How to: Paint Over Oil-Based Paint

In Homeowner Tips, Interior Painting by Jeff Dupont4 Comments

Painting interior trim

As painting contractors, our clients sometimes ask us why the paint inside their home has begun to flake and peel over time. Often, we find that these are older coats of oil-based paint, and it occurs most often on trim work and doors. The problem is paint incompatibility, which often takes place when a surface previously coated with oil-based paint has been repainted with a water-based, latex paint. When this happens, the more recent latex paint job does not last long, and in the worst cases, seems to come off in sheets! If you have any surfaces previously painted with oil-based product in your home, here are some steps you should take before painting over it:

First, you will want to determine whether the existing paint is oil-based. An easy method is to get a rag wet with rubbing alcohol and rub the surface with the rag. If the paint comes off or begins to soften, the paint is most likely latex, in which case a new layer of paint will be less likely to peel. If the paint doesn’t come off, you are likely dealing with an oil-based product.

Next, you will want to properly prepare the surface before applying new paint. So, if you have identified oil-based paint, we recommend that you lightly sand the paint until you have dulled down the glossy sheen. Make sure to clean the surface after sanding, removing any dust particles or dirt. Next, apply an acrylic latex primer and allow it to dry for 24 hours. After drying, you should be able to apply a new coat of latex paint over the primer.

By following these simple steps before painting inside, you will now have more resilient, longer lasting paint job!

You may prefer to consult a professional painting contractor to ensure prep work is completed properly and to obtain the best possible results. Sound Painting Solutions LLC offers free, detailed estimates for your interior or exterior project. Call today! (206) 258-6676

Schedule a free quote today!


  1. I want to paint over oil based with latex, if I sand and add 1 2 3 then paint with latex will it hold? On a wood desk

  2. I want to paint over oil based paint withoil based paint. What are the preperations? Do I have to sand before?

    1. Author

      Hi Louise, as long as the paint is in good condition without chipping, we recommend scuff-sanding the surface, using a tack cloth to remove dust, and repainting the surface.

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