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How to apply zinsser bin primer

Zinsser B-I-N® primer is the ultimate shellac-based primer, sealer and stain killer. It is perfect for use on interior surfaces and spot priming of exterior surfaces. But how exactly do you apply Zinsser BIN? After all, it is a shellac-based paint and it is very rare that you will have used a shellac-based paint before. I know I certainly hadn’t.

How to apply zinsser B-I-N® primer

B-I-N® can be easily applied using a paintbrush, roller or even a spray gun. Using a paintbrush is really simple. Zinsser BIN can be applied just like any other paint, it feels very thin though so do be aware of this when painting.

Before Painting

My paint had separated quite a lot, so it is important that you fix that before painting. You can stir it but the easiest way is just to give the tin a really thorough shake, with the lid on securely. This will give it a really good mix up and as a bonus for you, there is zero clean up.

Zinsser BIN Tin

Zinsser BIN Tin

Surface Prep

Surfaces should be clean, dry, sound and free of dust, dirt, excessive chalky material, grime, grease, oil, wax, mildew, wallpaper adhesive or any contamination that may interfere with adhesion. If unsure, always wash the surface with a household ammonia and water solution, appropriate cleaning solution, or solvent (Do not use trisodium phosphate-based cleaners).

Painting with Zinsser Bin

As you can see from the photo below the paint is quite runny. This makes it easy to paint with and it also covers really. The photo below is part of a bigger test of all the Zinsser primers which will be on the site soon.

I just applied it with a regular paintbrush. I will cover this in more depth later in this article but it is worthwhile mentioning here. BIN is tricky to clean off your brush. You cant use regular brush cleaner, you can’t use white spirit and you cant just use water. You can either get Zinsser’s own cleaner or use Methylated spirits.

Painting with Zinsser Bin

Painting with Zinsser Bin

Drying time

BIN dries quick, and I mean quick. It will be touch dry in 20 minutes and you can apply a second coat in just 40, although I think you could probably apply a second coat in 30 minutes with no problems.


Approx. 12.5m2 / litre smooth, painted, non-porous surfaces. Application losses may vary according to the porosity and texture of the surface painted and your chosen painting method should be taken into account when estimating the quantity of product needed.


Zinsser BIN is Shellac based and this makes it tricky to clean up. You cant use brush cleaners and you cant use white spirit, I tried them both. What you need is methylated spirits or the official Zinsser BIN cleaner.

Trying to clean zinsser bin with paint brush cleaner

Trying to clean Zinsser bin with paint brush cleaner

As you can see above, the paint brush cleaner is doing nothing to the shellac-based paint. Normally the paint would be readily mixing with the cleaner and coming straight off the brush, but absolutely nothing is happening here.


The surface you are using will affect which Zinsser primer you should use. I have a full article on this that you can find here. But if you just want a quick guide then I have a handy infographic for you below.

Zinsser Primer Guide - Exterior Surfaces

Zinsser Primer Guide – Exterior Surfaces

Zinsser Primer Guide - Interior Surfaces

Zinsser Primer Guide – Interior Surfaces

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