Can You Paint Acrylic Over Latex?

Image of latex paint but Can You Paint Acrylic Over Latex?Latex paint is quite cheaper than other formulas. Thus, it is often suitable for large surfaces such as ceilings and walls. Additionally, it is water-based and comes in various colors and finishes. But as much as the paint is a perfect option for painters, there is a perenial question, can you paint acrylic over latex?

Yes, you can paint acrylic over latex. Moreover, acrylic paints are water-based and so are compatible with latex formulas. Also, latex paint is a type of acrylic paint. Therefore, you can cover it with an acrylic coat without any problems.

Even so, there are some guidelines to adhere to for a perfect outcome. For instance, it would be best to clean the surface from debris and dust before painting. But worry not! This article will tell you all about these products and their application.

Are Latex and Acrylic Paint the Same?

Although latex and acrylic paints are water-based products, they have some striking variances. The main difference being that acrylic formulas have added chemicals that make them more elastic. Thus, they expand and contract better than latex paints.

In addition, acrylic products need thinners during clean-up sessions, while latex paints are easy to clean with soap and water. Also, the chemical components in acrylics can produce dangerous fumes. Therefore, it would be safe to work in a well-ventilated area.

Besides that, acrylic paints are the most popular in painting projects as they become water-resistant after drying. They also dry extremely quickly, allowing you to complete your work in record time.

Conversely, painters prefer latex paints for larger projects because they can get the product in larger quantities. Also, the formula is safer to use indoors as it produces fewer fumes. Nonetheless, it is good to use proper ventilation.

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Latex Primer?

It is okay to paint acrylic over latex primer. More so, acrylic formulas and latex primers go hand in hand, especially when you have multiple surfaces: From concrete to metal or wood to wallboard.

Additionally, latex primers prepare the surface and enhance paint adhesion. Hence, you deliver an elastic finish that can withstand harsh elements. The paint and primer have water as their main component, and so they deliver a faster drying time and easy clean-up.

That said, there are three aspects to look out for when painting acrylic over latex primer. They include preparing the surface, choosing the paint and primer, and applying the paint and primer.

  • Prepare the Surface

Here, you’d want to ready the surface by either sanding, washing, wiping, scraping off loose paint, or even a combination of the activities. However, the choice of strategy depends on your objectives. Thus, feel free to pick what works for you.

Begin by sanding weathered or new lumber with fine to medium grit sandpaper. This way, the wood grain opens up to receive the primer. Also, you can get a pressure washer for large surfaces like decks. Please don’t forget to fill gaps in the wood with wood filler and sand gently.

Wipe down the surface. It could be plaster, drywall, steel, or concrete but remember to use a household cleaning solution. Also, the goal is to stick the primer to the surface, not the grime. Thus, please clean water stains off the wall, kill mildew and allow the surface to dry completely.

Finally, scrape any loose paint on previously painted surfaces to facilitate a tight bond between the primer and the object. In addition, you can get a paint scraper for smaller projects or a power washer for large surfaces.

NB: Please carefully adjust the power washer settings to avoid damaging the surface.

  • Choose the Primer

The choice of a primer or paint highly depends on the surface you are painting. For instance, it would be best to get a latex primer suitable for unpainted wood when painting fresh lumber. The formula allows the moisture to breathe through the paint instead of trapping it. Thus, you have reduced bubbling and peeling chances.

In addition, a latex wood primer binds the fibers on weathered and unpainted wood. Hence, it stabilizes the lumber for an acrylic coat, which remains elastic despite changing temperatures.

Also, please get a latex primer appropriate for concrete walls when working on concrete surfaces. Mostly, painters prefer the block filler as it fills the concrete’s porous holes. Therefore, the surface becomes moisture resistant.

Besides that, the block filler ensures that you use less paint for the acrylic top. So, you’ll use save money and energy while delivering a successful product.

Additionally, choose a latex primer recommended for drywall surfaces when working on drywall projects. Fortunately, the drywall sealer never disappoints. It seals the wall and allows the acrylic topcoat to cure uniformly.

Lastly, consider a latex primer for steel only if you have direct-to-metal application. It promotes adhesion and delivers a durable and elastic finish. Also, ensure the surface is rust-free before application for the best result.

  • Apply the Primer, Then the Paint

Spray, brush, or roll the primer based on the manufacturer’s recommendations or personal preferences. However, it would be best to consider spraying and rolling as they leave the fewest marks.

Spray, brush, or roll the acrylic paint after the primer dries. Usually, the drying process takes one hour, and you are good to recoat. But the manufacturer’s label is always right. Please consult it to be safe. Also, you can go with the rule of thumb that advocates for four hours before the first and second topcoat.

Next, wait for 24 hours before using the surface and a minimum of 30 days before subjecting it to household cleaners. Normally, paint needs 30 days to cure, but acrylics may need 45 days to dry to the touch.

NB: Always tint latex primers with half the topcoat formula as it aids in cutting down the needed acrylic paint topcoats. Also, the process facilitates a sophisticated finish for darker topcoats.

Which Is Better Acrylic or Latex Paint?

You may have wondered the difference between acrylic and latex paint, especially with the multiple paint options available. Well, these formulas are simple to understand, and you can easily pinpoint the differences.

Generally, latex paint is better than acrylic paint. It is cheaper than acrylics and easier to clean than acrylic formula. The product is also safer to use as it has fewer fumes. In addition, you need less latex paint for your work as it needs few coats to deliver full coverage.

Latex formulas pride themselves on being wonderful indoor options as they resist chalking. Hence, they maintain their original colors over time. Also, the paints seal the surface and prevent fungi and mold growth.

On top of that, latex products are suitable for multiple surfaces ranging from brick, cement, wood, and metal. I cannot forget to mention its impressive quick drying time. Thus, you can do more work with less stress.

Can You Use Oil Primer Over Latex Paint?

It is not possible to use oil primer over latex paint. However, the vice versa is practical as there are no natural components in the oil primer that repels the latex layer. Also, experts recommend that you dry the surface well before applying latex over an oil primer for better results.

Remember that water is the main agent that combines the pigment and the coating for water-based paints. On the other hand, oil-based products have oil as the dominant component.

Can You Paint Latex Over Water-Based Primer?

Usually, any oil-based or water-based paint can deliver a perfect layer on latex paint. But it will help to get a primer for oil-based formulas to enhance paint adhesion. Also, please note that you can apply latex paint directly over other latex-based products.

What Primer Do I Use For Acrylic Paint?

Gesso or highly pigmented white primers are ideal for priming the surface. You can also get Kilz products if you have products that act oil-based or need large primer amounts. Nonetheless, it is essential to choose the most suitable primer. It could be what stands between a durable paint job and a failed product.

Additionally, you can consider acrylic paint primers for acrylic paint. The products are extremely economical and versatile. In addition, they resist blistering, cracking, and peeling, while offering easy soap and water clean-up.

Even so, primers are not the same. Some brands use modified resins that are inferior and cheaper. A good example is the latex primer. However, please consider primers with 100% acrylic resins, even if they cost more. You will get more value.

Besides that, we also have acrylic primer types. The products are suitable for various applications, and it would be prudent to decipher them.

  • Universal Primer/Sealers. These products are perfect for multiple exterior and interior surfaces like unpainted drywall, plaster, tile, metal, brick, and wood. Therefore, you can buy the primer and decide what you’d want to paint.
  • Stain Blocking Paint Primer. This paint primer effectively seals and primes water-soluble stains such as lipstick, grease, smoke, crayon, and tannin bleed from cedar or redwood.
  • Masonry Paint Primer. The primer forms a highly alkali-resistant film on the surface. Thus, the finish is safe from discoloration, lime burn, and efflorescence. You can also use it on properly cured, unpainted or new stucco, masonry, and plaster surfaces.
  • Block Fill. This product works best on the new, unpainted, split face or smooth concrete blocks. It fills the surface’s pores and prepares it for painting. Also, block fill is thicker than other primer types and proves to be highly alkaline resistant.
  • Enamel Undercoat. This formula works well on interior surfaces, whether painted or unpainted. It is easy to sand and delivers a smooth finish. In addition, the enamel undercoat seals wood trim and doors before you apply the enamel finish.

That said, there are some common rules to adhere to when selecting an acrylic primer. Check them out!

  • Lumber can have tannins and compounds that bleed through the primer and finish coats. Thus, it would help to get a stain-blocking primer that stops the bleeding.
  • Universal primers/sealers are ideal for most surfaces. However, some specific surfaces require particular primers. So, please choose the primer based on the specific surface you are painting or staining.
  • An enamel undercoat delivers a smooth finish on painted wood trim and doors.
  • Alkyd/oil-based or pigmented shellac is more suitable for heavily stained areas, while latex/acrylic works well for minor water stains.

How Do You Paint Over Latex?

First, it would be prudent to play by the rules. Ensure that you paint an oil-based paint over the latex formula and not the other way round. Remember that water-based paint does not adhere to oil-based products, but oil-based ones can bond with water-based ones.

On top of that, there are a few exceptions if you are working with very oil paint. Older indoor formulas had oil in them. Thus, it would be safer to prime the old finish before applying new paint. 

That said, the painting part becomes much easier once you determine the best paint formulas to use. The process is quite straightforward, as we shall see below.

The first step is to always prepare the surface for painting. Often, you will be painting previously painted ceilings and walls. Therefore, you’d get better results by eliminating any success-compromising elements like dust and debris.

Next, it will help to determine whether you are painting the whole wall or ceiling. This way, you can determine if you need a primer or not. For instance, you do not require a primer when painting over latex-based paint. 

However, you need a priming formula if the previous surface color is significantly darker than the new color. Or you want to apply an oil-based finish. It is also not a good idea to use a primer when you are not sure whether the last paint coat was latex paint or not. Thus, you won’t get nasty surprises.

In addition, a primer’s application strategy is pretty much like regular paint. You can use a roller to set the formula on the ceiling or wall. Then, let it dry for some hours. Also, it would help to use multiple thin coats instead of thicker ones.

The other step is applying the paint. Please consider using a soft brush for smaller areas and a roller for bigger projects such as painting a wall. Also, although the chosen applicator does not matter, you are better off painting multiple thin coats. This way, the finish is more even and good-looking.

Additionally, try to apply the formula in the same direction all the time. For instance, roll the roller up and down, not sideways, down, and up. The same strategy also goes for a brush.

Besides that, it would be best to settle on the most suitable number of coats for your paint job. Usually, two to four coats will deliver full coverage: nothing less, nothing more, and nothing else. But you could check the recommended number by the manufacturer. Also, fortunately, you will need fewer coats if you primed the surface.

Lastly, peeling latex paint is something you will deal with as you do more painting jobs. For example, you may have to repaint a wall with a peeled paint coat. Here, you can’t paint over the compromised surface. It would be prudent to prepare the surface and repaint, even if you’ll have to scrape off the old paint.

Get your sander and sand the surface until it is smooth. Then, apply a primer and add your paint coat. Also, please sand scrape gently to avoid damaging the surface. So, consider using a plastic spatula for the job.

Is Latex Paint Thicker Than Acrylic?

No. Latex paint is not thicker than acrylic. Moreover, it is the best alternative if you do not want to see brush strokes on your finish. On the other hand, acrylics are much thicker and do not flow as smoothly as latex formulas. Thus, you require high-quality rollers and brushes to deliver an expert finish.

Can You Thin Acrylic Latex Paint With Water?

It is possible to add up to 30% water to acrylic formulas. Furthermore, this move helps the formula set better on the surface. Also, adding 60% or more water delivers a watery paint application. This watery mixture works on absorbent surfaces so that only a color hint remains.

On top of that, you are safer adding about two to three water ounces per gallon. But this prescription depends on the starting condition. Then, add a small amount of water and lend it in until you get the preferred consistency.

In addition, it is best to always begin with small water quantities. It is easier to keep adding water a little at a time. On the other hand, you may not reverse the water amount if you add too much.

A stirring paddle is the best accessory for the job. Mix the paint into the paint and stir in an upward and downward spiral motion. Also, you can pour the water and paint back and forth between an empty one-gallon can and the original container.

What Do You Use to Seal Acrylic Paint?

There are multiple products to use to seal acrylic paint. They include varnish or enamel spray, gloss medium/gloss varnish, and resin. However, enamel or varnish spray is very common in our day. The formula works well for all kinds of artwork. It is also affordable and accommodates DIYs and simple home projects.

Alternatively, you can go for gloss varnish/gloss medium. It delivers a thicker, stronger, and glossier finish. The formula is also available in most art stores and online but is more pricey than sprays.

Finally, resins can work for you when you want a sophisticated, ultra-high gloss finish. You can also use it indoors as it makes the colors look ‘pop.’ This option works best if you want the piece to look like water.

That said, it would help to varnish acrylic paintings. The finish protects the artwork from UV rays, yellowing, and dust. It is also available in satin, matte, and gloss finishes to give you variety.

Is Latex Primer the Same as Acrylic Primer?

Although latex and acrylic primers are not the same thing, they perform similar functions. The formulas work like double-sided tape to keep the topcoat bonded to the surface. In addition, they both have acrylic compounds.

Besides that, you can use a latex primer before applying an acrylic topcoat. It will still deliver a durable and elastic layer and keep the surface safe from exterior conditions. In addition, latex is a generic label with water resistance and covering attributes that give a successful product.

What Is the Difference Between Acrylic Latex and Acrylic Enamel?

The main difference between acrylic latex and acrylic enamel products is that the former is mainly oil-based, whereas the former is water-based. In addition, enamel paints usually turn yellow, while acrylic paint remains true to its original color.

Acrylic paint usually dries faster than enamel formula. It needs around two to three hours, and you can do a recoat. Conversely, enamel products can take from six to 24 hours to dry properly.

Acrylic latex delivers a mater finish, whereas acrylic enamel delivers a glossy look. Also, enamel does not have multiple color variations. You are limited to the few main colors in the store. On the other hand, acrylic latex products come in almost every shade you can think of and thus accommodate multiple decoration projects.

Acrylic enamel is more durable than acrylic latex paint. It is also more resistant to cracks and does not discolor or fade. In addition, the formula is not ideal for outdoor projects as it is less flexible. Thus, it becomes hard and cracks over time.

Conversely, acrylic latex formula is your go-to product for outdoor projects. It is easy to clean with water and soap and boasts of being a more environmentally-friendly alternative. The opposite is true about acrylic enamel products as they need a paint thinner during cleaning.

Brush marks are inevitable when using acrylic latex paint. The formula does not deliver a smooth surface after application. And it easily gets dirty around high-traffic areas like drawers, handles, and door frames.

Similarly, fumes in acrylic enamel paints are inevitable because they have high VOC content. Therefore, you are safer using them with protective gear and in a well-ventilated working area.

Is Latex or Acrylic Paint Better For Kitchen Cabinets?

Latex paint is by far the best choice for kitchen cabinets. It features lower VOC levels and dries pretty faster. In addition, acrylic paint has chemical components that you’d want to avoid for food contact surfaces.

Likewise, you’d want to keep away from oil-based paints for kitchen cabinets. Yes, they make a case in the reputation discussion and promise easy application and a durable finish, but they emit toxic fumes. The paints also take longer to dry, which is not ideal for kitchen products.

How Can You Tell If Paint Is Enamel or Acrylic?

First, it would help to know that enamel paints are oil-based, whereas acrylic ones are water-based. Then, check out the simple distinguishing test below.

Damp a soft rag or a cotton boll with rubbing alcohol and scrub the paint coat from a small region on the surface. The paint is oil-based if it does not rub off on the cloth. So, if you are doing a repaint job, prim the surface with a suitable binder and apply the paint.

On the other hand, the paint will come off if it is a water-based formula. Thus, you can proceed with the repainting project without recoating the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions you will likely come across when talking about acrylic and latex paints:

  • What Is Acrylic Latex Paint?

Acrylic latex paint is a famous contender in the painting ring. Moreover, experts tag it as the best quality latex paint in the market. In addition, it features acrylic resins that give it the best possible durability and adhesion qualities.

This formula expands and contracts along with weather changes and temperature fluctuations. Thus, the finish remains glossy for an extended duration. Believe it or not, other paints do not offer this attribute, and that’s why they peel and crack on outdoor surfaces.

On top of that, acrylic latex paints are suitable for metal and wood projects. Therefore, you can have them for home furniture DIY jobs.

  • Is Acrylic Paint Water Based?

Acrylic paint is usually chemical-based. It contains acrylic resins that make it much thicker than water-based options. Also, this attribute requires you to use thinners during clean-up sessions. But before you complain, the paints are much more durable than latex and oil options.


The discussion can go on and on, especially on how to work with acrylic and latex paint. However, essential aspects revolve around preparing the surface properly, using the correct primer, and adopting the most suitable paint application method. This article focuses on the sensitive query:

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Latex?

The answer is yes! It is possible to paint acrylic over latex. Acrylic paint is water-based and thus works on latex surfaces just fine. In addition, you don’t have to begin your repaint job from scratch, especially if the previous coat is latex. Simply add a layer of acrylic paint.