Can you use Zinsser Cover Stain on Aluminium?

by Sam Wood | Last Updated: 13/09/2021

Zinsser’s Cover Stain is an interior and exterior primer and sealer. It is an Oil/solvent-based paint that dries quickly and has great hiding power, providing outstanding stain killing and undercoating performance. That’s all well and good, but you are here because you want to know whether you can use Zinsser Cover Stain on Aluminium. There is only one way to find out for sure, and that’s to paint some aluminium, so let’s get to it!

Can you use Zinsser Cover Stain on Aluminium?

Yes, you can. In my testing cover stain painted onto aluminium well, provided great coverage and also exceptional scratch/scuff resistance. This is definitely a primer that works very well on aluminium.

If you are unsure of which Zinsser primer to use then check out our guide.

Zinsser Primer Guide - Interior Surfaces

Zinsser Primer Guide – Interior Surfaces

The Test

For my testing, I will be painting an aluminium finger plate. I will be testing the Zinsser Cover Stain against two more Zinsser primers, Bulls Eye 123 and B-I-N. Bulls Eye is Zinsser’s water-based primer and Cover Stain is oil or solvent-based. I will then do a scratch test to find out how well each of the primers has stuck to the aluminium.

The Aluminium Ready to be Painted

The Aluminium Ready to be Painted

Painting

The cover stain was really easy to paint onto the aluminium. It provided exceptional coverage, completely hiding the aluminium very quickly.

The Three Primers on Aluminium

The Three Primers on Aluminium

You can see on the photo above just how much better the coverage on the Cover Stain (and B-I-N to be fair) than on the Bulls Eye.

So we know that you can paint Cover Stain onto aluminium, which is all well and good, but if it doesn’t stick to the metal then the painting was pointless. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to my next test, the scratch test.

Scratch Test

So now the paint has had time to fully cure, I left it for around a week, I came back to my sample piece to do some scratch testing. For this, I used a piece of rough-cut c16 timber.

I like to use this method as I feel it is a thorough test for the paint while not being overkill. I don’t want to use something too soft which is not representative of the challenges the paint will face and I also don’t want to use something too hard. If I used a really hard material it would just scratch every paint and not give me any usable results.

The Wood Block I Will Be Using For The Scratch Test

The Wood Block I Will Be Using For The Scratch Test

The photo above shows the wood I will be using. I will do the same test on all three samples. To make the test as fair as possible I will try and use the same amount of force on each sample. Obviously, this is hard to gauge but I promise to try my best. I really cant see any way around this flaw in the testing so I guess I just have to come to terms with it.

Results

The results are in, time to see how the cover stain got on in the scratch test, see the after image below for yourself.

The Cover Stain Sample After Testing

The Cover Stain Sample After Testing

Perfect! The cover stain came through the scratch test with barely a mark on it. There is a little tiny scuff up at the top where the paint had pooled. This is more down to my crappy painting though rather than any problem with the paint.

The black dot is just some dirt that got onto the paint rather than any scratching or scuffing.

Below is the result from the Bulls Eye primer.

The Bulls Eye Sample After Testing

The Bulls Eye Sample After Testing

You can see a few scuffs here and there. The cover stain definitely performed better in my testing than the Bulls Eye.

The B-I-N, image below, performed about the same and the cover stain I would say.

The B-I-N Sample After Testing

The B-I-N Sample After Testing

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Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!