Can You Apply Latex Paint Over Oil Based Paint?

Posted June 20, 2018 by RB Painting

Can Latex Paint Be Used Over Oil Base Paint?

Painting is a fantastic way to update any room and you have several types of paint to choose from, including water-based, oil-based, and latex paints. Latex is an easy paint to work with and dries quickly. However, before applying latex paint on top of the oil-based paint, you need to perform a few extra steps.

Latex Paint May Not Adhere to Glossy Paint

You may have heard the myth that you cannot apply latex paint over an oil-based paint. It is true that the glossy surface of the oil-based paint is not ideal for applying latex and the new coat may peel.

There is a simple reason for the problem. Latex paint grips the surface when it dries, while oil-based paint can penetrate porous surfaces. This makes latex paint less likely to adhere to the oil-based surface. The latex will likely peel over time. However, there are ways to prepare the surface before adding the latex paint.

Sand the Surface of the Oil-Based Paint Layer

The first step in preparing the surface is to sand the oil-based paint to remove the gloss. This helps create a more adhesive surface for the latex paint and is recommended in most situations where you plan on applying paint over a glossy paint. This includes applying latex paint over latex paint.

Use a fine grit sandpaper to sand the surface of the oil-based paint. You should also remove any loose paint with a putty knife.

Clean the Surface to Remove Dirt and Debris

After sanding the surface, you need to clean the area to remove dirt, dust, and debris, including the paint residue from sanding. Use a damp cloth to clean the area that you want to paint and allow to dry completely.

You can then use a dry cloth or tack cloth to wipe the surface clean. This dry cleaning will help get rid of any dust that remains after cleaning with a damp cloth. Once you complete these steps, the surface should be ready to accept latex paint without any issues.

Why Oil-Based Paint is No Longer Recommended

Oil-based paint was commonly used on baseboards and trim, as these areas are more likely to get abused over time. You may also find this paint on door casings and window sills. Oil paint is durable and less likely to flake or peel when the surface is damaged. It is also easy to apply, allowing any novice painter to create a smooth surface without brush marks.

Despite the durability of oil-based paint, it has slowly been phased out of most home improvement stores and paint stores. When the paint dries, it emits volatile organic content (VOC) which may harm the environment. You can still purchase oil-based paint in one-quart buckets at some locations and older homes are likely to have oil-based paint on most of the interior trim work and window sills.

Remember, if you choose to use latex paint on top of the oil-based paint, make sure that you properly prepare the surface. Sand the area that you plan to paint to remove the gloss and then thoroughly clean the surface to remove paint residue before applying the latex paint.