Can You Paint Over Paint?

You can paint over paint like you can paint light fixtures– easily. Specifically, you can use acrylic paint to cover oil paint without much of a hassle. Many houses built before the 90’s have oil paint on the walls because it was the popular paint of choice then. It gives a beautiful sheen, a glass-like finish, and since you can sand the walls between coats you’re left with an amazing looking paint job.  Too bad that’s history now.

When oil paint gets old it can look as bad as it was good in the beginning. It can turn an ugly yellowish color from old age and have so many cracks in the finish you’d think it went through an earthquake. The paint becomes dry and brittle over the years and can’t withstand the expanding and contracting of the wood. If your walls look like this, it’s time to make a choice on how to repaint them: another oil paint job or make the switch to acrylic paint. Let’s look at both types:

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Oil-based painted wall peeling and cracking from old age

The Choice: Oil Or Acrylic Paint

One of the best oil paints is Benjamin Moore’s Satin Impervo. The overall finish of using this paint is amazing, but it comes with a price. Oil-based paints require longer drying times between coats, you can get solvent headaches from the fumes, and there’s a labor-intensive clean-up procedure. This is on top of preparing a room for painting. You must also know how to perfectly thin and manipulate the product to achieve a beautiful finish, which can take years of practice. This option is for professionals or DIY Michelangelo’s.

Oil-based paints can also damage the environment, lead to weird odors, and be harmful to children. The learning curve for properly handling such paint can be daunting for the DIY painter. For most homeowners, switching to an acrylic paint, also known as latex paint, is the best choice. Keep reading to find out how you can make the switch.

Get ready to paint acrylic over oil paint with these painting tools

The Painting Acrylic Over Oil Guide

The seemingly impossible is indeed possible! Here’s a quick guide on how you can properly paint acrylic over oil-based paint:

Scuff (lightly sand) all surfaces you’ll be painting

Use 120g sandpaper or a ‘fine’ sanding sponge. This will promote adhesion of the new coatings and remove any surface contaminants. You’ll know you’re done when all surfaces are uniformly hazy or your hand thoroughly cramps up.

Wipe surfaces using a tack cloth

This is an important step as it removes the paint residue left by the sanding process. If you skip this step it will make for an uneven surface that’ll leave blemishes on your wall.

*Tip: if you don’t want to buy one from a store, a rag soaked in denatured alcohol works just as well

Fully prime surfaces

This ensures that the paints will create a strong bond, like that of parent and child. A quality bonding primer, such as UMA®, can be used, as can an oil-based primer such as Ben Moore Fresh Start.

*Tip: Avoid water-based primers! Oil-based paints and water-based primers will mix about as well as, well, oil and water!*

Sand primer smooth

You don’t want any rough edges to show after you finish painting!

Caulk all gaps as necessary

This must be done AFTER priming to ensure a good bond. Caulking during this step will hide the caulk better than a card sharp hides the Ace of Spades up his sleeve.

Apply two coats of your choice of paint

Don’t forget to sand between coats as you apply those final touches to your perfect paint job!

Bada-bing bada-boom! Now you have a new, acrylic paint job.

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The End of Operation Acrylic Over Oil

Painting and clean-up will be a cinch with the acrylic paint. Having to sand between coats isn’t ideal, but it sure beats having to deal with fumes and a lengthy cleaning process. The walls should be dry within the day, so your newly painted room will be perfect to enjoy! If you’re painting acrylic over oil-based paint, your house may be an older model, which means it may have varnished wood in it. Did you know you can paint over it?

Learn how to paint over varnished wood >>