best stain block paint

Best Stain Block Paint in 2021 (UK Reviews & Buying Guide)

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

I washed the walls and ceiling down 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. After just one coat of stain block paint, I had a brilliant matt white finish! 

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

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for the Best Stain Block Paint in 2021

Sale
Zinsser ZINCSP1L 1 Litre Cover Stain Primer/Finish Paint
  • Exterior
  • Oil Based
  • unparalleled adhesion to glossy surfaces

Why Do You Need 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 crayon 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 forcing its way to 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). 


What to Look Out for When Buying the Best Stain Block Paint

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 the form of a liquid (paint tins) or an aerosol (spray cans), and you can apply it across many surfaces, including wood, ceramics and metal.

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

Paint Tins

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

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

Coverage

The area you need to cover has a significant bearing on what 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 of Stain Block Paint Coverage (1 coat) 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

Best Stain Block Paint – The Top 3 in 2021

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

#1. Zinsser ZINCSP1L Cover Stain

Sale
Zinsser ZINCSP1L 1 Litre Cover Stain Primer/Finish Paint
  • Exterior
  • Oil Based
  • unparalleled adhesion to glossy surfaces

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.

You can apply this stain block to everything from ceramic tiles to wood, metal, and plaster as a primer. Zinsser is compatible with all types of paint and undercoat, forming a good 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.

ProsCons
High covering capacityHigh VOC – requires good ventilation
You can change the colour to match surrounding areas 
Will block everything, inside and out 

#2. Everbuild EVBSTAINSTP Stain Block Spray

Sale
Everbuild Stain Block, White, 400 ml
  • A spray applied heavily pigmented white paint
  • Permanently prevents existing stains such as; water marks, mould stains, rust, nicotine, grease, soot and pen marks
  • Easy application aerosol formula
  • Works on most types of household/ commerical surfaces
  • Heavily pigmented formula for quick and easy coverage

Everbuild heavily pigments their spray to permanently 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 if you need a second coat, you don’t have to wait long.

Pro Tip: If you want to overcoat with a solvent-based paint, you should 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!

ProsCons
Cost-effectiveHigh VOC
Ideal for small areasNeed multiple cans to cover a large area
Excellent blocking qualities means that one coat will suffice in most situations 
Quick-drying 

#3. Rustins Stain Block & Multi-Surface Primer

Rustins 5015332002207 Stain Block & Multi Surface Primer, White, 250 ml (Pack of 1)
  • A water based matt White stain blocker for interior and exterior use, with excellent adhesion to wood, plaster and previously painted surfaces.
  • It will seal all stains that may bleed through and discolour paint
  • When dry, it can be painted with any type of paint and undercoat
  • Model number: 5015332002207

Rustin’s 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. 

This Rustins product 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.

ProsCons
Low VOC so can be used in areas with little or no ventilationMay need a couple of coats to cover wax crayon marks.
You can apply it to a multitude of surfacesExpensive option if painting a large area
Great coverage rate 

Best Stain Block Paint – 2021 Comparison Table

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

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

I hope you found this buying guide helpful. If you did, please share it with your friends and family, who may need to cover some nasty stains.