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Zinsser BIN Aqua Review – The Full Truth

Posted Sep 4, 2023 | Paints, Product Review | 6 comments

All Professional Decorators know and love Zinsser BIN. It is the ultimate problem-solving paint product, and the OG of shellac-based primers. However, it does have a couple of minor drawbacks: it is too brittle to use outside and shellac can be a difficult product to apply.

That said, Zinsser BIN has been a staple product for some time, and as other manufacturers have scrambled to try and develop their own shellac-based primer, Zinsser have taken it a step further, and created a water-based alternative that can do everything a traditional shellac can, and more, and better!! Introducing Zinsser BIN Aqua.

This is a fully water-based primer that can be used inside or out. Toch dry in a mere 25 minutes, and the recoat time is 45 minutes. It can be used to prime problem surfaces such as metal, plastic, walls, wood, and old oil-based coatings like gloss.

You can also use Zinsser BIN Aqua as an effective stain block for contaminants such as smoke damage, water stains, nicotine and grease. You can buy this primer online by clicking here, or various other stockists in white.


My Zinsser BIN Aqua Review


I’m going to start by saying I’m a massive paint geek, so innovations in paint technology really excite me. I was given the opportunity to test Zinsser BIN Aqua Primer before it’s launch date, (which was also exciting).

As Zinsser BIN Aqua is fully water-based, it’s a lot kinder on your tools than the origional version. Flow is brilliant, as is opacity, so less coats are needed. This, along with its rapid drying time, means Zinsser BIN Aqua really speeds the job up.

The overall performance is good too. Its stain blocking capabilities far exceeds any other water-based product I have used. Adhesion is also up there. I have tested Zinsser BIN Aqua extensively on different types of materials, and it’s been perfect every time.

For instance, it’s fantastic for priming previously stained or varnished timber. It aids adhesion, blocks tannins, and stops knot bleed. Having a water-based product that can cope with all that is astonishing!

It’s also great for coating old gloss or other alkyd coatings before using water-based topcoats! Not just for adhesion reasons, but the opacity is better than a lot of oil-based undercoats I have used.


A Recent Project Using Zinsser BIN Aqua


I thought it might be an idea to show you a recent job we did using Zinsser BIN Aqua. Below are a couple of pictures of an old gate we painted. As you can see, there were patches of bare timber, and patches of paint.

The first thing we did was sand everything down and spot prime the bare timber using Zinsser Peel Stop to prevent any more of the existing paint from failing. We then needed a primer that would adhere to the old paint, stop stains from coming through the timber, and stop any potential knot bleed. That is too much to ask of most water-based primers, but the Zinsser BIN Aqua was perfect!

Not only did it adhere and block stains, but look at how good the opacity is!! Going from green, or bare timber to white in almost one coat!

Zinsser Aqua BIN is a good primer for exterior wood
painting a timber gate with primer

Final Thoughts


I can see Zinsser BIN Aqua becoming the most popular paint primer on the UK market. It does everything! I’m gobsmacked a water-based paint can be so good at completing such challenging tasks like adhesion and stain blocking.

Zinsser BIN Aqua Review – by Mike Gregory

Posted Sep 4, 2023 | 6 comments

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  1. Marta

    I’m looking for a primer to go on wallpaper before painting with F&B dead flat in colour green card. I looked at your previous articles about this but do you think the new Zinsser BIN Aqua would work? I know it’s recommended to use oil based primer but it can be messy so just wondered if this one would do the job? Thank you

    • Mick

      Zinsser do a product called Wallpaper Cover up specifically for that job, which I used a couple of times and is good stuff. It’s oil based though, but just use a cheap brush or roller and throw them away. A water-based primer will soak into the wallpaper, possibly weaken the dry wallpaper paste, and possibly mean the wallpaper starts to come off the wall.

  2. Mike

    Regarding exterior use, the Zinsser data sheet for this says: “Not recommended for full surface application on exterior substrates”. Like the original BIN, it appears to be for spot-priming only when used outside.

    • Bruce Kennedy

      Not quiet correct here Mike as it does state:
      B-I-N® AQUA works brilliantly as a full-surface primer on building boards, doors, plywood and varnish, and is ideal for exterior surfaces such as brick, concrete, aluminium and PVC.

      B-I-N® AQUA is a ground-breaking water-based formula, developed for both professional and commercial applications.

      • Ultra-low odour.
      • Contains only trace VOCs (<0.1%).
      • Interior and exterior use.
      • Effectively primes, seals and blocks stains.
      • Locks in problem odours.
      • Superior adhesion without the need for sanding.
      • Blocks knot stain and sap streaks

      Link to the datasheet:


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