Johnstone’s StainAway Review

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Mar 30, 2021 | Product Reviews, Paints | 1 comment

Johnstone’s StainAway is an emulsion that acts as a finish coat and stain block in one, eliminating the need for two separate products. It is available in white or tinted to any colour from Johnstone’s extensive range. You can pick it up in 2.5L, 5L or 10L from any Johnstone’s Decorating Centre. However, unless you’re entitled to a trade discount, it will almost certainly be cheaper to buy this product online. Click here to see latest prices.

You must adhere to the 4-hour recoat time of this product in order for the stain blocking capabilities to work. I’m about to get into my Johnstone’s Stainaway review. I hope you find it useful.


On Application


The opacity of Johnstone’s StainAway is awesome. You can easily achieve an extreme colour change in two coats, which is ideal really. You’ll find it easy to use, but does it do what it claims? Block stains and act as a finish coat in one?


Johnstone’s StainAway as a Stain Block


Well, it does work as a stain block, but I wouldn’t put it up there as one of the best paints to block a stain. Johnstone’s Stainaway will handle nicotine, minor watermarks, minor mould, blue tack residue and the like, but if your stain is quite bad, then you will need something a bit more suitable. There are still many jobs Stainaway is capable of, so just pick and choose where you use it.


Johnstone’s StainAway The Finish Coat


I’m going to start by saying this product is lovely to spray and leaves an amazing finish. If you are a paint sprayer then you will have no issues at all. Johnstone’s StainAway atomises into an extremely thin spray, which settles on your ceiling or walls in a lovely way. The finish is soft, like powdery snow fall. As a decorator, I get a lot of satisfaction from it.

If you’re using a brush and roller then you will experience a few issues. Although Johnstone’s Stainaway will cover in two coats, the second can picture frame or flash. Roller marks are visible on light sensitive areas. It’s a shame really. You will achieve a good finish on most surfaces you use it on, but avoid using it on large, open plan ceilings.




Johnstone’s Stainaway is a stain block and finish coat in one, however it is a compromise of both. It will block stains unless they’re stubborn. You can use it as a finish coat, but the finish isn’t perfect.

To put it another way; Traditional stain blocks will work better on stains and traditional emulsion will work better as a finish product. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Johnstone’s StainAway is a gimmick, or a novelty product. In fact, quite the opposite. Johnstone’s are pushing forward with new technology with products like this, and that’s to be commended. This is a paint I do use on a regular basis, and I can’t see that changing. I love it on certain jobs, but it does have its limitations.

Click here to see latest prices.


Johnstone’s StainAway Review - Decorator's forum UK

Johnstone’s StainAway is an all-in-one stain block and finish coat. Apply two coats over grease, smoke damage, or water stains to achieve your desired finish. Interior use only.

Product Brand: Johnstone's Trade

Editor's Rating:


  • Less products needed.
  • Lovely finish when sprayed.
  • Fantastic opacity.
  • Easy to use.
  • Readily available.


  • There are more effective stain blocks on the market.
  • There are more effective finish coats on the market.
  • Can show defects in light critical rooms.

Best Tools to Apply Johnstone’s StainAway


I thought I’d add a little section on the best tools to use when applying Johnstone’s StainAway. You will achieve a lovely finish if you’re spraying, but if not, then you need a brush and roller that is up to the task. As any decorator will tell you, the secret to using a stain block is to apply generous coats. The more StainAway you can apply, the less chance of it failing. To that end, you need a brush with a thick stock and a long pile roller.

I like the Purdy Monarch Elite XL as a brush. You’ll find it hold loads of paint and will keep its shape well, which is perfect for this type of work. Available online by clicking here.

As for the roller, I’d go Purdy again, this time the Colossus. The thick, dense nap will help you apply generous coats with ease. It will also help you achieve a nice finish on larger ceilings. Available online by clicking here.

What Other Decorators Think

I am a professional decorator who has been in the trade 35 years, 22 of those being self-employed. Based in sword but cover Dublin and surrounding area. I’ve been using Johnstone’s StainAway for a few weeks now, so I thought I’d write a quick review for the group.

Johnstone’s StainAway is a water-based stain-block and finish coat in one. You can use it on any interior walls or ceilings. Touch dry in about an hour, but recoat in 4.

I used Johnstone’s SatinAway again today on a ceiling where the owner is a chain smoker. I have to say there’s only one word for it, and that’s fantastic!! You need to adhere to the 4-hour recoat time in order for this paint to work, but it really does act as a stain block and finish coat in one.

The ceiling was almost yellow from cigarettes and the StainAway covered perfectly in 2 coats. The opacity is fantastic, as is the ease-of-use. No staining or bleeding through. Johnstone’s have done their homework on this and in my book, it’s a 10 out of 10. I’ve never heard of a product like this before, but if this is where paint technology is taking us, then the future of the decorating industry is bright!

Alan Ivie

Professional Decorator

My name is Thomas Holloway and I have kindly been sent 5ltrs of Johnstone’s StainAway to review and test on behalf of the The Decorators Forum UK Review Team

Now I’ve previously heard of the StainAway and have been meaning to use the product for some time, however given the nature of its description, I was very sceptical! A stain block and finish coat all wrapped up into one paint product! Surely this sounds too good to be true, such as a Hershey’s chocolate bar without the fat 😊 The only reason I hadn’t bought some was the fact I’d had water-based stain blocks fail on me in the past, so why would this one be different!

Johnstone’s StainAway is a fully water-based product and there is no special preparation needed before you apply it. It is important to stick to the 4-hour re-coat time, as you need the first coat to completely lock the stain away, before applying your finish.

The ceilings were being two coated anyway, so this eradicated the need for a separate stain block. We soon set to work on affected areas. I was pleasantly surprised with how white the StainAway was and the quality of the opacity. My colleague said to me these words “I like this stuff” and that was within the first few minutes. But would it hold back the water stains from above? Only time would tell.

Following the first coat od StainAway, we could still see slight discolouring through the paint, so at this time I was unsure if it was going to work. After 4 hours we began on the second coat. The white making it ever so white and within an instant we were done. But had the water stain come through!?!

We remained on site for a further four days and I have to tell you the ceilings looked like new with no signs of the stains reappearing! I am quite blown away with Johnstone’s StainAway! For areas that require blocking technology, or just pure white high opacity walls and ceilings I will certainly re use in the future. For more information click here

We recently started and completed a job where the bathroom above had unfortunately suffered a water leak and damaged the ceilings, therefore it was the perfect opportunity for us to try the Johnstone’s StainAway.

Tom Holloway

Professional Decorator


Admittedly I have been a little rubbish keeping up with reviews! I received a tin of Johnstone’s StainAway months ago which was sent by the guys on the Decorators Forum UK. But as a slight plus point, it does mean that I have used this paint on multiple occasions and my review is based on 3 tin purchasers and 4 ceilings!

StainAway is available online, or any Johnstone’s Decorator Centre in White. Tin sizes range from 2.5L to 10L buckets. It is a fully water-based product with a re-coat time of 4 hours. Smells lovely too!! Johnstone’s StainAway is advertised as a stain block and finish coat in one.

I wanted to love this product! It held so much promise. It genuinely without any issue stain blocked a really badly water-stained ceiling. We didn’t use a single solvent-based product! It covered in 2 coats! we were onto a winner I thought… but sadly that’s where the beauty of this product stops.

Its opacity is great.
Its recoat time is impressive.
It doesn’t smell.
It stain blocked in 2 coats. (water marks – not tried nicotine)

My only issue, is that is stipulates is a primer and finish coat in one. That’s what we had really hoped for. But it let itself down badly as a finish coat. Its slightly thicker and sticker than your average paint, it applies ok so you can work with that. Where the issue became apparent is that you cant get a perfect flat finish.

With the best attempts it shows roller lines, picture framing and flashing, and these are visable when dry. It was admittedly a large ceiling, it did admittedly have 10 spot lights. But after 2 coats of Tikkurila anti-reflex we got a spot on perfect ceiling. This is purely down to the thickness of the product and it can’t be watered down. That and it is drying back quicker than you can work an area.

So as a stain block, it didn’t fail. It is easily capable of blocking a stain.

As a finish it let me down and I had to recoat a ceiling at my expense.

I have used it on an artex ceiling to cover a watermark and that was 100% successful as it states on the tin. But this isn’t really a positive as artex is out of fashion and we are paid to cover those ceilings.

The price for the fact it isn’t solvent and it covers I’d say is reasonable.

So ultimately I will continue buying Johnstone’s StainAway for its stain block qualities if we are talking about a whole ceiling that needs blocking. But if its small patch stains then a can of Zinsser cover stain, or even the PS1 primer sealer.

(I am yet to try on nicotine and smoke)

I genuinely think that Johnstone’s almost had something here, and I’m sure they will sell plenty of the product. One more plus point is it does spray brilliantly and the finish when applied via airless is outstanding.

If you’re going to use a brush and roller, just go with a different product. Save yourself the hassle!!

Johnstone’s StainAway Review – by Rachel Bates – Click here to see latest prices.

Rachel Bates

Professional Decorator

Updated May 19, 2024 | Posted Mar 30, 2021 | 1 comment

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Gregory is a Professional Painter and Decorator who works in the Northwest of England. He mainly sub-contracts for large decorating firms and works on a wide variety of projects.

1 Comment

  1. Richard John mcdougall

    Outstanding product.
    A water based sealer that works l was dubious but its
    never let me down yet!
    Stainaway needs the 4 hr recoat, the days of rolling thin BIN primer and stinking coverstain ceilings long gone thankfully….
    Agree slight flashing if light critical areas but still a worthy addition to any painters van.


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