How To Paint Over Water Stains, Zinsser Bin

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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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.

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