Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?

Image of application of latex paint over oil based primer but, can you use latex paint over oil based primer

Latex is a term that also means waterbased acrylic or vinyl styrene paints. These paints are called latex because they have chains of artificial polymers with behaviors similar to that of natural latex. Latex paint can also be called acrylic paint. One question, however, is can you use latex paint over oil based primer?

It is okay to use latex paint over oil-based. However, don’t apply an oil-based paint over latex. If you are going to use latex paint over an oil-based primer, ensure that you prepare the surface properly. First, use a quality bonding primer, let the primer dry then apply up to two coats of high-quality latex paint.

If you are a homeowner and looking to give your wooden structures paint finish, it’s important that you prime first to improve the bond between the surface and the paint. If you are using latex paint, then you should know that it will still adhere to a surface with oil-based primer.

What is Latex Paint?

As we have stated earlier, this formula is referred to as “latex” because initially, these paints were products of rubber that exist in different forms. These rubbers make the resin components of the paint. With time, the rubber base in these paints got replaced by water-soluble bases, which makes them suitable for many painting works, such as kitchen tables, walls, cabinets, ceilings, etc.

If we narrow down into the latex paint, there are up to three main types. They are:

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

The 100% acrylic latex has a reputation as the performing type of the three thanks to the fact that it binds so well to the surface and, above all, retains good color.

The Vinyl-acrylic is the cheaper option of the three, and is best for interior usage, especially the walls. Finally, alkyd modified latex, this formula does so well on the exterior environments.

What is Oil Based Primer?

A primer is an exclusive paint product that acts as the foundation of your final paint finish. The reason they are used as a base or foundation paints is that they improve adhesion thanks to their uniform, smooth, consistent, and even texture. With their high adhesion properties, these formulas ensure that the finish adheres to the painted surfaces to prevent peeling and flaking of the topcoat.

Much as there are so many types of primers. The oil-based are the most popular ones. They are a choice of many woodworkers and painters because they have existed for many years and are reliable.

Oil-based primers work well on the interior as well as exterior surfaces. The most important thing that you should do before applying the primer is ensuring that the surface is bare or doesn’t have a finish on it.

Why Should You Use Latex Paint over an Oil Primer?

One thing that we keep insisting is that you need to prepare your surface properly before applying latex paint over an oil-based primer. Failure to do so would result in the cracking and flaking of the paints, which might be costly in the long run.

If you prepare your surface adequately, then the application of latex paint on an oil base will result in an exceptional finish with a strong and durable surface. The application process involves sanding the oil primer slightly to come up with a smooth surface for the paint and the primer to bond together.

Reasons Why It Is a Good Idea To Use Latex Paint Over an Oil-based Primer

Applying oil-based primers on unfinished surfaces will always give you one of the best foundations for the top latex paint layer to adhere properly to the surface. On wood surfaces, for example, the oil-based primers do so much in preventing the wood from producing tannins and bleeding to the surface of the latex paint.

One bad thing about latex paints is that some of them can cause the swelling of wood grains. So, a decision to use it over an oil-based primer, the latter plays an essential role in preventing it from ruining your surface if you properly sand it.

Types of Primers

Primers are classified depending on their main components. Despite the fact that primers are a compounds of different substances like water, oil, and shellac, they all act as a foundation for painting. Here are some of the most commonly used primers:

The Oil-based primers

Oil-based primers are “friendly” and work perfectly well with both the oil and latex paints. This exceptional level of versatility has made this type of primer the number one choice of many woodworkers, making it an industry standard.

You can use this product on the interior as well as the exterior environments. As for the materials, this formula is great on bare wood because of the properties that allow it to seal porous surfaces with ease. When you use this primer, it prevents wood types like redwood and cedar from releasing harmful tannins into the environment. Besides, oil-based primers can also block stains, nicotine, ink as well as water. They also prevent possible peeling and cracking of wood surfaces.

When it comes to drying time, these formulas take a little longer to dry to touch. Most take up to 24 hours and can end up releasing the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the process. VOCs are toxic to the environment, people, pets, and even plants. They can cause help complications following prolonged exposure.

Once this product dries after application, you will get a smooth and durable finish. Cleaning, however, is not a straightforward one. It requires the use of thinners and solvents.

The Latex Primers

Latex primers are the best options for those looking to ready their drywalls for painting projects. These types of primers are fast drying and usually take between 3-4 hours to dry to touch. Unlike their oil-based counterparts, the latex primers are less brittle and do an excellent job on hard to paint surfaces like pinewood.

Latex also works on multiple surfaces and materials such as concrete, brick, as well as galvanized metals. 

Furthermore, latex primers are good at blocking stains such as marker pen stains, smoke, crayon, and a lot more. Much as they can hide the stains, they are not as good at it like the oil-based or the shellac-based primers.

This type of primer is water-soluble, which means that they contain very low levels or no volatile organic compounds, making them great for the environment. Besides, they come with an easy cleanup method as you’ll only need water and soap to get the work done.

We recommend that you use acrylic primers, especially when dealing with wood types that have the ability to dampness. Above all, latex primers are pocket friendly and resist flaking, peeling, yellowing, and so much more.

The Shellac Primers

These types of primers have been around for many centuries and the best primers when it comes to sealing of stains from water runs, rust as well as smoke damage.

Just like their waterbased counterparts, these primers are very good at sealing the wood surfaces to prevent tannins and bleeding. They are very elastic compounds making them perfect for use on metals, plaster, and plastic surfaces.

One fascinating feature of shellac primers is that they dry very fast, usually under an hour, making them suitable for projects that need completion in a short timeline. Cleaning requires the use of denatured alcohol.

The Conclusion

Can You use Latex Paint over Oil based Primer?

So far, we have answered the question, can you use latex paint over oil based primer? And, we agree that it is okay to apply latex paint over oil-based primer. Even so, you need to ensure that you prepare your surface properly for the best results possible.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

2 thoughts on “Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer?”

  1. I have cedar wrapped deck posts ( trex for remainder of deck) that were previously stained approx 10 years ago. I recently cleaned the posts. My question is I’m looking at latex acrylic paint & primer in one. If I opt to do that would I need to still prime my posts and if so should it be oil or latex base. Thank you for your help

    1. Wood Critique

      Hello Rich,

      Priming is only necessary when you are dealing with bare surfaces or porous woods. And considering that cedar is porous, priming your posts would be great.
      However, if you are going to use paint and primer in one, then you should not prime the surfaces before applying the paint. All you need to do is to prepare your surface properly by cleaning and sanding. Read this post, you will see how you can prepare your deck for painting/staining.


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