If you already have an oil-based primer, you might wonder if adding latex paint over it is okay.
Fortunately, it is.
You can add latex paint over oil-based primer. And in some cases, especially when painting wood, using these two products together is a smart move.
However, you shouldn’t use oil-based primer in large areas of your home because of its fumes.
Here’s what you need to know.
When to Use an Oil-Based Primer
Paint has one of two bases, oil or water. Oil-based primers are great at sealing bare wood and blocking stains.
However, they have more potent VOCs, making them unsuitable for large interior projects.
Instead, there are two main instances for using an oil-based primer.
You’re painting bare wood. In this case, an oil-based primer will give your wood surface a water-tight seal and prevent wood tannins from leaking through.
You’re covering a stain. If you have a stain somewhere in your house and want to block it from coming through your paint job, oil-based primer is your best bet.
How to Use Latex Paint Over Oil Primer on Wood
Oil-based primer is excellent at blocking stains. It can keep tannins from showing through, especially in species like redwood.
It’s also good at sealing porous surfaces.
If you’re ready to start your painting projects, here’s what to do.
Step 1: Prep the Area
Start by doing your basic paint prep. Then, clear out an area to work on your project and pull out your gloves and respirator mask.
Step 2: Clean the Surface
Before painting, get your wood clean and free of any dirt or sticky buildup. You can do this by wiping the wood down with soap and water.
If you’re working on a large piece, you can save time by pressure washing it before you paint.
Allow the wood to fully dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Remove Old Gloss Paint (If Not Working with Bare Wood)
If you’re refinishing a wood piece with an old oil painted surface, you’ll need to remove the glossy topcoat.
Use a wire brush to remove any flaking paint.
Next, move onto a sander or sanding sponge to lightly take off the top coat of gloss.
Finally, clean the piece again, free from all dust and debris.
Step 4: Prime
Now apply two light coats of oil primer. Wait until the first coat is dry to the touch before adding the second coat.
Once primed, wait 24 hours before moving to the next step.
Step 5: Sand with Fine Grit Paper
After the primer is dry, sand the surface with 100-grit sandpaper, ensuring the primer is smooth and even.
Step 6: Paint
After sanding, wipe away any dust. You’ll now be ready to paint.
Add your latex paint, allowing plenty of dry time between coats. You’ll likely need anywhere from 2-4 layers of latex paint.
Step 7: Seal the Paint
After you’ve finished painting and have waited for the paint to cure, you can add a clear coat. This will help your paint job last longer and stand up to the elements if the piece will be outside.
Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane or polycrylic, giving plenty of dry time in between coats.
How to Cover Stains with Oil-Based Primer
If you’re dealing with stains on your walls or ceilings that keep bleeding through paint, you can try coating them with an oil-based primer. Oil-based primers are excellent for covering tough stains.
Before you get started, open up some windows to increase ventilation in the room and put on a respirator mask.
Here’s what to do:
Wipe down the area with the stain
Cover the stain with your oil-based primer
Wait 24 hours
Paint over the primer with any type of paint (latex, acrylic latex, acrylic paint, etc.)
Should I Use Oil-Based Primer on Drywall?
You shouldn’t use oil-based primer on drywall. Instead, opt for water or latex primer.
Oil-based primer emits much harsher fumes, which aren’t ideal for indoor use. So while spot-treating tough indoor stains with oil-based primer is fine, don’t use it on large areas of your home like an entire wall or ceiling.
Oil-based primer does a great job at blocking stains and sealing wood. But, if you’re painting drywall, a water-based primer is the way to go.
Water-based primers are meant for indoor use and don’t emit as many VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as oil-based options.
The good news, though, is that no matter where you apply oil-based primer, you can add latex paint over top of it.