My Review of Zinsser Cover Stain Primer
Zinsser Cover Stain Oil-based Primer
Zinsser Cover Stain is an oil-based primer I've used a lot over the years for priming cabinets, exterior wood, and wall stains. The primer I use the most now for cabinet painting is Zinsser BIN shellac, but I still use Cover Stain in certain situations.
Cover Stain is a good stain blocker that usually seals surfaces in one coat, but on oak cabinets, a second coat is sometimes needed to completely stop tannin bleed. Not always, but I've had problems with this a couple of times.
Is It Easy to Sand?
Cover Stain primer sands easier than other oil-based products I've used in the past, but only after the primer has had plenty of time to dry out. If you try sanding it right after it's dry to the touch, the surface is harder to sand and tends to rub off easily along outside corners.
When I used this product on cabinets, I'd let the primer dry overnight before sanding or try to get all of the priming done early in the morning so that I could sand everything later that day. If you let the primer dry longer than recommended, it sands very easily into a super smooth finish. This product sands a lot easier than Zinsser BIN shellac primer.
Cover Stain vs BIN Shellac Primer
Both products are excellent but serve different purposes. In my experience, Cover Stain does not spray or level out nearly as good as BIN shellac. I've had problems with Cover Stain fully atomizing through my Graco FFLP tips on my spray gun, due to the thickness. BIN sprays like a dream because it's so thin.
Both products start to tack up fast after application, but Cover Stain doesn't level out much, whereas BIN does, and rolling it, even with a foam roller, leaves heavy stippling if you aren't careful.
Price wise, Cover Stain is much cheaper at around $25 per gallon, but BIN costs close to $45. One of the reasons I don't use Cover Stain as much anymore, at least for cabinets, is the slower dry time and lingering odor. BIN dries fast and can be sanded and recoated in less than one hour.
Both products smell terrible, but the smell of BIN goes away fast once the alcohol has completely evaporated from the coating, which is usually under two hours. Oil-based primer dries at a slower rate, so the smell takes hours to go away.
Is Zinsser Cover Stain Primer Worth It?
is my go-to product for priming raw wood and stains on drywall. I've also used this product many times to prime and paint over old wallpaper. You can also use it for priming cabinets. The primer provides a good bond coat with paint and sands easily into a fine powder once fully dry. Cover Stain oil-based primer
This primer is also good for both interior and exterior use, where other products are for interior application only. I keep a gallon of it in my truck.
At under $30 per gallon, the price is reasonable for quality primer, but for a faster dry time, or if you're looking for a thin primer that levels a lot better when spraying kitchen cabinets, I recommend BIN shellac primer instead.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
What grit of sandpaper do you use to sand coverstain?
I use a sanding block, but a finer grit like 220 is good if you're using sandpaper.Helpful 6
How do you get rid of the smell of primer quickly?
Open windows.Helpful 3
I have primed my cabinets twice using cover stain but it has been 11 days since I've applied it. Do I need to prime again in order to paint because of the lapse of time?
Yes, but you should sand anyways, even if you're painting the next day. Sanding the primer and wiping off the dust gives you a smoother paint finish. It also removes crumbs and imperfections in the primer. Cover Stain sands nicely into a fine powder after you let it dry overnight.Helpful 8
How do you prep oak cabinets before applying the BIN? Is scuffing necessary to achieve a solid bond?
Yes, I always clean and sand cabinets before priming, using an electric sander. Sanding helps the primer stick better, and you'll have a smoother finish if you sand between each coat.Helpful 7
Can I use Zinser cover stain primer over a dark enamel paint then use a latex paint?
Yes, but the surface should be sanded first so the primer forms a stronger bond with the enamel underneath. Latex paint over Cover Stain oil primer is perfectly fine.Helpful 6
© 2018 Matt G.