How-To Videos

How to Paint Over Oil-Based Paint with Latex

By: Danny Lipford

I’m repainting my house, but I’m not sure what kind of paint was originally used. Is it okay to put latex paint over oil-based, or is it the other way around? -Howard

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

Start by finding out if the existing paint is oil or latex by rubbing the surface with denatured alcohol on a rag. If some of the paint comes off on the rag, it’s latex. If not, the existing paint is oil-based.

To apply latex paint over oil-based:

  1. Lightly sand the surface with fine sandpaper (180 to 220 grit) to remove the gloss.
  2. Clean the surface with a sponge dipped in a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) mixed with water.
  3. Remove the cleaner with a sponge and clean water, then allow the surface to dry.
  4. Apply a coat of a quality bonding primer (oil-based or latex), and allow the primer to dry.
  5. Topcoat with two coats of high quality latex paint.

Watch this video to find out more.


Further Information

Video Transcript

Howard asks: I’m repainting my house, but I’m not sure what kind of paint was originally used. Can I use latex over oil, or should it be the other way around?

Danny Lipford: Now, that’s a great question. But before we answer the question, we have to determine exactly what kind of paint you have on your woodwork right now. Here’s an easy way to determine that. First of all, take some denatured alcohol, put it on a rag, wipe the woodwork, and if any paint comes off on the rag, then you have latex paint.

Now, you never want to paint oil over latex. It just won’t stick. But you can paint latex over oil-based paint, if you prepare the surface properly. First of all, take a little bit of sandpaper and just lightly sand it. Then you want to use some trisodium phosphate, or TSP, you can find it in any paint store or home center. Then, after that dries, use a good bonding primer. Put one coat of primer on it. After that dries, you’re ready to finish up the paint job, and you’ll know that it’ll last.


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18 Comments on “How to Paint Over Oil-Based Paint with Latex”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    June 12th, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Hi, Mary Beth,
    What a great question! We recommend submitting it to the Today’s Homeowner Radio Show for an in-depth answer.
    Please use this form to contact Danny Lipford, America’s Home Expert, directly:
    Take care!

  • Mary Beth Says:
    June 3rd, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Painted my double hung wooden window frames with oil based paints back in the 90s. I put off painting the frames when I repainted with latex because I was told latex painted frames would stick. It is really beyond time to repaint these wooden windows. What should I do?

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 5th, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Hi, Colleen! Thanks for writing to us. Looks like there are some AutoCorrect issues so it’s a little hard to follow along. Please re-send the question. 🙂

  • Colleen Coughlin Says:
    April 24th, 2019 at 12:51 am

    I have oil base paint on 3 rooms which parts were areas damaged paint down to plaster. Had not needed to paint since 1996. The large but super thin. I read steps to take to
    Paint latex over oil. But I have had painters & a plaster er & contractor say. Plaster then sand only patche places & paint
    And don’t have to sand the room just Can paint 3 coats over with latex. I mentioned about possible peeling .. said not true. I already see a piece in my ceiling paint starting to pull away Help give me what i need to do step by step so no pealing. My oil base would have a few cracks from time to time after not being painted for 18 years. Please help!!

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    January 9th, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Hi, Anna,
    We recommend checking out this resource for more information on paint sheen:
    Thanks for your question!

  • Anna Larson Says:
    January 7th, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    I had all my walls and ceiling painted in 1996 with dover white oil based kiltz primer(2 coats) and one coat oil based Dover white paint. I have cracks all over my walls. What is the best option of paint to paint over oil base? Latex, water base and should I use glossy or flat paint? Thank you.

  • I tom clarkson Says:
    December 3rd, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for info.

  • Paula Says:
    October 6th, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Why not oil over latex for outside widow trim?
    Why not latex over oil, yet latex over oil primer is good?

  • b white Says:
    April 25th, 2018 at 9:52 am

    i have wood deck which has been painted every year because of can I change to an oil based productblistering and peeling.have always used a good quality product.

  • Rosann Hilliard Says:
    January 14th, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I bought a house and the paint on my ceiling in several spots are just peeling off. I was told I must have oil based paint. What do I need to do to paint with latex Paint.

  • Jerry Says:
    August 12th, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I’m remodeling the bathroom. The walls were first painted with latex paint. Then a wallpaper was used. I took off the wallpaper and there is a glue residue still on the wall. What should I do to paint the walls again?

  • Chris macias Says:
    July 28th, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Teri prax, did you finish painting after peeling
    by sanding and painting.
    Did you finish by preping with TSP, priming, and painting.

  • Mike Hamilton Says:
    July 12th, 2017 at 10:08 am

    The previous owner used latex over oil based paint on all the woodwork throughout the house. We have stripped the woodwork in several of the rooms, but would like to paint some woodwork in other areas. The paint is pealing off the woodwork. I would like to try the paint that looks like stain as we still have a long way to go! Thank you.

  • John Stanford Says:
    March 20th, 2017 at 11:38 am

    This I the problem the previous owner painted over the oil based paint with latex without properly preparing the surface how should I go about fixing the problem when all of the latex paint is peeling off now

  • Penny Hagedorn Says:
    July 19th, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    I have an old house where latex paint was put over oil paint on the kitchen cabinets. It is peeling. Can I paint it with Oil Bond and paint with latex ? What do I need to do so it will not peel? Thank So!

  • guylaine Says:
    July 12th, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    I painted my kitchen with latex paint over oil. We washed with TSP and rinsed well, but we did not sand. Will the paint stick to the wall, or will it peel?

  • Teri Prax Says:
    July 10th, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    The previous owners of my home painted latex paint right over oil paint throughout the entire house. So I peeled most of the latex off the walls already. My brother-in-law said to buy a bonding primer so I could paint with latex paint. The guy from the store said that I can just paint the primer onto the walls, but my brother-in-law said I need to sand the walls before priming them. What would you recommend?

  • shara Says:
    August 24th, 2014 at 3:45 am

    I am on a very limited budget with social securiety but need to do some work in an older bathroom in my condo! Is there a way to paint the vanity top and sink that will look nice? Any other suggestions?

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How to Paint Over Oil-Based Paint with Latex