surface.  After you’ve lightly sanded the piece, take a damp rag or tack cloth, and wipe the entire piece down to remove any dust. I sometimes do this twice and then follow with a dry rag to ensure the surface is totally clean before priming. If there is dust on the floor or working area around you, it’s a good idea to get all that cleaned up. The cleaner your working space, the better the finished results will be.

Now, for my secret to a longer lasting, more professional looking paint job; Zinsser Buylls Eye 1.2.3 Water-Based Primer.

This is an Interior and Exterior Primer for use on all surfaces. It claims to stick to all surfaces without sanding, but I’ll have to admit that I always lightly sand my project pieces, so I haven’t tested the accuracy of that claim. It is a very good primer, so I’d assume that if whatever you’re painting is clean and dry, the primer will adhere well. I should note that I don’t sand walls when I paint them unless there is a patch, filler or some sort of blob that needs to be taken off to achieve a better paint job. I also only prime walls that have a bright color or some type of graphic, drawing, or painting that might bleed through and create problems with the new paint job. If your kids have used magic markers to decorate a wall in their room and you’re going to paint over it; prime it first. The marker will show through and cause you to have to paint many more coats of paint than if you had primed the wall to begin with. Zinsser Bulls Eye is a stain blocker. It will prevent the stains from bleeding through your new paint job.

Mold blocking/Sealing properties: Zinsser Bullseye 1.2.3 Primer will block mold and seal lead paint. If you’re unsure if you’re dealing with lead paint, prime it and breath easy that your loved ones won’t have to breath in lead dust. When working with a surface you think may be coated with lead paint, always wear a mask until it’s properly sealed with primer and do not scrape or sand any painted surface that might be coated with lead paint.


You can use Zinsser Bullseye 1.2.3 Water- Based Primer on surfaces that have already been painted with both water based or oil based paints and finishes.  It will go over glossy surfaces and laminate. Again, I always lightly sand for better adhesion.

Dry time: This primer dries to the touch in 30 minuted and can be recoated in 1 hour. I’ve painted over primer that has only dried for 30 minutes with good results, but it is important to note that the best results will come from following the manufacturers instructions. Also, thin coats dry more quickly, so if you have a tendency to apply heavy coats, allow more drying time. Like most primers and paints, it takes a full week to cure. It’s always a good idea to let your project cure thoroughly before heavy use. If you’re painting a dresser, I’d suggest giving it a good week before you put anything on the top of it. If you put the drawers back into the dresser before the paint has completely cured, you risk dinging your paint job.

The consistency of the primer allows for a smooth application. I’d recommend applying in thin coats with a  fine finish (foam) brush or roller to get the smoothest finish. I lightly sand and dust my projects between every coat to knock down any imperfection before moving on to a new coat. This step ensures a smooth, professional looking end result.

Depending on your project you may need more than one coat of primer. Use your best judgement; when it doubt, give it another thin coat of primer. I tend to use one coat on walls that need priming and two coats on furniture projects.

Primer tends to look chalky and uneven as it dries. Remember it’s primer, not paint; don’t let it scare you. Once you get some paint on it, everything will start looking better.

Clean up is a breeze. Just wash your brushes in soapy water, rinse and let dry; so much easier than oil based primers.

Zinsser Bullseye 1.2.3. Primer is my go to primer for all my painting projects. I’ve tried others, but always go back to this one. I have never had a problem with paint peeling with good preperation and Zinsser primer.

Thanks so much for stopping by. If you find this information useful, please feel free to share, tweet, or pin this blog post.

Hugs and warm wishes,



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