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Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

Category Painting
Latex Paint
With the right preparation you can easily and successfully paint over oil paint with latex. This is a guide about applying latex paint over oil paint.


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
August 17, 2015

I live in a house that was built in 1900. The previous owners painted over oil based paint with latex and the latex paint is peeling off in some places. Do we need to peel all the paint off, or just the places that are peeling before using Kiltz and then painting with latex paint?


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August 18, 20150 found this helpful

I suspect that you have to remove all the paint. I would consult the troubleshooting line of the paint company that you are planning to use. They can be very helpful.

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August 18, 20151 found this helpful

If you just peel off the part that is loose, the walls will no longer be smooth and it will be very obvious after you paint. Unless almost all of it is able to be removed by peeling and perhaps light stripping. There is one more important consideration here: since it is an older house, there may be layers of lead paint under all of what is now there. In the past, people used oil paint to cover up a multitude of 'sins' from lead to mold to smoke damage. And in some cases older people still swear by it for kitchens and porches, because of its durability. It's not really good for us or the environment though and is not made in a wide selection like latex (water based) paints are. For your safety you might want to have someone come test for lead, and if it is present have them remove the lead paint. If it is not present you can always sand after removal of as much as possible, but there's still no guarantee the walls will be smooth. Be safe! (I work in a paint department, and have learned from contractors over the past year)

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August 19, 20150 found this helpful

Never paint latex over oil! Go to the place where you bought the latex paint and tell them what happened. They will probably sell you some sparkling compound to repair the wall. Then buy another can of oil based paint (semi-gloss) and paint your wall.

A lot of people use oil based paint on doors because it's easier to wash off fingerprints. Painted walls fell out of vogue years ago.

Good Luck.

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September 2, 20160 found this helpful

"Painted walls fell out of vogue years ago".

What? is this really what you wanted to say? People paint walls all the time. I assumed that statement didn't come out the way you wanted or you're from a different planet. :)

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December 27, 20110 found this helpful

I am getting ready to paint the foyer. The trim work has oil base paint on it. Can I use a latex primer or do I have to use an oil base primer and can latex paint be used on oil base primer?

By Frances

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December 27, 20110 found this helpful

Try Kilz or a similar quality primer, read the label in the store to be sure you're getting a primer that will work for your purpose.

You should be able to rough the gloss of the oil based paint by first washing with vinegar or TSP, then applying Kilz before you paint with the latex.

I've done it several times, even over varnish on plywood panels. It looks fine and doesn't peel if you follow the directions on the primer label.

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December 27, 20110 found this helpful

I used Kilz once with disastrous results. So I am not a fan of that paint. Had to junk the table I used the Kilz on. I would visit your local paint store such as Lowes, Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, people who know paint and how best to use the product. They may recommend Kilz or something better but I don't believe you need to use that type of primer. I would scuff up the surface with some scotchbrite pads to give the latex primer some tooth to adhere to then use the latex top coat. After using the scotch brite pads be sure to clean off the dust residue with a cloth. Tack cloths work best.

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December 27, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with frugalsunnie that you should prime for sure. Where I differ is that the best primer to use is Zinser 123. Roughing it up first does help also.

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January 1, 20120 found this helpful

If there was oil paint sand it down, primer it and then use oil based paint or it will peel off or crack.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 5, 2009

Can you use latex paint over oil based primer? If so, is there anything special that needs to be done to apply the latex color paint? Please respond quickly as I'm starting to paint the latex soon.

By redecorating from Mendon, MI

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

I have done it but if you are still unsure why not call your local paint store and ask the experts.

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

There are some people who say that this can be done, don't listen to them. Sure you can paint the latex over the oil based paint and it will look okay for a week or so. Then the first thing that bumps the wall will peel it up like a sheet of saran wrap. Been there, done that, don't ever plan to do it again!

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September 6, 20090 found this helpful

Sometimes can put Latex over primer, this depends on the exact type of oil primer you use. Some primers (like B-I-N and Kilz) have what is called a "critical recoat time" - this means that they must be topcoated -with either latex or oil - within a certain time frame (usually 24 hours) or they become too hard for either type of top coat to adhere, too!

Read the URL below:

http://www.bobv  ages/101048.html

* I've read that you can put Latex over oil, but not Oil over Latex (which stretches), but after reading more on the internet I wouldn't risk it.

As Foxrun42 says call a paint store, NOT Home Depot, but a real paint store like Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore.

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September 11, 20090 found this helpful

If its a good flat oil primer you will have no problem.

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March 21, 20130 found this helpful

We used a very expensive latex paint that contained a primer over oil paint, to paint kitchen cabinets.
Now the paint is pealing. Is there a solution?

By Diane from Ipswich, MA

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March 22, 20131 found this helpful

The reason your latex paint is peeling is because your oil base enameled surface couldn't accept the latex even though the latex contained primer.

You're going to need to scrape off the peeling latex, then properly prepare the enameled surface, which is accomplished by removing the oil based enamel using a stripper, or scraping or sanding the enamel coating off-completely. Any little bit of the enamel will cause the new paint to blister and peel so be sure to get it ALL. There is no other way, and should have been done the first time.

After you've got the previous oil based enamel off, apply a separate, good quality primer-be sure to read the label carefully before buying. It should say that it is to be used on surfaces that have had oil based paints removed in preparation for application of a latex one.

It sounds fiddly but it is the only way to get a long-lasting, attractive finish.

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March 22, 20130 found this helpful

The previous poster is correct. Alternately, you could remove the latex completely, and then lightly sand, prime and paint with oil based paint again. But you can't put latex over oil without a lot of work, which you have just learned.

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By 0 found this helpful
November 17, 2009

I've been applying primer to my bathroom's formerly yellow walls with relatively good results until I noticed the paint over the toilet section of the wall wasn't adhering as well as the rest. I vaguely recall pulling off a piece of something or other sticking out and then, to my shock and amazement, the primer just kept peeling and peeling, taking what appears to be the previous yellow coat of paint with it.

Underneath lies a lighter shade of yellow. Perhaps this is a tinted primer? Anyway, I've tried sanding a small section of the torn area, wiping away dust with a damp cloth, and reapplying the primer, but as soon as the primer makes contact with the edge of primer/underlying mystery surface, it becomes soft and pliable once more.

I'm not really sure what the problem is. I don't want to peel off the whole wall of primer/paint if that isn't the problem. I'm thinking the primer reacted as it did because I applied too thick a coat in that area. Please help.

By HJ from IN

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November 20, 20090 found this helpful

According to my research - glossy paint must be deglossed either by sanding or chemical deglossing or the paint won't stick. Also, if there is too much moisture, the paint will peel. The moisture problem has to be taken care of first. Since this is behind the stool or commode section, sounds like it's a moisture problem.

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November 20, 20090 found this helpful

Also latex primer or paint won't stick to oil based primer or paint.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 15, 2011

What can you do to fix latex semi gloss paint over oil based paint?

By Judith from Spartanburg, SC

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

First you should wash the surface and let dry to remove any build up of grease and dirt. Then lightly sand the surface and tack off the dust or wipe down with a damp sponge rinsing the sponge often.The sanding is neccessary as it gives the smooth oil a rough surface for the latex to adhere to. Otherwise the latex will peel in short order. Most paint stores can also give you advise on painting over oil base paint. Many paint companies no longer sell oil based paint for in or outside use.

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February 5, 20120 found this helpful

I currently have bedroom walls in oil paint. I would like to prime and repaint with latex paint. I have a can of Glidden interior latex primer sealer 14950 white. Can I use this primer over oil paint and then paint over the primer with latex paint? Will the paint peel off?

By Cecilia

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 15, 20110 found this helpful

What will happen if you paint latex over oil paint, without priming or sanding?

By teddy99 from Toronto, ON


Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

You can put latex over oil, (because oil is hard and doesn't move or "stretch"), but you can't put oil over latex (because latex is made with a "rubber" compound and stretches and is slightly pliable). But they never go into detail about it so you hear that you should never put one on top of the other (this way people won't get mixed up).

But you'll never go wrong with using a primer, especially one that's tinted to match your paint. This way you'll only need one coat of primer and one coat of paint instead of 2 coats of paint. If it were me and especially if I wasn't using primer, I'd use 100% acrylic paint (see * below). Even if you use a primer you should still never put oil over latex (but you can put latex over oil). Remember to de-gloss any semi-gloss or glossy paint or your paint won't stick properly.

Professional house painters have told me that because latex (and acrylic) stretches slightly it makes a longer lasting paint for the outside of homes (because of the massive heat/cold temp change that happens on the outside of homes), ever since they've taken lead out of paint. Lead was added in the old days to make the oil-based paint more playable and longer lasting, but these days it's latex and not oil that last longer on the outside of homes because they've (thankfully) removed the lead. Others may disagree and say that oil paint lasts longer, but this is what I've been told and it makes sense. Oil probably does last longer when temperature fluctuations aren't a factor.

Read more details here:

* 100% arylic paint: I'm a professional artist and mural painter and often recommend different types of paint to go under my work as a base. Most people don't know that you can buy 100% acrylic indoor or outdoor paint in all sheens for the same price as latex paint. Gallons of 100% acrylic paint are usually only recommended for painting masonry (like brick, cement, and stone work) because 100% acrylic tends to adhere much better than latex. But it's a much better paint, and for the same price as latex I would always buy 100% acrylic paint instead. It's available in all the same colors as latex or latex-acrylic. So next time you want a quality paint, ask for 100% acrylic. It's not just for painting masonry! Acrylic is water based, has no bad scent, dries quickly and it's durable, flexible, and washable too. (07/03/2009)

By Cyinda

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

Our tenants did that in our rental house. The latex paint would then scratch off with just about any touch. It is not a good idea to paint latex over oil. I think if you Kilz it first you can then paint over it. (07/07/2009)

By HalfWhit

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

My dear eX-hubby was asked to pick up some oil based paint for my kitchen. I even gave him the $$$ for it! He came home with latex paint because it was cheaper (I never saw the extra $!). Anyway he insisted that I use the latex paint over the oil paint that was on the walls. What a disaster! It took exactly 2 days before the latex paint started peeling off the walls in strips and chunks! I had to hire a professional painter to come in and scrape and seal all the walls, and repaint the whole kitchen! It cost me an arm and a leg! Never, never put latex over oil! (07/07/2009)

By catastrofy

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July 2, 20090 found this helpful

We just made a huge mistake. We painted latex over oil paint and now the paint is peeling. The advice that has been given is varied and we're not sure what advice to follow. Some have told us to scrape and sand as much of the latex off as possible before repainting with a latex primer.

Others have suggested directly applying a coat of Zinsser 123 and then painting over with latex. Obviously we would prefer going the Zinsser 123 route since it would eliminate scraping and sanding. But I'm afraid that this may still result in peeling paint in the future. Any advice out there?

Popov from BC


Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

I have painted my house with oil based paint from Sherman Williams.They no longer make oil based paint that I used on my house, it is all latex based. So I have been using that to repaint my house with no problem at all. My suggestion is to explain your problem with the store you bought the paint from or contacting the paint manufacturer. (02/02/2008)

By Dean

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

I am a professional plaster and paint expert. I recommend you do the physical work and sand off everything that is capable of coming off. If you can find one, use an old Green Black and Decker sander. They are fast and plaster does not bother these old sanders. Then, I recommend you use ordinary plaster mixed with ordinary white latex paint and apply a coat smoothly over the rough spots on your wall. Use a large trowel and after the plaster is dry on the wall, sand, sand, and sand again until smooth to the touch.

The next step is to use a "sealer" or "primer" and paint the wall completely. If you want perfection, sand again and apply more of the plaster/latex mix over any small imperfect spots you discover. One more time, use the sealer but this time, not over the whole wall, but simply over the small plastered spots.
Now you are ready for two coats of color paint. Use a professional medium fibre roller and avoid drips. Good luck. (02/03/2008)

By human4us

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

Do not use latex primer. You can use oil base primer and paint over it with latex or oil based paint. Latex primer does not stick to certain surfaces no matter what they say where you get it. I know from experience. I paint houses for a living. The best thing to do is rough it up with a palm sander of some sort, not a rough grit, but just something that will knock off what is loose and get rid of it. It will take longer, but it is worth the trouble, otherwise you will have to do it again. Then I would suggest using oil based primer or Kilz to prime the wall or whatever you are painting. Then you can use either oil base or latex paint to add color.

Oil based paint will not adhere to latex paint, as latex won't to oil based. Just like water and oil won't mix. To the person that said they were planning on painting window seals and baseboards with latex, please don't. It will be a heap of trouble. If you use latex paint, it will come off easier and won't seep into the wood. It also chips away easier in high traffic areas. Cabinets, trim, and seals need oil based paint. Latex paint in mainly for walls. Furniture also needs oil base if at all possible.
Hope this helps. (02/05/2008)

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

This is crazy. Latex paint was developed for going over old linseed oil paint. Latex paint needs a sanded, clean, and dry surface to bond to old linseed oil surfaces which you probably didn't have. Alaid oil is the modern version, which was developed to go over latex. The surface you had was probably moist. I know this because 90% of all paint problems are due to this. The rest is not sanding glossy surfaces.

I've been painting for 17 years. If it is truly peeling, you will need: 60 grit, 80 grit, then 120 hook and loop 5 hole sanding disks with a good orbital sander "Porter Cabel", a shop vac with dust attachment, and Hepa filter on your face to prevent lead poisoning of course.

This will cost several thousand dollars to hire it out so get a painter's manual. Like the "Painters Hand Book", this will teach you the right way. Don't rely on the internet for any advice, all these ideas are stupid and dangerous enough to land you in the hospital. Believe me I've been there. Good luck. (10/28/2008)

By Steve

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January 30, 20080 found this helpful

I am going to be painting my baseboards and door/window frames with latex paint. They currently have oil paint on them. Do I need to just use primer or do I have to sand as well (or is there an easier method)?

Bettina from Atlanta, GA


Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

Oil produces a tough SLICK coating that would need sanding, UNLESS Lowe's painting dept. could recommend a bondable liquid that might be something like "liquid Sander". In any case, I'd also
consider adding a quart of OIL paint to each gallon of Acrylic Latex, which sounds CRAZY, but actually is being recommended by some painters now. A helper accidentally did this when trying to surprise me by
painting the inside of my garage years ago. It worked JUST FINE. Also, a big group of volunteers arrived to help me paint my home one year. They took all the various kinds of paint I had and mixed them ALTOGETHER in a 5 gallon bucket, and that
formula of both kinds of paint has held better than
any other paint I've ever had. These are both inside and outside examples of it working. So, make
certian the surface is truly clean of wax, dust, dirt, stains, hair, etc., and I'd use plain ALCOHOL to clean the surfaces well, because there would be no need to rinse. THEN, I'd use the "liquid Sander" solution a little at a time, just ahead of my painting, following directions carefully, checking to see if it can be used with both kinds of paint. If you have the
energy, it would be wise to go over all surfaces also
with a med. grit sand paper MITT or special SPONGE
made for such projects as curved edges, to scratch
the finish for better adherence. Test an inconspicuous old painted area with the liquid sander
first to see if it has no terribly ill effect on the old paint, but rather truly prepares the surface for bonding to new paint. Watch the timing recommended for applying paint while liquid sander is still wet, or for whatever it says. IMPORTANT:
Use a very fine paint brush, and I prefer the flat
hand held smooth velour brush/pad, with refills available, normally used only for finishing edges, which I use on most all surfaces very successfully
because It both saves paint, and gives a very smooth finish if done right and evenly. Use a metal
pie pan to fill the flat velour brush pad with a small
amount of paint. Otherwise, you should buy the very
best and finest bristle brush you can afford to get the
best finish. If I had the money this is what I'd do.
Good luck to you, and God bless and help you. : ) (06/15/2007)

By Lynda

Applying Latex Paint Over Oil Paint

I used a product called NO-Sand it is very nice just wipe it on and wait 10 min or so and then paint. It was a little smelly but it beat sanding. (06/18/2007)

By Mary Ann

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