Frequently Asked Questions

Latex and alkyd-based paint tips

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Paint: Common Painting Questions

Get painting advice for frequently asked questions

Paint types can be confusing. There are different sheens, textures and bases. Specifically, it can seem complicated to distinguish between latex-based and alkyd, or oil-based, paints. We're here to help.

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Q: Can I put latex paint over a surface that was previously painted with an alkyd (oil) product?

How To Paint : Common Painting Questions

Latex & Alkyd Painting Advice

Q: Can I put latex paint over a surface that was previously painted with an alkyd (oil) product?


A: In most cases and with the latex technology used today, this should not be an issue. The surface to be painted will need extra attention in preparation before it can be repainted.

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Q: How do I tell if the paint on my walls is latex or alkyd (oil) based?

How To Paint : Common Painting Questions

Latex & Alkyd Painting Advice

Q: How do I tell if the paint on my walls is latex or alkyd (oil) based?


A: Put some denatured alcohol or fingernail polish remover on a cloth and lightly rub it on an inconspicuous test area.* If the paint softens and is easily removed, then it is a latex paint. If the paint does not really seem to be affected by the test, it is typically an alkyd coating.

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Q: Do I need to prime every time I want to freshen my walls with another coat of latex paint?

How To Paint : Common Painting Questions

Latex & Alkyd Painting Advice

Q: Do I need to prime every time I want to freshen my walls with another coat of latex paint?


A: No. Primers are not always needed when repainting.

If you are repainting a similar color, you can lightly scuff sand** to remove the gloss, and clean the surface. Once that is completed, you can simply repaint over the existing latex coating. More than one coat may be needed for uniformity.

Please note that switching sheens, or drastic color changes, may require a primer to minimize the amount of topcoats needed to cover the original color.

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** WARNING! If you scrape sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust or fumes. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST OR FUMES CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a properly fitted NIOSH=approved respirator and prevent skin contact to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vaccum and a wet mop.*
 
Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the USEPA National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead. Follow these instructions to control exposure to other hazardous substances that may be released during surface preparation.