It’s a common question among those starting a painting project – is it okay to use latex paint over oil based primer?
It’s long been a source of confusion, but in this article we’ll answer that question once and for all!
We’ll also tell you how you can paint over oil-based primer, answer a few frequently asked questions, and go through some safety precautions so you can paint with confidence.
Let’s get started!
What Is Latex Paint?
Latex paint is a paint with a water base that is made with acrylic resin. It is ideal for painting large surfaces, especially over acrylic paint.
It doesn’t dry faster than other paints, but latex paint is most often available in bigger quantities.
Latex is also ideal for painting walls and ceilings, and they come in a variety of finishes, such as flat and high gloss.
A few oil based paints also have enamel, an additive that hardens dried surfaces.
Shellac Primers Vs Oil Based Primers
Primers with Shellac bases are ideal wood sealants that stop tannins from seeping through oil paints.
Due to their flexibility, shellac primers are also great for painting plaster, plastic, and galvanized metals.
Shellac is also a quick-drying primer. It can dry in as little as an hour! With shellac primers you can prime your surfaces quicker when compared to latex primers.
However, there is a drawback to this, and that is you’ll have to use denatured alcohol to make the primer thinner.
If you’re extra sensitive to smell, then using denatured alcohol will not be a pleasant experience.
But protective gear should help mitigate the strong smell, as Shellac primers are ideal for sealing or trimming wood.
Meanwhile, you can use oil-based primers on oil paints and latex primer, which makes it quite a versatile primer.
What we love about oil-based primers is that they are effective at stopping stains from appearing on new coats of oil paint.
These primers are ideal for use on interior and exterior bare wood, as they can seal porous wood surfaces and give an even paint coverage over the whole surface you’re painting.
Plus, oil-based primers stop damaging tannins like redwood from seeping into wood surfaces.
When Should You Use Oil-Based Primer?
Oil-based primer is truly unique. As a primer, it provides the foundation for your paint so you’re left with an even and smooth finish, without flakes or cracks.
Plus, primer ensures your paint will last for a long time. It is one of the more popular types of primer, and it’s easy to see why!
It’s excellent for interior and exterior projects such as bare or unfinished wood, interior and exterior furniture, rooms with a lot of moisture such as bathrooms, wood that is severely weathered, varnished wood, and walls.
How Can You Tell If Your Surface Has Been Painted With An Oil-Based Paint?
It’s important to test if the surfaces you would like to paint on have previously been painted with oil-based paint.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find out if a wall has been painted with oil-based paint. Firstly you can feel the surface.
Surfaces with oil-based paint are glossy and smooth, while latex paint has a more rubbery finish. Dip some cotton wool into acetone to check if it’s been painted with oil-based paint.
Oil-based paint will hold up to acetone so you shouldn’t notice much of a difference. However if latex paint has been used, the latex will dissolve a tad when acetone is applied.
Once you know that the surface is painted with oil-based paint, use sandpaper on the surface until you’ve worn away the gloss. Then wash the surface and let it dry.
You may also be able to tell if a surface has been painted with oil-based paints by simply looking at the surface, and the quality of it. Oil-based paints have self-leveling properties.
Once the paint is applied, it flattens and evens itself out, leaving no bubbles, brush marks, gaps, or holes.
Door frames and window frames that have been painted with oil-based paint tend to have a hard and smooth finish that resembles glass.
However, in the USA oil-based paints have become less and less available to buy since 2005. So you may be wondering why painting latex paint over oil primer is such an issue.
Well, if you’ve recently bought an old house that hasn’t been decorated for a while, then your surfaces may be painted with oil-based paints.
But even if your house is on the new side, there can still be areas painted with oil-based paints. While oil-based paints have been phased out, you can still buy them in rather small quantities.
For example, most professional painters still like to use oil-based paint for their more durable and smoother finish.
Why Should You Use Oil Primer With Latex Paint?
Oil-based primers are perfect for proper sealing, as they make sure the latex paint covers the entire surface, particularly when used on unfinished surfaces.
Plus, oil-based primers prevent tannis being released from wood and seeping into the latex primer coat surface.
If you’ve opted to use latex paint with an oil-based primer, it’s important to remember that the latex paint will crack or not stick effectively if the surface you’re painting is not properly prepared.
We highly recommend preparing the surface before applying latex paint to an oil-based primer.
To do this, lightly sand your oil primer with fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. This creates an ideal surface for the paints to blend.
There are downsides to painting with latex paints, in particular they can cause wood grains to swell.
But with an oil-based primer you can avoid damaging the surface if everything has been sanded correctly.
Therefore it is crucial to properly prepare the surface you wish to paint, so you’re left with the smooth and long-lasting finish you’re after!
The Best Latex Paints
There are many latex and oil paints available, but of course, they’re not all made equal and some brands are better than others.
Here is what we believe to be the cream of the crop.
A semi-gloss acrylic paint, Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint is ideal for use on both interior and exterior surfaces including metal, plaster, wood, and stonework.
This paint also has little odor and is durable. It’ll keep its luster for a while, and provide excellent protection against chipping.
This paint is also quick drying and sure to cover up any blemishes.
KILZ is a well-known brand if you need to do any outdoor maintenance, like painting fences or staining wood.
The porch and patio paint offered by KILZ is durable, long-lasting, and easy to maintain.
It can hold up to any cracking, fading, peeling, scuffing, and bad weather. This is thanks to the low-shine enamel surface.
The Best Oil-Based Primer
If you’re looking for a great oil primer to conceal unsightly stains, then this Stain Blocking Oil-Based Primer is for you.
It’s not as damaging as some other oil-based primers, thanks to its organic compounds content which makes it less volatile.
Plus, KILZ eliminates a wide variety of stains from any exposed porous surface, like metal and stonework.
This primer also has no odor, making it ideal for places that don’t get a lot of ventilation, like a basement.
Painting Latex Over Oil Based Paint: Step-By-Step
Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace
Before you start priming your surfaces you need to properly your workspace, and to prime your surfaces successfully you will need:
- A well-ventilated work area. This is so you’re protected from fumes. You can improve the ventilation in your workspace by opening the doors and windows.
- Protective gear, such as coveralls, gloves, and a mask. This is also to protect you from inhaling fumes and to protect you from dangerous materials.
- A large, flat surface. This needs to be a spare bit of space on the wall or ceiling that you’re not using, or a surface that can be covered with a plastic sheet to protect the room from dust and to prevent damage from the primed surfaces beneath.
Step 2: Clean The Surface
This is absolutely crucial. You need to clean your surfaces of all dirt, contaminants, grease, and grime so the primer will stick correctly to the painted surfaces.
Soak the surface in soapy water for at least half an hour. If your surface needs a deeper clean, use a high-quality degreasing pre-paint cleanser rather than soapy water.
To make the cleaning faster, you can use a pressure washer on larger pieces of furniture, or if you’re working outside. Before you continue, let the surface dry completely.
Step 3: Get Rid Of Remaining Gloss Paint
You need to get rid of the oil-based paint that is currently on the surface.
To remove any loose dirt, dust, grime, or loose paint particles use a wire brush attachment on your electric drill.
Also remember to wear protective clothing during this step so you don’t inhale any dust or expose yourself to hazardous chemicals.
Step 4: Sand Down The Top Layer
When all the dust and paint particles have been removed you can now sand the top layer of latex paint with sandpaper to get rid of the brush marks.
To do this, rub the sandpaper in circles over the whole surface. You can keep the pressure light, applying just enough that the sandpaper gets into the grooves in the wood.
You should also test the surface. So if you realize that there are still spots of gloss in the wood, keep sanding the surface until these spots are removed.
Then clean any dust remaining on the surface with a damp tack cloth and let it dry.
Once the surface is dry, use sandpaper or a finer grit to sand the surface again to make the surface simpler to paint.
Step 5: Apply The Primer
You can now apply the primer as instructed on the primer bottle. This layer of primer lets the latex act as an adhesive to the oil.
You should make sure the primer matches the color of the paint and apply two coats one after the other. First apply a light coat and let it dry before applying the second coat.
Step 6: Sand The Surface Again
To make sure the primer is level with the wood’s surface, you will need to sand the surface again.
We recommend 100-grit sandpaper to remove any lumps or bumpy wood surfaces, allowing the latex to bond with the primer.
Step 7: Now Paint
Now you can apply one coat of good latex paint with a brush, roller, or airless sprayer over the topcoat of latex paint.
Don’t be afraid to be generous with the amount of coats you apply, the more, the better!
For full density, you may have to apply up to three or five light coats.
Step 8: Seal The Paint
So your paint can last for even longer, you should seal any porous surfaces with a high-quality clear coat with a roller or brush, applying the sealer on top of the latex once it has dried completely.
Like in the previous steps, don’t be afraid to be generous, as the more layers that are applied, the longer-lasting your paint job will be.
Step 9: Let The Paint Dry
Even if the first coat of paint dries in an hour, you still have to wait four hours to apply another layer of latex paint.
In fact, it’s best to wait two whole days for the paint to dry before you finish the job or touch the surface.
However, you can speed up the drying time by using light layers of oil paint, as lighter layers of paint dries quicker.
You can use a fan, hairdryer, or space heater to make the paint dry quicker.
Pro Tip: Placing Latex Over Oil Primer
It’s important to remember that oil-based primers may take quite a while to dry, so it’s recommended to sand the primer lightly to make the primer bond better with the surface.
Plus, it’s important to clean any dust particles that may have accumulated during the sanding process.
Generally, it’s a good idea to apply two layers of latex paint on top of the primer and let each layer of oil primer and latex paint between two and four hours before applying a new layer.
How To Stay Safe Using Latex Paint And Oil-Based Primer
As a lot of primers and paints can release toxic fumes during their application, they can be dangerous to your health if you’re exposed to them for a long period of time.
You should always be cautious and work outside or in well-ventilated areas so the air has proper circulation.
You should also always wear protective clothing like gloves, goggles, and masks.
If you are going to use a light paint color over a darker color it’s always recommended to prime the surface.
When painting a surface with a semi-gloss paint or eggshell paint, it’s crucial to apply a coat of primer, otherwise the finish looks uneven.
If your walls need minor repairs, then you only really need to prime the areas where there has been damage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Water-Based Paint Be Used With Oil-Based Primer?
Yes, it can! Oil-based primer can be used with any type of top coat, even water-based paints. In fact, it’s highly recommended to use water-based paint with oil-based primer.
But while any type of paint can be used with oil-based primer, the steps will vary.
Can Latex Paint Be Used With Kilz Oil-Based Primer?
Yes, it can! Kilz is an oil-based primer, sealer and stain blocker that is ideal for wooden surfaces both outside and inside.
What we love about Kilz is that it’s one of the fastest drying primers and has a durable coating.
Is It Okay To Paint On Top Of Oil-Based Paint?
When painting over oil-based paint, you may notice some chipping and peeling.
This is due to the formulas of some paints not bonding well with oil-based paint that is naturally glossy.
Is Oil-Based Primer Better Than Water-Based Primer?
Oil-based primers may have a strong, unpleasant smell but they’re convenient when you have to dampen the odors of water-based paint.
Meanwhile, water-based primers tend to have no oil and are simple to work with. Which one is better will all depend on the surfaces you’d like to paint.
Can You Use Oil-Based Primer With Acrylic Paint?
Yes, you can! But while you can use oil-based primer with both latex and acrylic paint, we recommend using oil-based primer with the latter.
However, make sure you use a bonding primer before applying the latex paint base.
Now we know that you can use latex paint together with oil primer, we hope now you can paint with confidence!
However, you need to make sure the surface has been properly prepared before you do this. Then paint with a high-quality bonding primer and give it plenty of time to dry.
Then you can apply two coats of latex paint. Remember to never apply oil-based paint over latex paint.
You’re sure to be pleased with the results of latex paint, and giving you a unique finish.
When you use latex paint, you need to take great care when priming, especially when using an oil-based primer.