Many people struggle to find an appropriate primer and paint for their projects, whether renewing or moving into a new house. 

You’ve probably heard about using latex primer and oil-based paint together. But can you use latex primer over oil-based paint together? Now, we are going to find an answer to this question.

Quick Answer:

  • You can use latex primer over oil-based paint.  But, the process is tricky. You must take the time to sand and prepare the surface properly before you start painting for the best results. 

What is latex primer?

Latex primer can be the best option for interior and exterior surfaces including drywall, plaster, masonry, woodwork, and painted metal.

Latex primer is also popular as an acrylic primer and basically, it is water-based. It is more flexible, fast-drying, water-soluble, and less brittle than the oil-based primer.

It also comes with low or no VOC compounds, making them a healthier alternative to oil-based and shellac primers. Latex primer is functional for woods having slight dampness.

These types of primer paints are sometimes also convenient for semi-seasoned wood. It supplies a great flexible finish with excellent cracking resistance and is recommended to use on bare wood.

Before applying it, make sure you try it first in a small area to observe the raise of the grain. Use interior and exterior surfaces including woodwork and see if they raise the grain. The drying time is lesser than oil-based primer – generally under 3 or 4 hours.

When to use paint primer?

Can you use latex primer over oil-based paint

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.
  • If 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.

What is oil-based paint?

Oil-based paint is made of several ingredients such as natural oils, such as linseed oil or synthetic alkyd.  Linseed oil is specifically put in oil-based paint as a way that helps bind and dry the paint when it is used.

You can use oil-based paint for surfaces that don’t need to be painted often but need to stand the test of time. Oil-based paint is a slow-drying paint made with oil.

When is oil-based paint used?

Oil-based paint is common in various instances. The most common use is on surfaces that withstand a large amount of abuse. For instance, when painting trim in your home, you should most likely use oil-based paint.

This specific type of paint is popular for being long-lasting and extremely durable. It is recommended that homeowners repaint their trim every few years. But who honestly has time for that? If you want to avoid having to repaint furniture or often trim, use oil-based paint. 

What is latex paint?

Latex paint is frequently called “acrylic latex” because it contains a plastic resin made of acrylics or polyvinyl to help it adhere better.

 There may be a question is latex paint water-based? The short answer is yes. Latex paints are water-based. This gives latex paint the advantage of being able to wash off effortlessly from surfaces and your paintbrushes. It also means that paint is of a much thinner consistency, making it dry very rapidly. Latex paints also come in different gloss finish options.

You can use latex paint for home projects and paint jobs as they come in a wide range of colors and are durable indoor paints. Latex is known for covering larger areas.  Another advantage of using latex paints is that they generally do not have an odor being water-based which makes them safer and non-toxic when exposed to children, pets, or skin.

 CompositionUsageFinishTime to dryPrimerOdorToxicityPriceBrittleness
Latex paintWater-basedIt is thinner and easy to useMatte and glossy1-2 hoursIt doesn’t require a primerLightNon-toxic40% cheaper than oil-based paintsFlexible
Oil-based paintOil-basedIt is thicker and hard to useSmoother and glossyDays to weeksIt needs primerStrongIt can be toxicVaries based on qualityMore likely to chip

Is it possible to use latex primer over oil-based paint?

You may use latex paint over oil-based primer. You can apply oil primer to latex paint, but you may not use latex primer to 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.

How to paint over oil-based paint?

If you have chosen oil-based paint for your home and wondering, how can I paint over oil-based paint, let’s follow these steps.

  • Dip a cotton ball into a small amount of denatured alcohol.
  • Rub it over a small area on the surface. 
  • If the paint does NOT come off, it is oil-based paint and you will need to prime the surface with a bonding primer before applying latex paint.
  • The primer can be latex, but it has to be a product that is made to prepare the surface and help with adhesion and that says “bonding” on the label.
  • When the primer coats are dry, you can then successfully use latex paint.
  • If the paint comes off, it is water or latex-based paint and you can proceed by painting over the surface with any type of paint.

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

If you have chosen oil-based paint for your project, you may wonder what kind of primer should I use over oil-based paint?

Then, if you want to use oil-based paint, try to prime it with water-based paint. If you would like to prevent peeling and chipping in the drying and curing phase, you should use bonding primer, which is formulated to adhere to glossy surfaces and other hard-to-paint surfaces.

A primer made of oil or latex can also be applied to it. Kilz primer will do if the original paint was really shiny. You can use a latex primer on the surface if it isn’t too shiny, then use a couple of latex coats to it to make it more durable.

Do you have to use an oil-based primer for oil-based paint?

Do you have to 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 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 off. 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.

Will latex stick to oil-based paints?

 To form a good bond with the existing paint, it’s important that the two paints are compatible. Don’t apply an oil-based paint over latex but you can put latex over oil-based, as long as you prepare the surface properly first.

A layer of latex cannot cure or stick to latex when applied over an oil-based layer. As latex paint cracks, bubbles, and peels, people who make this mistake can quickly identify it. As a result, quality latex paint is popular for covering oil-based paints if the surface is properly ready.

If you put latex over oil, you’ll just end up with that fruit roll-up look all over your house cause is that they just can’t adhere. Because they’re incompatible, they won’t form a good bond. 15-30 days after painting, you’ll be able to peel that paint right off after getting the surface wet.

Can water-based primer be used over oil-based paint?

You can’t use water-based paint on top of oil-based paint. But you can use oil-based paint on top of water-based paint. You can also use a water-based primer on top of an oil-based primer.

Apply one to two coats of an oil-or water-based bonding primer and dry according to product directions. You know the surface is adequately primed when the former paint color, stains, and other surface imperfections are no more visible.

Since water-based paint doesn’t bond well with the glossy surface of oil-based paint, remove as much gloss from the surface as possible before repainting. Make a pass over the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper. You’re not seeking to remove all the paint, just sanding the surface until it’s level and no longer slick. Then wipe the surface down with a tack cloth to pick up any sanding dust.

How to paint oil-based paints without sanding or priming?

Do you want to save time and elbow grease on your next painting project? Are you planning to paint over oil-based painted surfaces? If you answer yes to both of these questions, this is for you!

You can avoid the time-consuming, hard work of sanding and priming prep by using Oil Bond in these 3 easy steps.

  1. Wipe Oil Bond, an award-winning paint additive from Latex Agent, on the area with a clean rag.
  2. Mix Oil Bond into the paint using the instructions on the bottle.
  3. Paint.

 No sanding, no priming: the project is ready!

What paint can I use over oil-based paint?

Latex paint (and even other oil-based paint) is common for applying over older oil-based paint. It is important that you should cure the surface fully and there is nothing inherent in the coating that prevents another layer of paint to be added.

Preparation is necessary. Glossy surfaces don’t take a second layer of paint well, so they need proper cleaning and priming.

Before you begin painting, you have to make sure to get enough paint to finish the project thanks to The Spruce’s Paint Calculator.

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!

Advantages of oil paint

The special advantages of oil paints are their flexibility and depth of color. You can apply oil paints in different ways, from thin glazes diluted with turpentine to dense, thick impasto. Since it is slow to dry, artists can continue working on the paint for much longer than other types of paint. This supplies a greater opportunity for blending and layering.

 Oils also allow the artist to create a greater richness of color as well as a wide range of tonal transitions and shades. In fact, oil colors do not change noticeably after drying, and it is possible to produce both opaque and transparent effects, as well as matte and gloss finishes.

In the hands of Old Masters like Rubens or Rembrandt, oils permitted stunning effects of light and color as well as much greater realism.

To Wrap Up

Never use an oil-based paint over a latex one, but you can use latex paint over an oil-based primer if you prep the surface carefully.

Otherwise, the paint may peel from the primer in a matter of weeks. Latex paint and oil-based primer are an excellent combination for bare wood, especially exterior objects. Sanding the surface and the primer allows for proper adhesion.


What is latex primer?

The terms “latex” and “water-based” mean a single type of water-based paint product, including primer and paint.

Which is better oil or latex primer?

Oil-based primers are better than latex primers at sealing nail heads, covering knots in bare wood, and blocking tannin bleeding and other stains.

What happens if you don’t use a primer before painting?

If you don’t use priming, it may cause peeling paint, especially in humid conditions.

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

You can use bonding primer over oil-based paint. To prevent peeling and chipping in the drying and curing phases, use bonding primer.