Can You Use Latex Paint Over Oil Based Primer? (Full Guide)

If you are thinking of repainting your house, you might be wondering, is it ok to use high quality latex paint over oil based primer?

If you are painting over older paint, you need to make sure the new paint is compatible. 

You can indeed put latex paint over oil based primer as long as you prepare the painted surface properly first.  Find out more below!

Latex is a type of water based paint. It’s similar to acrylic paint in that it is also made from acrylic resin, but latex paints can be used in larger areas because you can often purchase it in larger quantities for a lower price than other types of paints.

You can use it for interior and exterior painting process as well as for trim, siding, ceilings, and walls. After it’s dry, you can wash it with soap and water if your walls happen to get dirty.  

Latex Paint on Brush Roller

Oil-Based Primers Explained 

Oil based primers simply means the base of the primer is made out of oil. It’s often used in combination with oil based paints to make painting projects easy. It’s also good at sealing in stains and tannins compared to other types of primer. 

Oil based primers can also cover up smells in the wall, such as smoke. You can use it for interior and exterior walls that are unfinished or on bare wood. They can also prevent paint peeling, blistering, and cracking.  

Can You Use Latex Paint Over An Oil Based Primer?

Yes. You can use latex paint on oil based primers, and you can also use exterior latex paint layer or top latex paint layer on oil primer. However, you need to prepare the sticky surface first so that the latex paints becomes compatible with the oil primer. 

Using both the paint and the primer will ensure that your paint lasts longer and that it does not peel or crack. This can make your walls or project look like it was professionally done.  

Oil based paints are also much better for proper sealing than other latex primers or shellac primers. It also stops the wood from releasing tannins which makes sure the paint latex does not leak. 

Applying an oil-based primer and latex primer will always ensure that the glossy surface will not run, which means less maintenance for you. You will always have a smooth and lasting finish that looks skillfully made with latex primers or water based primers.  

If you have seen a nice DIY picture online that you are trying to follow and the project looks professionally done, you are probably dealing with latex paints and an oil based primer.  

How To Determine If A Surface Has an Oil-Based Primer?

Before you start painting, you want to make sure that the surface has old oil based paint or not. There are a few ways you can tell the difference between oil and latex paints. Here are some simple steps to follow: 

  • 1
    You can feel the surface to tell. Oil paints will always be smooth and glossy rather than having a rubber feeling.  
  • 2
    Dip a piece of cotton wool into acetone and put some on the wall. Oil paints will not dissolve.  
  • 3
    Use fine grit sandpaper or tack cloth to remove the gloss on the surface and then wash it and dry it.  
Oil Based Primer Using Paint Sprayer

How To Use oil and latex paints? (Tips For A Better Finish)

Follow these steps for making sure the latex paint and the oil primer will work together: 

  • 1
    Get your work area ready and make sure you have protective gear like a mask and gloves.  
  • 2
    Use a wire brush attachment and an electric drill to make sure you remove the old gloss paint, brush marks  and any dust or dirt.  
  • 3
    Lightly sand the surface of the wall or project with a fine sandpaper. Make sure you remove the gloss.
  • 4
    Clean the surface with a sponge. You can dip it in a bit of trisodium phosphate mixed with water based paints.  
  • 5
    Remove the cleaning solution with another sponge and clean water.  
  • 6
    Allow the surface to dry completely.  
  • 7
    Apply the oil primer and allow the primer to dry completely.  
  • 8
    Top it with two coats of the latex paint.  

Make sure you always top it with two coats of paint, so you get the best finish. If it doesn't turn out the way you want then you can always sand down the latex paint as needed.

Bucket of Latex Paint with Brushes

Latex Paint on Oil Based Primers FAQs

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

Yes, you can. Kilz is a very popular oil-based primer because it’s also a stain blocker and a sealer. You can use it on interior and exterior porous surfaces, and it's best used on wood.  

Can I paint water-based paint over oil-based primer? 

You can use water-based paint over an oil-based primer. You can use oil primer on any type of topcoat, and that includes water-based paint coats.  

How long does it take for oil-based paint to dry? 

Oil based paint usually dries within 6-8 hours. This is when it becomes dry enough for you to touch and have it not stick to you or mess up the paint. It will be ready to recoat in 24 hours, so you will need to give yourself plenty of drying time for these projects.  

Can you paint acrylic over oil-based primer? 

You can paint over oil primer with any type of acrylic paint. You will need to apply a bonding prime first though, so that the primer and the paint will stick together and bond to one another.  


You can use oil primer and latex paint to seal the surface properly. 

However, before you put any latex paint over an oil primer, make sure you sand the surface so that the primer and paint job will bond.