best stain block paint

Best Stain Block Paint in 2024 (Reviews & Buying Guide)

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A few years ago, I moved into an apartment where the previous owner was a chain smoker. The walls and ceiling were so badly stained with nicotine that you could see the outline of the TV! 

I washed my walls and ceiling with sugar soap before painting them with the best emulsion I could find. Even after four coats, the nicotine was still visible.

That’s when I discovered stain-blocking paint, which gave me a brilliant matt-white finish after just one coat!

If this resonates with you, read on to find the best stain block paint in the UK.

Stain Block Paint Reviews — The UK’s Top 3 in 2024

Here’s my list of the best stain block paints in the UK.

Our Top Pick
1. Zinsser ZINCSP1L

1. Zinsser ZINCSP1L

  • Tintable to most pastel, mid-tone and deep-tone shades
  • For Interior and exterior use
  • Sticks to all surfaces without sanding
  • Seals water, smoke and nicotine stains
  • Blocks cedar and redwood bleed
  • Touch dry in 35 minutes
  • Recoatable in 2 hours

Zinsser comes out on top because you can use it anywhere, inside and out. It covers almost any stain, usually with just one coat. This stain block is the paint favoured by professionals.

As a primer, you can apply this stain block to everything from ceramic tiles to wood, metal, and plaster. Zinsser is compatible with all types of paint and undercoats, forming a solid base for many finishes.

Zinsser is a solvent-based modified alkyd resin that you can paint over after two hours of applying. And with a coverage rate of 9.8m2 per litre, one tin will suffice for most repair jobs.

Pro Tip: Zinsser Cover Stain is white, but you can tint it by adding up to 12ml of universal colourant per litre.

High covering capacity.High VOC — requires good ventilation.
You can change the colour to match the surrounding areas. 
It blocks everything, inside and out. 

Best Value
2. Everbuild EVBSTAINSTP

2. Everbuild EVBSTAINSTP

  • Interior use only
  • Over paintable
  • Quick curing/drying
  • Solvent Based

Everbuild heavily pigments their spray to prevent watermarks, rust, mould, nicotine grease, and pen marks from showing. 

The natural finish of Everbuild is matt white, but you can easily over-paint it. It dries in fifteen minutes, so you don’t have to wait long if you need a second coat.

Pro Tip: If you want to overcoat with solvent-based paint, apply a water-based primer first to ensure compatibility with the Everbuild Stain Block.

The unique aerosol formula of Everbuild makes it easy to apply to most surfaces, but beware, the paint droplets are heavily loaded with pigment. So when painting a ceiling, gravity takes over, and much of it will end up on the floor. Dust covers are essential with this spray!

Cost-effective.High VOC.
Ideal for small areas.You need multiple cans to cover a large area.
Excellent blocking qualities mean that one coat will suffice in most situations. 

Also Great
3. Rustins Quick Dry

3. Rustins Quick Dry

  • Water-based and quick drying formula
  • Low odour
  • Excellent adhesion
  • Wide range of surface applications
  • For interior and exterior use

Rustins stain block is a water-based primer for interior and exterior use, with excellent adhesion to most surface types, including ceramic tiles, glass, wood and plaster. It comes in a white matt finish that you can over-paint when dry or leave as it is.

There’s no problem using Rustins on bitumen, creosote, crayon, nicotine, rust or water stains. It does a great job hiding all of these nasty stains for good! And because it’s low in VOCs, you can use it in areas with little natural ventilation.

Low VOC — can be used in areas with little or no ventilation.It may need a couple of coats to cover wax crayon marks.
You can apply it to a multitude of surfaces.Expensive option if painting a large area.
Great coverage rate. 

Best Stain Block Paint — 2024 Comparison Table

ProductContainerBaseCost per litreRating out of 10
Zinsser1-litre tinSolvent££9
Everbuild400ml canAerosol£8.7
Rustins250ml tinWater£££8.5

Why Use A Stain Blocker? 

Standard emulsion paint is water-based, so the pigments in the stain react with the water and force their way through the surface, no matter how many coats you apply. Even standard oil-based paints fail to cover up stains completely.

Water stains, nicotine, rust, smoke damage, wax crayons and magic markers all have a way of migrating to the surface, coat after coat. 

Stain block paint is heavily pigmented, killing the stain or mark and preventing it from penetrating the surface.

Effectively, most stain blockers are primers. I.e. they’re designed to provide an opaque smooth surface before applying the finish coat(s). 

Stain Block Paint Buying Guide

In this section, we’ll prime you (pardon the pun) on what to look for when buying stain block paint. 

Paint Tin or Spray Can?

Stain block paint comes in liquid form (paint tins) or an aerosol (spray cans), and you can apply it across many surfaces, including wood, ceramics and metal.

Paint Tins

Paint tins allow you to use a paintbrush or a roller, which are better for applying stain block over larger areas. 

The paint can be water or solvent-based, as both effectively block the stain. However, solvent or oil-based paint works better on water stains. Some water-based paints may also struggle with wax crayons.

Aerosol Spray Can

Aerosols are a quick way of dispensing the stain block precisely where you want it, but their small size means you can only cover a small area in one go. Aerosols are cheaper than alternatives, but you need many to cover a whole wall or ceiling.

WARNING! Not only are aerosols extremely flammable, but they also release gasses and particles into the atmosphere that cause eye and skin irritation. We do NOT recommend prolonged use of aerosols unless you can ventilate the room and wear appropriate PPE. 

Also, particles will fall and cover surfaces below when spraying a ceiling. Therefore, clear everything out of the way and use dust sheets on objects you can’t remove.


The area you must cover significantly affects the type of stain block paint you need. Aerosol cans work great if it’s just a small area, such as you would get from water damage or crayon marks.

Nicotine is one of the worst stains to eradicate because it covers large areas, so you’re better off using a solvent or water-based stain block for this job.

To give you some idea of coverage, here are some examples taken from manufacturers’ websites:

Type Coverage VOC Uses
Solvent-basedUp to 10m2 / litreHighCovers most stains
Water-basedUp to 12m2 / litreLowBetter on nicotine, smoke, and rust
Aerosol (400ml)Up to 2m2 / litreHighCovers all stains

Final Thoughts

Zinsser is the choice of many professionals as their go-to stain blocker, and it’s also my number one pick.

Everbuild works out to be the most cost-effective solution. However, for large areas, prolonged use is not recommended.

Rustins paint is great for dealing with nicotine stains but not so good with water and painting over wax crayons. It’s also costly compared to the other two stain blockers we reviewed.

To learn how best to use Zinsser Cover Stain, watch the video below:

YouTube player