Have you ever painted latex over oil based paint without properly prepping the walls? The unlucky readers who answered ‘yes’ know how painful this mistake is! After two years of painting our new home, the mudroom makeover is my first run-in with oil based paint.
Although our mudroom is one of the smaller rooms in the house, it has 8 (!!!) doors! I say this because it is very time-consuming to paint doors, especially when 4 are large doors with slats. Fixing this mistake took countless hours and 5 coats of paint, but now it looks great!
So how did I figure out that I made an error? There were a few factors that made me realize that something wasn’t right. First, the paint felt chalky even though it was a satin finish. Second, the paint was chipping off at the slightest scratch. I could take my nail and easily scrape off a long strip of paint. A quick google search confirmed that applying latex over oil based paint was the cause of these issues.
Ideally, I would love for you to learn from my mistake and avoid this headache altogether! But if you find yourself in the same pickle as me, I will take you through the various ways to resolve this problem and move on!
Latex Paint vs. Oil Based Paint
Latex paint is water-based paint. Latex paint dries quickly and is what most people use on the interior walls of their home.
Oil based paint is made with either alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural) oils. It is more durable than latex paint so it is more frequently used on trim and doors. It takes longer to dry and requires chemicals to clean up any paint messes.
How to Test if it is Latex or Oil Paint
If you suspect that paint in your house is oil-based paint, there is an easy way to check. You will need denatured alcohol or acetone (nail polish remover) and a cotton ball. Add the alcohol to the cotton ball and rub a small area of the painted surface. If paint comes off onto the cotton ball, it is latex paint and you are good to go. If no paint rubs off, you have oil based paint. Skip to the second step if you do not have to remove latex paint.
If your home was built before 1978, you probably want to test the paint for lead. Dust from lead paint is incredibly dangerous when inhaled or ingested and there are safety protocols to follow if your home has lead paint.
How to Fix the Mistake of Painting Latex over Oil
1 | Remove Latex Over Oil Based Paint
There are a few ways to remove the latex paint and one option may work better than another depending on your situation. With all of these solutions, it is important to wear a mask to protect your lungs!
Warm Water & Scouring Pad
Warm water and a scouring pad work great to remove the latex paint quickly. The downside of this option is that it is incredibly messy. Dirty water and wet paint splattered everywhere and make a big mess. If you are working in an unfinished space, this is a good option, but it is not ideal if you need to protect the floors.
Paint Scraper & Scouring Pad
In the beginning, I forgot to wear a mask and was quickly reminded how terrible the dust particles are for your lungs! Do as I say and not as I do. 🙂
I removed most of the peeling paint and then sanded it as smoothly as possible. A few times I gouged the trim, but it is 50 years old and I wasn’t too concerned with imperfections here and there.
I have another confession – I skipped scraping the doors and just crossed my fingers that the bonding primer and trim-specific paint would suffice. I don’t know that I would ever have finished this mudroom if I had to scrap all 8 doors! We will see how they hold up, but they are already looking better with the primer and trim paint applied.
*A year later and the doors are in pretty good shape. They have a few paint chips on them because it is a high traffic area, but nothing too noticeable.
Additional Latex Paint Removal Options
I found some other solutions to this problem online but did not test them out. Depending on how much time you want to spend removing all of the paint, a combination of these options could speed up the process.
- Use a steamer to remove the latex paint just like wallpaper
- Krud Kutter latex paint spray remover
- Latex paint stripper
2 | Apply 1 Coat of Extreme Bonding Primer
I’m giving you a big round of applause if you discovered the oil-based paint before applying latex paint over it! This will save you a ton of time and is a pretty quick fix. First, you will take a sanding block and scuff up the surface with the oil-based paint. Wipe down the surface to remove any dust and dirt. Next, you will apply one coat of bonding primer to seal in the oil based paint.
3 | Apply 2 Coats of Trim & Door Paint
To be honest, I never used to purchase paint made specifically for trim and doors. I realize now the error of my ways! Paint made specifically for trim and doors is much more durable for these high traffic areas and I highly recommend using it for your projects.
Once the bond primer was applied to our mudroom walls, I applied 2 coats of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel and I can really tell the difference! For the application, I used a combination of an angled paintbrush and a small roller to paint the surfaces.
Tip | Paint Sheen is Important
I’d like to share another personal story that completely tripped me up with applying latex over oil-based paint. Last year, we removed the wallpaper from our foyer and the paper came off in strips and I thought we hit the lottery because it was so easy!
What I didn’t consider is that while the paper came off, the glue remained on the walls. Because latex paint is water-based, we couldn’t just paint the walls because the water would reactivate the glue. If you have ever made this mistake, it turns your wall into a gummy mess. Instead of using a steamer to scrape off all of the glue, we were instructed to use an oil-based primer to seal in the wallpaper glue and then apply the latex paint.
When I asked my Sherwin Williams rep why I could use latex paint over oil-based primer in our foyer, but not in the mudroom, he explained that the type of paint sheen plays a big part. In our foyer, the sheen was flat for the oil-based primer which allowed the latex paint to grab onto something and adhere. Because our mudroom trim and doors had a glossier sheen, it wouldn’t allow the latex paint to grab onto anything. This is why it scraped right off.
Moral of the story: when in doubt, reach out to your local paint store experts for advice!
Project Source List
- Extreme Bonding Primer
- Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel
- Acetone (nail polish remover)
- Angled Paint Brush
- Paint Roller
- N95 Mask
- Paint Scraper
- Scouring Pad
- Sanding Block
- Krud Kutter Latex Paint Spray Remover
- Latex Paint Stripper
- Drop cloth
- Lead paint test kit
Fixing this mistake was a huge pain in the butt, but it was definitely worth it. My family is pretty rough on our mudroom and we need durable paint on the trim and doors to hold up. I hope my experience will make your paint removal process go a little bit quicker!
I fixed the paint mistake and then installed wallpaper to finish the mudroom makeover. I absolutely love how it turned out and am glad I took the extra time to fix my painting mistake.
Check Out All of the Mudroom DIY Projects
- How to Hang Pre-Pasted Wallpaper by Yourself
- How to Install a Vertical Shiplap Plank Wall
- The Best Supplies for Painting Interior Spaces
- How to Paint Your Old Floors Using Rust-Oleum HOME
- Beautiful Mudroom Makeover with Tons of Charm
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For more tips on choosing interior paint colors, head on over to my friend Katelin’s site at The Inspiring Investment where she shares tips on picking the perfect colors!