Can You Use Oil Based Paint over Water Based Primer?

If you are a beginner at painting and you love experimenting with colors and stuff, it will not be rare that at some point of your experiment, you end up with this question: can you use oil based paint over water based primer?

If you are up for an oil painting, the answer is yes. But if you are experimenting on your walls, we would say that it’s not recommended and using the same type of paint and primer is better.

can you use oil based paint over water based primer
Image via YAYimages

Feeling curious to know why it’s not recommended for walls? Well, stick around because that’s what we are going to discuss in this guide.

Also Read: Guide on How to Make Sage Green Paint

What Is Oil Based Paint?

Oil-based paint is a slow-drying paint that contains pigment particles and synthetic alkyd or drying oils like linseed oil mixed as a suspension. They are basically a combination of resin and pigments in a solvent thinner. As soon as the thinner dries up, you find a hard coating that is formed by the resin.

You should use oil-based paint on a surface where you want the paint to last a long time and avoid painting surfaces with this paint if they are intended to paint or change the color every now and then. Oil-based paint is very durable as well, that’s why it can easily withstand tough conditions.

This paint is non-breathable, so it creates resistance against rust and stain and ultimately protects the underlying surface from these. That’s why it’s a great choice for protecting wood and exposed metals. Oil paints can be used on trims and moldings of a house and even in bridges and ships as well.

A good feature of this paint is that you can easily modify the viscosity of it using solvents like white spirit or turpentine. And to make the paint appear glossier you can use varnish.

Are Oil-Based Paint and Primer Safe?

To be honest, they are a little bit risky. They contain a bad smell and you may get a headache from it.

One more thing, oil-based paints are not quite safe as well, just like the primer. You see, oil-based paint contains xylene, toluene, mineral spirits, and some other products derived from petroleum as its base solvent which gives you clear ideas that it’s not quite safe for breathing.

The harmful effects of using this paint include nausea, headache, dizziness, and more. The effects may become worse if you work with this paint for a very long time. Plus, the paint fumes can cause throat, nose, and eye irritation. If you get these irritations, immediately go out and breathe in some fresh air.

It can also cause harm if swallowed. And the harm can occur faster in children compared to adults, so it’s mandatory to keep oil-based paints out of the reach of children.

You should never paint with oil-based paints while working indoors, especially if there is poor ventilation. Always choose outdoors or a well-ventilated workspace for oil-based painting projects. So, make a good preparation before working with both oil-based paints and primers.

Can You Use Oil Based Paint over Water Based Primer?

Before answering this question, first, let’s take a look at the results of using oil-based paint over water-based primer.

In the case of using water-based primer prior to using oil-based paint, the first problem you would notice is that the coat of the oil-based paint is taking a comparatively longer time to dry.

As a result, bubbles can appear on the water-based undercoat or even peel. And this is more likely to happen if there are cracks on the water-based coat. The same thing can happen if the paint under the oil-based coat is flaking off.  So, you should be careful if you are thinking of using oil-based paint over water-based primer.

However, it’s not impossible to use oil-based paint over water-based paint or primer. You need to take special care of this, such as removing the flaking or loose paints from the surface before moving to any further steps. But if the water-based surface is in a good condition the oil-based paint can be applied to the surface directly.

Now, in the case of using oil-based paint over the water-based primer, you might observe the same scenario. That’s why the answer to the question would be that you should take precautions if you are planning to slap some oil-based paint over the water-based primer.

Our best suggestion would be to completely avoid this paint and primer combination and use the same type of paints and primers for your walls.

Can You Use Oil-based Paint over Water-Based Primer for Oil Painting?

Okay, we have suggested that it’s a better idea to avoid oil-based paints over water-based primer on walls. But what about oil-based paint over water-based primer for an oil painting?

The answer is yes, you can use a water-based primer prior to applying an oil-based coat for oil painting. But you need to make sure that the water-based primer is completely dry before you do anything with the oil-based coat. You may find many water-based primers compatible with oil-based paints. However, you need to make sure you follow the drying and application procedure strictly.

How to Use Oil Based Paint over Water Based Primer?

The paint application process is always the same; you don’t need to change the method of painting if you are using an oil-based paint over the water-based primer. The thing that you need to make sure of is good surface preparation, that’s the important thing.

  • Applying the Water-Based Primer

First, choose a good quality water-based primer for the surface. Apply the primer on the surface maintaining a smooth and even coat. After you are done, let the coat dry properly.

Drying the water-based primer is the most important thing here. If you apply the oil paint over a wet water-based primer you will not get satisfactory results. The oil-based coat may cause the underlying water-based coat to peel or bubbles can appear as we’ve stated earlier.

Follow the drying time provided by the manufacturer. To be on the safe side, wait for even longer because you are not dealing with the same type of paint. After the primer is completely dry you can move on to the next steps.

  • Additional Surface Preparation

Now, you can complete additional surface preparations like sanding. Don’t miss the cracks and other imperfections; they may impact the look of the finished project.

  • Applying the Oil-based Paint:

After the surface preparation is complete, you are ready to apply the paint as usual.

Tips to Consider while Using Oil Based Paint over Water Based Primer

There are several mistakes that can be very common while using an oil-based paint over a water-based primer on an artwork. If you don’t pay attention to these, you may end up getting depressed with your finished work.

The most common mistake that one can make is: slapping the oil-based paint over the water-based primer before even allowing the primer to dry properly. This is a well-known fact that oil doesn’t go well with water. The mechanism for paints works quite the same.

So, to achieve a good result over water-based primer you need to make sure the primer is properly dried. Never use oil-based paints over wet primer. To be on the safe side, give some extra time even if the primer feels dry.

The ruling for applying oil-based paint over a water-based primer on a wall is the same. But the extra thing that you need to do is to make a good preparation before applying the paint.

Do You Need to Seal Oil Based Paint over Water Based Primer?

If we are talking about an artwork or an oil painting, know that there is no connection between using a certain primer and sealing the paint. Sealing the paint is not related to primers rather it’s related to your love for the work!

How? Let me explain. If you want to preserve your precious artwork for a long time that will remind you of its sweet memories for years, then a sealer comes in handy. They are used to protect the paint of your art piece.

Using a sealer is recommended especially for an artwork that you will use on a regular basis like a custom painted plate or a painted leather jacket etc. The sealer will protect the paint from being damaged by regular usage as well as environmental damage such as harmful UV and moisture.

So, the bottom line is that sealing the paint depends on your preference not on the primer.

Final Thoughts

Oil and water don’t react friendly with each other in general. So, thinking that the opposite will happen for paints and primers may not be a good assumption. That’s why it’s always better to use the same type of paint and primer.

However, there are facts that prove that you can use oil-based paint over water-based primer. Though we are not recommending oil-based paint over water-based primer if you somehow get stuck with this combination, follow our guide to tackling the situation like an expert.