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What are the best stain covering primers?

There are a wide-range of stain covering paints, however at The Paint Shed we recommend you opt for a stain blocking primer rather than a stain covering top coat as this allows you to choose any paint you desire as your top coat. Below we have outlined our top 3 stain blocking primers, all of which are part of our Zinsser range as they are tried and tested amongst our professional decorators and always exceed expectations. All of the Zinsser primers provide different benefits and uses, for further information read our What Zinsser Primer to use article.

What Different Types of Stain Blocking Primers Are Available?

Shellac based primers - These types of primers tend to provide similar benefits and properties of oil-based primers, however do not include the longer drying times. Shellac based primers that adhere to tricky surfaces, like glossy plastics, metals, ceramic tiles and varnished surfaces. We’ve dedicated another article to Shellac Based Primers where you can learn more about their properties. 

Water based primers - These primers tend to be sometimes easier to use than shellac and oil-based primers, they also have less odours and are environmentally friendly. 

Oil based primers - These type of primers tend to be most aggressive when it comes to blocking stains, however they tend to have more odours than their water-based and shellac counterparts. Extended drying times can also be a downfall of oil-based primers.

Our Best Stain Blocking Primers

1. Zinsser B-I-N

Zinsser B-I-N Primer is a shellac-based primer that offers great stain blocking properties and adhesion for your chosen topcoat. This stain blocking paint is particularly suited to covering any stains on wood or MDF. As a fast drying stain blocking primer, it can be applied directly without any sanding and is ready for a topcoat after just 45 minutes.

Pros of Zinsser B-I-N:

  • Permanently blocks odours & stains
  • Dries in a short 15 minutes
  • Perfect for blocking water, grease, rust, smoke, graffiti and many other popular types of stains 
  • Suitable with any chosen topcoat 

Cons of Zinsser Bin:

  • Scent when drying can be strong but doesn’t linger for long due to quick drying time


  1. BIN Primer
    Zinsser BIN Primer
    From £18.76 £15.63

2. Zinsser Cover Stain

Zinsser Cover Stain is a great stain blocking primer if you are looking for an oil-based solution. This product is extremely robust and versatile, allowing it to be applied to a wide-range of substrates. Although avoid applying to wood. It’s easy to apply Zinsser Cover Stain as you can apply to all surfaces without having to sand back the current layer. As this product is oil-based, it does have a longer drying time compared to Zinsser B-I-N of 30 mins, and is re-coatable in 2 hours.

Pros of Zinsser Cover Stain:

  • You can enjoy a blemish free topcoat as Zinsser Cover Stain permanently seals stains
  • Sticks to any surface without sanding 
  • Block cedar and redwood bleed
  • Suitable with any chosen topcoat 

Cons of Zinsser Cover Stain:

  • Can leave brush marks
  • Longer recoat & drying time than the shellac B-I-N alternative


  1. Cover Stain Primer
    Zinsser Cover Stain Primer
    From £8.53 £7.11

3. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 

Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer is a water-based stain blocking primer that can be used for interior or exterior projects. This primer provides a high hiding and stain sealer, meaning you can enjoy surfaces free from stains like oil, water, fire and smoke damage. You can also use any top coat with Zinsser 1-2-3 primer, so you’re not limited to the finish and or top coat colour to opt for.

Pros of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3

  • Perfect for any hard-to-stick surfaces as it offers excellent adhesion without sanding
  • Includes a biocide which makes it perfect in protecting against fungal degradation, ideal for high-humidity areas like bathrooms and utility rooms
  • Quick 30 minute drying time and 1 hour recoat time
  • Suitable with any chosen topcoat 

Cons of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3

  • Can’t be used during low temperatures, Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Primer performs better in lower temperatures
  1. Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer
    Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer
    From £10.61 £8.84

If you need any further information on our stain covering primers and paints, contact our customer service team.