Ever tried painting over a water stain only to find that it doesn’t cover, well you’re not alone. A common, but all too frustrating a problem, “How To Paint Over Water Stains”? The good news is that with just one simple step, your water stains will be gone forever.

Brown Stains Coming Through Paint

Water stains are generally found on ceilings, cracked or loose tiles, leaking pipes, faulty plumbing can contribute to water damage. You can easily spot a water stain, they are either brown or yellow in colour.

Depending on how bad the water leak has been and for long long it has gone unnoticed will determine just how severe the water stain will be. In most cases even bad water stains can be successfully repaired using one of several products which I explain in more detail below.

Although it may seem obvious, ensure that before starting attempt to paint over the water stain, that 1) The original cause of the water leak has been fixed 2) Adequate time is allowed for the affected area to fully dry.

Stain Blocking Paint

As I mentioned earlier, ridding yourself of water stains is a relatively simple process (1 Step), if you have the right products. Below are 3 stain blocking primers used not only to paint over water stains but also (nicotten, smoke, crayon, permanent marker, pencil, mould).

1) Zinsser 123 Bullseye
2) Zinsser Bin Shellac
3) Zinsser Cover Stain

So what’s the difference between the three products above I here you ask. Depending on the severity of your stain or stains will determine what product you use.

how to paint over water stains

The good news is that they all work at effectively covering/blocking water stains on walls or ceilings. I keep all three products in my work van and use two of them daily.

If I had choose just one product that will cover all types of stains (nicotten, smoke, crayon, permanent marker, pencil, mould, water). I would choose, Zinsser Bin Shellac as my go to stain blocker.

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Stain Blockers Reviewed Zinsser

Bullseye 123: My favourite Zinsser product and one that I use on a daily basis for varying situations. Out of the three products, Bullseye 123 Primer Sealer is the only one that is water based, the other two are solvent based. What do I use Zinsser Bullseye Primer for?

1) Priming bare timber prior to undercoating
2) Spot priming caulking before emulsion paint
3) Sealing and priming MDF
4) Covering/blocking stains, mostly water stains
5) Priming silk emulsion walls before applying matt emulsion
6) Painting walls and ceilings after wallpaper removal

BIN Shellac: My go to product for coating any surface that has a particularly shiny or glossy surface prior to undercoating. When other products fail to block stubborn stains, you can rely of Zinsser BIN to KILL the stain.

1) Priming varnished surfaces
2) Blocking stubborn stains (nicotine, tar, oil, crayon, permanent marker)

Zinsser also manufacture a spray paint to cover stains, Zinsser Primer Stain Killer Aerosol, perfect for situations where you have a small patch or patches of water stains. No need for a brush, just spray the water stain, wait until dry and apply a second coat.

Not recommended for large areas.

Cover Stain: I tend use cover stain less than the two products above for one main reason. It takes longer to dry, as a painter and decorator, time is money, I need products that dry fast. Cover stain has the same properties as BIN shellac and if time allows I will also use it to cover stubborn stains or prime bare wood.

The only negative point I would add is that both Zinsser Cover Stain and BIN Shellac are difficult to wash out of brushes. White spirit has little to no effect when it comes to cleaning your brush.

Brush and Roller Cleaner

There is an excellent product available, Zinsser Brush Cleaner and Restorer that will clean your brushes after using solvent based primers. While it does an excellent job, even restoring old hard brushes, it is expensive.

I recommend keeping an old brush continually dipped in either of the solvent based primers ready to be used. Rather than attempting to clean your brush after each occasion you need use the stain killer.

If your only treating one stain, then you will either need to clean the brush after or throw it away. That’s one of the main reasons why Bullseye 123 is my favorite stain killer/primer as you can wash both rollers and brushes with water.

The downside is, that both Zinsser Cover Stain and BIN shellac are better at covering stubborn stains.

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How To Paint Over Water Stains

Below is a small list of materials you will need when painting over water stains. There really isn’t much required but there are a few essential items that will help to get the job done faster will little to no mess.

1) Polythene Backed Dust Sheet (drop cloth)
2) Silverline 2 inch Brush
3) Werner Fibreglass Step Ladders
4) Prodec Microfibre Mini Covers & Frame
5) Prodec 2.5 Litre Paint Scuttle

Remember if you are using any of the two solvent based stain killers, cover everything that you don’t want paint on. Unlike Bullseye 123 Primer that can be removed with water, the others stick like SHIT, require special paint removers and are very difficult to remove.

Unless using the water based primer, as a rule, don’t use your good Purdy 2 Inch Brush. The same applies if your using a mini roller cover, purchase the cheap Microfiber Covers and throw away after use.

When treating stains that are small in size I tend to just use a brush. Apply a liberal amount of paint to the stain and wait until it drys, once dry recoat and leave to dry. You should notice that after two coats of a stain blocker that the stain is no longer visible.

Larger areas with significant water damage are treated with a brush a mini roller combination. I use microfibre 4 Inch Mini Rollers Covers as they are cheap to replace.

how to paint over water stains

Water damage on ceilings

Stop Water Stains Bleeding Through Paint

You are now ready to apply your top coats of paint. Don’t be alarmed if you notice the patch or patches of anti stain paint showing through the emulsion. As the emulsion dries the opacity increases and the patch will disappear, if it doesn’t after the first coat it will once a second coat of emulsion is applied.

Traditionally painting directly over water stains with emulsion paint would fail, resulting in water stains bleeding through the paint. By using any of the three stain blockers above will effectively block stains permanently, with no bleed through.

16 Essential Must Have Painting Tools


This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me (Andrew Firth). For questions about this blog, please contact andrew@clearcutpainting.co.uk

Some posts contain Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when those links are clicked on and a product is purchased. There is no additional costs to you.

The compensation received will NEVER influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. If I claim or appear to be an expert on a certain topic or product or service area, I will only endorse products or services that I believe (based on my expertise), are worthy of such endorsement.

I’m not what you would call an impulse buyer, I research all new purchases, especially when it’s new equipment for my business, Clear Cut Painting. I spend hours trawling the internet, reading reviews, watching YouTube videos. So when it came to purchasing a new sander I researched the topic for weeks, looking for the “Best Random Orbital Sander” on the market

What Is A Random Orbital Sander?

Random orbital sanders are perfect for tough sanding jobs where you need to remove a lot of material. They can also be used for fine sanding, including polishing. The head of the tool features a round base plate that oscillates (spins) and vibrates simultaneously.

Sanding discs are attached to the bottom of the base plate through a velcro hook and loop system. Random orbital sanders can be used for all types of sanding work without concerns for grain direction.

Sanding discs can be purchased in varied grades depending on the material being sanded. Lower the number (60,80), the courser the sandpaper. Coarse sanding discs are used when you need to remove a lot of material fast.

Best Random Orbital Sander?

So what is the best random orbital sander on the market. Mirka are the leadning  manufature of electric sanders and dust extractors for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts. I ended up purchasing the Mirka DEROS 5650CV Sander 240v in combination with the Mirka 1230L Dust Extractor. It was better value to purchase a KIT which included:

  • 1 x Mirka DEROS 5650CV Orbital Sander
  • Professional Site Case (Systainer)
  • Backing Pads 125mm & 150mm
  • Mirka 4 metre dust extraction hose
  • 150mm Mirka Abranet Discs: 10 x P80, 20 x P120, 20 x P180

Best Sander For Walls

Earlier in 2019 myself and my wife purchased an older house built in 1976. One of the first issues I noticed was the condition of the plastered walls. The previous owners had stripped wood chip off the walls and ceilings and in the process scraped, scored and gouged the plaster.

There were two options available 1) Pay to have all the walls and ceilings re-skimmed 2) Purchase a sander for walls and do it myself.

I was confident that by purchasing one of the best orbital sanders on the market, I could restore the condition of the plaster without the cost of re-skimming the walls.

Within the first minutes of using the Mirka sander, I new I had made the right decision, The sander was a dream to use, lightweight, quiet and very powerful.

I started with an 80 Grade Abranet Disc to sand the walls smooth. Next I filled all the scrapes, gouges, and holes using Toupret Interior Filler. Once the filler was dry I swapped the disc for a 120 Grade Abranet Disc and continued to sand. I filled the walls and ceiling one more time using an LED light to highlight any flaws I may have missed.

A final sand using 120 Grade Abranet Disc and the room was finished. The results were impressive, super smooth plaster minus the hundreds of gouges and scrapes.

Best Orbital Sander For Dust Collection

Sanding plaster walls without the use of a dust extractor is very dirty work. Apart from the mess, there is of course the health implications associated with continuously breathing dust into your lungs. It is essential that when sanding especially with a Mirka DEROS orbital sander that you connect the tool to a dust extraction system. Mirka have specifically designed their sanders to work seamlessly with their dust extractors.

best random orbital sanderUsing the Mirka DEROS random orbital sander in combination with the Mirka dust extractor removed 99% of all dust.

Mirka Abranet Sanding Discs

The abranet sanding discs are suitable for various application (automotive, boat building, decorators, construction). Made from durable mesh fabric (polyamide), the open net weave construction allows for maximum dust extraction.

Abranet sanding discs can be purchased in boxes of 3, 10, or 50 discs and are available in: (80, 120, 150, 180, 220, 240, 320, 360, 400, 500, 600, 800, 100) grades.

I’ll admit I had hesitations with regards to how durable a mesh sanding disc would be. Now after using the Mirka DEROS sander with the Abranet Discs for a little over a year. I can say that the discs are tough, on an average sized room, I will use 1 x 80 grade and 1 x 120 grade discs for a flawless finish.

Taking into account that each sanding discs costs 0.78 pence per disc based on purchasing a box of 50. The abranet discs are worth the cost, provide and superior finish with outstanding dust extraction.

best random orbital sanderTip : Keep your worn discs, they can be reused for projects that require a finer abrasive.

If your considering investing in a new random orbital sander. I highly recommend the Mirka Deros 5650cv in combination with the 1230L Mirka Extractor. The Mirka DEROS is a pleasure to use, lightweight, fast, excellent build quality with a well designed palm trigger.

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me (Andrew Firth). For questions about this blog, please contact andrew@clearcutpainting.co.uk

Some posts contain Amazon affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when those links are clicked on and a product is purchased. There is no additional costs to you

One of the most hated jobs, DIY wallpaper removal, tedious, uninteresting and of course very frustrating. If you would like tips on “How To Remove Wallpaper Fast”, keep reading. I cover 3 steps to effectively removing wallpaper easily with no stress.

If you considering employing services of a painter and decorator to remove your wallpaper, STOP. Save yourself the money by doing it yourself, stripping wallpaper is not a highly skilled job, its simply labour intensive. Below I have detailed the steps, products and correct order for fast wallpaper removal in 3 steps.

Step 1: Scoring The Wallpaper

All wallpaper has a top layer that in most cases is waterproof, meaning that no matter how much you wet the outer layer. The moisture will not soak through to the backing paper. The first step is to score the outer layer of the wallpaper allowing your wallpapering stripping solution to penetrate through the top layer of paper.

This can be easily achieved using a simple tool, Zinsser Paper Tiger. The painter’s tool has three independent wheels with two circular discs per wheel. Each metal disc is covered in small teeth (spikes) that score the wallpaper. Essentially when using the paper tiger you’re piercing hundreds of tiny holes through the outer surface of the wallpaper.

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Zinsser paper tigers effect on wallpaper

How To Use The Zinsser Paper Tiger?

Using the paper tiger is a relatively simply process. Place the scoring tool into the palm of your hand and using a circular motion score the top layer of wallpaper. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure as the paper tiger will do the work for you. The goal is to pierce through the outer layer, applying too much pressure or using the tool in a forceful manner can 1) Damage the teeth of the tool 2) Increase the risk of scoring the plaster beneath the wallpaper.

how to remove wallpaper fast

Zinsser paper tiger scoring tool

I personally prefer to use the paper tiger to score the wallpaper on one wall at a time and then soak the wallpaper, which i’m going to cover in the next step.

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Step 2: Soaking The Wallpaper

The most effective way I have found to soak the wallpaper after scoring is to use a combination of two products. 1) Spray the walls with a Garden Pressure Sprayer, its fast, saves bending up and down and you uses less water 2) Add one of best wallpaper solutions on the market, Zinsser DIF Concentrate Wallpaper Stripper at a ratio of: 75ml per 1 litres of warm water.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking more is better, follow the dilution instructions. Zinsser wallpaper stripper is strong, add to much and you run the risk of stripping any emulsion paint that may be on the plaster behind the wallpaper.

how to remove wallpaper fast

Zinsser DIF & Garden Pressure Sprayer

Always where a Respirator Mask, Safety Glasses and Latex Gloves when working with chemicals.

Step 3: Wallpaper Removal

As I mentioned above, I tend to score one wall at a time and then use the Garden Sprayer in combination with Zinsser DIF to spray the wall. I then leave the wall to soak and score the next wall, after 15 mins I go back and test the previous wall.

If the wallpaper is not coming off with ease, spray the wall for a second time and leave for a further 15 mins. In most cases this does the trick, with both the top layer and backing paper coming off together.

You don’t need any fancy tools for removing wallpaper, a simple 3 Inch Flex Knife will get the job done. Once the wallpaper is soaked thoroughly, use the flex knife to raise a corner or seam of the wallpaper. Once it starts to lift, continue using  your fingers to peel the wallpaper from the wall. If you have followed the steps above correctly, the wallpaper should peel off in large sections (strips).

There have been several occasions using the 3 steps above that I have removed the wallpaper from an average sized room in 60 mins. Of course this is not always the case, there are circumstances where stripping wallpaper does take longer, which I talk about below.

How Do I Remove Difficult Wallpaper?

Of course there are wallpapers that are more difficult to remove than others. For instance, woodchip, or any wallpaper that has numerous layers of paint on the surface, generally take longer to remove.

The process for removing difficult wallpaper is the same as above. Follow the 3 steps outlined in this article, how to remove wallpaper fast is relatively easy, if you take “extra time” to score the surface of the wallpaper. This gives Zinsser Wallpaper Stripper the opportunity to penetrate the layers behind the surface.

Another popular wallpaper removal method is to use a machine, Wallpaper Stripper (steamer). The principles are the same, score the surface allowing for the steam to soften the paste behind the surface.

In my experience this method is effective, but very slow and tedious. You gradually move the steamer plate from one section of wallpaper to another, waiting each time until the steam penetrates the lower surface before stripping the wallpaper.

Wallpaper Removal Hacks

  • Score the upper layer of wallpaper with the Zinsser Paper Tiger
  • Spray the Wallpaper, let it soak for 15 mins, then respray total wait time 30 mins
  • Use warm water when mixing Zinsser Dif in spray container as helps to soften the paste on the wall
  • Flex knife is only used to lift corners of wallpaper, then continue to peel sections of wallpaper using your fingers
  • Lay a drop cloth to avoid the glue residue from wallpaper and paste sticking to floor

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This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me (Andrew Firth). For questions about this blog, please contact andrew@clearcutpainting.co.uk

Some posts contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when those links are clicked on and a product is purchased. There is no additional costs to you.

The compensation received will NEVER influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. If I claim or appear to be an expert on a certain topic or product or service area, I will only endorse products or services that I believe (based on my expertise), are worthy of such endorsement.