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Can I use latex paint over the oil-based paint on cabinets if I use a primer?


Question: Can I use latex paint over the oil-based paint on cabinets if I use a primer?
This Houston, Texas-based reader goes on to say, "If so, what do you recommend as a primer? (I hate using oil-based paint for all the obvious reasons anyone hates using oil-based paint.) I hope you don't tell me I have to use oil!"
Answer: I understand your concerns about using oil-based paint. Not only is it odious stuff, but many states and municipalities are banning oil based paint. Somehow I'm guessing that neither Houston nor Texas will be banning oil-based paint anytime soon, but you never know.

Yes, you can use latex paint over oil-based paint. It helps to scuff down the surface of the oil paint layer for improved stickability. I think that any kind of paint-over-paint project is a cause for concern. Even using using similar types of paint, you obviously won't get as good adhesion as you would by laying down paint upon primed wood. But that's reality. Untold layers of dust and dirt, too, will compromise the stickability. Be sure to wipe down with TSP (the painter's best friend) to clean the surface after you do the sanding.

Finally, we do have it on the authority of Rohm and Haas, a Dow Chemical Company, which says:

"The rule of thumb is that, given proper surface preparation, for exterior use you can apply quality latex paints over oil-based, but not the reverse. However, if you have many layers of oil based paint, stick to using oil on oil. For interior use, generally you can use one over the other. Some manufacturers of latex products will recommend a primer when going over oil-based paint."

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