Can You Use Oil Based Paint over Water Based Paint?

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

Ever wondered what the outcome of an oil paint would be over water paint? A painter might face a requirement or specifications to apply oil paint in their professional service. Where the already existing surface paint is water-based, a concern might arise, and one would be faced with the inevitable question of whether he can use oil paint over water paint.

If you’ve ever wondered if you can use oil-based paint over water-based paint, the answer is yes, one can use oil paint over water paint. However, while oil-based paint dries significantly more slowly than water paint and can be applied over any water paint, oil paint dries slowly and cracks water-based paint. Therefore, it is hardly possible for it to work in reverse.

There has been a newly developed interest noticeable in oil paints. There has been a dramatic addition to the number of people asking about different oil painting techniques to get the most out of their paintings.

Contents of Oil and Water-Based Paints

While trying to achieve the best painting experience, it is essential to know and understand how both paints work, and this will require knowing the ingredients or contents of each paint.

Contents of Oil and Water-Based Paints

A quick look at the content of oil and water-based paint will be of immense help to anyone looking for how to use oil-based paint over water-based paint, and they are as follows;

Oil paint comprises one or more pigments, a binder (oil), and a thinner (such as turpentine). The thinner makes the paints simpler to apply to surfaces with a brush, while the oil acts as a carrier to hold and apply the pigments. Linseed oil is the most commonly used ingredient in this artistic oil paint since it dries faster and has more flexibility than other oils.

While in water-based paints, water is used to transport pigments. The paint is mixed with water and applied with a brush to any suitable surface. The paint is bound to the painting’s surface as the water dries.

Application of Oil Paints on Water-Based Paints

One essential guideline should be followed to achieve the greatest possible result; the underneath finish has to be fully dry. Oil-based paints are much harder to be applied than water-based paints because they tend to stick more and are denser in texture. In addition, the odor following the painting is no longer as intense as it used to be since water-based paints comprise much less VOCs.

Application of Oil Paints on Water-Based Paints

The Most Common Mistake!

Due to a lot of uncertainty regarding applying oil-based paint on water-based primer, a range of customers are seeking help on how to get around and avoid frequent errors that are typically seen all the time.  The difference between using a water-based primer with oil-based paints is that individuals seem to make readily avoidable mistakes while doing so, even though it is pretty uncomplicated and straightforward.

The mistakes commonly made are highlighted below:

  • Applying oil-based paints in a moist environment is not suitable as higher moisture prevents it from sticking to the surface and from drying completely.
  • Failure to check for adhesion before commencing a job
  • The inability to close containers with oil-based paint prevents them from spoiling.
  • Inadequate preparation and application can contribute to peeling.

Comparison between Oil-Based Paint and Water-Based Paint

Difference Oil-based Paint Water-based Paint
Marketing They are cost more in the market due to the content used in making them. They are cheaper to obtain and use
Preference & usage It is preferred its color & texture and mainly used as a finish It is chosen for its easy applicability.
Effectiveness It is preferably used for interior,  exterior,  and wood finish coatings. It is preferably used for exterior, interior, mental, and wood surface coatings.

Can You Use Oil-Based Paint over Water-Based Paint?

Oil paint can be applied over water paint because the latter dries much faster. However, slow-drying oil paint causes cracking in water-based paint; thus, it does not reverse. Therefore, it was highly typical for Old Masters to use oil paint to cover up water-based ones on wood panels.

Can You Use Oil-Based Paint over Water-Based Paint

Water-based or acrylic paint may peel or chip when painted over oil-based paint since these formulas do not mix well with the glossy coating of oil paint. However, water paint can also be used over oil paint with the proper method.

Painting water-based paints over oil-based paints are only feasible using oil-based paints or oil-based primers. As a result, an oil-based primer should be placed over any oil-based topcoat, and a water-based paint should also be used as a topcoat. In addition, because oil paints attach easily to one another, we can coat old oil-based colors with fresh oil paints. As a result, oil-based paints appear more beautiful, straightforward, and better than water-based paints.

Always prime with water paint if you’re using oil paint. One to two layers of bonding primer should be used and cured according to the product specifications. The surface has been thoroughly primed if the previous paint stains, color, and other surface flaws are no longer evident.

Read MoreCan You Use Acrylic Paint on Guitar?

Benefits & Setbacks of Water and Oil-Based Paints

Benefits & Setbacks of Water and Oil-Based Paints

Both paints have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. They differ depending on the task at hand; knowing the advantages and disadvantages can aid in determining the appropriate paint that is ideal for the job.

Pros of Water-Based Paints
  • It is much easier to apply and has a faster drying period, with a pleasant experience with zero smell.
  • Cleaning rollers and paintbrushes or after paint stains or spills is simpler; all that is required is detergent and water to wash off the stains.
  • Presence of very low Volatile Organic Compound
  • Resistant to cracking
  • Water-based paints do not fade quickly.
Cons of Water-Based Paints
  • It gets damaged easily
  • Performs poorly in moist environments
  • It usually performs poorly in giving a shiny finish; most times comes out dull.
Pros of Oil-Based Paints
  • Achieving a smooth high gloss with minimal brush strokes.
  • Surfaces that are discolored, chalky, or unclean can be painted with oil-based paint.
  • It has the potential to last a reasonable amount of time.
  • Oil paints are excellent for hiding tiny flaws or slightly damaged spots.
  • It can withstand harsh weather conditions
  • oil-based paints are considered richer in texture and color.
Cons of Oil-Based Paints
  • It Is tough to clean up after painting and requires extra efforts to make paintbrushes and rollers free of oil-based paint
  • The amount of time consumed by oil paint in drying is too long
  • They become yellow or darken with age.
  • There is a high presence of Volatile Organic compounds in oil paints.
  • It loses color quickly.

Some Tips for Applying oil-based paint over water-based paint

  • Using oil paint on a water primer is advisable to obtain good results. This can be done by letting the water-based primer dry completely before applying the oil-based paint.
  • The Sandpaper to Fix certain Imperfections on the surface before the painting takes place is a requirement for a good outcome.
  • Improved air circulation is required to ensure the adhesion of the paint.
  • Ensure the use of protection gears while painting, e.g., gloves and protection goggles

Final Thoughts

The procedure is not complicated when applying oil-based paints over water-based paints, and the best possible results can be achieved. However, with due regards to the tricky nature of oil-based paints and the simple nature, one has to constantly keep in mind the do’s and don’t and take the necessary precautions, and the best outcomes would be achieved.

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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