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Wait a minute; I’ve always heard that you can’t paint latex over oil! My grandfather was a painter and he always said not to paint water-based paint over oil-based paint! I know, but you can paint latex paint over oil-based paint if you take the right steps in the painting process. What are those steps? I’m glad you asked; please read on to learn how to paint with latex over oil.

First, you’ll want to make sure your surface is oil-based paint before you proceed with the work. You can use a rag dipped in denatured alcohol to determine if the paint on your house or surface is water-based or oil-based. Just rub some on the home or surface; if it softens up it is water-base, if it doesn’t it is oil-based. Oil-based paint produces a very hard, slick surface which isn’t good for a latex top-coat to adhere to. So if it’s oil, you’ll need to go on to step #2.

Second, you’ll want to use a good primer before putting the latex paint over the oil. It’s always best to sand the surface before priming too; this will scuff it a little and give even better adhesion. There are many good oil and acrylic primers on the market today – either primer will do a good job. Once you’ve primed over the old oil-based coating, you are ready to re-paint with a latex finish coat.

Applying a primer coat over oil-based paint before painting with water-based paint will always ensure good adhesion and great results. Yet it is amazing how much paint technology has improved over that last 5-10 years. Both Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore boast that they have latex paint products that will go directly over oil paint products without priming. Still, you should never try to paint latex over oil on the exterior of your home without priming first – it’s too risky due to the harsh environment outdoors. Although with some of these quality paints they are making now you may be able to get away with it on the interior of your home. Even then I would make sure it was cleaned and sanded thoroughly in order to get good adhesion.

So you can paint latex paint over oil-based paint, but you have to make sure to take the proper preparation steps. First, make sure you are dealing with an oil-based paint (test it as described above); secondly, sand and prime (this will ensure professional painting results); thirdly, you may want to look into some of the innovative quality paint products from your local paint store. For more information check out thisproduct page  or preparation and process page. As always, DFW Finishers is here to help and serve the Holly Springs, Apex, Cary, and Raleigh-Durham community with all their painting needs; feel free to contact us for free consultation and how-to advice.