Painting Ideas: Water-Based Paint and Oil-Based Paint Don’t Mix

Anyone Can Paint – Or Can They

It is true that anyone can paint; however, it takes special knowledge and talent to get professional results and avoid a lot of headaches.

The Number 1 Mistake People Make When Repainting

Anyone Can Paint

Putting water-based (latex) paint over oil-based (alkyd) paint is the number one mistake people make when painting. Even when it comes to painting, oil and water don’t mix!

Water-based paint does not stick to oil-based paint, it just peels right off.  If your doors and moldings already have oil-based paint on them, you have two options.

Options if Your Doors and Molding Have Oil-Based Paint on Them

The easiest thing to do is simply re-coat the surface with oil-based paint.  Yes, you have to use mineral spirits to clean up and use a brush meant for oil-based paint, but the resultant finish is more resistant to wear and tear.  The alternative is to prime the oil-based paint with an oil-based primer first, then top coat with water-based paint.  This is clearly more expensive and time consuming.

Oh No… You Didn’t Know This

What do you do if you have a door or moldings that have already been painted with water-based paint over oil-based paint?  Unless you want to spend hours striping and peeling off the latex paint, it is usually less expensive and time consuming to replace the door or moldings.  Then after priming the replacements, it’s your choice – water-based or oil-based paint.
How can you tell if you have water-based or oil-based paint on a surface?  Rub the surface with a rag that has alcohol on it (preferably denatured alcohol).  If it’s water-based paint, the paint will dissolve and transfer onto the rag.  If it’s oil-based paint, no paint will transfer onto the rag.


If you have specific questions, please call me at 561-795-2551 or email me at: and I’ll be happy to share my knowledge with you.
Leading Edge Homes, Inc. is a Florida certified building contractor specializing in improving your lifestyle through room additions, bathroom renovations, kitchen updates, hurricane-resistant screen enclosures, and more!  In business since 1991, they demolish your stress by building your trust. Contact them at 561-795-2551 or visit their website to discover how they can help you with your next home remodeling project in Palm Beach County.