Sign In to join the community | Help


How do you tell if paint is oil or latex? Also, can latex be used over oil? I 'm repainting trim and cabinets.

Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2012-12-04T20:04:48+0000  by phil57bike phil57bike




You can tell if a paint is oil or latex farely simply:


 If you rub latex with denatured alcohol, the alcohol will immediately start to soften the latex.; It will not affect an oil paint. "Goof Off" cleaner will act similarly, affecting the latex, but have little effect on oil.


If you sand paint with fine sand paper and it dusts up, it is probably oil paint. Latex paint has a gummy feel which normally just clogs up sandpaper.


As to whether latex/acrylic paint can go over oil? The newer genertion acrylic paints, such as Behr's Ultra, can go directly over oil finishes. Of course, it is advisable to clean and scuff sand the surface.


RustOleum  makes "Cabinet Transformations" which is able to go directly over oil paint and other slick surfaces found on cabinets, such as Melamine. The RustOleum product does not require any sanding, but does require a cleaning with the deglosser which is supplyed in the kit. The kit contains a flat base coat, an optional antiqueing glaze, and a clear urethane top coat.


If you intend to use a simple color on both cabinets and woodwork, the Behr Ultra would probably be the easiest. I have personally tested Ultra directly over hard, slick urethane varnish and was impressed with its adhesion.


Hope this has helped.

Posted 2012-12-05T06:15:41+0000  by ordjen

Soak cotton with ammonia or alcohol and rub on the surface, if the paint goes off then its latex or oil based. In case of negative result the either case is true.

Since water is Lyophobic (oil repellant), you cannot use latex based paint over oil one. If you still want to go for it, then you should remove the paint with sand paper properly and do the painting with latex one. 

Posted 2012-12-06T12:02:54+0000  by belmanliving




Being from the old school, I formerly would have agreed with you about going over oil paint with water soluble latex paints. The latexes of old would have peeled off with a stroke of the fingernail. However, the new generation acrylic paints,  such as Behr's Ultra,  will bond to slick oil or urethane based paints. As with any paint job, it is advisable to scuff sand the surface to aid in adhesion.


In an effort to test Behr's Ultra, I prepared a piece of door casing with a couple coats of MinWax Semi-Gloss Urethane Varnish. Wanting to test the worst case scenario, I purposely did not sand the slick urethane. When thoroughly dried, two coats of Behr Ultra were put directly over the urethane. It is impossible to scrape this Ultra loose with the fingernail or other objects!  This sample is now kept on the counter to show customers who are looking for a durable paint to go over oil based surfaces. It also demonstates how well Ultra will level. The sample piece looks almost as if it had been sprayed on!


If in doubt though, one can still opt for a coat of oil based primer followed by a coat of acrylic paint. The oil primer will adhere to the old oil paint and the new acrylic will adhere to it.

Posted 2012-12-07T06:51:20+0000  by ordjen
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question