Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer? [Complete Guide]

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This is a definitive guide on “can you use latex paint over oil based primer?” where we have discussed every single question that you need to know.

Many homeowners find it difficult to select the proper type of paint for the walls and various wooden furniture, whether renovating their current home or moving into a new one.

As a result of this, many people have a hard time figuring out how to use both water-based and oil-based paints together. Oil-based paints are often believed to be unsuitable for mixing.

The quick answer to this question is yes. You can use them. Also, it is also widely accepted that latex paint can be used over an oil based primer. Ensure the surface has been prepared appropriately before applying latex over your oil-based primer.

Contrary to popular belief, oil-based paints cannot be used over latex paint. We know that you have a lot of questions about latex paint and the possibility of painting the same over oil-based primer.

Here, in this article, we have covered all areas related to latex paint and oil-based primer so that you can have a clear idea about performing the job without any hassle.


Read this article attentively, and you will find all answers to your question “can you use latex paint over oil based primer”.

About Latex Paint

The term “latex” refers to the fact that these paints were originally made out of rubber, which is why this formula is referred to as such.

The paint’s resin components are created from these rubbers. Because water-soluble bases have taken the role of the rubber bases in these paints, they may now be used to paint everything from kitchen tables to walls to cabinets to ceilings.

There are as many as three basic forms of latex paint. They are as follows:

  • Pure acrylic
  • Vinyl-acrylic blend
  • Alkyd-modified latex

As a result of its excellent adhesion and color retention, 100% acrylic latex is widely regarded as the best performer of the three.

If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative for your walls, vinyl-acrylic is the finest choice. Last but not least, alkyd modified latex is a fantastic composition for outdoor applications.

Keep Reading: Expert Ways To Remove Paint From Brick

Types Of Primers

Primers are categorized based on the primary ingredients they contain. All primers serve as a base for subsequent painting, despite the fact that they are made up of a variety of different ingredients, such as water, oil, and shellac. The following are some of the more popular primers:

Oil-based Primers

Because they are oil-based, oil-based primers can be used with both oil-based and latex-based paints. Many woodworkers prefer this sort of primer because of its excellent adaptability, making it standard for the industry.

This product can be used in both indoor and outdoor areas. Because of its ability to seal porous surfaces, this compound is ideal for use on bare wood.

Using this primer helps to keep the tannins in woods like cedar and redwood out of the environment. Additionally, oil-based primers are capable of blocking stains, nicotine, ink, and water. They also protect wood surfaces from probable peeling and cracking, which can occur over time.

These formulae require a bit more time to dry to the touch. Most require a minimum of 24 hours to complete, during which time the VOCs are released into the air.

People are poisoned by volatile organic compounds (VOCs). After long-term exposure, they can create health problems.

After applying this product, you will be left with a smooth and long-lasting finish. However, cleaning is not a simple task. It necessitates the application of solvents and thinners.

Latex Primers

The best primers for preparing drywall for painting are latex primers. Typically, these primers dry to the touch in around three to four hours.

Latex primers, unlike their oil-based rivals, are not brittle and do an outstanding job of painting pinewood. Concrete, brick, and galvanized metals are all surfaces and materials that can be treated with latex. You can check our detailed reviews on concrete paints.

Stains such as marker ink, smoking, crayon, and many more can be effectively blocked with latex primers. They can disguise the stains, but they aren’t as good as oil-based or shellac-based primers, which are better at concealing the stains. You can read this guide to remove oil stains from the concrete surfaces.

In addition to having very low or almost no volatile organic components, water-soluble primers are better for the environment. In addition, cleaning them up is a breeze because all you need is water and soap.

When working with wood that is susceptible to moisture, it is best to use acrylic primers. On the other hand, latex primers are inexpensive and resistant to flaking, yellowing, peeling, and other issues.

Shellac Primers

The greatest primers for sealing water run, rust, and smoke damage have been known for ages in the form of these sorts of primers.

These primers, like their water-based equivalents, do an excellent job of sealing wood surfaces to avoid bleeding and tannins.

They are ideal for use on plaster, metals, and plastic surfaces because of their elasticity. Shellac primers have the advantage of drying quickly, usually in under an hour, which makes them ideal for applications with a tight deadline.

It’s essential to have denatured alcohol on hand when it comes to cleaning.

Keep Reading: Satin Vs Gloss Finish Detailed Comparison

When Should Oil-Based Primer Be Used?

Before painting, you must use an oil-based primer. You might think of it as the “foundation” of your paint, assisting in the creation of a uniform and smooth surface.

A primer ensures a long-lasting finish. Flaking and cracking aren’t a problem because the paint adheres well to your painted object.

Preparation with oil-based primers is the most common. For undertakings both inside and outside the home, they’re perfect because:

  • Varnished wood
  • Unfinished wood
  • Furniture
  • Deeply weathered wood
  • Walls
  • Humid-filled rooms like bathrooms

The primer’s versatility has made it a household name. It can be used with oil or latex paints and a wide variety of surfaces. You may use these characteristics for a wide range of home improvement projects, thanks to their versatile design.

Because it seals porous surfaces so well, oil-based primer is the primer of choice for contractors when working with base wood.

While using an oil-based primer, woods like cedar and redwood stop releasing hazardous tannins into the atmosphere.

Oil-based primers also provide stain-killing properties. Ink, water, and nicotine stains are no problem for them. Paint cracking, blistering, and peeling can be slowed down with primer use over time.

However, an oil-based primer needs a raw and unfinished surface to be used. Another major advantage of oil-based primers is that they seal nail heads in a better way than other primers and cover knots in bare wood also.

This makes them ideal for prepping worn wood for a new paint coat because they penetrate deeper and more thoroughly.

Reasons For Oil Paints Not To Mix

There have been various improvements to oil-based paints throughout the years, but a few things have stayed constant in the artistic community.

Oil paints require a long time to cure, which is the first of these drawbacks. Drying times are substantially faster for modern oil paints, although they are not the same as for latex or acrylic paints.

Using oil paint on top of latex paint will cause it to break because it expands and contracts at a different pace than the underlying layer.

When latex is placed immediately on top of the oil-based primer without sufficient preparation, it can easily split or peel, and it will not cling well.

Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer: Advantages

Yes, you can use them. Also, it is also widely accepted that latex paint can be used over an oil based primer. Ensure the surface has been prepared appropriately before applying latex over your oil-based primer.

If you’re going to use latex paint on the top of the oil-based primer, be aware that if you don’t prepare the surface first, the latex paint will crack and not adhere properly.

Latex paint on an oil foundation can produce remarkable effects and a long-lasting painted surface with the proper preparation.

Sanding the oil primer with sandpaper is necessary to provide a flat surface for the two paints to blend together. Here’s why it’s a good idea to use latex paint on the top of the oil-based primer:

  1. A proper seal provided by oil-based primers, when applied to unfinished surfaces, helps the top latex paint coat cover the surface more effectively.
  2. Using an oil-based primer helps avoid the release of the tannins by wood, which would otherwise seep through the latex finish onto wooden surfaces.
  3. Latex paints have a downside in that they can cause wood grains to bulge. This isn’t true, though, if you apply this on the top of oil-based primer that has been sanded properly.

Always remember to thoroughly prepare the surface before applying latex paint on the top of an oil-based primer to ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish!

Does The Surface Have Oil-Based Paint?

Make sure the surfaces you intend to work on are free of oil-based paint before you begin. To accomplish this, perform the steps outlined in the following paragraphs:

  1. You can tell the difference by feeling the surface—oil has a smooth, shiny appearance, but latex has a rubbery feel.
  2. You’ll need cotton dipped into acetone to see if the painted surface has been affected—oil is normally unharmed, but latex is a little more prone to deterioration.
  3. Using sandpaper, rough up the surface —wash and allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.

Why Use Latex Paint On Oil Primer

There are several excellent effects that can be achieved by applying latex paint over an oil-based primer. But only if you’ve done your homework.

When you’re working on projects like these, the combination is incredibly effective. Latex paint will not bleed through oil-based primers, preventing the tannins from the wood from seeping into the latex paint.

If you correctly sand the primer before applying latex paint, the wood won’t expand. Oil-based primers protect the surface, allowing the top coat of latex paint to cover it more thoroughly, making it easier for the paint to adhere.

The combination of paint and primer yields a durable finish that will last for years to come. Oil-based primers work well with a variety of woods, as do latex primers for softwoods.

Oil primers and paints, on the other hand, take a longer time to dry than other forms of paint. Ventilation is also necessary for safety reasons, so utilizing a mix of latex and oil primer can help you speed up your project without sacrificing durability.

When painting big interior surfaces, such as walls or ceilings, you may wish to avoid using primer and paint together.

The deodorization and decontamination procedures are strenuous. Also, do not use these two for long-term exterior surfaces like siding.

Surfaces Suitable For Oil-Based Paints

Since 2005, the use of oil-based paints in the United States has nearly been eliminated. So, we may inquire, “What role will latex paint over oil primer play in 2020?”

As latex paints were introduced in the 1940s, whether you have purchased an old property or are still living in one, you can expect to see oil-based paints.

Even if your home is relatively new, oil-based paints may have been used in some regions since they were not outlawed. Oil-based paints are still available, but in reduced quantities, nowadays.

Many professional painters still favor Oil-based paint because of the superior smoothness and durability it provides. If you’re wondering if latex can be painted over oil primer, the answer is yes.

Any surfaces in your home that oil-based paints have transformed can be determined by inspecting them. When a coat of paint is on a surface for an extended period of time, it no longer feels or smells like oil-based paint.

When it comes to determining whether the paint is oil-based or water-based, the surface quality can be used as a guide.

Afterward, the paint flattens and levels itself, leaving no brush traces or voids on the surface. An oil-based paint gives wood door, and window frames a glassy appearance. To answer this question, what kinds of structures or places need a long-lasting, high-quality finish coat?

Process Of Applying Latex Over Oil Based Primer

A minimum of eight hours is required for oil-based primers to dry. Smooth wood surfaces may need to be lightly sanded with 180-grit sandpaper before applying primer to create a better bonding surface.

Before painting, be sure to clean up any sanding dust and let the surface dry completely. Over the primer, you’ll need to apply two coats of latex paint that have been spread out evenly.

Each layer should be allowed to dry for two to four hours. Latex paint takes about 16 hours to dry between primer and two coats.

Cleaning and painting time isn’t included in this calculation because they are separate processes. There are no time constraints on how long the project can take, as long as the primer is applied no later than two weeks from the start date.

Let’s go through the steps of applying latex paint to the oil-based primer.


Workspace preparation is essential before you begin priming surfaces. You’ll need the following in order to prime your surface successfully:

Open the doors and windows to allow for cross-flow of air to keep the odors at bay. Your personal protection equipment (mask, gloves, and coveralls) keeps you safe from inhaling toxic gases or coming into contact with potentially harmful substances.

If you don’t have a spare part of the ceiling or wall that isn’t in use, you can cover it with plastic sheeting to keep the dust from contaminating the primed surfaces below.

Clean The Area

Before painting, make sure you thoroughly clean the surface. All dirt, grease, pollutants, and grime must be removed prior to priming to ensure adequate adhesion.

For a minimum of 30 minutes, soak the surface that is sticky in soapy water. In the event that thorough cleaning is required before painting, go for a high-quality non-greasy pre-paint cleaner.

A pressure washer may help you save time and energy when washing large furniture or the outside of your property. Allow the surface to dry before moving on thoroughly.

Remove The Gloss

Getting rid of the existing oil-based paint coat over the surface will be necessary. For removing any loose paint, dust, filth, and grime, use an electric drill attachment with a wire brush.

Wearing protective clothing will help you avoid inhaling dust or coming into contact with potentially harmful chemicals.

First Sanding

After using a putty knife or paint strippers to remove any loose paint particles, sand the top layer of latex paint using sandpaper to erase any brush marks. In order to smooth the surface, use circular motions while rubbing with sandpaper.

To get the sandpaper all over the curves of the wood, you don’t need to use a lot of force. Test the surface as well to see how it’s doing.

Make sure to keep going until you remove all of the glossy patches from the wood. Allow plenty of time for the damp tack cloth to dry before wiping away any remaining dust. After it has dried, use grit sandpaper to refinish the surface. This will make it easier to repaint.

Apply Primer

After that, follow the instructions on the bottle for applying the primer. The latex adheres to the oil because of the priming layer. Priming in the color of your choosing and applying double coats in quick succession is the best way to get the desired results.

Method Of Sanding

To make the prime flush with the wood’s surface, you’ll need to sand it down. Uneven wood surfaces can be smoothed out with 100-grit sandpaper. As a result, it will be easier for the primer and latex to connect.

Apply Paint

After that, use your preferred brush, roller, or airless sprayer to apply a single coat of high-quality latex paint as a final coat. Keep in mind that the more coats you apply, the better.
To get the desired level of density, you can apply three to five thin applications.

Sealing Method

Seal porous areas with a high-quality clear finish to extend the life of your paint job even further. Once the latex has dried completely, use a brush or roller to spread the sealer over the top. The more coats you put on, the longer your painting job will endure!

Cure Time

There is a four-hour time limit on adding another coat of latex paint after the previous one has dried to the touch. At the very least, allow 48 hours of drying time prior to handling or finishing your finished piece.

Using thin coats of oil paint might help speed up the drying process and save you some time. Thinner paint dries more quickly. In addition, a fan, hairdryer, or space heater can be used to speed up the drying process.

Is It Possible To Put Water-Based Paint Over Oil-Based Primer?

Preferably, you should paint over an oil-based primer with water-based paint. Any form of paint can be primed with an oil-based primer, although your steps may vary.

Any oil-based paint should be primed with an oil-based primer. While water-based paint can be used as the topcoat, you can also sand the priming and paint straight over it.

Water Vs Oil-Based Primer

Water-based primers differ from their oil-based counterparts primarily in terms of the paints they are intended to be applied over.

Latex and acrylic paints can benefit from water-based primer, but enamel paints often require oil-based primer. However, an oil-based primer along with water-based paints can be used with the proper preparation.

The confusion stems from the fact that the term is used so frequently in everyday life. Walls and ceilings benefit from water-based primers, whereas windows, doors, metal, and woodwork benefit from oil-based primers. You can also learn more about the total coats of primer required on wooden surfaces.

The toxicity of the primers is another important distinction to be made between them. Oil-based primers have a strong odor and must be broken down and cleaned with paint thinner or spirits.

Because they can be cleaned up with soap and water, water-based primers have fewer negative effects on humans and the environment.

When it comes to preventing odors, water concerns, and staining, oil-based primers are the best option.

Tips For Performing Latex On Oil Primer

Oil-based primers may take almost eight hours to dry completely. This is the reason you may need to lightly sand the primer to improve the primer’s ability to bond.

Sanding might leave behind dust that must be washed away before painting the surface, so be sure to do so before applying any paint.

Apply two layers of latex paint over your oil primer and allow each layer to cure for two to four hours at least before moving on to the next layer.

Time Requires To Cure

It takes at least 8 hours for an oil-based primer to dry completely. Depending on the size of the space, it could take up to 16 hours for the primer and two latex paint layers to dry.

It takes far longer to dry oil-based paints than it does water-based paints. The finish, on the other hand, is more robust and long-lasting.

It’s reasonable to expect that your project will take a few days to complete. On the other hand, don’t wait too long before painting over the primer with latex paint. After applying an oil-based primer, you’ll need to finish the task within two weeks.

Toxin Level Of Oil-Based Primer

The primer’s volatile organic compounds are released into the air while it dries slowly. People who are exposed to it for an extended period of time or in high quantities are also at risk.

Cleansing your instruments from oil-based primers requires the use of strong thinners and solvents, which are also harmful. Mineral spirits, on the other hand, can be used for cleaning.

Conversely, as latex paint dries, it emits fewer hazardous vapors than other forms of paint. As a bonus, it’s a lot more environmentally friendly.

How To Determine If The Paint Is Oil Or Latex-Based

The first step in painting over an already painted wall is to identify the sort of paint that was previously there. An easy test to verify the quality of the finish will help you get ready for new paint. If you’re unsure if your paint is oil or latex-based, there are two major techniques to tell:

  1. Observe the paint’s texture and feel. Latex paint, on the other hand, tends to have a more rubbery feel to it than oil paint.
  2. Use denatured alcohol or acetone to soak a cotton ball. To see if the paint is adhering to the wall, lightly touch it. Latex or water-based paint will disintegrate slightly. Nothing will happen to oil-based paint.

Final Verdict

People who are into DIY for several reasons, especially for the paint job, have asked this question “can you use latex paint over oil based primer” several times that is why we have prepared this comprehensive guide on it.

The combination of the two often confuses them. This is the reason why we came up with this article; we tried to mention all the required points that can help people in performing the paint job successfully without any hassle.

Follow the article properly and abide by the guidance provided here so that you don’t end up calling a professional for the mess.

Don’t forget to check the toxin levels so that you can prevent any harmful effects on humans and the environment. Also, take all precautionary measures to ensure that you are not inviting any more problems to the house.

All the best and we hope that your paint job will be as perfect as you desire.

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