How to Paint Over Oil-Based Paint with Latex

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


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.


  1. 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?

  2. 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?

    • You need to pool sand your walls. It is not hard sanding, should not take more than 5min a room and then put apropriate bonding primer tinted to the colour you will later put on the wall… 12 years of experience

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!

    • 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. 🙂

  13. 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?


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