Zinsser BIN Vs Zinsser BIN Aqua

Updated May 15, 2024 | Posted Oct 15, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

As a Professional Decorator, I have been using Zinsser BIN for many years. It is the ultimate problem-solving product, which has got me out of trouble many times. Recently, Zinsser released their BIN Aqua, which has really rocked the decorating industry. I thought I’d put together a quick blog and compare Zinsser BIN Vs Zinsser BIN Aqua. I hope you find it useful.


What is Zinsser BIN?


Zinsser BIN is a shellac-based primer that can be used as a stain block, adhesion primer, or primer for bare wood. It is predominantly used inside the home but can be used for “spot priming” outside. You can’t use it for large areas outside, simply because shellac is very brittle and a large area of it will not cope with the movement that naturally occurs in that sort of environment.

Zinsser BIN is a very mainstream product that every Professional Decorator uses. It’s one of the best products you can use when painting over old varnish or stained surfaces, simply because it doesn’t only act as an effective adhesion primer, but it also stops tannins and even knot bleed.


It’s also one of the best stain blocks on the market, second only to oil-based undercoat. However, unlike undercoat, Zinsser BIN can be painted over after 45 minutes, which really speeds the job up.

So, it’s one of the best adhesion primers available on the UK market, and it’s one of the best stain blocks, but what are its limitations? Well shellac-based paints are quite difficult to use. It can be quite sticky, and brush marks can be evident on large flat surfaces like doors. It doesn’t have great opacity either.

How Does Zinsser BIN Aqua Differ from Zinsser BIN?


It took Zinsser a long time to develop BIN Aqua. Even when a version of BIN Aqua was launched in Europe, Zinsser UK weren’t 100% happy with its performance, and carried on tweaking the formula until they felt they had something better than any other comparable product.

Zinsser BIN Aqua is a water-based product rather than shellac. This makes it easier to apply than Zinsser BIN, and it has a better open time, making it better for large surfaces like doors. It’s also more environmentally friendly, easier to clean up, and doesn’t wreck your painting tools like Zinsser BIN does.

You can still use this paint as an adhesion primer and a stain block, although my personal opinion is that the original Zinsser BIN performs slightly better at both tasks.

Another advantage of using BIN Aqua over the original BIN is that you can use it outside.

This is a gamechanger for me, because there are a lot of occasions when working outside that I need a stain block and adhesion primer in one, and to be able to do all this with a water-based product is brilliant.



Which Zinsser Stain Block is Best?

The best Zinsser paint for blocking stains is easily Zinsser BIN. I have used all the Zinsser primers many times, and I can wholeheartedly say that not only is BIN the best Zinsser stain block, but it’s also one of the best stain blocks on the market.

Zinsser BIN is more than capable of dealing with smoke damage, felt tip, graffiti, red wine, lipstick, and even water-stains. All in a product that you can paint over after just 45 minutes! Click here for online prices.


Can Zinsser BIN be Used as an Undercoat?

You can use Zinsser BIN as an undercoat. It’s more than capable of adhering to old paints, it blocks stains, and you can paint over it after 45 minutes. However, the opacity isn’t the best, and shellac can be difficult to work with.

A much better undercoat would be Zinsser BIN Aqua. This is a water-based version of the original BIN, is easier to use, has much better opacity, and can be used outside as well as inside. It makes the perfect undercoat, particularly when working with water-based satinwood, eggshell and gloss paints. Click here for online prices.


Can You use Zinsser BIN on Radiators?

No, I wouldn’t advise using Zinsser BIN on radiators, simply because it is too brittle to cope. Paint expands when it gets warm and contracts again after it cools down. Using a shellac-based product like BIN will result in cracking and flaking over time.

Zinsser BIN Aqua is much more capable for this type of task. The opacity is better, and it will last much longer. Click here for online prices.


Is Zinsser BIN Primer Supposed to be Runny?

Zinsser BIN is a relatively thin product anyway, but it also contains heavy solids. This means that the solids can settle at the bottom of the tin in a relatively short period. My best advice is to shake or stir the paint before every use. This will have the effect of thickening the paint.


Final Thoughts


Most Decorators have been happy with Zinsser BIN for decades. So much so, that a lot of other manufacturers have copied the product recently. This is probably why Zinsser have pushed the boundaries of paint technology and come up with a water-based version that can do everything the original BIN can.

It’s impressive really. I know it isn’t quite as effective at blocking stains or sticking to troublesome surfaces, but it’s still better than any other water-based product I’ve used.

Updated May 15, 2024 | Posted Oct 15, 2023 | 0 comments

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.


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