Best Bonding Primer for Latex over Oil. Possible Problems

If you have tried to use latex-based paint on top of an oil-based one, you might have seen the paint peel off after a while. This happens because oil-based paints and latex-based paints have different properties that don’t go well together. As such, latex-based paint may not adhere to the wall’s surface if used directly on top of existing oil paint. This is where a bonding primer comes in. A Bonding primer is a coating that allows the paint to adhere better to a surface or existing coat of paint.

Yet, not all bonding primers are the same or best suited for the task. This guide intends to expose you to the best bonding primers for painting over oil-based wall paint with latex-based paint. Also, this guide will discuss some possible problems with doing this. But first, in the next section, this article examines if you can use latex-based paint as a second coat over an oil-based coat.

Can You Paint Latex-Based Paint Over Oil Paint?

No, you cannot. At least not directly.

Suppose you choose to apply latex paint over oil-based coating directly. The solution will likely fail quickly, the texture of the coat will not be smooth or consistent, and it will peel very shortly. Assuming you were applying latex-based paint on latex-based coating, you do not need to do anything other than clean the surface. However, painting latex on oil requires some additional steps.

There are two ways to apply latex-based paint over a surface with an existing oil-based coating. The first way will involve washing the surface of whatever you want to paint, sanding it, and then cleaning the dust from the sanding. After cleaning, you can then apply the latex-based paint. This process, while effective, can be laborious and exhausting to do.

The second method of applying latex-based paint over a surface coated in oil-based paint is the one focused on in this article. This method will allow you to paint directly over that surface without necessarily sanding beforehand. To use latex-based paint on top of oil-based paint, you must apply a bonding primer first to allow the latex-based paint to adhere to the oil-based paint.

You cannot just use any bonding primer. Many manufacturers label their products as “primers” even though they are only sealers that make surfaces even for paint. The bonding primer you use should be one the manufacturer designed for latex-paint adhesion.

Best Bonding Primers for Applying Latex-Based Paint Over Oil-Based Surfaces

When you want to paint, you want a good bond between the surface and the paint. Bonding primers allow your paint to adhere to challenging surfaces, including walls painted with oil-based paint. Below are some of the best bonding primers for painting latex over oil-based paint.

KILZ Adhesion Interior and Exterior Primer

  • Manufacturer: Kilz
  • Base Type: water-based
  • Time to Recoat: 1 hour
  • Indoor or Outdoor: indoor and outdoor
  • Full Cure Time: 7 days

Kilz Adhesion interior and exterior bonding primer is a water-based modified acrylic bonding primer. This primer works well on various surfaces, including fiberglass, metal, vinyl, glossy finishes, and oil-based paint coatings.

Kilz Adhesion interior and exterior primer is an all-purpose bonding primer. This Kilz primer is suitable for use on indoor and outdoor surfaces. In addition, it is ideal as an adhesive and oil- and latex-based paint base. You can use it over or under either latex or oil-based paint. Also, the Kilz bonding primer works well for lacquers, epoxies, and products that have xylene.

Besides its strengths as a primer for oil-based surfaces and latex-based paint, Kilz dries to the touch quickly, as soon as thirty minutes after application. You can also recoat this primer in about an hour.

With Kilz adhesion interior and exterior adhesion, you will unlikely need to sand any part of the oil-based paint off. Furthermore, it is easy to clean up. You can clean it up with soap and water. Kilz primer also resists the growth of mildew, blocks stains, and seals odors and porous surfaces. This primer has low volatile organic compounds increasing its safety to work with.

As a caveat, Kilz Adhesion interior and exterior bonding primer is expensive and does not work well on floors.

Zinsser B-I-N

  • Manufacturer: Rust-Oleum
  • Base Type: shellac-based
  • Time to Recoat: 45 minutes
  • Indoor or Outdoor: indoor and outdoor
  • Full Cure Time: 1 to 3 days

Zinsser B-I-N is one of the most popular bonding primers you can use today. Zinsser B-I-N is a shellac-based bonding primer on which you can apply any latex-based paint. Also, this primer works well on interior and exterior surfaces. Zinsser B-I-N shellack primer works on a variety of surfaces, including metal.

Experts highly recommend Zinsser B-I-N because it dries quickly into a durable and rugged coat that is an excellent adhesive for a topcoat. Besides drying quickly, Zinsser B-I-N also cures fast, meaning you can apply a topcoat or second coat without much delay. Depending on the surface, with this primer, you may not need to key or sand the existing oil-based paint as it will provide excellent adhesion for the new topcoat.

One negative for the Zinsser B-I-N is its strong smell. Also, shellac-based primers give off more fumes than water or oil-based primers. Adequate ventilation is necessary when applying this bonding primer.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3

  • Manufacturer: Rust-Oleum
  • Base Type: water-based
  • Time to Recoat: 30 minutes
  • Indoor or Outdoor: indoor and outdoor
  • Full Cure Time: 1 day

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is a water-based acrylic primer. It is an excellent adhesion primer and will help latex-based paint adhere to an oil-based one without the drawbacks of the shellac-based Zinsser B-I-N. The Bulls Eye 1-2-3 works on different surfaces and allows a strong bond for the top coat, regardless of whether they are latex or acrylic-based paint. Surfaces it will adhere to include ceramic, wood, glass, and metal.

Bulls Eye 1-2-3 dries to touch in about 5 minutes. You can add a latex or oil-based topcoat over it around 30 minutes after application. Although, you should allow the Bulls Eye 1-2-3 to cure for at least a day for best results.

Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is also available in aerosol and spray-paint form for hard-to-reach areas. Bulls Eye 1-2-3 has a low odor and no volatile organic compounds. Also, it seals most stains, including graffiti and smoke. Furthermore, you can tint the Bulls Eye into a different color.

According to some user complaints, Bulls Eye 1-2-3 may be more prone to peeling. In addition, it has low viscosity, so you may need to apply a second coat. This bonding primer is available in only one size; 1 quart (946ml).

INSL-X Prime Lock Plus

  • Manufacturer: INSL-X
  • Base Type: alkyd-based
  • Time to Recoat: 1-2 hours
  • Indoor or Outdoor: indoor
  • Full Cure Time: 240 minutes

INSL-X Prime Lock Plus is an alkyd-based primer and sealer. It can prime wood, drywall, plaster, and already varnished or painted surfaces. Further, INSL-X Prime Lock Plus allows the topcoat to display a consistent shimmer and appearance. You can coat INSL-X Prime Lock Plus with oil, latex, or alkyd-based paint.

INSL-X Prime Lock Plus provides superb adhesion for glossy surfaces, seals water stains, and damage, and blocks bleed-through. Although, severe water stains may require an additional coating. Additionally, this bond primer is fast drying and takes little time to cure fully. You also do not need to sand the surface before applying this primer.

An issue with the Prime Lock Plus is it may require you to treat some stains beforehand to prevent bleed-through. Also, please note that INSL-X Prime Lock Plus is unsuitable for exterior surfaces.

Kilz Original Primer Interior

  • Manufacturer: KILZ
  • Base Type: oil-based
  • Time to Recoat: 1 hour
  • Indoor or Outdoor: indoor
  • Full Cure Time: 14 days

This is another excellent adhesion primer from Kilz that is effective as an adhesive, a sealant, and a stain blocker. Unlike the other recommended water-based Kilz primer, this one is oil-based. It offers excellent adhesion for topcoats and can hide stains such as smoke and grease on differing surfaces, including masonry, brick, drywall, wood, and more.

You can use the Kilz Original Primer Interior as a base coat for either latex or oil-based paints. Also, this primer dries quickly, and you can apply a second coating an hour after the first. In addition, Kilz Original Primer Interior comes highly recommended as a bonding primer for ventilated interior spaces.

One shortcoming of Kilz Original Primer Interior is its pungent odor. Moreover, it is not a low-volatile organic substance, although a version has a low formula. Ensure you use Kilz Original Primer Interior in a well-ventilated space. Consider using a respirator when working with it.

The above list of bonding primers is not exhaustive. Other bonding primers might suit your needs better. However, note that the best bonding primer for your need may differ based on the surface you are painting, its condition, and the type of latex-based paint you intend to use. Consulting with a professional or expert is a good idea to determine the right action for your needs.

Possible Problems with Using Bonding Primer

1) Using The Wrong Primers

As earlier stated, bonding primers are different, and some work better for some purposes than others. Using an inappropriate bonding primer for latex-based paint over oil-based surfaces can cause poor adhesion and a subpar paint finish. Listed above are some primers that work well for painting latex on oil-based surfaces. You might go for some other bonding primers. However, be sure to research whatever product you choose to ensure it will be suitable for painting latex-based paint on oil-based surfaces.

2) Inadequate Surface Preparation

While you may not need to sand or key some oil-based coatings before applying a bonding primer, you should first clean and prepare the surface. Remove loose paint, fill in cracks or holes, and maintain a clean and dry surface. Failure to do so may lead to an inconsistent, less durable finish.

3) Insufficient Drying

After you apply the bonding primer, leave it to dry and cure adequately before applying the latex-based topcoat. Failure to allow the primer dry and cure to meet the manufacturer’s instructions could result in poor adhesion and uneven finish.


Applying latex-based paint over oil-based surfaces is possible with proper preparation and a bonding primer. A bonding primer is necessary to ensure the latex-based paint adheres to the oil-based surface. There are various bonding primers. The best ones for this article’s inclinations are those whose design accommodates latex-based paint adhesion to oil-based surfaces. As such, this article recommends some great bonding primers.

Before applying the bonding primer, ensure you prepare the surface well, as failure to do so could mess up the adhesion and paint finish. If you have doubts about the process, consult a professional to help you make the best decision.