Many people try to find suitable paint and primer for their project, whether renovating or moving into a new house. A question we often ask is—can you use latex paint over Zinsser oil-based primer?

In this article, I’ll try to break down the facts for you so that you can find an answer to your question.

Yes, you can use latex paint over Zinsser oil-based primer, however, you cannot apply an oil-based paint over latex. For the latex paint over Zinsser oil-based primer to be successful, you need to first ensure that your painted surface is properly dry. This is your best option, as there are no inherent characteristics of completely dry oil-based paint that will prevent a layer of latex paint from adhering to it.

painting the wall with latex paint over zinnser primer

What is latex paint?

Latex paint is regularly called “acrylic latex” since its ingredients have a plastic resin made of acrylics or poly vinyl to help it adhere better.

Latex is a white milky liquid exuding from the rubber tree. The word “latex” originally means the use of rubber in one form or another as the resin, or solid, in paint.

The binder in latex paint is a solid, plastic-like synthetic material that is dispersed as microscopic particles in water. This dispersion is a white milky liquid called “latex” the reason is that it is reminiscent of natural latex from the rubber tree. This latex is then mixed with pigments and other ingredients to produce “latex paint.” Two types of binders are used such as acrylic and vinyl-acrylic.

Latex paint is a water-based paint. In latex paint, water is used as a solvent, and latex is used as a resin which is known as a binder.


  1. Latex paints are convenient to use. They dry more quickly than other oil-based and water-based paint. You can apply it with spray, brush, and roller. If you are planning to paint your house by yourself then follow the “DIY” instructions on the manufacturer’s brochures.
  2. You can apply latex paints on new as well as old plastered surfaces. You may also apply it on wood, concrete, stucco brick, galvanized metal, vinyl siding, aluminum siding, etc.

Properties of latex paint

Latex paint is easy to work with and dries more quickly than other paint. These paints are water-soluble and when it dries, it becomes water-resistant.

You can clean latex paints easily with water. It has good adhesion to most substrates. It has superior resistance to chalking and fading, especially when exposed to bright sun.

 Latex paint has fewer odors. These paints have a less inherent tendency to grow mildew. Mildewcide additives discourage mildew growth and help to maintain a fresh appearance.

Latex paint is available in the market with different finishes such as matte, semi-glossy, and stain finish.


  • Low odor
  • Faster dry time
  • Water cleanup
  • Long-term flexibility
  • Non-yellowing
  • Not combustible


  • Relatively short open-time (amount of time paint can be brushed before it sets)

Where to use latex paint

Where to use latex paint really depends on what type of latex-based paint you are using. Latex paint is ideal for interior and exterior paint jobs. It is washable with soap and water after drying. Although latex paint is safer to use than oil, you should be sure the area is well ventilated, and wear proper breathing equipment.

Latex paint is highly versatile and will work with a wide variety of surfaces. You may use latex successfully on wood, drywall, vinyl or aluminum siding, concrete, brick, stucco, trim, siding, ceilings, walls, and other surfaces.

One should keep in mind that latex does not have the same durability as oil-based paints and you have to paint more often in years to come. Latex paint is generally great on smooth surfaces but is not great on rougher surfaces with more texture, such as concrete. You should also avoid using this type of paint on woods and metals since it may cause the metal to rust quicker, given its makeup. 

Latex paint dries faster than oil-based paints that’s why you can apply a second coat after a shorter wait. It also goes on smoother and does not show brush strokes as easily as oil-based paints. Latex paint is also convenient to clean up since it is water-based. Latex paints also have fewer “Volatile Organic Compounds” (VOC) than oil-based paints. VOCs are the gases you smell during and after painting, that may affect your health when you are overexposed.

Types of latex paint

Latex paint over Zinsser oil-based

There are different types of latex paints on the market so choosing the best paint can be somehow difficult. Now, I am going to inform you best latex paint types.

Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Paint

Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Paint is a semi-gloss acrylic paint. It can be perfect for both indoor and outdoor uses, including wood, plaster, metal, and masonry.

The low-odor paint is durable and will keep its shine for a long time because it gives exceptional protection against chipping. The paint dries quickly and hides imperfections.

KILZ Interior/Exterior Enamel Paint

This type of paint is a known brand for items that assist with outdoor tasks, such as staining wood or painting fences.

KILZ porch and patio paint are long-lasting and simple to maintain. It withstands paint cracking, fading, peeling, water damage, and scuffing. The acrylic paint has a low-luster enamel surface, making it tough against weather conditions.

What is an oil-based primer?

Oil-based primer is typically perfect for projects that require a tight seal. Water-based primer is good for indoor areas that are less likely to contact water. Oil-based paint off-gases more VOCs than water-based paint, making oil-based less ideal for indoor use. 

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

These primers are usually the best for both interior and exterior bare wood as they can seal the porous wood surfaces, making the new paint coat cover almost the entire surface.

In addition to, oil-based primers prevent harmful tannins, such as redwood, from bleeding through the wood surface.

Oil-based primer means that the base of the primer is oil. You can use this primer in combination with oil-based paint. 

Oil-based primer is good at sealing in stains and tannins. So, if you have a nasty smoke stain or smell that you’d like to cover, oil-based primer is ideal. 

Differences between oil-based primer and water-based primer

There are some differences between oil-based primers and water-based primers. Here are some of the differences: 

  • Water-based primer is easy to clean up. A water-base means that you can clean the primer with water. This eliminates the need to have special solutions on hand. 
  • The primer that is water-based dries faster than an oil-based primer. Nevertheless, this may vary based on the brand and type.
  • Oil-based primer is good to apply to wood. The oil seals the grains of the wood and prevents the paint from bubbling due to water damage. 
  • Paint which is oil-based releases a higher number of Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This means that oil-based primer isn’t the first choice for indoor use, as the VOCs can be harmful when inhale routinely. 

If you’re searching for the greatest oil primer to cover ugly stains, KILZ Stain Blocking Oil-Based Primer is a fantastic choice. It’s less harmful than other oil-based primers because it has a low volatile organic compound content.

Furthermore, KILZ removes a wide range of stains from a variety of exposed porous surfaces, like masonry and metal. The primer is odorless so it’s ideal for places with poor ventilation, such as a basement.

PrimerAdvantagesDisadvantagesPerfect forDurabilityDry time
Oil-based primerNot show imperfections, cover water, nicotine, ink stainsRelease a lot of volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCsInterior and exteriorDurable24 hours to dry
Water-based primerQuick-drying has a brilliant opacity and has a lower VOC level within the paint so can be less harmfulWill corrosion coating equipmentIndoorDurableBetween 30 minutes to 1 hour

What is zinsser oil-based primer?

Zinsser is an oil-based primer people use it a lot over the years for priming cabinets, exterior wood, and wall stains.

This oil-based primer is a good blocker that usually seals surfaces in one coat, but on oak cabinets, a second coat is sometimes needed to completely stop tannin bleed.

Zinsser oil-based primer is an all-purpose oil-based primer designed for interior or exterior applications where an oil-based primer is desired. It provides excellent penetration and flexibility and has excellent adhesion and stain blocking properties.

Zinsser oil-based primer is water-based. It adheres to all surfaces without sanding. This primer blocks stains, permanently sealing graffiti, grease spots, tar, and asphalt, indoors and out.

Zinsser oil-based primer is quick-drying with magnificent adhesion to even glossy surfaces. It contains a biocide that protects the dried coating against fungal degradation. Primer dries in 30 minutes.


  • Touch-Dry in 30 mins
  • Recoat After 45 mins
  • Excellent Adhesion Without Sanding
  • Prevents Rust Formation
  • Biocide Protects Against Fungal Degradation
  • Blocks Stains & Permanently Seals
  • Suitable for Indoor & Outdoor Use

How to use Zinsser oil-based primer

Zinsser oil-based primer allows the surface to dry completely before priming. This type of primer has a 2-hour recoat, meaning you can easily paint over it on the same day, even with a water-based paint-like emulsion. You may coat a full ceiling or wall with it, too. You should dilute Zinsser oil-based primer with white spirit to loosen it up and off you go.

Zinsser oil-based primer is suitable for interior and exterior walls, doors, trim, paneling, siding, window frames, and shutters – any surface where a fast-drying and high hiding undercoat is needed.

This primer brushes evenly, levels quickly and sands easily to create a glassy smooth enamel undercoat for oil-based and latex-based paints. Since it dries to the touch in 30 minutes, is ready to recoat in 2 hours, and sticks to glossy surfaces without sanding, Zinsser oil-based primer saves time on the job.

How soon can you paint over Zinsser’s oil-based primer?

How soon can you paint over Zinsser's oil-based primer?

Zinsser oil-based primers do not dry out over an extended period of time, according to most laboratories. To ensure the paint adheres to you correctly, you shouldn’t apply the painting layer more than three to four hours before it should. Compared to a primer made of oil, oil requires more time to dry out. If you intend to coat it again, you should wait 24 hours to ensure it is all ready.

You can use Zinsser oil-based primer quickly to smooth glossy surfaces without sanding or other chemicals since it dries to a damp, and recoats in 2 hours.

If this primer is properly dried, you can paint over it. You should make sure to leave enough time between coats if you are doing two coats over it. It appears that this primer slows the drying process a little, and if you try to apply a second coat soon, you will notice the paint dragging.

You can utilize a Zinsser oil-oil-based primer over and on. Furthermore, you can paint 30 minutes after drying with latex or Zinsser oil-based paints, before applying latex paint, or after applying the Zinsser oil-based paint for 3 months afterward. And also, you should apply a strong solvent-based coating before primer-freezing.

Zinsser oil-based primer dries to touch in 5 minutes and can be top coated in 30 minutes with latex or oil-based paints. For best results, allow the primer to cure overnight before applying strong solvent-based topcoats.

What paint can we use over Zinsser oil-based primer?

You may apply any oil or latex paint to Zinsser oil-based primer. Zinsser oil-based primer is the best primer for professionals because it dries faster than any other. As fast as it dries, it is ideal for painting cabinets, doors, and trim.

You can use latex and Zinsser oil-based primer together. This primer base coat is an excellent choice for painting with sign enamels, oil-based paints, latex paints, or any other paint.

It is good to utilize Zinsser oil-based primer with a glossy surface. Surfaces that are glossy and impermeable require a primer that is highly adhesion-rich. It’s exactly that with Zinsser oil-based primer.

Can we use latex paint Over oil-based primer?

If you’ve decided to use latex paint over an oil-based primer, you should remember that the latex paint will crack or not stick properly if you don’t take your time to prepare the surface properly.

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

Lightly sand your oil primer using fine-grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth to enable both paints to blend. Below are some reasons why using latex paint over an oil primer is a good idea:

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

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

Always, you should pay attention to preparing 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.

Can you use latex paint over water-based primer?

A water-based paint formulation allows you to paint a latex topcoat over either an oil-based primer or a water-based primer.

Latex paint is water-based paint, so you can paint it over with water-based primer.

Primers based on oil-based paint and water-based paint are very versatile and you can apply them to a wide range of surfaces.

You can use water-based primer for latex paints, while oil-based primer is used for enamel paints. Primers are usually three-in-one: a primer, sealer, and undercoat, which can be applied to acrylic or enamel surfaces.

Water-based primer is ideal for painting unfinished drywall. Furthermore, being more flexible and fast-drying, they are less brittle than oil-based primers, which means they are less prone to peeling and cracking.

Can we use latex primer over oil-based paint?

It is good to use latex paint over oil-based primer. And it can also be good to utilize oil primer for latex paint, however, you may not use latex primer for oil-based paint. To successfully paint over oil primer, you should first ensure that your painted surface is dry before applying latex paint.

If you prepare the surface properly, you can use latex paint over oil-based paint. You have to make sure the bonding primer (oil-based or latex) is dry before applying it. Apply two coats of latex paint as the topcoat.

What does paint primer do?

Some people may think that priming walls may seem like an extra step in the painting process, but the advantages far outweigh the extra work. Paint primer creates the foundation for a flawless paint job. From cutting down the number of coats you’ll need to protect your paint from wear over the years, priming definitely makes your job easier eventually. And regardless of your skill level, using a wall primer will help you achieve a professional-looking finish.

Priming walls helps:

  • To cover imperfections such as areas of your wall that may have been patched or repaired.
  • To block and conceal stains so they don’t bleed through your newly painted finish.
  • To provide a uniform surface for your paint to stick to. (Better adhesion = a longer-lasting paint job.)
  • To create a uniform base for a smooth, seamless paint application, so you can get the job done in fewer coats.
  • To neutralize the color of your surface so that when new paint is applied, the truest, most brilliant, color shines through.

When should we use paint primer?

While our paint is self-priming, we always recommend utilizing primer before your two coats of paint for a pro-quality finish. Priming first also gives a chance for the richest, truest color to shine through. We call it the perfect base for brilliant color. In most cases, one coat of primer should do the trick, but you’ll definitely want to use two coats of primer in these circumstances:

  • When switching from a higher sheen to a lower sheen finish, like from semi-gloss to eggshell.
  • Changing from a dark color to a lighter one. If you have repaired or patched your walls.
  • When you’re painting a humid area like a bathroom, which is more susceptible to mildew and leaching.
  • If your wall has stains that you want to block (like water spots from a bathroom leak or smoke damage from a fire in a kitchen).
  • When painting unfinished wood trim or other very porous surfaces.

How to use oil-based paint primer?

Some people may wonder how I can use an oil-based primer. Here are several steps to using oil-based primer:

  1. Remember to protect yourself – oil-based products’ ingredients have stronger fumes than water-based ones. Make sure you have good ventilation when handling oil-based paint. 
  2. Be prepared for clean-up – if you accidentally spill oil-based primer, it’s difficult to clean, so be sure to have some mineral spirits on hand to clean up spills.
  3. Prepare the surface – and old flaking paint, and make sure your surface is ready for the primer. If you apply primer over a surface that isn’t ready, you’ll end up working against yourself. 
  4. Stir your primer – like other paints, you should stir primer before applying  

Apply the primer – multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat. Take your time and do the job correctly the first time. 

What kind of paint should we use over oil-based primer?

It seems good to use acrylic paint over oil-based primer. Painting over the oil-based primer with latex or acrylic paints is great although the latter is a better choice. You have to make sure to apply a bonding primer before you apply the latex paint base coat.

Latex paint is a great option for surfaces that are prone to scratching, and it supplies a strong, lasting surface. You may utilize latex paint for drywall and softwoods, although there are a few notable exceptions to this rule.

There are many reasons to use latex paint over an oil-based primer, and the results are a strong, lasting surface. As a general rule, latex primers are used for drywall and softwoods, although there are a few notable exceptions. Oil primers and paints take longer to dry and require additional ventilation, meaning a blend of latex and oil can reduce time and discomfort without sacrificing durability.

Can we use an oil-based primer for oil-based paint?

Painting over oil-based paints is only possible when the paint is oil-based. Nevertheless, oil-based primer is the exception.  If a primer is oil-based, you can utilize it over any oil-based top coat, and you should use water-based paint be as a top coat as well.

Latex paints may not stick to oil-based paints. The exception is that an oil-based primer can accept any kind of topcoat paint. For this reason, we recommend that you should use an oil-based primer over an oil-based top coat and water-based paint as a top coat.

When you are painting over oil-based paints, you may use oil-based paint. Otherwise, the paint will peel off or blister. The reason is that the government is not allowing oil-based top coat paint from being sold on the standard market. Oil-based paints have a higher volatile organic compound content than water-based paints.

In some cases, using the same base for primer and paint will be advantageous – especially in outdoor projects, where you need a strong seal.

Can you use acrylic paint over oil-based paint?

Generally, it is not good to mix oil paints and acrylic paints together on your palette before applying them to the canvas. Acrylics are water-based, and oils are oil-based that’s why they each have different properties and different needs (in terms of drying time, type of varnish, etc).

If you want to paint one first and then the second, it is okay to paint oils over acrylics, but never paint acrylics over oils. So, for instance, you could gesso your canvas and then apply a few layers of acrylic paint. Once the acrylic paint is dry, you can safely paint over it using oil paints. Many artists like doing this, the reason why it allows them to enjoy the properties of both types of paint.

What you should not do is paint a layer of oils and then paint over it with acrylics. Here’s the reason: the acrylic paint has no ability to stick to the oil paint, so it flakes off. This happens quickly, almost as soon as the acrylics dry, or occasionally, it can take weeks. In any case, the acrylic definitely flakes off at some point.

So, you can use both oil paints and acrylic paints in your painting – just be sure to use oil over acrylic, and not acrylic over oil – and try not to mix the two on your palette!


To sum up, Never use an oil-based paint over a latex one, but you can use latex paint over a Zinsser oil-based primer. They can be a good combination if you use them properly.


What kind of paint can I use over oil-based primer?

You can use latex paint. Latex paint is a great option for surfaces that are prone to scratching, and it supplies a strong, lasting surface.

Can we use water-based paint over oil-based primer?

Yes, you can use water-based paint on top of an oil-based primer. You may use oil-based primer over any type of top coat—and water-based paints are that top coat.

Can we use latex paint over Kilz oil-based primer?

Yes, you can use latex paint over Kilz oil-based primer. KILZ Stain Blocking Oil-Based Primer is a fantastic choice. It’s less harmful than other oil-based primers because it has a low volatile organic compound content.

What happens if we use oil-based paint over oil-based primer?

Yes, you can use oil-based paint over oil-based