Zinsser BIN

Zinsser BIN is a primer sealer that I feel outshines all ‘equivalent’ products on the market because it has so many applications, and can solve so many problems in all manner of decorating projects around your home. It has come across the pond from the US (along with so many other great decorating products!), and after I first became aware of it, maybe 10 or so years ago, it has become a stock item in my decorating supplies. In this guide I’ll explain a little more about what makes Zinsser BIN special, and a few areas of decorating where I find it to be an invaluable aid.

All-in-one wood priming

As well as being an excellent quick drying primer for bare wood, Zinsser BIN contains shellac, which means it will also seal any knots and stop them from bleeding sap, or staining through your top coat paint finish. It is therefore an all-in-one priming/knotting solution which considerably speeds up and simplifies the order of work for painting bare wood – as shown in the table below:-

Traditional Priming Technique

Zinsser BIN Priming Technique

1. Apply first coat of knotting solution to knots. 1. Apply Zinsser BIN over entire wood surface.
2. Wait for hours to dry. 2. Wait 15 minutes, maximum of 45 minutes, to dry.
3. Apply second coat of knotting solution to knots. 3. You’re ready to undercoat.
4. Wait for hours to dry.  ……….hours of time saved……..
5. Apply primer to entire wood surface.                 …..you can quickly get on with applying finishing coats……….
6. Wait for hours to dry, and overnight if using an oil based primer.  …………..less stress
7. Finally you’re ready to start undercoating.                      ………I love this stuff.

Okay, the above table doesn’t include a bit of filling and sanding that will be required along the way, but I think it’s clear that Zinsser does supply a very persuasive argument for being one of the best options for knotting and priming your new wood.

Painting kitchen units

Painting kitchen units with Zinsser BIN

A coat of Zinsser BIN provides the perfect base coat prior to applying finishing paint to your kitchen units.

Another property of Zinsser BIN is that it has great bonding, or ‘gripping’ capabilities and can therefore be used to prime almost any surface – not just wood.

This basically means you can apply a coat of BIN over surfaces like formica, varnish and melamine, and follow on with top coats of your chosen finishing paints; it’s therefore a brilliant option for priming ‘old’ kitchen units before painting them. I’ve used this technique on all manner of kitchen unit door, panel, and carcass surfaces to excellent effect.

The units and doors need to be cleaned down first, but after a quick sand, and a coat of Zinsser, you can crack on with either water-based, or oil-based finishing paints – the choice is yours.

Stain blocking

The curse of many a decorating project is that annoying stain that keeps showing through your paint finish. Some are easily identifiable as old damp stains, spots of rust, or the over enthusiastic crayon skills of younger members of the household – other stains have less obvious origins, but all need to somehow be blocked out in order to get the best finish possible.

In almost every case, a coat of Zinsser to spot prime the affected area, will cure the problem, and then you simply continue on with your chosen paint colour and finish – couldn’t be easier.


Every product has limitations, and Zinsser BIN is no different in this respect. However, I would say that most of the points in the list below are incredibly minor issues in comparison to the overall properties and benefits provided.

  • Damp stains can only be blocked if the cause of the damp has been cured.
  • Sometimes when you apply an emulsion over spot primed areas, the Zinsser will ‘grin’ through the finish, necessitating further coats of your finishing paint.
  • It is primarily an interior use product.
  • Because it dries so quickly, you need to be quick with application to avoid too many brush marks and paint build up with overlapping paint strokes. However, any such issues can normally be sanded smooth once dry.
  • For cleaning up you need methylated spirits rather than white spirit.

Where to buy Zinsser


Zinsser BIN is most commonly bought by the tin, but you can also get it in a handy aerosol for those quick, spot priming jobs.

Until relatively recently, you tended to have to go to a decorator’s merchant or other trade supplier to buy Zinsser products. However, I’ve now seen Zinsser BIN in many of the DIY outlets, on Amazon, and even in small independent decorating shops, which sort of gets me thinking that its market share is growing all the time.

It is slightly more expensive than standard primers, but you do get so much more for your money.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that BIN is not the only product that Zinsser produce. Personally, I find that BIN deals with most ‘problem’ surfaces, and so it is the product I use most. However, if you delve into their complete paint range, they have water-based options, as well as other formulations designed for more specific scenarios. I’ll get to some of these products in future guides, but for the moment, if you need a primer/sealer for your next DIY job, give Zinsser BIN a go – you won’t be disappointed.

Finally, be aware that I’ve only mentioned here some of my favourite uses for Zinsser BIN, as it has many more applications than those that I’ve outlined above – the uses described on the back of the tin just goes on and on, and on!

  1. Brendan says:

    I have started using it under glazing putty as a primer. I live in a sub tropical climate and it speeds up the time of putting new glass in by hours when you may just have an eight hour window to do a job.

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