Area-selective atomic layer deposition (ALD) of ZnO was achieved on SiO2 seed layer patterns on H-terminated silicon substrates, using diethylzinc (DEZ) as the zinc precursor and H2O as the coreactant. The selectivity of the ALD process was studied using in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry and scanning electron microscopy, revealing improved selectivity for increasing deposition temperatures from 100 to 300 °C. The selectivity was also investigated using transmission electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed to corroborate the experimental results obtained and to provide an atomic-level understanding of the underlying surface chemistry. A kinetically hindered proton transfer reaction from the H-terminated Si was conceived to underpin the selectivity exhibited by the ALD process. By combining the experimental and DFT results, we suggest that the trend in selectivity with temperature may be due to a strong DEZ or H2O physisorption on the H-terminated Si that hampers high selectivity at low deposition temperature. This work highlights the deposition temperature as an extra process parameter to improve the selectivity.