Is it necessary to use oil primer underneath oil paint (for trim) or can I use latex primer? Do all primers work interchangeably with oil and latex paints?

2 Answers 2


The rule of thumb is you can use latex paints over oil primers and latex primers. Do not use oil based paints over any surface currently coated with a latex primer or paint. The oil based paint or primer will usually lift the latex product and leave you with a wrinkled surface that looks like alligator skin.

  • If we cannot use oil primer over previously latex-painted trim do we have to use latex primer? We are not fans of latex primer.
    – RET
    Feb 28, 2014 at 16:56
  • You cannot use oil over latex, so you are stuck with latex. Oil primer will most likely raise the latex paint. Feb 28, 2014 at 22:05
  • Why are you not fond of latex primers? What are you trying to cover? Mar 1, 2014 at 11:42
  • We were told oil primer provides better adhesion. We will be priming all trim, doors and cabinets. We want to prevent old-house odors and stain bleed-through, and also want good adhesion. We will be using an oil topcoat. NOTE: We lightly sanded all surfaces in preparation for priming.
    – RET
    Mar 27, 2014 at 15:39
  • Oil is fine if you can still find it. Due to the VOC laws, many paint companies don't offer it anymore. Getting harder to find every day. The improvement in acrylic based paints can rival oil, especially some high fill cabinet grade enamels from Sherwood Williams and Ben Moore. Mar 27, 2014 at 15:43

It depends. Newer paints/primers hold up a lot better. You need to check the manufacturers website. The biggest issue you will have with a latex primer is that it will need to be pretty far in the curing process to paint over it - meaning it could be a month or two. Again you need to check the individual manufacturer's website.

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