Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

If you’re looking to paint your home, there are various things you must know. For most homeowners, finding the right paint and primer can be challenging. If you’re using latex paint, there is the common question of using it over an oil-based primer.

So, can you use latex paint over oil-based primers? Yes, it’s possible to apply latex paint over an oil-based primer. It’s even ideal for wood projects like furniture. However, surface preparation is crucial. The wooden surface needs proper sanding before the latex paint can be applied.

What you cannot do is apply an oil-based paint over latex. Understanding what you can and cannot do with certain paints is crucial before any painting project.

Quick Overview:

  • Latex is a water-based paint solution made using acrylic resin. The paint features a rubber base hence the name latex
  • An oil-based primer is a type of paint foundation applied on a surface before painting. It smooths and creates an even texture on the surface
  • Latex paint can be applied over an oil-based primer. However, the surface must be prepared by sanding for the best results
  • The paint must be allowed to dry before you can add extra coats
  • However, oil-based paints cannot be applied over latex.

What Is Latex Paint?

Before we get started, let’s get to understand what latex paint is. Latex is a water-based paint made using acrylic resin. It’s very similar to acrylic paint but includes a rubber base. This is the main reason it’s called latex paint.

What Is Latex Paint

In the past, the rubber base was the main part and made up the main part of the resin element. However, that has changed with water-soluble elements replacing the rubber.

Latex paint is sold in large quantities hence ideal for big projects. It’s a versatile paint ideal for several painting jobs. You use the paint on the ceiling, walls, furniture, and kitchen cabinets.

There are three main types of latex paint.

  • 100% acrylic latex
  • Alkyd modified latex
  • Vinyl Acrylic

The ideal latex paint to buy depends on the type of project you’re painting. So far, the 100% acrylic latex paint has proved to be the best. It binds extremely well to surfaces leaving excellent results.

The paint is the highest-performing of all latex types, adhering to surfaces firmly. In addition, the 100% acrylic paint retains vivid colors on the surfaces longer than other types of latex.

If you’re looking to paint walls, then consider vinyl acrylic. It adheres well to walls and is the least expensive. Vinyl latex is ideal for indoor projects, especially walls leaving desirable results.

Lastly, we have the alkyd modified latex which works extremely well for exterior projects. The paint works well and holds well against varying outdoor weather changes.

What Is Oil-Based Primer?

Now that you know what latex paint is and the types of latex paints, let’s see what an oil-based primer is? An oil-based primer is a special type of paint product. The primer acts as a base coating to even and smoothen the surface texture before a final paint coat is added.

Oil-based primers play a crucial role in a painting project. They act as the foundation of the paint, keeping the surface smooth and even. They offer very good surface adherence.

What Is Oil-Based Primer

The firm adherence to surfaces ensures paint applied on top will not peel or flake with time. Oil-based primers are unique paint formulations that ensure smooth and uniform paint results.

While there are numerous primers to consider, oil-based primers are the best. An example of another good primer is the shellac primer. Shellac primers offer excellent wood sealing. They are also ideal for plastic, galvanized metals, and plasters.

They are fast-drying in less than one hour and offer excellent elasticity. However, they need thinning using denatured alcohol before you can use them. The denatured alcohol produces bad fumes which are not good for your health.

This leaves oil-based primers as the best pick for most woodworkers. They are effective and have been used for years. The oil-based primers work well for both indoor and outdoor projects.

In addition, the primer is a great stain killer. They prevent stains from showing over your new coat. The primer also prevents tannins from bleeding through the wood.

However, before you can apply them, you need to sand and clean the surface. Make sure the surface is smooth and there are no prior coatings.

Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

Latex paint can be used over oil-based primer. Overall, latex paint will not stick to oil-based paints. You’ll need an oil-based primer and excellent surface preparation. What you cannot do is apply an oil-based paint over latex.

To ensure Paint With Oil-Based Paint Over Latex is a success, the surface needs preparation and curing. Sand the surface and ensure it’s smooth. If the surface is not prepared properly, the latex paint will crack and peel off.

Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer

For the latex paint over a primer to be a success, the surface must be dry. The latex paint will not properly adhere to oil-based paints that are not completely dry.

Remember, the binding agent in the oil-based primer is oil. Once applied, the oil needs to evaporate and completely dry off. You’ll notice a strong smell initially which disappears after a few days.

Surface preparation is crucial if you want excellent painting results. This includes sanding and cleaning it to remove any dirt. Any paint on the surface must be scraped off. Ensure the surface is clean and smooth before applying the oil-based primer.

If everything is correct, latex paint can easily be applied over oil-based primers and yield excellent results.

Reasons to Use Latex Paint over an Oil-Based Primer?

So, why does one have to use latex paint over an oil-based primer? I’ve already told you the importance of latex paint and the different types of latex paints.

Using it over an oil-based primer yields solid results. The combination of latex paint over oil-based primer is powerful on unfinished and wooden projects.

For unfinished projects, the oil-based primer provides a great seal on the surface. This allows the latex paint to spread evenly and smoothly. It also ensures the latex paint covers the entire surface.

For wooden projects, the oil-based primer prevents the bleeding of tannins from the wood. These are harmful chemicals that woods emit over time.

Furthermore, latex paint can make wood expand and smell. Using oil-based primers prevents swelling and smell. A combination of these two products yields solid results that last for years.

Also, most painting projects take longer to completely dry. However, the combination of these two ensures paint takes a shorter period to dry.

How To Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

You can paint latex over oil-based primer through proper surface preparation. There are a few steps you need to follow to paint latex paint over oil-based primers. These steps are:

How To Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer

1. Prepare The Workspace

The first and crucial step is preparing the working space. As indicated earlier, oil-based primers can release fumes which is a safety and health issue. You’ll need a space with excellent airflow.

Choose a place with good ventilation. In addition, get the necessary protective gear. These can be gloves, masks, and coveralls.

Choose a flat and even surface for the priming. A tarp or some old newspapers can be used to protect areas you don’t want the paint to touch.

2. Cleaning The Surface

Next, you need to clean the surface you’re priming and painting. Make sure you remove any dirt, grime, oils, and contaminants on the surface.

You can use some warm soapy water or a degreasing agent depending on the surface. Soak the surface and let the dirt loosen before cleaning.

For larger areas, you can consider water pressure to save time and energy. Once clean, allow the surface to completely dry.

3. Sand The Surface

Next, sand the top layer of the surface to remove any old paints and other rough particles. Sanding is important for bare wood. You need the surface to be smooth and even for easy adhering to the primer.

You can rub a manual sanding paper in circular motions several times. Electric sand-grit paper machines can also be used to save time.

After sanding, make sure you clean the area of all the dust and wipe it clean. You can rinse it thoroughly using a hosepipe. Let it dry off before applying a primer.

4. Primer Application

With the surface smooth and dry, you can now apply the primer. Read the primer bottle and see the application directions. Apply the primer as directed.

Start by using a thin coat before adding a second coat. However, ensure you leave enough drying time between the first coat and the second.

5. Sand Again

Using 100-grit sandpaper, sand the surface again to ensure it’s smooth and even with the wood surface. This is an essential stage where all bumps and grits on the surface are cleared.

Removing lumps and bumps ensures the latex and the primer bond well. Make sure the entire surface is smooth and even. Once done, wash the area again to clear all dust particles.

Let the surface dry before moving to the next step.

6. Paint

Lastly, you can paint using your selected latex paint. Make sure you seal parts you don’t want the paint to touch. Apply a thin paint and let it dry for a period of 2 to 4 hours.

Apply the second layer and let it dry. When painting, make sure you use a quality brush or roller.

7. Seal

By now, you’re done painting latex paint over an oil-based primer. However, that’s not the end. If you need the paint to last, you need to seal it!

Look for a sealer made of latex and apply it over the paint using a brush or a roller. For most wooden projects, a water-based polyacrylic sealer is recommended.

You can apply more than one layer to ensure the paint lasts longer.

8. Let It Dry

Now you just need the project to dry for a minimum of 48 hours. Before that, don’t touch or move the project. If you use thinner paints and seals, the surface will dry fast.

Additionally, you can use a space-heater or fan to make the surface dry faster. However, use them cautiously and not too close to the project. You want your surface to dry without any disturbances.

Oil-based primers can sometimes take up to 8 hours to dry. This is why you need to follow the steps carefully. Sanding the primer lightly provides better latex paint bonding.


Well, that’s it from me! You now know you can use latex paint over an oil-based primer. However, the process is successful only when you follow the steps above.

Surface preparation is important for excellent results. In the end, you want the latex paint to adhere firmly and last for years. Use the right primer, latex paint, and sealer to ensure excellent results.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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