How To: Paint With Oil-Based Paint

As I write this post about oil-based paint I realize that the information is quickly disappearing from both common knowledge and usefulness today. If you live in California I don’t even think you’re allowed to buy oil-based paint anymore (at least not in any significant quantities).

The landscape of house painting has been changing ever since water-based paints were first introduced by Sherwin-Williams in 1941. Kem-Tone, as it was called proved that water-based paints were a possibility. And it’s no secret that water-based, or latex paints, are easier to work with, better for the environment, and longer lasting than most oil-based paints. But there is still a place for oil-based paint today. And if you live in an old house, knowing how to work with oil-based paint is almost a requirement.

What You Need To Know About Oil-Based Paint

  1. Slow-Drying – Oil-based paint is notoriously slow drying and the reason we have the saying “It’s like waiting for paint to dry.” Most oil-based paint takes about 8 hrs to dry enough to recoat as opposed to latex paint which takes around 2 hrs to recoat. This may sound like a problem at first as it definitely slows down the whole process. But this slow drying allows oil-based paint to flow out better and provide a smoother finish than latex paint. This slow process allows brush marks to level out remarkably well.
  2. Good Ventilation – If you’re working with oil-based paint you need better ventilation than you do with latex paint. Make sure to open windows and put a fan in the doorway to pull in fresh air. Oil-based paints usually have a much higher VOC content than latex paints which is why the extra ventilation is needed.
  3. Yellows in Dark Areas – If you have old oil-based paint on your closet’s baseboards chances are it’s pretty yellow. Light colored oil-based paints are notorious for yellowing with age and in dark areas, The more sunlight it gets the less it yellows. If exposed to more sunlight the yellowing will fade away though, and though today’s oil-based paints have gotten better about holding their color it’s still a problem.
  4. Purdy China Bristle Brush

    A China Bristle Brush is one of the best for oil-based paint

    Can Be Mildew Prone – When used outside oil-based paint has a tendency to mildew. This is especially prevalent in varieties that contain larger quantities of linseed oil.

     

  5. You Need A Specific Brush – Oil-based paints require a different brush from latex paints. There are some brushes that work with both latex and oil, but natural bristle brushes work much better with oil-based paints. They are readily available wherever you can buy paint brushes. They will usually say “For Oil-based Paints” on the brush holder.
  6. Hard Finish – One of the qualities of oil-based paints that manufacturers have struggled to create with latex paint is a hard durable finish on enamel paints. For doors, trim and moldings nothing beats the hard, durable finish of an oil-based enamel paint. And that hard finish makes it an excellent choice for doors and windows because that hard finish eliminates the sticking that often happens with latex paints. The hard finish also unfortunately prevents the paint from being as flexible as latex which is why old oil-based paints begin to crack and chip off. Temperature swings and expansion of the surface eventually breaks the harder paint film of an oil-based paint.
  7. Odorless Mineral Spirits

    I use this type of thinner since it has less fumes and is a greener option.

    Difficult Clean Up – If you’re painting with an oil-based paint the clean up is a bit more involved. Oil-based paint is pretty much impervious to water so you’ll have to use paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean your brushes. Here’s some tips for using mineral spirits:

    • Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
    • Pour some into a bowl and vigorously mix your brush for about a minute.
    • Pour the used portion into a sealable metal container.
    • Repeat this process until the mineral spirits comes out clear and the brush is clean.
    • Dispose of the used thinner or mineral spirits at your landfill’s hazardous waste drop off.


And there is one last thing you need to know about oil vs water based paints . . .They don’t mix! I would think it’s obvious to most people the mixing a can of oil-based paint with a can of water-based paint wouldn’t be a good idea, but I’m talking about something else here.

If you are painting oil-based paint on top of latex paint then you have to prime the latex first. Latex paint and oil-based paint expand and contract at two different rates. So, if you paint oil-based paint on top of a latex paint without priming first, the latex will flex so much underneath that the oil-paint will quickly fail.

You can get away with painting a latex paint on top of an oil-based paint without primer, but just to be safe, it’s always a good idea to prime first when you are switching from one type of paint to the other.

Hopefully this has been a good “primer” (<—Sorry, I couldn’t resist the painter humor) for working with oil-based paint. If you have any tips I may have forgotten please share them in the comments below.

 

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by Scott Sidler

I'm a historic preservationist and author. I help old house lovers understand & restore their homes so they can enjoy the history and character that surrounds them more everyday! When not working, writing or teaching about old houses I spend most of my time fixing up my own 1929 bungalow with my wife Delores and son Charley.

http://www.austinhomerestorations.com

121 comments

  1. Question?new ceiling in small bath. Primed with KILZ 2.do I need to reprime for oil base paint or have I gone to far?

  2. Paul on said:

    Hello everyone.Just one question. If I use oil primer to paint my chairs and table dinner. Witch kind of paint should be use. Latex??

    Thanks!!!

    • Paul, you can use oil or latex over top of oil primer. Oil based paint will help prevent things from sticking to it so I would use it in your case.

  3. Trish on said:

    We’re painting cabinets using oil based enamel over old stain which has been sanded. Is mineral spirits best to use to remove any residue and can paint be applied soon after? Also after painting when is the best time to remove edge tape to prevent any peeling of paint? Thanks.

    • Trish, mineral spirits is great for this. Removing tape is best when the paint is still wet IMHO. No chance of peeling.

  4. Melissa on said:

    I have some beutiful built-in cabinets in my bathroom. The problem is that prior to me buying my house someone spray painted white (prob latex paint) over the origonal oild based paint. I recently hoping the white paint would act as a primer painted pver top of these cabinets, now the paint is just peeling off.

    Do you have any suggestions? Do I need to strip them? Or. Can I peel away whatever paint is coming off, prime and start again?

    Thank you for any imput, I would really like to have these for many years to come.

    • It depends on how bad the paint is right now. For the longest lasting paint job I would strip it down and prime with an oil based primer and a couple coats of oil-based paint. You may be able to get away with just sanding the paint smooth and then priming if it isn’t coming off in sheets.

  5. Tim on said:

    Hi Scott,
    A so called painter put Coranado Polyurethane Rust Scat[rust prevenitive coating] Enamel on textured hollow core interior doors[not metal doors] and wood casings around doors. The odor is intense. I am wondering if I can cover with a semi gloss oil base and what the procedure should be? Please help Thanks!!!

    • Tim I’d call the manufacturer and see what they recommend.

  6. Sheridaine on said:

    We’re the process of restoring an 1860 brick farmhouse in PA. Our plan is to use traditional linseed oil paint (Allback) on the trim both inside and out. Outside first applying raw linseed oil to help restore the old dried wood. Do you have any experience/advice for us?

    • I haven’t used Allback much but I am currently testing some here. May have to let you know more in the future.

  7. Keith on said:

    We’re having all running trim and millwork in our home painted with a dark bronze oil based satin paint after minimal sanding over white oil based existing paint. The supposedly low sheen paint is turning out a high gloss with far too much reflection and blemish revelation. Is there any way to prevent the higher gloss look or is it possible the paint was mixed incorrectly?

    • Keith depending on the brand of paint you’re using oil-based enamels often dry to a high gloss finish and take about a week to reach their satin sheen. If it’s been longer than a week you’ll likely need to repaint with a new sheen. Test it first to make sure.

  8. Mallory on said:

    I have recently stepped into a painting nightmare. We bought our house and are wanting to repaint our trim (its a dark almond, I prefer WHTIE).
    Here is what I have done:
    – “tested” to see if I have oil or latex. I used both “goof off” and rubbing alcohol and with both I was able to remove paint from my trim.
    – After thinking my trim was latex I bought Sherwin Williams Harmony paint. I did not sand the trim only painted it. And yes it did fail and will come off easily with my fingernail.
    – Next I bought Sherwin Williams Pro Classic, which was suppose to have high adhesion. Again I just applied paint. It too in places has failed and will peel off easily with my nails.
    – Then, feeling frustrated I contacted a painter to get a quote to have ALL of my doors and trim painted. The painter felt that the trim was oil based. (he did this based on look and touch)
    – Finally I went back and purchased an oil based primer (pro block), then followed up with the Pro Classic trim paint
    I have tested this in 3 areas. 1 out of the three had good adhesion. the others were hit and miss.

    What can I do to avoid sanding the trim and doors? should I try the primer then paint route again?

    Truly I am at my wits end with this trim painting project.

    • Mallory on said:

      Forgot to mention I would prefer to use Latex Paint. The Pro Classic and Harmony I bought were both latex as well.

      • Amy on said:

        Just wiping with liquid deglosser before painting (whether it is over oil or latex) you won’t have to sand or scrape!!! It will not chip or peel. I have been refinishing furniture and trim for years deglosser has saved me a LOT of time throughout the years. You do have to get it from a hardware or paint store. You will not find at Walmart or target. Hope this helps!!

  9. Kris on said:

    Hi. I’m painting a wooden boat with oil based paint. We have a lot of problems with chipping because of boaty stuff. I’m considering, instead of using wood primer, doing a first coat of paint thinned with 3 parts boiled linseed oil for good penetration, then a second coat with less oil, and a top coat of straight paint. Do you have any experience with this? I’m particularly worried about drying time.

    • I don’t have much experience with Boats, but your ideas sound intriguing. Can’t tell you how it would work though.

    • Anything painted by the ocean is all ways a maintenance issue. If you’ve allready primed the surface, coating it with boiled linseed oil is only going to cause topcoat adhesion problems because the linseed oil will only stay on the surface, not soak in and take for ever to dry. Sand your primer to give “tooth” , tack it and apply your finish coats thinned no more than one part thinner to three parts finish.Sand between coats and make sure the prior coats are dry prior to finish.Check it by dragging your fingernails across it or putting some masking tape on the surface and pulling it off. Moisture in the air will cause problems with drying, adhesion and flattening especially on horizontal surfaces so work with the weather.Be prepared for the maintenance because you’ll be touching up once a year.

  10. Brittney on said:

    Hi painted two small bookshelves with oil based paint in hope to achieve the high gloss finish… its hasn’t been 24 hours but the paint looks very messy and its not settling or reducing the appearance of brush strokes like a imagined. Should I recoat? Sand it down a bit? Wait the full 24 hours and then decide? I’ve got to save these bookshelves.. please advice!

    • Brittney, wait a full 24 hrs and then you can make the decision. You may have to sand smooth and add another coat. Try adding some Penetrol to help thin the paint and let it flow out better. Also make sure you are using a quality brush and not brushing to much.

    • carol b lehmann on said:

      Did you use an oil primer? Did you sand first to at least 120? Did you sand between the 2 coats of primer and again to 180 or above and clean the dust off before painting? Did you sand w/220 and clean the dust off before the next coat? Did you use the correst brush and methods of tipping off, etc. and use a good quality paint, not the most “popular” brand? Then it should be just how you wanted it to be!

  11. Randi Terry on said:

    We have a house built in the 1940’s that has cedar tongue and groove board that have had linsee oil applied to them. The board are really dark making the house really dark. We would like to white wash the boards. when we went into a paint store, the indicated we could not do that. Would live your advice on how we can white wash these walls.

    • Randi, as long as the linseed oil is old and been on longer than a month you can definitely paint over it. To white wash it try diluting some white paint with water brushing it on and then immediately wiping off the excess. Good luck!

      • Katrina on said:

        What a relief. You’re first to say I can paint on top of old linseed oil! Your comment was for someone wanting to whitewash. I have a treated peacock chair so I’d probably gold wash. What type of paint and what ratio to dilute with water, please?
        I was on the verge of simply dry brushing the chair until I read your comment.
        Am so excited. Please provide needed details. Thanks very much!

        • Katrina, do some testing to find the right look you want in terms of dilution ratios and use a cheap flat paint.

  12. Seth on said:

    Hi Scott,

    We moved into a house in the Northeast that has oil based paint on exterior trim. Not sure when last painted but lots of cracking and chipping of the paint. Painter suggested putting oil based primer and then switching to latex paint as feels will easier to deal with and will weather better. Seems from your blog that once you put the latex on, would be difficult to go back to oil in future. I do like the smoothness of the oil and do not want my windows and doors to ‘stick’ after they are painted. For exterior trim, what would you suggest? If go with latex, is there a better quality exterior paint that will mimick oil based?

  13. walter on said:

    Sorry I meant to say the climate is hot as being in Jamaica

  14. walter on said:

    I have brand new pressure treated wood can I use water paint as primer then use oil as top coat? This is in a climate. Looking forward in hearing from you. Thanks. By the way what will be the long effect on the wood? The oil primer would get into the board better than the water base is not so.

    • Walter, you can prime or paint pressure treated wood for several weeks until it dries out. A moisture content below 16% is best before painting. And you can only coat latex primer with latex paint. If you use an oil primer you can top coat with latex or oil based paint.

    • Hvactech on said:

      Pressure treated wood…not sure what your doing with it but I’d consider “not” to paint but to “stain”…you won’t have to paint again…just a thought, Ben.

  15. Olga on said:

    Hi Scott,
    I need your advice. We bought a house and my painter used 1 coat of latex paint over oil-based paint on the trim and doors without any primer/prepping. The latex paint comes off/peels off very easily when you touch it. I have fired the painter and hired a new one. The new painter says to paint oil-based on top of latex now. Should I do latex now as we already have one coat of latex paint? How to avoid further peeling? Thanks so much!

    • Olga, first you’ll need to remove the latex paint if it is peeling and has bonding issues before you do anything else. Then prime with an oil-based primer and paint with your choice of oil or latex paint.

      • Olga on said:

        Thank you, Scott! That was fast :).
        The latex paint is not actively peeling. It was painted only about a week ago. But if I brush my finger against it just once(finger, not even nail), it comes off so easily. Do you think it is still best to go through the steps you listed above? Thanks a bunch!

        • Definitely remove it otherwise your new paint job will fail prematurely. I hate it when that happens but doing it right now will save you the headache later.

          • Olga on said:

            Thanks so much!

  16. Marsha on said:

    I have an okd farm house built in1893 with plaster walls coated with layers of wallpaper. I do not want to strip the wallpaper, which is adhered very well. The Home Depot workers reconmended oil based primer followed by latex. also what do you mean by prepping?

    • Oil based primer would be the way to go over wallpaper.

  17. Emily on said:

    Hi Scott,
    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for good info on oil based paints. I have ugly yellow laminate cabinetry that is in great condition (installed in 1973) and am looking forward to repainting it. I am going to go with a navy-black for the lowers and white for the uppers. I am wondering if i need to sand prior to priming (planning on zinsser for the primer). If i prime with the white zinsser, is it helpful to get a darker tinted primer for the lower cabinets? my kitchen is a typical L-shaped with only one small window–is this sufficient ventilation? I have painted many many things but never used oil based paints. I am worried my two small dogs might have some issues with the fumes considering the lengthened dry time with oil based products. Any help you could offer is appreciated. Thanks!

    • Emily, tinting the primer for the darker paints will help you cover in fewer coats. For ventilation try putting a fan in the window to help pull the air out. At least some sanding will help greatly with adhesion. Try using a 220-grit paper before priming.

  18. Patti S on said:

    Scott, I have to agree with Kerri on Nov, 19, 2014 regarding painting water-based paint over oil-based painted surfaces. I have seen too many disasters when this method was used. Terrible mistake.

    I have painted oil over oil on trims etc many times and never felt I needed to prime first. Maybe I’ll try priming next time, just to see If it makes a difference.

    Thank you for your blog!
    Patti

  19. victoria on said:

    Hi I’m looking into repainting an old swing sign for a pub. I believe that it is a aluminium sign I know I have to sand and scrape all the old paint then prime at least 2 coats and sand in between but where do I go after that what paints should I use.

  20. Linda on said:

    Thanks for these tips. I just used an oil-based black paint on ceramic tile…so far, so good (waiting for it to fully dry). But I have another question. We have a steel door to our garage that our dog has scratched down to the metal. We decided to repaint it black and not knowing any better, applied latex paint (we were told it would act as its own primer and applied 2 coats). Within one day, the dog had scratched it down to metal again. Now I would like to try the black oil-based, Benjamin Moore “Direct-To-Metal” paint I used on the tile. Most of the door is still covered with the black latex. Can we just paint it all with the oil-based? This paint also says it can be used as primer. Will it matter that some is applied to the latex and some directly to the metal? Sorry for this long, long question! I appreciate your help!

    • To make sure re paint job lasts I would make sure to remove all the latex paint first. Oil on top of latex is a bad combination.

  21. Tony on said:

    I just moved into a house where a smoker had been living. Nothing extreme, but there were some nicotine stains on the wall. My painter said that to properly cover the stains, he’d need to use an oil-based primer under the no-VOC latex paint we chose. That was about 2.5 weeks ago and the room still has a very strong smell despite daily ventilation. I should note that I live in a cold region of the US, so the air has been cold. Any advice on how to hurry up the curing/dying process? This is of special concern given that it’s my 2-year-old’s bedroom.

    • Tony, that’s extremely unusual. The primer should have cured within days and the 0-VOC paint shouldn’t have any fumes. I’d call in another painter for a consult.

      • Bob Craker on said:

        Try keeping the room warm to help the drying process.

  22. Tim Scholten on said:

    After applying a coat of oil-based semi-gloss, I realized that some spots needed some caulking which I did and now want to add a 2nd coat in some spots. It has been a few days since it was painted so the paint is fully hardened and smooth. Should I prep by sanding or cleaning before applying the 2nd coat?

    • Tim, it never hurts to lightly sand between coats of semi-gloss or high gloss oil paint. I like the extra insurance it provides.

  23. Jennifer on said:

    Can I use a can I use a latex primer under an oil paint?

    • Jennifer, for the best results use a oil-based primer with oil-based finish coat. I wouldn’t put oil on top of latex primer or latex paint.

  24. karen on said:

    I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for all the good information. I need to give our baseboards and picture frame molding a fresh coat of paint. It was originally done in oil based paint and planning to recover with oil. My question is do I have to sand all the baseboards and molding before giving a new coat? It is good condition no chips or anything.

    • Sanding is probably not necessary, but I would always prime trim especially glossy trim to make sure you get good adhesion of the new paint.

  25. Kerri Peden on said:

    Have done lots of painting and actually follow the reverse … oil over prepped latex ok, NOT latex over oil.

  26. schaundala on said:

    Scott,
    I have read through all of these questions and your responses and I must say…you have been VERY helpful! I am in the process as we speak of refurbishing my bathroom wood vanity (oak). I am using an oil based primer (Zinsser) and I will allow that to dry before using an oil based dark brown paint (Glidden). I had the primer tinted to a darker color because I was told that it helps with the coverage of your paint (less paint required). So far it is covering quite well and I am excited about the seeing the finished product. My question is, should I lightly sand the primer before applying the top coat of paint? Or is it ok to go ahead and paint right on top of the primer? Also, how long should I wait before putting the doors back on the vanity and do I need to apply a sealer on top of the dried paint? Thank you again for your helpful tips!

    • I would always give primer a light sanding with 220 grit paper for a super smooth finish.

  27. Chris on said:

    Painted my kitchen with BEHRS sandwash paint in 2007,the paint is no longer available at Home Depot.Need to repaint some walls and heard that the sandwash paint needs to be repainted with a oil based primer and paint.Any advice

    • Chris, sandwash paints can fail if they are coated with a water-based paint. I would prime with an oil-based primer and then you can top coat with standard water-based paint afterward.

  28. Sarah on said:

    What are your thoughts on using liquid sander products on oil based paint? All the trim and doors in our 1970 house is painted and it is lead based so don’t want to sand it but want to repaint it

    • Sarah, I dont have a lot of experience with them, but usually a good oil primer will be sufficient to give your topcoat good adhesion. I’d try a test in an inconspicuous area first.

  29. Kathy on said:

    In art class, I learned some neat tricks to dealing with oil paint that might work here too. Take a large peanut butter jar and clean out well. Put a tuna or other flat can with holes punched in the bottom with the holes facing up (can use an 8-penny nail to punch holes and be generous). Pour odorless mineral spirits to about an inch or two above the can. Then when you clean your brush (like a small sash brush)dab the brush against the top of the can to work most of the paint out, and then finish off in another (similar) container. For artist style brushes, you can use the thinner almost indefinitely, just pouring out the sludge once in a while and topping off the mineral spirits. The can separates the good thinner from the bad.

    I bet a similar set-up can be made with a larger sealable container and galvanized hardware cloth for larger brushes.

    Artist grade brush soap can help keep natural bristle brushes in good condition. Plus always hand shape the brush after cleaning and hang to dry.

    Paint brushes left for just a short time (at most overnight) can be wrapped in plastic and put in the freezer or fridge.

  30. Barb on said:

    Hi, i used Sherwin Williams primer and then a Purdy brush to apply Sherwin Williams pro classic enamel. Not sure wut went wrong but I have drips and brush marks. When I only used a light coat, the brush strokes were worse. When I used a heavier coat, i got drips. Please help!

    • Barb, a thin coat dries out too fast and leaves brush marks whereas a thick coat tends to run. Add some Penetrol if you’re using the oil-based version (floetrol for water-based) to help slow the drying time and eliminate brush marks. And then find the sweet spot of how much paint to load on your brush. Practice makes perfect!

  31. Sheryl on said:

    Hi Scott! So glad I found your blog. Lots of useful information here!
    I need to repaint a wood desk chair. About thirty years ago, I stripped it down and applied high-gloss oil-base enamel. I must have done ok, because the only reason I want to repaint is to change the color. I’d like to use another high-gloss enamel when I redo it. So … scuff, prime, paint? What kind of primer and paint would you recommend (going from a medium blue to grayish-green)? I like the look of the oil-base enamel, but don’t really like working with oil-base paints. I’ll do either, though. Whichever is likely to work best. Many thanks for any advice you could give! :)

    • Sheryl, I’d go with a fast dry oil-based primer and then use another oil-base enamel to stand up to the punishment of daily use. Take a look at Ben Moore Impervo which is absolutely incredible and super hard finish.

  32. Wells on said:

    Hello- we bought a house built in 1922, and much of the trim was painted in oil paint. How best to paint over this now with latex paint? In particular, the bathroom. Do I need an oil or water based primer? do you have one you would recommend for trim and around the original window?

    • Wells, If you are going to paint with a latex paint then I would prime with an oil-based primer first. Or you can just put another coat of oil-based paint over the existing without priming.

      • Wells on said:

        Thanks for the response! Our house does not get a lot of direct sunlight, so most of the oil painted trim is now a slight yellow. The loss of white is my main reason for wanting to switch out of oil. Do you have any advice for switching when you suspect the trim has lead paint underneath? I was recommended to me that I sand the trim, but my husband is worried about that.

  33. Kristin on said:

    Hi Scott,

    Our house was built in 1977, in my ignorance, when we first purchased the house I painted all of the trim, doorways and doors in Valspar Paint and Primer Latex. After awhile EVERYTHING started peeling off like sunburned skin. It has been a nightmare. Recently, I have started scraping the paint off one room at a time and sanding everything. I know oil paint looks better but I just hate working with it. What can I do to get everything where it won’t peel but bypass using oil paint? Any primer or bonding suggestions? I haven’t sanded anything down to barewood, I’ve only sanded all the latex paint off but the oil paint is still there. Would I need to completely sand the oil paint off too?

    Thanks for the help!

    • Kristin, if you have glossy trim the paint will have a hard time sticking to it. I would recommend scuffing the surface up a bit to give the paint something to hold onto and then apply a latex or oil-based primer before you try repainting. Try a Sherwin-Williams product call ProClassic “Acrylic/Alkyd” or Ben Moore “Advanced” They are water based paints that dry like an oil-based enamel. Easy clean up and hard finish coat.

  34. James on said:

    I have found your info on oile based paints great. I need to invest ina primer. I am painting an old deck and railing, wood is pourous and soaked up first coat on deck. Second coat came out better. I thought to paint the hand rails with an oil based paint, but you have mentioned a mildew build up over time. Being in the thumb of michigan with the temp swingning all over and a moist atmosphere, what would you recomend? Do I need to scrap the deck and start over (ha ha)?

    • For outdoor projects a water-based paint is usually best or in your case a deck paint. Make sure it’s something designed for decks or floors and can stand up to the brutal weather it will endure.

  35. Jancy on said:

    I want to paint a metal front door that is forty years old. It is well protected from the weather by a covered porch. Do I really have to use oil based paint? I have painted the inner side of the door with latex and it looks great. Should I use a brush with oil based paint or have it spray painted on the outside. I’m kind of chicken to do this.

    • Latex paint will work fine for the door. The latex may stick a bit when the door is opened and closed but the oil could possibly mildew over the years since it’s outdoors. Either way has its down sides.

  36. Nate on said:

    Thanks for the information about oil paints. It was recommended to me to use Glidden Porch and Floor Polyurethane Oil Paint (PF8090-01 on Homedepot.com) on a project and I was wondering if you could provide any input.
    My son is working on an Eagle Scout project. There is a wooden staircase at a local park that has fallen into disrepair. He is planning on fixing it up and repainting it. The current paint (not sure if it’s oil or latex, how can I tell?) is coming off of the wood in many places. It will need to be scraped (wire brushes?) of loose paint, then repainted. What type of paint would you recommend? We’d prefer something that doesn’t require primer (self-priming paint) if there is something that will work well. Do I have to worry about new paint adhesion to the paint that is still firmly stuck to the wood? Any advice you can offer would be appreciated.

    • Nate, priming is always helpful for a lasting paint job especially on something that will be outside or be subjected to foot traffic. I have never used the Glidden Porch & Floor so I can’t say how it is. For porches I’ve been using Sherwin-Williams Sher-Cryl with great results. It’s water based so it won’t mildew and it has some of the most tenacious grip on whatever surface you paint it onto. It dries to an extremely hard finish too. Whatever you decide to do I would definitely prime first. The idea of self-priming is a bit silly to me. A primer prepares the surface so the paint will adhere better.

  37. Cheryl on said:

    Hello,
    I painted my outside door with an oil based paint. I prepped it just like your instructions. It looks terrible. Also the paint was thick and left brush marks. I read that you can mix some mineral spirits in the paint to make it spread on smoother. Is this true and how much do you add to a quart? After letting it dry should I sand then apply another coat or is this not necessary since I sanded it in the beginning?

    • Cheryl, what kind of paint did you use and how old was it? I would sand smooth the coat you applied and add a second coat. Try these tips:
      1) You can add mineral spirits to thin the paint, but I would recommend a product called Penetrol (can be found at your local paint store). It thins the paint and extends the drying time so as to help eliminate brush marks.
      2) Make sure you brush the paint on and lightly tip off the surface to help eliminate brush marks as well.
      3) Also, once you’ve tipped off don’t go back over the areas you’ve painted. Let them dry and the paint will level out better.

  38. Robin D. on said:

    Oh darn…Benjamin Moore Paint store no longer carries the Impervo in quarts, so I tried Impervex, which is water-based. I’m happy to report this is the BEST water-based paint for my old house.
    I will use this always. Also has the nice mellow white that suits a vintage
    house!!

    • Impervex is indeed a nice water-based product!

  39. Barbara on said:

    Scott, is there any way to store a paintbrush used for oil based latex between the 24 hour coat applications? I hate cleaning up after each coat, just to have to get out a new brush the next day while the other one dries!

  40. Robin D. on said:

    I live in Honolulu and I am renovating a 1940’s house. All the door & window trim, ceiling molding and baseboards I have painted in oil. I use Benjamin Moore’s Impervo paint and the sheen is perfect for an old house;the mellow white is beautiful.

    I prefer using oil, I think it’s easier to clean the brushes, just swirl them around in paint thinner, takes 3 minutes
    and this chore is done.

    I will be painting my kitchen cabinets with Impervo-White. My primer for everything is oil-based Zinnser.

    I also paint furniture and I always use oil paint. Always enjoy reading your articles, Scott!

  41. Richard on said:

    I am painting a corn board game with oil paint. I will have three color, black,red and white, which color should be my base coat? And do I need to apply clear oil poly to seal and if I do do I sand my last coat before applying poly.

    • Richard, the order of the paint colors will depend on the pattern you are painting. There’s no real right or wrong there. And you won’t need a clear coat afterward. Use a good enamel oil-based paint and then let the bean bags fly!

  42. Scott, I am a contractor and can use a lot of thinner to clean up. I use a few coffee containers and when I clean my brush, I put the used thinner into another container and cover. After a few days, the paint settles to the bottom of the used can and I then use the (mostly) good thinner over and over again. I hate to trash the environment any more than necessary, and this method saves me lots of money and is ecologically friendly!
    Thanks for your blog.

    • Bob, we do the same thing at our shop. Thanks for mentioning it and adding it to the post like I should have originally!

  43. Janet on said:

    I need to repaint my kitchen cabinets. They were originally spray painted with white lacquer. I would like to repaint with oil-based paint. Would 220 grit
    sandpaper & oil-based primer be the correct protocol? Thank you!

    • Janet, you’ve got it! Sand with 220 then coat with oil-based primer and sand again with 220 before applying the paint.

  44. Kathleen on said:

    Interior trim in our home is painted with oil paint. To repaint it, what is best to repaint with same color oil paint: 1. apply new oil paint over the old; 2. scuff the wood first, then paint; 3. apply primer then paint. Also, my hubby painted some areas with latex paint. How to handle this? I want to repaint with oil paint (looks so much better).

    • Since the wood has already been painted with oil-based I would simply scuff the surface a bit before applying a fresh coat of oil-based.
      For the area with latex paint I would sand more thoroughly to remove as much latex as possible then prime with an oil-based primer before repainting with oil-based paint.
      Be sure to follow lead safe practices if you are sanding painted surfaces in an old house.

  45. Ana on said:

    Hi,
    I am working on an old house. Trying to repaint the trim. After scrapping off the old chipped paint, I got down to an even layer. I painted one doorway with an oil based enamel,after 12hrs it is still tacky.
    Do I just need to wait longer, it will need a second coat
    Ana

    • Ana, oil paint does take a long time to dry. The typical time necessary between coats is usually about 8 hrs. But if the weather is cold or humid that time can be slowed down significantly. And if the temperature is below 45 degrees or so the paint may not actually dry at all. I would wait till the paint is dry to the touch before recoating in your case.

  46. Jessica on said:

    We painted a brand new steel door with black oil based paint. We have painted it with 2 coats of paint and it looks horrible! We can see brush marks and uneven texture all over the door. What should we do? We thought about lightly sanding it, then repainting another layer … But not for sure. I think latex would’ve been much easier!

    • Sand the door with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and apply another coat of the oil-based paint. If you’re getting brush marks you are either brushing too hard or continuing to brush the paint as it starts to cure. Get the paint on quickly, then tip off the paint and leave it alone while it cures. Don’t try to fix any drips once it starts drying.
      Also, if the surface wasn’t smooth before you started painting you won’t be able to get a smooth surface in the end. Hope that helps!

      • Jessica on said:

        Ok, thanks for the tips. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  47. Chip on said:

    I am using oil based paint over a previous oil base on cabinet doors. It is a smooth surface and I was told I need to scuff sand the doors before painting. My question is what grit of sandpaper should I use and will the paint adhere if the sanding is too light?

    • Chip, you’ll need to use a 220 grit sandpaper on the cabinets. Make sure you sand everything otherwise you may have adhesion problems. Using a good oil-based primer before painting would also help assure good adhesion by the new paint.

  48. bonnie on said:

    I painted latex over sanded clean sliding closet doors and the paint peeled. I resanded the doors primed them with oil based primer, then used oil based semi-gloss with a foam roller. I think i went over the paint to often for I have uneven texture on some places on the doors. Can I just roll over the doors again with the paint, of course not as often this time?

    • Bonnie, if you painted with oil-based paint you can sand that top layer smooth and apply another coat without priming.

  49. Steve on said:

    I certainly agree that you shouldn’t short cut any prep work, but as a professional paint here in UK, I have found it perfectly acceptable to put oil based finish over a good acrylic (water based) primer/ undercoat. Acrylic over poorly prepped oil based paint is a recipe for disaster!!!!

  50. Arthur Alford on said:

    A “professional” painter we hired put latex over oil-based. Of course, it peels and the painter is long gone. Thought we would have to sand down all the bad paint and then redo it. But if we could just prime and then use latex over it that would save us a lot of time. Any tips on how to do this?

    • Chances are that if the paint is peeling off then he didn’t do a good enough prep job. I always prime before switching between oil and latex paint just to be sure it sticks, but the traditional thinking is that latex over oil is OK whereas oil over latex is a no, no!

      Unfortunately, If your paint is peeling off then the only way to get a solid coat of paint is to strip off the bad paint, prime and start again. Paint is only as good as the substrate it is painted on. And even if you do a quality paint job on top of his bad job it will still come off sooner than it should.

  51. Denver Paint on said:

    We also have to ensure that the painting area is well-ventilated.

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