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Zinsser paint

Please could someone tell me the difference between Zinsser Bulls-Eye, Coverstain and B-I-N. They all say the same on the front of the tin - stainkiller etc. I’m painting furniture and need to use one for painting pine.

Hi Patricia thanks for your question

As you say, Zinsser have three primers: Bullseye is waterbased, Coverstain is oilbased and BIN is shellac based.

They are all stainblockers, experience says some block better than others.

For straight forward knots on pine timber, or sealing over resinous oak, two thin coats of BIN is about as fit and forget as you can get. It dilutes with meths.

Coverstain is better for exterior work, because shellac is too brittle in exterior conditions where there is a lot of movement in timber compared to inside. It dilutes with white spirit.

The Tikkurila version of Coverstain is called Otex, a staple diet for many TP kitchen painters. It is high adhesion to most surfaces and provides a good base and bridge coat for finishing coats. I would say that on balance, the general practice for knots and stains is belt and braces, 2 licks of BIN before applying Otex

Bullseye dilutes with water. What to say about Bullseye? To me it is a great base for lovely wallpainting, but as a stainblocker it has either not worked for me (to seal knots and rust stains) or it is too hit and miss.

To work with waterborne stainblockers you need to make sure the first coat has thoroughly cured and locked in the stain. If it hasn’t set right, the second coat softens the first coat and drags the stain through. Mythic worked OK, Classidur Extrem works with a few hours of setting time between coats. I wouldnt even bother with Bullseye personally, but Jack Pauhl proved it does work - he painted over a nicotine ceiling, left it for a week to cure. It looked dire, but the stain was locked in. Looked nice after finishing with second coat of Bullseye. Fine, but to me that says it isn’t really practical for many projects.

Hope that helps

Thanks so much for the detailed reply - told me a lot I didn’t know.
I’m painting furniture which I have done before but a while ago and couldn’t find where I’d written down what I did so I’m having to re-cap and re-learn which is a pain!
Last time I painted an unfinished pine wardrobe, chest of drawers and bedside cabinet - they had no wax/no finish on them - it was a case of having a go or getting new - I had nothing to lose. Even though I say it myself they look great but I did put a lot of effort into them.
I’m doing the same this time in another bedroom but there’s a difference - this pine is the “finished” pine - I think you may have heard of Ducal - it was very popular about 30 years ago. Will the BIN stick to this without sanding first? Also, re Otex - is it the adhesion primer?
Thank you so much for your help.

I would recommend at least a scuff sanding with a sponge backed abrasive, vacuum clean and wipe over with a tack rag, just to at least make sure there are no pimples or dust on the surface. BIN will adhere perfectly well, but in this case, as long as you don;t break through the clear coating, 2 x Otex would be the way to go. Sand it too hard and BIN is the belt and braces option. Have the Otex tinted to match the topcoats and you can’t go too far wrong. You are welcome to post a before and after if you want.

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To clarify:

  • make sure not to sand the clear lacquer coating too aggressively. The lacquer probably contains stainblockers and is doing the job of a very good primer, so don’t break it, just rough it up :grinning:.

  • Otex oil based adhesion primer or waterbased Otex Akva will work equally well, just depends on your preference. It is available in a few different Tikkurila stockists, Holman Paints in Swindon, Tikkurila direct, Kent Baxhill.

  • Uploading photos is super easy. Click on the Arrow in the writing tool bar, add the photo file on your device and press upload

For what it’s worth: I’m in the middle of painting our fitted wardrobes which I had stained with water based stain about 30 years ago but I can’t remember if I applied wax to the outer surface. I decided to use BIN and having checked with Zinsser they recommended degreasing to ensure any wax was removed. Having also checked on here about using some automotive wax remover UPOL that I had lying around I set to work cleaning. I applied two coats of BIN on the frame work and the lower, larger doors. I had only one coat on the smaller top doors when I noticed that in some places on the larger doors/frames small areas had chipped so I completely sanded the top doors to remove virtually all the stain (small bits in the grain or complex mouldings remain). I then applied two coats of BIN.
I applied two coats of Johnstones oil based eggshell to the frame and one coat on the doors. This morning I was checking the large doors for any dribbles prior to applying the second coat and I marked these with some blue painters tape so that I could scrape and sand them. Upon removing the tape I was met with a view of the stain - not impressed! I’m carrying on in the hope that we don’t have any problems with knocks in the future; if we do I shall bite the bullet and sand the whole lot down (double sided 3m x 2.5m) and simply find a suitable undercoat prior to repainting with the eggshell.
My recommendation would be to sand back to bare wood if possible rather than use BIN as I get the feeling (admittedly its the first time I’ve used it) that a shellac coating doesn’t bond as well as paint and being brittle is prone to chipping.

If you have a waxed surface, ALL that wax needs to come off, because BIN (or any conventional adhesion primer) will not adhere. Once the wax has been removed, you would check that the coating that is exposed is adhering to the substrate.

eg if after dewaxing you see wood stain and it is adhering well to the substrate (use a tape test), the BIN will stick to the wood stain (as long as it is wax free)

If you take a chance and carry on with BIN and it turns out the wood stain is not adhering well, if the finished paint work ever gets hit, the coating of stain may dislodge bringing the BIN etc with it.

So if you are not confident that all wax is removed, it would be advisable to sand the stain off back to bare and start with knot, prime, fill and carry on painting.

You are right to think that if the BIN plus eggshell over woodstain turns out to be a fail, to take it back to bare wood BUT then make sure you apply a primer basecoat - Otex oil based is a good one - before eggshelling.

Oil based primer would have more body than wb, both adhere well, both accept waterbased or oil based paints. On already smooth surfaces use the type you feel happiest with.

There is no particular rule about using oil based paints all the way from primer to topcoat or ditto all waterbased system. The only rule really is to try keep to all one brand.

A couple of paint co chemists have said off the record they don’t have a problem with painters using Zinsser primers with their products but the principle issue is that if there is a problem one company will point to the other.

The Fox Original is an all round brush that can do anything really well with lots of paint holding capacity, the Silver is sold as more suited to laying off, finer work. In practice, paint brushes are very personal choices. Synthetic bristles are all pretty good at worst, amazing at best, but the main preference is with handle sizes and styles to suit your hand. We are all different. Also, thickness and length of bristles is a personal preference too. There is a bit of searching required to find your ideal brush.

Hope that helps.

On an eco note, try to minimise any paint going into water system, ideally a gel based brush keeper is the way to go. In Switzerland for a few years now I believe it has been illegal for painters to clean brushes in a sink.



Thanks Andy, Lets see how it goes and if the worst happens then I’ll follow what you say and I will also check out the Otex primer base coat - also noted for any other projects that the domestic director may be storing for future rainy days - thankfully it’s been raining so much I’m not tempted to go biking of fishing.

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Need to add domestic director to the list. After 10 years of online interaction and 30+ years in the trade, it is clear what the dynamic is in most homes

I think I’ll try the Otex - two reasons - after what you said re very likely there is already stain protection on the surface and… it seems much easier work than Zinsser BIN!
I’ll take before and after photos - may have to wait a few weeks…
I tried to attach a photo - of the raw pine I painted on my first go - the photo doesn’t appear but instead a link to it - is this right - does the photo appear when it goes to the thread??
I forgot something I painted three years ago - we have a holiday home in France and I have several bits of furniture given to us - one of which was this pine bedstead - same era/age as the wardrobes I’m going to do. Well…I didn’t want it as pine, I had some time and I had the paint so I took a chance at painting them. I tried it out on the reverse first. I didn’t rub down, applied no stain killer just the L&G paint…I know…I know… However, the paint went on and stayed on - I had to do three coats but it does look good, acceptable and much better - no stain showing so far so your theory sounds right re protection. Would I have it in my bedroom here - perhaps not as I’m “picky!” and I know it certainly isn’t a Pro finish but just thought I would let those out there know who may have something similar - perhaps for a child’s bedroom? - and would like to have a try. There are loads of this pine furniture around and it can be re-used.
Right I’m off to order this Otex, some new Abranet strips and Fox brushes…will report back when finished… Once again, thanks for all the help!
John…re chipping the doors…Do as I say to OH…be careful when you use the doors or…you will be re-painting them or… worse still…you’ll be paying for new! He’s very careful…!

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Following on from this topic - I’ve painted all the drawer fronts and want to apply a coat of clear varnish. I’ve bought Ronseal Interior Varnish Clear Matt (Damond Hard) and my question is …it seems to imply that’s it’s for new and previously stained wood. Can I put this on top of the Little Greene top coat paint I’ve used? It won’t make the finish go sticky or affect it? I just can’t see what other varnish there is.
Really pleased with the Fox brushes… didn’t use the Otex but kept with the Coverstain - hard work but you can sand it well!
At least I’m busy…

If you have used a waterbased eggshell finish, the best thing to do is add another coat of eggshell. We have been told many times by manufacturers not to varnish over finish topcoats as they cannot guarantee compatability.

If you use emulsion paints, the Polyvine Decorators Varnish is suitable and comes in matt, satin and high gloss.

Over waterbased stains you could use say Kiva lacquer.

Thanks so much for the reply and I’ve had a chance to think since I posted - I thought the same as you which was to leave it. My reason - if put varnish on it and then at a later date decide I want another colour it will make it very difficult - and a lot of hard work - to do this. Also, the furniture I painted before has had a fair bit of use and that’s fared well - although I am a careful person.
I’m dreading painting the top of the chest of drawers as it’s just under 2m and don’t want to see any brush marks…

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it would require a light scuff sand and a coat of adhesion primer before colour change.

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