As I understand it, a few years ago, latex paint was applied on top of oil based paint.

The top layer of paint is now peeling off. Would like to apply a new coat of latex paint, but I'm unsure how to proceed.

  • Do I need to sand?
  • Should I apply a primer?
  • Some other process?


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  • How old is the house? Any risk of lead?
    – vcsjones
    Aug 4, 2014 at 1:49
  • No, its pretty new. Late 90's I believe. Aug 4, 2014 at 2:32
  • 1
    I'd weigh the condition of the carpet and the condition of the baseboards (paint aside) against the reality of getting on my knees to strip, sand, and repaint baseboards. To me, it's more trouble than it's worth. I'd rip out the baseboard, paint (on a comfortable level), and install new. It'd also be a good opportunity to explore possible carpet replacement.
    – Krynomore
    Jun 22, 2017 at 17:13

7 Answers 7


Latex paint should never be painted straight onto oil paint. In this case you'll need to remove as much of the new paint as possible.

Then you can use a water based primer with an adhesive like Gripper from Glidden. There are other brands of course, but an adhesive based primer will stay on oil paint or other surfaces that water based latex paint would peel off of.

  • 2
    I have personally applied latex paint over oil finishes many times with great results. It is no different then applying latex paint over oil-based primer (which is recommended by paint manufacturers for bare wood, read the label). The key is proper surface preparation (sanding). "No latex over oil" is a myth. Oil (alkyd) paints penetrate, latex paints bond; as long as the surface is prepared the latex paint will bond just fine, been doin it for years. Previously painted surfaces need no primer if properly sanded and clean. Aug 5, 2014 at 4:49
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    I've found it has a tendency to peel off years later unless you prepare the surface with sanding. It does need something to grip onto. So yes, you can sand or use the adhesive primer. The adhesive primer is easier than sanding and cleanup.
    – Maelish
    Aug 5, 2014 at 13:32

Painting over a glossy oil paint is indeed different than painting over an oil primer. I just came from a customers's home where the seller did the former - you can literally pull sheets of the paint off the trim. Maybe there are better latex paints that tend to adhere more strongly and you can get away with putting them over oil, but I'd never do it.

Don't take the chance. Either stick with oil-based paint on trim that already has it, or sand and prime first before switching to latex.


I just had the same problem with latex paint peeling off the interior of my front door. The hardest part was removing the latex paint. I discovered that the best way to remove it was to apply tape and pull it off rather than sand. It was somewhat time consuming but it sure took it off.

Edited to add every kind of tape worked, packing, scotch type, duct, masking, and even green painters tape worked vey well.


This is all bad, I am sorry to say. This is the result of poor surface preparation (sanding) prior to the application of the paint that is peeling. There is no easy solution, you must remove all the peeling paint along with any that even might peel. Sanding with coarse paper (maybe a heat gun but be careful) is the likely solution. On top of that, you will need to properly sand the underlying finish, to remove any sheen, prior to repainting.

Good quality latex paint will adhere just fine to old oil-based paint IF the surface is properly prepared. No primer is needed unless you take it all the way down to bare wood.


I would sand all the baseboard that is peeling, wipe clean for sanding dust. Then prime it all, using a strong water based primer. Zinser 123 is good. Then re paint it using a water based paint that is 100% acrylic . Not just latex or vinyl latex. Make sure it's 100% acrylic and you'll have no problems.

  • right on. shellac based primer like Zinser is the only way to get water to stick to oil that I'm aware of. An old painter once told me "you could paint a meatball as long as you prime it with zinser firts" I hadn't heard the tip about acrylic though, good to know.
    – user23534
    Aug 4, 2014 at 17:41

When in doubt OIL IT OUT...

There is no easy or lasting fix to this, weigh out the labor Vs replacing. probably could use some updated trim anyway.

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    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. it isn't clear what you mean by "oil it out"... would you add a sentence or two to your answer to make it clearer? Apr 3, 2018 at 2:41

I'm actually painting a job now that was latex over oil one year ago and is already peeling like mad. I am applying Stop Peel by Zinzer and over that, a hybrid paint (latex/oil) by Glidden.

This topcoat dries more like oil (hard finish), but doesn't yellow like oil. The good news is that it also cleans up with soap and water. The paint of the future when oil is no more! Most paint stores carry the hybrid type now, but Glidden's is less expensive.

  • 2
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    May 12, 2015 at 11:36

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