Zinsser BIN Review – Shellac Based Primer, stain block and adhesion

Zinsser BIN Review – Shellac Based Primer

By Mike Gregory


Zinsser BIN is the industry leader in shellac-based primers. You wouldn’t use it as a finish coat, more of a problem-solving product before overpainting with something else. Zinsser BIN is a stain block, adhesion primer and barrier coat all in one. With a drying time of 15 minutes and re-coat in 45 minutes. Zinsser BIN can be very handy to have on any decorating project.

Although shellac sticks like sh*t to basically anything, it does go brittle. Therefore, it is only suitable for spot-priming when used outdoors. This is one of the very few limitations this product has. In fact, a lot of decorators believe Zinsser BIN to be the ultimate problem-solving paint. This is my Zinsser BIN review. I hope you find it useful.



Zinsser BIN the Adhesion Primer


Ok, let’s talk adhesion. As mentioned, Zinsser BIN does stick solid to most things. In fact, it is even used as a base coat for ladies (or some gentlemen’s) fingernails before applying nail varnish!! You can use Zinsser BIN to prime glass, ceramic tiles, glossy surfaces, wood and metal. I love to use this product on brown varnished wood which is to be painted white. It is one of, if not the best product on the market for adhesion on any of the materials listed above.

You wouldn’t think it, but it sprays lovely too. It lays off nicely, making it the perfect primer when spraying furniture. MDF paneling comes up lovely when sprayed with Zinsser BIN!!



Zinsser BIN the Stain Block


Zinsser BIN kills most stains dead!! Much more effective than any of the water-based alternatives I have used to date. It comes in very handy when emulsioning a room with stains. Because the drying time is so short, you are not held up and you can crack on with the rest of the decorating work. The only products more effective than BIN are oil-based, so drying time can be a real pain. This is another reason to stick with a shellac based primer over oil.

It is great for knot bleeds on timber too!! If you ever get the brown circular marks on the white wooden trim in your home, you know the knots in the timber weren’t primed correctly. If you just ignore these marks when you decorate, they will appear again a few weeks after repainting. Spot prime them with Zinsser BIN and you’ll never have the issue again!!



Zinsser BIN the Barrier coat


Apparently you can use Zinsser BIN on very porous surfaces as part of your prep. I have no doubt you could, but I’m unsure why you would. There are much easier products out there to use depending on your substrate. One thing I do use Zinsser BIN for is as a barrier between a thick bead of caulk and emulsion. It acts as a barrier and prevents moisture penetrating the caulk and expanding it, therefore stops the emulsion from cracking when the caulk contracts again.



The Downside


Yes, Zinsser BIN is a wonder product in so many circumstances. It is a pain in the backside too!! It is difficult to keep a wet edge when painting for a period of time. It wrecks your brushes too, and it can be awkward to apply. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it and I use it regularly. The high performance does come with the odd frustration though unfortunately.



Zinsser BIN Products


Firstly, Zinsser BIN is obviously available as a paint, that is straight forward enough. You can also buy it in aerosol form which is very handy for spot priming stains or tackling smaller areas. There is also a brush restorer. I’d recommend getting this, simply because it is cheap, and you’ll have a much better experience with Zinsser BIN if you swill your brush out every half an hour or so. Still, stick to cheap brushes when you use it.



Where to Buy


Listen, the product is awesome, so it’s available basically anywhere!! Most DIY shops, every trade paint outlet and several online stores. It is even in B&Q, so getting your hands on a tin will not be difficult.



Zinsser Cover Stain


Zinsser cover stain is a completely different product, but I thought I’d cover it briefly because there are some similarities between that and BIN.


Cover stain is an oil-based product, rather than shellac. Drying time is roughly 30 minutes and you can recoat after 2 hours. You can use it to block stains, or as an adhesion primer on most substrates. You’ll find it easier to use than BIN and it won’t ruin your brushes. The finish is flatter too. I prefer this product when covering large areas such as previously varnished doors.


This too is a very widespread product. You will find cover stain in all trade and most DIY outlets

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Zinsser BIN Review – Shellac Based Primer