Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil-based Primer?


Last updated: July 11, 2023

Discover steps to follow to paint over oil-based primer to get the desired results.

Latex does not stick over oil-based paints since they’re incompatible. That means you cannot spray latex over oil-based paint, but it is possible to use oil-based primers over latex since such primers are made to be used on any paint coating. 

Also, oil-based primers are made with alkyd resins to provide a strong bond to the surface. Before using latex, you must adequately prepare the surface by cleaning, sanding, and applying a high-quality topcoat. 

In this post, we will answer the question: Can you use latex paint over oil-based primer? From defining latex paint to how to use it on different types of oil-based primers, we will be as comprehensive as possible. Let’s dive in.  

Can You Use Oil-based Primer With Latex Paint?

Yes, you can apply oil-based primer over latex paints since such primers are compatible with any paint type. The oil-based primer acts as a bridge between latex paint and the existing surface paint to increase adhesion. For best results, ensure thorough sanding of the substrate before applying the primer and latex paint. 

What is Latex Paint?

Latex is a water-based paint, sometimes referred to as vinyl styrene. It’s made with several artificial polymers which resemble natural latex. 

Perhaps you’ve been using latex paint, except you know it as acrylic paint. Latex contains various ingredients, including resins derived from rubber compounds.

Since latex is designed to have a longer shelf life, water-soluble bases eventually replace the rubber compounds, making the paint compatible with most substrates. You can use latex paint on walls, kitchen cabinets, ceilings, furniture, etc. 

Latex paints, as we know them, come in three different types, including 100% acrylic latex paint, vinyl-acrylic paint, and modified alkyd latex paint. The 100% acrylic latex provides the best adhesion and creates an attractive natural color. 

The vinyl-acrylic is the cheapest option, perfect for interior painting, while the alkyd-modified latex is best suited for exterior walls.

What are the Different Types of Primers?

Primers can be classified into different categories based on their primary components. Generally, most primers are made with various substances such as water, shellac, and oil. 

They help improve adhesion, conceal impurities, and boost the outcome of your paintwork. Below are the different types of primers most painters use: 

Oil-Based Primers

Oil-based primers are the friendliest and most versatile option you can use on most interior and exterior surfaces. You can apply it as a base coating below latex and oil-based paint. 

Oil-based primers help seal impurities on porous surfaces, making them great for use on bare wood. You can apply oil-based primer on redwood and cedarwood to prevent the toxic tannins they release into the environment. 

The only drawback you’ll encounter with these primer types is that they don’t dry faster and could take up to 24 hours to dry to touch. As such, they tend to release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. 

These VOCs can be toxic to humans and the environment as a whole. As such, oil-based primers are not environmentally friendly, and prolonged exposure can lead to health problems. 

On the other hand, oil-based primers offer a smooth and durable finish, but to maintain the painted surfaces, you’ll need to invest in solvents and thinners for regular cleaning, which is yet another drawback.

Shellac Primers

Shellac-based primers have been around for a long and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. This popular primer option is made with elastic compounds that provide the versatility they’re known for. 

You can use shellac primers to conceal rust or smoke stains as well as create watermarks on different surfaces. Shellac primers are also ideal for sealing wood pores to prevent bleeding. 

You can even use it on plastic, and since it dries within an hour, it’s most suitable for quick projects. Maintaining shellac primers is just as easy as all you need is denatured alcohol to clean the surface.

Why Should You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Primer?

Using latex over oil primer provides exceptional results. However, adequate surface preparation is mandatory to attain this. Below are a few good reasons why you should use latex paint over oil primer:

  • Acts as a sealant: Using oil-based primers on bare wood helps prevent bleeding or the emission of toxic tannins, which may seep into the latex paint and ruin the surface. As a result, the wooden substrate could end up swelling, but proper sanding and primer application can prevent this. 
  • Better coverage: Besides being an excellent sealant, oil-based primers provide latex coating with excellent surface coverage. Combining latex and primer helps create durable and robust outcomes on various wooden projects.
  • Time efficient: Oil-based paints and primers take longer to dry and require maximum ventilation to ensure safety from the toxic VOCs. As such, using latex over oil-based primer helps speed up the drying time allowing you to finish your project without compromising its durability. 

However, you should avoid using latex over oil-based primer on ceilings and interior walls since the clean-up process is rigorous, and the odors can be unbearable.  

When to Use Latex Over Oil-based Primer?

Suppose you live in a vintage house, and by vintage, we mean those constructed before the 40s; your house was probably painted with oil-based paint, which was the most popular paint option back then. 

If you need to repaint your drywalls, latex paint is an excellent choice for vintage makeovers. It’s the one instance where you can use latex paint over oil-based primers and paints. 

Latex paint dries faster, usually around 3 to 4 hours, and since they’re less brittle, they provide exceptional results even on complex materials like pinewood. 

Similarly, you can use latex and oil-based primers on old bricks, concrete, and galvanized metals. 

Latex paint and oil-based primer offer an excellent combination for sealing surfaces damaged by rust and smoke, as well as blocking large surface pores. 

As water-based paints, latex contains little to no harmful volatile organic substances, making them a great eco-friendly option. In addition, cleaning latex paint is relatively easy, requiring only water and soap to maintain. 

Latex paints are also cheap and offer protection against yellowing, peeling, and chipping. 

How to Paint Over Oil-Based Primer with Latex

One thing about latex is you can easily paint it over oil-based paint that’s fully cured. Once applied, latex paint creates an outer skin that hardens during evaporation, letting the paint cure from the outside in. 

This greatly contrasts oil-based primers, which contain no water and do not evaporate but harden chemically. Once the oil-based primer has hardened and cured, it retains no oil that would repel subsequent coats of paint. 

The chemical reaction ultimately transforms the oil-based paint into a tough shell that accepts any paint. So if you’re wondering how to paint latex over oil primer, below are the steps. 

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace  

Before you get down to spray painting latex over oil-based primer, you must adequately set up your workspace. 

Since latex paint materials are toxic if inhaled, consider working outside where there’s enough ventilation. Otherwise, ensure your workspace has unlimited air circulation. 

Also, wear good quality breathing equipment as necessary. Spread a tarp, a large old cloth, or newspapers on the ground or workspace to protect against paint overspray. 

While you can apply latex paint over latex paint without needing thorough cleaning or surface preparation, oil-based primer requires a clean surface devoid of old debris for the latex to stick better. 

Therefore after setting up your workspace, deep clean the surface with TSP Heavy Duty cleaner mixed in warm water. 

Step 2: Clean the Surface

After deep cleaning the surface, wipe it down with a cotton rag or tack cloth saturated with beeswax to remove any lingering surface dirt. 

Step 3: Remove Any Existing Gloss Paint

Remove any existing gloss paint by sanding with medium-grit or fine-grit sandpaper to achieve maximum adhesion. As you work, apply moderate pressure, removing all the old gloss finish to help the new paint stick better. 

You can even use a putty knife to remove loose pieces of paint on the surface. With that done, use a wood filler to fill up any gaps and holes on the surface. 

Step 4: Sanding

Sanding helps the primer adhere better to the material; therefore, for this step, use 100-grit sandpaper or an electric sander. 

Also, if you want to paint latex over old oil-based paint, it’s recommended that you roughen up the surface a little, and a 100-grit sandpaper is ideal. After removing all the existing gloss finish, wash with warm soapy water and allow to dry. 

Step 5: Apply Primer

The key to successfully painting latex over oil primers is adequate priming, especially if you want the paint to last for a long time. 

First, wash the surface, remove mildew, then sand any existing gloss finish and wrap it up by sealing up cracks and holes. 

Leave the substrate to dry for 24-48 hours before applying the oil primer. A minimum of two coats of primer are ideal for protection against seeping water or other exterior damages. 

Step 6: Repeat Step 4

For best results, sanding over the primer after it’s dry allows the oil primer and latex to blend and mix better, providing a consistent uniform finish, especially on wooden surfaces. 

Leave the primer to dry thoroughly on the painted surface, then sand lightly with 180-grit sandpaper. After sanding, wash the dust generated and allow the substrate to dry some more before you get down to painting. 

Step 7: Paint the Surface

Before embarking on your paint job, mark out the surfaces you want to leave unpainted or paint with a different color and tape them off. 

Next, spray at least two coats of latex over the primer and leave at least two hours of drying time between each coat. 

You can apply the paint with a spray gun, aerosol can, or airless sprayer. Spraying is much better than brushing, which might leave brush marks on the top latex paint layer. In addition, you want to use the best latex paint for your project. 

For example, use high-quality exterior latex paint for maximum durability if painting outdoor pieces.

Step 8: Sealing

If you wish to extend the durability of your painted surface, you can seal the paint with a great sealant, especially one made specifically made for latex paint. 

A good example is water-based polycrylic for protective finishes, which is ideal for furniture projects. Apply thin layers of the sealant once the paint is fully dry. 

Step 9: Allow to Dry

Although latex paint typically dries to the touch within an hour, you can add another subsequent layer after four hours. From there, leave it to dry and cure thoroughly for at least 48 hours before moving or using the object. 

If you wish to speed up this drying time, apply thin coats of paint, as they tend to dry quickly. You could even use a heater, a fan, or a hairdryer to hasten the drying time. 

Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil-based Primer?

How Do You Make Oil Primers Dry Faster?

Unlike latex paint, which dries to the touch within an hour, oil-based paints contain no water to support evaporation. 

As such, these paints can take as long as eight hours to dry completely, depending on the size of the project. 

Interior walls and ceilings can take as much as 16 or 24 hours to dry to touch. However, the outcome of oil-based paint is more durable. 

To make your oil primers dry faster, work under favorable weather conditions that will support faster drying. 

Also, apply thin coats of oil-based primer and use a fan or space heater. These methods are great for hastening the time for the primer and paint to dry. 

With oil-based primers, expect your painted surface to dry and cure completely within 2-14 days. 

How to Make Latex Paint Dry Faster Over Oil Primer?

Latex paints are an excellent option for interior house painting and can dry within four hours. This is much faster than oil-based paints, which take around 8-12 hours to dry. 

If you wish to make latex dry faster over oil-based primer, you can employ a few clever tricks using the right tools and working under the best environmental conditions. 

Below are some of the ways to make your newly painted project dry faster

  • Adjust the room temperature: One factor that largely influences the drying time of paint is temperature. Paints naturally dry in warm weather, so you can adjust the room temperature to about 70 degrees if it’s not warm outside.
  • Keep the paint coats thin: A single thick coat of paint may seem like the best way to finish the job quickly, but thick coats don’t dry as quickly as you’d want them to. Since we’re looking for ways to make your latex paint dry faster than oil-based paint, several thin coats are more likely to dry faster than a single thick one.
  • Improve interior ventilation: Keeping the doors and windows open allows fresh air circulation, enabling the paint to dry faster. If this is insufficient, use a fan to hasten the process.
  • Reduce humidity Indoors: High humidity levels slow down the drying time of your paint. To counter this, turn on an air conditioner or schedule your painting on less humid days.
  • Run a dehumidifier: It helps lower the moisture and quickens the drying time of the paint. Ensure your humidifier is robust enough to cover the entire room or workspace.
  • Use appropriate paint: Paints with little to no volatile organic compounds tend to dry faster, so consider using those on your project.
  • Utilize an accelerator: Depending on the type of paint you use, some contain unique additives that help accelerate the drying process. Refer to the recommendations on the package to make the most of the product. 

Best Latex Paint For Oil Based Primers

There are several different types of latex paints from different manufacturers. These paints can be interior or exterior and provide high-quality color finishes. Below are some of the best latex paint for oil-based primers you can find in the market today:

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

The Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Paint is one of the best spray paints from the premium brand Rust-Oleum. It’s a leader in painting solutions providing optimal finishes for various materials and substrates thanks to its versatility. 

Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Paint is a semi-acrylic paint offering a semi-gloss finish. 

It’s best suited for indoor and outdoor painting and can be used in masonry, metal, unglazed ceramic, plaster, and wood surfaces. The paint is made to last longer and produces little to no toxic odor. 

It offers maximum protection against chipping and peeling, and a single can provide maximum coverage of up to 120 square feet. It also dries within a short time and leaves a clean, fresh look on your surfaces. 

To use this formula, first use 180 or 200-grit sandpaper to sand the surface, clean with a degreaser, then apply paint, and it will provide 100% coverage that hides all surface imperfections. 

KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint

KILZ is another reputable brand known for producing products that support outdoor painting projects. You can use the KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint to paint your barn, fence, or wood stains on your outdoor furniture. 

The KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint is the ultimate formula for porch and patio floors and provides a flat matte finish with great coverage. The paint can dry within six hours and is durable as it is easy to clean. 

This paint can resist scuffing, cracking, fading, peeling, and mildew. As an acrylic paint, it contains traces of enamel, making it a high-quality paint that can withstand weather conditions.

The Best Oil-Based Primer

Rust-Oleum, Krylon, and KILZ are some of the most popular manufacturers of the best oil paint and oil-based primers on the market. Their products offer superior surface protection against stains and rust and keep harmful fumes at bay. Below are our best picks for oil-based primers. 

KILZ Stain Blocking Oil-Based Primer

If you need an oil-based primer that will hide unpleasant stains, then the KILZ is the ideal brand. The stain-blocking oil-based formula contains low VOCs, making it one of the safest options on the market. 

As the name implies, the paint blocks various surface stains, including ink, rust, and smoke. It’s also available in smaller quantities of 32-fluid-ounce cans, so it’s ideal for smaller projects and tight budgets. 

The paint takes only one hour to dry and cure fully, and a single 32-fluid ounce can create a coverage of 75 to 100-square-foot.

FAQs – Can You Use Oil-based Primer with Latex Paint aint

Is There a Latex Paint That Can Go Over Oil-Based Paints?

Latex paint is best for an oil-based primer, especially the 100% acrylic option. However, you should by no means use latex over oil-based paint. However, for latex to stick over oil-based primer and provide an excellent finish, you must properly prepare the surface. Use a few layers of bonding primers, and let it dry for some time, then apply at least two layers of latex paint. 

Is Oil-Based Primer Better Than Latex Primer?

Oil-based primers typically contain a very strong odor which may be repulsive and harmful to your health. But since they’re highly durable and help block stains and surface imperfections, you’ll need to wear protective gear to use them. However, water-based or latex primers have water as the primary ingredient and release little to no odor, making them easier to work with. The type of primer you choose depends on the purpose you want to achieve. 

Can I Paint Water-Based Latex Over Oil-Based Primer?

Yes, it’s possible to apply water-based latex over oil-based primers. The only thing you can’t do is use oil-based paint over latex paint, as water-based paints and oil-based paints are not compatible. However, you can use oil-based primer over any paint coating, including water-based paints. 

Can You Use Kilz Oil-Based Primer Over Latex Paint?

Kilz is ideally an oil-based primer, so you can use latex paint over it. This formula helps block unsightly stains, seals surface cracks and holes and is perfect for wooden projects. You can use it as an interior and exterior primer since it dries pretty fast. It’s also highly durable and will protect your paintwork from the elements. 

How Soon Can You Paint Over Kilz Oil-Based Primer?

It would be best to wait for the primer to dry completely before applying latex. Fortunately, according to the manufacturer specifications, Kilz oil-based primer can dry within an hour. However, you must wait 4 to 5 hours before you can add latex paint over the coat of primer. But other oil-based primers require up to eight hours to dry before receiving a new coat of paint. 

Summary – Can You Use Oil-Based Primer with Latex Paint?

The question was: can you paint with latex over oil-based primer? We’ve tried to answer this question as best we can. Professionally speaking, an oil-based paint should never be used over latex, but as we have seen, applying latex paint over an oil-based primer is recommended. 

Unlike oil-based paint, which repels water-based paint, latex, and oil-based primers bond perfectly. The surface should be adequately prepared and sanded to achieve this. Otherwise, the paint might end up peeling after a few weeks. 

Oil primers and latex paints create a perfect combo for exterior pieces and bare wood. Are you looking to paint latex over existing oil primer or paint? Follow the steps in this article for guaranteed error-free results throughout the painting process. 

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