Painting over oil-based paint can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. With the right approach, you can achieve a smooth, lasting finish that transforms your pre-painted surface. In this article, I will share essential information to help you successfully paint over oil-based surfaces, whether it’s canvas or a hard surface.
The first step is understanding the difference between oil-based and water-based (latex) paints and their unique qualities. Oil-based paint is known for its durability and high-gloss finish, while latex paint is water-soluble and easier to clean up. When working out how to paint over oil based paint, you need to properly prep the surface, select the correct paint, and master the application process. Learning the basics of how to paint over oil based paint works for either artists working with oil paints for murals or simple house painting and not for oil on canvas.
If you want to paint over oil based paint on canvas, you can simple sand it back with a 1000 grit sandpaper and then apply a few coats of an acrylic paint. When working out how to paint over oil based paint for the purposes of a mural or house then keep reading.
Key Steps for How To Paint Over Oil Based Paint
- Understand the difference between oil-based and water-based paints. Oil-based paints are durable and offer a high-gloss finish, while water-based paints are water-soluble and easier to clean.
- For painting over oil-based paint on canvas, sand it with a 1000 grit sandpaper, then apply a few coats of acrylic paint.
- To paint over oil-based paint on hard surfaces such as walls, ensure proper surface preparation, choose the right paint type, and master the application process.
- Before applying a water-based paint over oil-based paint, sand the surface or use a chemical deglosser to ensure the new paint adheres properly. Use water-based primers or latex primers for better adhesion.
- Another option is to use an oil-based primer, which can provide an excellent base for both water-based latex paint and alkyd paint. Apply a coat of oil-based primer to the oil-based paint and let it dry before painting over it.
- Ensure safety before starting any painting project. Wear gloves, goggles, and a mask, and ensure proper ventilation.
- Clean the surface before painting. Use cleaning products like TSP solution, a paint scraper, and a clean rag.
- Sand the old oil-based paint using 150-grit sandpaper for older paint, or fine-grit (180- to 220-grit) sandpaper for less aged paint.
- Remove loose paint from the oil-based surfaces by scraping it off, then use fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface. Clean the surface with a mixture of trisodium phosphate and water.
- Test the paint with a cotton ball soaked in denatured alcohol. If the paint doesn’t come off, it is oil-based, and you will need a bonding primer.
- Apply the primer evenly and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once the primer is dry, add a fresh coat of paint. Two coats are usually enough for complete coverage.
- After the second coat of paint has dried, consider adding a clear top coat for extra durability in high-traffic areas.
- Choose the right primer based on the condition of the existing paint, and use appropriate tools, such as 150-grit sandpaper and a paint roller or brush with synthetic bristles.
- Apply at least two coats of paint, giving each one enough time to dry for a smooth and even finish.
- If the task is too challenging or the surface needs a lot of prep work, consider hiring a professional painter.
- When finding a painter, ask for recommendations, read reviews online, request quotes, verify credentials, and view their portfolio.
Types of Paint
I find water-based paints, such as latex-based paint or acrylic paint, to be an excellent choice when painting over oil-based paint. They offer better adhesion, are less smelly, and are easier to clean up with soap and water. Before applying a water-based paint, I make sure to sand the surface or use a chemical deglosser to ensure the new paint adheres properly.
Water-based primers and latex primers can also be used to help prepare the surface. These primers create a strong bond between the new paint and the old oil-based paint. Plus, they dry quickly, allowing me to move on with my project faster.
Another option I’ve used when painting over oil-based paint is an oil-based primer. It’s important to know that oil-based primers can contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which can cause strong odors. However, an oil-based primer can provide an excellent base for both water-based latex paint and alkyd paint.
I simply apply a coat of oil-based primer to the oil-based paint and let it dry. Once it’s dry, I can paint on top of it using my chosen type of paint. This approach works best when painting over a glossy or semi-gloss oil-based surface.
At times, I reach for acrylic paint when painting over oil-based paint, mainly for its durability and adhesion properties. Acrylic paint is a little different from water-based latex paint, but it provides a strong bond and finish.
Just like with water-based paint, I always make sure to sand the surface or use a chemical deglosser before applying acrylic paint. This ensures the paint sticks well to the oil-based paint.
By experimenting with different types of paint, I’ve discovered that the key is proper surface preparation. Whether I choose water-based paint, an oil-based primer, or acrylic paint, I make sure my surface is sanded or deglossed before starting my project. This way, I can achieve a beautiful and long-lasting result.
Enamel paint is a type of paint that is known for its highly durable finish. It is made by blending pigments with a solvent that dries to a hard and glossy finish.
Enamel paint is often oil-based which is why some people assume that enamel paint is the same thing as oil paint but it can also be water-based. This means that while there are many similarities between enamel paint and oil-based paint, they are not the same thing. The primary difference between the two is that enamel paint dries much harder and more durable than traditional oil-based paint.
Enamel paint is commonly used on surfaces that require a tough, smudge-resistant finish, such as metal, wood, and ceramics. One key benefit of enamel paint is that it provides long-lasting protection against weather and environmental conditions.
It is also easy to clean and maintain, making it a popular choice for household items such as door frames and furniture. It is important to be careful when using enamel paint as it can emit harmful fumes and requires proper ventilation, based on this I never use enamel paints as I cannot stand how strong the smell is and how long it lasts after the paint has dried.
Before starting any painting project, it’s necessary to ensure safety. Wear gloves, goggles, and a mask to protect from dust and fumes. If working with old paint, check for lead by using a lead paint test kit before sanding. Ventilate the area well and take breaks if feeling lightheaded.
To properly paint over oil-based paint, it’s vital to have a clean surface. Gather proper tools, such as cleaning products like TSP solution, a paint scraper, and a clean rag. Remove any peeling paint with the scraper, being careful not to damage trim work or plaster walls. A putty knife can help in tight spaces. If kitchen cabinets are the project, wash them with warm water and a mild detergent. Wipe the entire surface using a clean cloth to remove any residue from cleaning products, ensuring a fresh surface for the new look.
Sanding and Smoothing
Sanding the old oil-based paint is a key step to create a smooth and receptive surface for latex-based or other paint types. Use 150-grit sandpaper for older oil-based paint, or fine-grit (180- to 220-grit) sandpaper for less aged paint. Be sure to sand the entire surface, focusing on slick areas, and not just a small area. Keep the process simple by sanding in circular motions, then wipe the surface with a tack cloth or clean rag to remove dust.
- For high-impact areas like kitchen cabinets or trim work, using wood filler in dents or nicks is a good idea before sanding.
- Drop cloths are helpful for protecting floors and furniture from dust and debris.
- A common mistake is not properly cleaning the surface after sanding, but wiping with a clean cloth ensures adherence for the new paint layer.
- Mineral spirits or paint thinner can help remove stubborn dirt or old paint on small areas if necessary.
By following these steps, I’m confident that the paint job will go smoothly, and the new look will enhance the entire house.
Before adding a new layer of paint over an oil-painted surface, proper preparation is necessary for better adhesion. Get rid of any loose paint from the oil-based surfaces by scraping it off. Next, use fine-grit sandpaper (180-220 grit) to remove the gloss and create a smooth surface. Clean the surface with a mixture of trisodium phosphate and water to ensure it is free from dirt and grease.
To know if you have oil-based paint, you can test by rubbing a cotton ball soaked in denatured alcohol. If the paint doesn’t come off, it is oil-based, and you will need a bonding primer. I recommend using an extreme bonding primer for the best possible results. Apply the primer evenly and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once the primer is dry, it’s time to add a fresh coat of paint to achieve the best results. Select the appropriate paint for your painting project; water-based paint is often a good choice for its easy application and clean-up. Make sure to stir the paint well before applying.
For an old house or a trim, two coats of paint are usually enough for complete coverage. While applying the second coat of paint, wait for the first coat to dry as per the instructions on the paint can. Be patient to avoid any undesirable streaks or marks.
Final Top Coat
After applying the second coat of paint and allowing it to dry, you can consider adding a clear top coat for extra durability. This step is not always necessary, but it can be beneficial for high-traffic areas or pieces of furniture that might require extra protection. Choose a compatible top coat for your paint type and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for application.
Remember the key to a successful painting outcome is proper cleaning, priming, and a bit of patience. By following these steps, you’ll give that oil-based surface a fresh, durable, and eye-catching appearance.
Tips and Tricks
Choosing the Right Primer
When working on older homes, I often encounter oil-based paint. To paint over this type of surface, the first thing to check is whether the existing paint is in good condition. If it’s chipping or peeling, I remove the loose paint and then apply a bonding primer to ensure great results with the new, fresh coat of paint. Home Depot and other stores offer a variety of primers for different surfaces. I recommend a high-quality oil-based or water-based bonding primer.
Using the Proper Tools
To avoid dust particles and debris from mixing into the new paint, I use a 150-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface before applying the primer. This helps the new paint adhere well to the older oil-based paint. In addition, I make sure to use a paint roller or brush with synthetic bristles. Natural oils from natural bristles can react with the paint and cause issues.
I always have these essential tools handy:
- Cotton balls
- Denatured alcohol or nail polish remover
- Masking tape
- Drop cloth
Cotton balls and alcohol help me determine if the previous paint is oil-based or not. Masking tape is useful for marking off areas I don’t want to paint. Lastly, a drop cloth keeps my work area clean and protects the floor from paint drips.
Mastering the Techniques
Painting over oil-based paint requires patience. For the best results, I apply at least two coats of paint, giving each one enough time to dry. This way, I achieve a smooth and even finish, especially on surfaces like kitchen cabinets or high-traffic areas in older houses.
I take the time to follow these key steps for a successful paint job:
- Clean the surface to remove any dirt or grease.
- Lightly sand the area to create a better bonding surface.
- Apply a thin coat of bonding primer and let it dry.
- Apply at least two coats of good quality paint, allowing sufficient drying time between coats.
- Remove any masking tape and admire the new look!
By following these tips and tricks, I’ve transformed many older home interiors with a fresh coat of paint, giving them a beautiful and updated appearance.
Hiring Professional Painters
When to Hire a Pro
Sometimes, painting over oil-based paint can be tricky. That’s when I like to call in professional painters. If the task involves multiple coats of paint or if the surface needs a lot of prep work, it’s a good idea to hire a pro. They know the right techniques and have the necessary tools to ensure the best results.
When tackling a large project, mistakes can be costly and time-consuming. Trust me, there are times when it’s best to let the experts handle the job. They can save you time, effort, and, in some cases, money.
Finding a Trusted Painter
Locating a reliable painter isn’t as difficult as it seems. When I need to find a painter for my projects, I follow these simple steps:
- Ask for recommendations – Check with friends, family, or neighbors who may have worked with a professional painter in the past. A personal referral is one of the greatest ways to find a trustworthy painter.
- Read reviews online – Look up local painters online, and read reviews on websites like Google, Yelp, or Angie’s List. This will give you an idea of the painter’s reputation and quality of work.
- Request quotes – Contact a few painters and ask for estimates. Compare their prices, timeline, scope of work, and warranties. This will help you make an informed decision before hiring someone to work on your project.
- Verify credentials – Ensure the painter is licensed and insured. This will protect you from any liability or mishaps during the painting process.
- View their portfolio – A professional painter will have a portfolio showcasing their past projects. Ask to see it or check their website. This will give you a better understanding of their skills and expertise.
Hiring a professional painter for your oil-based paint project is a smart move. Not only will they take care of all the essential steps, but they’ll also ensure the final result is impressive and long-lasting. So, if you’re feeling unsure or unprepared, don’t hesitate to hire an expert who will know exactly what to do.
How To Paint Over Oil Based Paint – Wrap up!
Learning how to paint over oil based paint isn’t as daunting as it might initially seem. Now that you have adequate knowledge about the difference between oil-based and water-based paints, the right preparation, and suitable application techniques, you can transform any pre-painted surface.
Acrylic paint and the right primer can do wonders on canvas or even on walls. For household painting tasks, carefully chosen paints, adequate surface preparation, and skilled application are keys to success. Remember, when the task seems too challenging or requires extensive prep work, it’s always a wise decision to hire a professional painter to ensure a satisfying, long-lasting finish.
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com