Can You Use Oil-Based Paint Over Water-Based Primer?

Can You Use Oil-Based Paint Over Water-Based Primer?

When you are getting ready to paint a room in the house, choosing out the right shade can be hard enough! Then, you have to choose a gloss and decide on either oil-based paint or water-based paint. If you’ve laid down water-based primer, can you use oil paint over it?

It’s true that oil and water don’t mix, and you should not use water to thin oil-based paint. However, you can use oil-based paint over a water-based primer. You will just need to make sure that the primer has had enough time to fully dry before you add a coat of oil-based paint on top.

We’ll let you know some of the pros and cons of working with oil paint and give you a step-by-step for getting that smooth glossy finish.

The Benefits of Using Water-Based Primer

Using water-based latex primer under your oil-based coat may give you the best of both worlds. Latex paints are often easier to handle, while oil-based paints can give you a luminescent look and a more water-resistant finish. The good news is you can paint oil paint over a latex primer. Here are some reasons many choose to use a water-based primer:

  • Faster Drying time: Water-based primer can dry in less than 3 hours, while oil-based primers make take over 8 hours to dry
  • Fewer fumes: Water-based primer contains fewer VOCs than oil-based paint. This means fewer odors and fewer toxic fumes for indoor paint jobs.
  • Non-flammable: Water-based paint does not contain combustible vapors.
  • Easy clean-up: You can wash paintbrushes and trays using water.

These are some reasons that many choose to paint with water-based primers, even if they are planning to use oil paints. Why take the hard route if there is a simpler option?

Why Painters Choose Oil-based Paints

So, if latex paints are more user-friendly, why would anyone actively choose the more difficult and smellier oil-based option? Here are a few facts about oil-based paints that can make their use worthwhile:

  • Durable for high-traffic areas: If you are looking for paint that can hold up to high-traffic areas, oil-based paint can help you out. It may be more work to use oil paints, however, you will also need to paint less often afterward.
  • Water-resistant: Oil-based paints are water-resistant. This means that you can wipe down door jambs and trim without wiping away your paint.
  • Hides imperfections with fewer coats: Oil paint goes on thicker than latex. This means that it will hide imperfections of color with fewer coats of paint. Also, it can hide brush strokes more easily.
  • Longer open-time: Oil-based paints can be left open for a longer amount of time without drying or clumping. This gives you more freedom to take breaks as needed.

Oil-based paints may be a little more difficult to use, however, they do have their advantages for certain paint jobs.

How to Paint Oil Based Paint Over Water Based Primer

When you are painting with a water-based primer, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions as there can be slight differences in your primer’s application and drying time. Here are the general steps to follow when you use oil-based paint over water-based primer:

Step 1: Sand and prepare

Before you start priming, you will want to make sure your surface is as smooth as possible. While the job may be a bit tedious, you will want to spend the time preparing your walls, trim, or surface before your primer or paint goes on. Patch and caulk any gaps or uneven surfaces. If you have layers of old paint, you will want to sand and possibly scrape. For an old home, you will want to watch out for lead-based paint.

Step 2: Ventilate the area

As you begin applying your primer, you will want to make sure the area is well ventilated. One of the benefits of water-based primer is that it has less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based paint so the fumes will not be as strong. Still, you will want access to fresh air while you are painting, and ventilation will also help your primer dry faster.

Step 3: Stir the water-based primer

Just as you would stir the regular paint, you will want to stir your primer. If you decide to thin your water-based primer, use water in correct proportions, not paint thinner.

Step 4: Paint 1 or more coats of primer

Use a roller to paint a layer of primer. Make sure you apply it evenly for the cleanest finished look. If your surface has had several layers of paint in the past, or if you are going from a dark color to a light color, you may want to apply more than one coat of primer.

Step 5: Allow your primer to dry

One coat of water-based paint can dry in 3 hours’ time or less.

Step 6: Lightly sand

By lightly sanding your primer, you can help your topcoat to adhere to your primer.

Step 7: Paint using your oil-based paint

Now that you have prepared your surface and painted your water-based primer, you are ready to paint with your oil paint. If you are painting a large area, you can use a brush in the corners and crevices, and then use a roller brush for your main surface.

Related Questions

What happens if you don’t paint over primer?

While it is not necessary to add a topcoat immediately after your primer dries. However, you do want to paint over your primer within a few weeks’ time so that your paint will bond properly with the primer.  Over time, the primer will begin to deteriorate if left on its own.

Can primer look streaky?

No, primer should not look streaky. You will want to apply your primer as evenly as possible so your top layer will also look even. Any primer drip lines can also show up under your topcoat. If your primer is old or out of date, you will want to invest in a new primer to get the best-looking finished product.

Will one coat of primer be enough?

If you are painting over a light-colored paint, you may just need one layer of primer. However, if your previous paint color was dark and you are wanting to lighten it, you may need to lay down a few layers of primer so the old paint doesn’t show through.

Alex Praytor

Alex Praytor is a native Texan who got her degree in English Literature and decided to travel the globe. She finds the architecture and design of homes across cultures fascinating. In her spare time, she visits coffee shops with her family and creates projects for their own home. Alex enjoys sharing tips on how to keep repairs up to date while turning a house into a home.

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