Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

Learn if you can use latex over oil based primer.
Can you use latex paint over oil based primer image illustration

A question we get asked often is—can you use latex paint over oil based primer?

There’s also confusion about whether or not to use oil-based paints on other paint types—and whether you can use latex paint over oil-based primer.

In this post, I’ll try to break down the facts for you so that nothing gets you confused anymore. In a nutshell, I’ll walk you through the following: 

  1. What is latex paint
  2. What are shellac primers?
  3. What is an oil based primer?
  4. Why do oil paints don’t mix? 
  5. Why should you use latex paint over oil primer? 
  6. How to determine whether your walls have oil based paint 
  7. Tip on placing latex over oil primer 
  8. And a couple of related questions 

So if you want to get your facts right before trying out anything, this brief guide will be pretty helpful. 

Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

Yes, you can use latex paint over oil-based primer. But first, you need to prepare your wood surface. Paint it with quality bonding primer and let it dry well. Now proceed and apply double coats of latex paint. Never apply an oil-based paint over latex.

What Is Latex Paint?

Latex is a water-based paint made from acrylic resin. Unlike acrylic paint, latex paint is recommended when painting large surfaces—not because of its fast drying time but because most people purchase it in large quantities. 

Latex is suited for painting ceilings and walls. Besides, it comes in various finishes—from flat to high glosses. 

You’ll also find out that some paints come with enamel. Usually, an additive that’s responsible for making the dried surfaces harder while making them less pervious. 

What are Shellac Primers? 

Shellac primers are excellent wood sealants that can prevent tannins from bleeding through the paint. And because of their elasticity, shellac primers are also best for plastic, plaster, and even metals. 

Shellac is known as a fast-drying primer—drying in under an hour. They can help you prime your surfaces faster than latex. The only downside is that you’ll have to use denatured alcohol to thin the primer and clean the tools. 

If you have a sensitive sensory smell, you’ll not love the fumes produced by the alcohol. However, you can still wear your protective gear to avoid the smell because shellac primers are the best for trimming or sealing wood. 

What is an Oil Based Primer? 

Oil-based primers work with latex and oil paints, making them applicable and very flexible to various surfaces. The advantage of oil-based primers is that they are good stain killers—meaning that they can prevent stains from showing on new coats of paints. 

These primers are usually the best for both interior and exterior bare wood as they can seal the porous wood surfaces, making the paint coat cover almost the entire surface. Besides, oil-based primers prevent tannins, such as redwood, from bleeding through the wood surface. 

Why Should I Use Latex Paint Over Oil Primer? 

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If you’ve chosen to use latex paint over an oil-based primer, please note that the latex paint will crack or not stick as needed if you didn’t take your time to prepare the surface properly. 

So the best way to go about this is to prepare the surface before using latex paint on an oil-based primer if you want the best results—a strong, lasting paint surface. 

Lightly sand your oil primer using sandpaper to make the surface smooth to enable both paints to blend. That said, below are some reasons why using latex paint over an oil-based primer is a brilliant idea: 

  1. Oil-based primers are excellent for proper sealing to allow for the entire surface covering of the latex paint layer, primarily when you use them on unfinished surfaces.
  2. Besides, oil-based primers stop wood from releasing tannins while also preventing bleeding through your latex coat surface.

The only downside of using latex paints is that they can swell your wood grains. However, using it over an oil-based primer will prevent ruining the surface as long as you have sanded it properly. 

Just to recap, always remember to prepare the surface you want to work on properly before using latex over an oil based primer. This is to ensure that you achieve the smooth and lasting finish you’ve always wished for. 

How Do I Determine if My Surface Has an Oil-Based Paint? 

It’s critical to test if the surfaces you want to work on have oil-based paint. To do this, you’ll need to follow the procedure below: 

  1. The first test is to feel the surface—oil is usually smooth and glossy, while latex possesses a rubbery finish.
  2. You’ll need to dip a piece of cotton wool into acetone to check the status of the painted surface—oil usually remains unaffected while latex will slightly dissolve.
  3. If you’ve determined that the surface is oil-based paint, use sandpaper to rough the surface until the gloss has disappeared—wash and give it some time to dry. 

Tip On Placing Latex Over Oil Primer

Tip On Placing Latex Over Oil Primer

It is important to note that oil-based primers can take up to eight hours to dry. This is why you may want to sand the primer slightly to provide a better bonding surface. 

It’s also critical to wash any dust particles that may have been caused by the sanding process, allowing it to dry before you paint the surface. 

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to apply two latex paint layers over your primer and allow between two to four hours for each of the layers to dry.

Related Questions 

1. What Kind of Paint Can I Use On an Oil-Based Primer?

The best paint you can use on an oil-based primer is latex paint. But as a general rule of thumb, please don’t use oil-based paint over latex.

And if you’ll be using latex paint over an oil-based primer, it’s best to prepare the surface you’ll work on properly. To do this, use a bonding primer, allow it to dry, then use two coats of latex paint. 

2. Can You Use Water-Based Paint Over Oil-based Primer?

Yes, you can use water-based paint over an oil-based primer. You can always use oil-based primer over any type of top coat—and water-based paint is that top coat. 

3. Can I Use Latex Paint Over Kilz Oil-based Primer?

Yes, you can use latex paint over Kilz oil-based primer. Kilz is an oil-based primer, stain blocker, and sealer best for interior and exterior surfaces. The advantage of Kilz is that it dries faster and offers a resistant coating. 

4. What Happens If You Paint Over Oil-based Paint?

When you paint over oil-based paint, you’ll most likely notice peeling or chipping. This is because the formulas have been known not to bond well with any oil-based paint’s natural glossy surfaces. 

5. Which Is Better Oil-Based Primer or Water-Based Primer?

Oil-based primers have a nasty smell but come in handy when you need to block water-based odors. On the other hand, water-based primers are oil-free and easy to work with. It all depends on the purpose you want to use each of them for. 

What Next? 

Yes, you can use latex paint over an oil-based primer, but ensure that you have prepared the surface properly before using the latex over your oil-based primer. 

You can also check out article on painting over lacquer.

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