The Best Stain Block Paints for Water Stains, Damp & Smoke

Say goodbye to unwanted stains with our handpicked stain blocker paints, specifically designed for water stains, dampness and smoke.
Tried & Tested: See Our Testing ↓
Written & Tested By: Edward Bailey | Updated:
best stain blocker paint
Edward Bailey/DIY Works
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Stains on your walls or ceilings can ruin the appearance of a room and create a constant eyesore. However, by using stain-blocking paint, you can permanently seal and prevent them from reappearing. This specialized type of paint not only covers existing stains but also acts as a proactive shield, effectively blocking the penetration of future stains caused by water, smoke, or other common sources.

To help you choose a stain block paint, our hand-picked selection features top-performing paints chosen through our first-hand experience using multiple paints on water stains and dampness. We also thoroughly tested a variety of paints and carried out the latest research.

Zinsser Cover Stain Primer
Best Overall: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer
Everbuild Stain Block
Best Aerosol: Everbuild Stain Block Paint
Rustins Stain Blocker
Most Versatile: Rustins Stain Blocker Paint
Ronseal One Coat Damp Seal
Best For Damp Walls: Ronseal One Coat Damp Seal
Leyland Stain Blocking Primer
Best Heavy Duty: Leyland Stain Blocking Primer
Polycell Stain Stop
Best Value Runner-Up: Polycell Stain Stop

How The DIY Works Team Tests & Rates Stain Block Paints

Stain block paint is a product that we have had plenty of experience with over the years. From water stains caused by a leaking roof to dampness that was recently rectified, we’ve used a range of stain blocker paints to cover stains on many occasions with great success. Although they are a specialst type of paint, it’s just as simple to apply as any other paint.

best stain block paint

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

As shown in the images, we recently tackled a ceiling that had issues with water stains but after using the Zinsser Cover Stain (our best rated stain block paint), the stain was no longer. As shown in the ceiling images below, we put a single coat on the middle stain as a test and the stain never reappeared. We then covered the entire ceiling with the stain block paint, allowed it to dry and then finished up with a coat of emulsion.

best paint stain blocker

Edward Bailey/DIY Works
best stain block paint for water stains

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

If you want to see how easy stain block paint is to use, below is a video that we posted on our YouTube channel that shows us testing our top recommendation (Zinsser Cover).

To keep up our commitment to reviewing and testing the latest stain block paints (for this article), we are continually testing the latest stain block paints. This means that when we notice a brand has released a new and improved paint, we will attempt to buy it and put it to the test (where applicable).

As well as our experience using and testing a range of stain block paints, we also based our recommendations on the latest research and several factors. Some of the factors that we took into consideration included effectiveness, ease of application, coverage, finish, drying time, versatility and value for money.

The Best Stain Block Paints

At DIY Works, our content is 100% independent and we would never recommend a product that we wouldn't use ourselves (read our editorial standards and how we test products).

1. Best Overall: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer

(How We Review →)

By far one of the most popular and highly rated stain block paints on the market is the Zinsser Cover Stain. It’s a formula that can be used on interior or exterior surfaces and dries for recoating in just two hours. In terms of the effectiveness of the formula, we tested it on water, smoke and nicotine stains and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

  • Touch dry within 35 minutes and ready for another coat in just 2 hours
  • Doesn't require any additional sanding prior to using the paint
  • Very effective on smoke, nicotine and water stains
  • Covers up to 9.8 m2 per litre
  • Permanently seals stains each and everytime
  • Provides great adhesion to glossy surfaces
  • During testing over the years, there have been some occasions where two coats were required (most of the time only one coat is required)

To conclude, the Zinsser Cover Stain is one of the best stain blocker paints on the market that really does tick all the boxes. Its popularity speaks for itself and it won’t disappoint when used on smoke, nicotine or water stains.

2. Best Aerosol: Everbuild Stain Block Paint

(How We Review →)

If you only need to tackle a small amount of staining, a better and more cost-effective solution is Everbuild’s Stain Block formula. It’s an aerosol-based paint that’s easy to apply, fast drying and effective on most common stains.

  • One of the cheapest stain blockers on the market
  • Effective on water marks, mould, nicotine, grease and so much more
  • Takes just 15 minutes to dry
  • Easy to apply straight from the aerosol
  • During our testing, we found that the odour during application was very strong (it goes away with time and ventilation)
  • Due to its spray formulation, you'll want to be careful of any overspray

Considering the low price tag of the Everbuild Stain Block, you really can’t go wrong with this formula. However, due to it being an aerosol, you’ll have to keep in mind that there may be a little bit of overspray. Therefore, as we did during testing, if you need to spray near other surfaces, use masking tape to protect the area.

3. Most Versatile: Rustins Stain Blocker Paint

(How We Review →)

Rustins is a brand that’s well-known for their specialist paints and primers and their stain blocker is a great example. It’s a highly versatile formula that can be used on a range of surfaces as well as indoors or outdoors.

With regards to its formulation, it’s a water-based matt stain block paint that has excellent adhesion upon wood, plaster as well as any previously painted surfaces.

  • Water based formula that's fast drying
  • Low odour output during application
  • Seals all types of stains that bleed through topcoats
  • Suitable for interior or exterior surfaces
  • Available in 250ml, 500ml or 1 litre tins
  • Provides great adhesion on a range of surfaces
  • During testing, we found that it required multiple coats (we required 3 coats on a dark water stain)

To conclude, the Rustins Stain Blocker is an excellent all-round paint that can be used to seal a range of surfaces. The only main drawback that we found is the fact that you may need to apply multiple coats. However, its affordability and fast drying formulation makes it worth applying the extra coat.

4. Best For Damp Walls: Ronseal One Coat Damp Seal

(How We Review →)

If you need to tackle damp spots in particular, the Ronseal Damp Seal is our top recommendation and it’s also a formula we rated highly in our anti-mould paint roundup. In short, it’s a stain blocker that permanently blocks damp and water stains and a standout feature that we really like is the fact that it can be painted directly onto damp walls.

  • Permanently blocks damp stains in a single coat
  • Can be applied directly onto damp walls or ceilings
  • Touch dry within 2 hours and ready for a top coat after 4 hours
  • Doesn't require any preparation prior to the application
  • Helps to prevent the paint from flaking and peeling
  • Relatively expensive when you consider that it only provides 5m2 coverage per litre
  • Only suitable for interior surfaces
  • Produces a strong odour during application

Although expensive, the Ronseal Damp Seal is the most effective stain block paint if you are tackling dampness. Its ability to let any trapped moisture escape and the fact that it can be applied directly to damp are great traits.

5. Best Heavy Duty: Leyland Stain Blocking Primer

(How We Review →)

Leyland is a well-known brand that produces a range of paints but they’ve recently released a new line of specialist coatings such as this Stain Blocking Primer. It’s an easy-to-use formula that’s designed to lock in stains and prevent them from reappearing. After it has had time to dry, it can then be coated with emulsion without any stains bleeding through.

  • Great coverage (8m2) per litre
  • Suitable for recoating after 2 to 4 hours
  • Easy to apply by brush or roller
  • Effective on heavy duty stains such as nicotine, graffiti and marker pens
  • Relatively affordable when you consider the price per litre
  • Leaves behind a durable matt finish
  • Only available in large 2.5 litre tins (may go to waste if only a small amount of paint is required)

For tackling heavy-duty stains with ease, the Leyland Stain Blocking Primer is a great option to consider. It’s a professional-grade formula that’s easy to apply by brush or roller and it certainly won’t disappoint.

6. Best Value Runner-Up: Polycell Stain Stop

(How We Review →)

Another relatively affordable stain block paint that’s manufactured by a reputable brand is the Polycell Stain Stop. It’s a paint that’s designed to cover most types of stains and it can be used on a range of surfaces such as plaster, stone, masonry, plasterboard, wood and so much more.

  • Only requires a single coat (in most cases)
  • Easy to apply and provides great coverage
  • Low odour output during application
  • During testing, we tested it on a water stain and it did a great job at blocking it
  • Also available as an aerosol
  • Only suitable for interior surfaces
  • Although surface dry within 2 to 3 hours, it can take up to 12 hours before another coat can be applied

Overall, the Polycell Stain Stop is an effective formula that’s developed by a reputable brand and offers great value for the money. As long as you aren’t in a rush to complete the job and are willing to wait before a second coat can be applied, there really isn’t much to dislike with this stain block paint.


Stain block paint (or primer) does an excellent job of covering stains from water, nicotine, smoke, pens and so much more. However, as well as blocking stains, they are great at improving the adhesion of problematic surfaces. Therefore, if you have any issues with stains or adhesion, we would highly recommend any of the recommendations listed above.

If you require further information with regards to stain block paints, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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