Can You Paint Enamel Over Latex?

Everyone knows the elementary school science fact that oil and water don’t mix. That leads to the common assumption that enamel, an oil-based paint, cannot paint over latex, a water-based paint, without ruining the surface.

However, you may want to use enamel paint to add a glossier finish or give your walls slightly more protection. Don’t be discouraged by what you see online about the dangers of mixing water- and oil-based paints because you actually can paint enamel over latex.

Before applying enamel, you should prepare your latex walls so that the oil-based paint can stick to the surface.

How Soon Can You Paint Over Latex?

If you only recently painted your walls, you will need to wait before painting enamel over latex. That is because the paint needs time to cure or fully harden and get rid of any moisture. If you go over latex paint that is too fresh, the next layer will not stick to the surface properly.

Latex paint can take two years to cure properly, although most walls are fully cured after six months.

Stripping the Latex

If the latex paint is cured, then you can start removing some of the paint. This will make it easier for the enamel layer to stick to the wall.

First, go over the latex with water or rubbing alcohol. Apply the liquid to the wall and wait for the paint to soften for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, use a brush or paint scraper to remove some of the latex. You don’t need to remove all of the paint, just a little.

After that, go over the wall with coarse-grit sandpaper to strip even more of the latex paint off. Be sure to wipe down the wall afterward to get rid of any sand particles.

Applying Primer

After sanding and dissolving, there will still likely be some latex paint left on the wall. Apply primer to the paint remnants. The primer acts as a barrier between the water-based and oil-based paints, allowing the final coat to stick to the wall. Enamel also sticks better to primer than it does to a bare wall or flaking latex paint.

Finally, you can paint over the wall with enamel once the primer is dry.


Even though conventional wisdom dictates that you shouldn’t mix oil-based and water-based paints, you can cover latex paint with enamel paint as long as the latex paint has cured properly. 

You will need to strip some latex paint with rubbing alcohol and sandpaper to create a base for the enamel paint to stick. Do not skip the primer, as that is a crucial step.

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