I have several hollow core doors that look like someone painted latex over oil, and they are all peeling. Removing the old latex isn't an option, as I've already spent days on about 20% of just ONE door, ie, it isn't working... Is there a product that I can apply directly over the remaining latex that might stop this peeling and allow me to repaint the doors white? Replacing is also not a good option, as they are odd sizes and cost would be a huge factor.

Appreciate any advice on a resurfacing option! Thanks

  • What is being problematic with removing the old "latex"? What method are you trying currently? Is removing the doors to work on them outdoors a possibility? Do you have power tools available for sanding the old paint off? Jul 4, 2017 at 22:13
  • The problem is not as simple as latex over oil-based paint. I know someone who routinely primes interior latex with oil-based Kilz primer and then paints over that with latex paint. His walls don't peel. Maybe in your case the old oil based paint was gloss or semi-gloss or was soiled, and letex applied directly to that. I think you are going to have to demount the doors (by removing the hinge pins) and strip them, at least to remove the latex you applied. Is the latex on the trim around the doors also peeling? Jul 4, 2017 at 22:20
  • These are 6-panel textured doors, so a lot of detail. I have already found if I'm too aggressive, I dig into the cardboard layer easily. I tried Motsenbocker's latex remover & liquid sandpaper. Neither makes it any worse or better. The more I rub, the more small areas peel. I can work outside & have an orbital sander. In short, I have been at it for days using sanding, rubbing, chemicals, & elbow grease & have hardly gotten anywhere. I was hoping there was some coating (lacquer, poly, epoxy) or something I could brush on & "lock" it all down (for lack of a better word). Thx in advance!
    – user71658
    Jul 4, 2017 at 22:27
  • Thanks Jim, but I have not painted them, it was the original owner. I was going to, and found when I was sanding initially that the old paint peeled easily. It seems only the doors themselves are problematic. I have painted the rest of the house myself with no issues.
    – user71658
    Jul 4, 2017 at 22:29
  • Bottom line: the new paint will stick to whatever it is applied to. If what it's applied to is peeling, the new paint will peel with it. The new paint can't penetrate the peeling layer and bond to something solid. And nothing you apply now to the peeling paint will penetrate it and cause it to bond with the surface under it. Latex paint dissolves in alcohol. You could try misting it with alcohol from a spray bottle. Let it absorb and spray it again. After several applications, you may be able to slough it off with alcohol-wetted paper towels. There are lots of good chemical removers.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 5, 2017 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


The root problem is poor adhesion between coats

Something has gone wrong with the latex application that is causing it not to stick to the oil paint.

A glossy surface under a microscope looks flat as a board, like the Utah salt flats. Stuff can't stick to that, this being the whole point of glossy paint. To overpaint it, you want the new paint to be microscopically jagged, have some "tooth" for the new paint to mold into and latch on. This doesn't mean heavy sanding, I do few swishes with a Scotchbrite green pad.

Usually, the problem is homeowners skip this step. And they get away with it most of the time, because most house paints are flat. They are already jaggy.

The other likely issue is that they painted the topcoat before the oil had time to cure up and become ready for recoat. The times in the instructions must be honored, even give them a little leeway.

These two layers will never bond. There is no magic juice you can put over top of the top layer: paint simply does not work that way.

Keep trying products

Latex is a relatively weak paint when it comes to solvents. The solvent for my 2-part Urethane paint makes a pretty good latex stripper, but it doesn't attack oil paints. I have also heard alcohol works well. There are also stronger strippers.

You also need to use strippers correctly. Follow the instructions and do everything they say, in particular, cover it with plastic sheet. Lots of people skip that step. When you find the right product and get technique dialed in, it should go pretty fast and lift the latex without damaging the oil too badly. Don't try to force it with elbow grease, expect the chemical to do 90% of the work.

All this to say: if it's dreadfully slow going, change methods.

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