Best Undercoat Paint Reviewed 2021

best undercoat paint

When it’s time to spruce something up in your home with a fresh coat of paint, the temptation is always going to be there to jump right in and splash that bold colour on the walls, ceiling, skirting boards. But, hold your horses, because to make sure your colours are going to stand out and sit properly on the surface you’re painting you often need to consider the undercoat paint.

As the name suggests, the undercoat is supposed to be the primary coat that goes on your surface. The benefits to this are, among others, improved adhesion for your top coat of paint and an easier job applying the top coat. It also boosts the durability of the top layer, and makes removal of paint easier. There is also the beneficial effect for the surface to be painted; should the surface be porous, flaky or stained, a layer of undercoat paint works to protect and stabilise that surface.

All things considered, it’s well worth giving some thought to a good undercoat. Without it, you run the risk of making life more difficult for yourself in the future. With that in mind, we have rounded up the best undercoats you can find to give your decorating projects the strongest foundations you can.

NameCoverageDry TimeCost
Leyland Trade Undercoat17 m2/l16 hours£
Dulux Primer and Undercoat16 m2 /l2 hours££££
Rustins Quick Dry Primer and Undercoat13 m2/l30 mins£££
Crown Quick Dry Primer Undercoat9 m2 /l2 hours£££
Johnstone’s Exterior Undercoat12 m2 /l6 hours££
Ronseal Knot Block Primer and Undercoat6 m2/l4 hours££

Leyland Trade Undercoat

Leyland’s Trade range of paints and DIY products is, as the name suggests, designed to meet the high quality standards set out by painting professionals. This is not necessarily a fancy paint, but don’t let that make you think that it’s anything less than high quality. It does what it needs to do, and performs that task well, giving you an unshakeable foundation for a comfortable time painting the top coat.

Key to the quality of this paint is its high level of opacity. With such a solid consistency and a bold shade of white, it provides a completely blank canvas upon which to paint one dry. As such, you may be able tog et away with one coat, though should more coats be needed it will require at least 16 hours between coats. Another element that is hard to beat is the sheer value; considering you get 2.5 litres per tin, the low initial investment is hard to ignore and the paint offers quality that far exceeds what you’d expect for the price.


  • High opacity
  • Great value
  • Thick consistency for good coverage


  • Long drying time

Dulux Primer and Undercoat

Dulux are a well-established household name when it comes to decorating and painting, and for very good reason. This primer/undercoat by Dulux seeks to uphold that brand image by giving a straightforward, high performing foundation that’s suitable for wood surfaces both indoors and outdoors.

What makes this undercoat from Dulux a little more user-friendly is the quick drying time. Initially, the paint will be touch dry in just half an hour. Should a second coat be required, it needs just 2 hours, making it a sure choice to speed up DIY projects. The second coat, according to Dulux, should only be necessary if bare wood is being painted; otherwise, only one should be needed. Adding to its ease of use is a notably low odour, making it a straightforward proposition to work with in the home.


  • Quick dry formula
  • Low odour
  • Good quality


  • Limited applications
  • Relatively expensive

Rustins Quick Dry Primer and Undercoat

This primer and undercoat paint combo from Rustins is a great versatile solution for a number of household applications. It can be painted onto several different surface types, including new and bare wood, MDF, plaster, brickwork and even cement. The grey finish looks to provide a perfect neutrally coloured base layer to paint on top of.

Another layer to its versatility is that it doesn’t limit the types of paint that can be used on top of it. So, whether your top layer paint is water or solvent based, this can be used with both. It even meets safety standards that classify it as safe to use on children’s toys. It also represents fairly solid value for money for a non-trade household paint, and as the name indicates, is pretty quick to dry; ultimately, the Rustins is a great all round choice as a versatile primer and undercoat.


  • Versatile applications
  • Good neutral tone
  • Quick drying


  • Lower durability

Crown Quick Dry Primer Undercoat

With this primer and undercoat combination paint, Crown have sought to offer a quick, easy and user-friendly experience for preparing all manner of surfaces for painting. It strikes a good balance between features like drying time, opacity of the paint and good functionality as well. The paint can be used both indoor and outdoors on wood and metal surfaces, demonstrating that it’s strong enough to handle a lot of applications.

Another great feature of the paint is that it’s super quick to dry. Touch dry in just 1 hour, it allows you to move quickly through your DIY project without extended waiting times to move on to the next layer of paint. Crown recommend using a brush to paint this, with an easily-applied formula treading a good balance between paints that are too thin or thick. Therefore, you’re unlikely to encounter any dripping, provided you don’t overload the brush.


  • Quick drying
  • Versatile
  • Good consistency


  • Smaller tin volume

Johnstone’s Exterior Undercoat

Johnstone’s paints are renowned for their high quality and long life, and this undercoat paint is no different. A versatile formula, it’s suitable for multiple applications. Whether you have outdoor wood or metal, this undercoat is up to the task. It dries to a high gloss, bright white finish to give a superb base layer upon which to apply the colour of your choice.

Notable about the Johnstone’s paint is the durability. As a paint that’s suited to outside use, it needs to stand up to a little more than just interior paint. To meet these needs, the paint formula is resistant to peeling, blistering and cracking which can happen with extended UV exposure by the sun. It guarantees this protection for 6 years, which takes a significant amount of stress out of thinking ahead to repainting. Additionally, for a non-trade paint, it’s also very good value for money.


  • Hardwearing
  • High opacity finish
  • Good value


  • Can be slow to dry

Ronseal Knot Block Primer and Undercoat

Ronseal have built a brand on no-nonsense products that do a straightforward job and do it well. This Knot Block primer and undercoat is wood specific, aiming to provide a clean, flat surface to paint upon that covers up wood knots, which can present irritating imperfections on painted surfaces. It’s also able to cover up existing stains as well. As both primer and undercoat, it can therefore be painted onto bare or already-coated wood.

The paint is fairly straightforward and easy to use. Ronseal recommends two coats, which require 4 hours’ drying time between each layer. It is, however, touch dry in just half an hour, enhancing its ease of use. It also promises a long lasting finish that is resistant to yellowing, cracking or peeling, and also provides a great base to paint on. On top of everything else, it is also fairly solid value for money.


  • Covers stains and wood knots
  • Highly durable
  • Decent value


  • Only works on wood

Which Undercoat Paint To Go For?

A primer and/or undercoat paint is an important consideration for painting projects – they provide a stable base upon which to paint. The goal is to create a surface that your top coat(s) of paint can adhere to cleanly and evenly. It is important to quickly differentiate between primer and undercoat – a primer is necessary on bare surfaces like porous wood, while an undercoat is the next layer up. Some products combine the two and have dual functionality, but it’s key to know which one you do in fact need. To make that choice a bit easier, here’s our buying guide for the best overall and the best value undercoat.

Best Undercoat Paint – The Dulux Primer and Undercoat is undoubtedly the best undercoat for the job, thanks to its high quality protection and doubled functionality as both primer and undercoat. It may not be the cheapest choice for this application, but it’s worth the investment.

Best Value – For value, Leyland Trade Undercoat can’t be beaten. As is often the case with trade-standard products, it can be bought in a huge volume for a minimal investment. Naturally, given the professional market it’s designed for, you can be sure of simple quality as well.

Undercoat Paint FAQ

What is undercoat paint

An undercoat paint is a neutrally-coloured layer of paint that is layered on underneath the final colour/top coat of paint. It serves to even out the painting surface, making the top layer goes on more easily.

What does undercoat paint do

Undercoat paint is quite self explanatory. An undercoat provides a stable surface that the top coat(s) of paint adhere to. Without an undercoat, you run the risk of your top coats of paint being absorbed or dulled into a surface; for instance, if you’re painting onto wood, the porous nature of the medium means that paint will be absorbed. An undercoat fills in those pores, ensuring that your top coat is bright and bold.

How to remove undercoat paint from clothes

If you can wash/soak you clothing straight away it is best before it dries. If it is already dry then try and scrape the paint away before blotting detergent mixed with warm water straight onto the stain before machine washing.

What is the best undercoat paint

The best undercoat paint is one that, in one or two layers, provides the most stable surface for you to paint on. It should fill in the gaps on porous painting surfaces and cover up any existing marks or stains. Also key is a high level of opacity, which provides the neutral background for the top layer of paint and also ensures the covering of marks.

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