Can You Put Latex Stain Over Oil Stain? A Painter’s Guide

Bob Thomas


Have you ever wondered whether you can put latex stain over oil stain?

As a qualified painter and decorator, I've come across this question countless times.

In this article, I will provide you with detailed information on this topic to help you make an informed decision for your next painting project.

Quick Summary

In short, applying latex stain over oil stain can be done, but proper preparation is crucial.  You'll need to clean, degloss, and prime the surface before applying the latex stain to ensure a long-lasting and durable finish.

Understanding Latex and Oil Stains

Before diving into the specifics, it's essential to understand the key differences between latex and oil stains:

  • Latex Stains: Water-based, easy to clean, quick-drying, and more eco-friendly
  • Oil Stains: Oil-based, more durable, longer drying time, and better penetration into wood

Steps to Apply Latex Stain Over Oil Stain

  1. Clean the Surface: Remove dirt, grease, and any loose or peeling paint from the surface. You can use a mild detergent and a stiff brush to scrub the area. Rinse thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.
  2. Degloss the Surface: Sand the surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper (150-220 grit) to remove the glossy sheen from the oil stain. This step is crucial for better adhesion of the primer and the new latex stain.
  3. Apply a Bonding Primer: Choose a high-quality bonding primer that is specifically designed for adhering to oil-based surfaces. Apply the primer according to the manufacturer's instructions and allow it to dry fully.
  4. Apply the Latex Stain: Once the primer is dry, you can apply the latex stain using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the number of coats and drying time between coats.
  5. Seal the Surface (Optional): Depending on the location and usage of the stained surface, you might want to apply a clear sealer for added protection.

Tools and Materials


Mild detergent

Cleaning the surface

Stiff brush

Scrubbing dirt and grease

Fine-grit sandpaper

Deglossing the surface

Bonding primer

Improving adhesion of latex stain

Latex stain

Providing a new, durable finish

Clear sealer

Protecting the surface (optional)

Personal Experience

Last year, I was working on a family members wooden deck that had an old, peeling oil stain.

They wanted to switch to a latex stain for easier maintenance.

After following the steps outlined above, the new latex stain adhered perfectly to the surface, providing a fresh, updated look. My family member was thrilled with the results.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. How long should I wait before applying latex stain over an existing oil stain?

  A: If you've already applied a primer as recommended, wait for the primer to dry completely before applying latex stain.

Drying times may vary depending on the product and environmental conditions, so always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for drying times.

Q. Can I use a latex primer over an oil stain before applying the latex stain?

  A: Yes, using a latex primer over an oil stain is a good idea to ensure proper adhesion of the latex stain. Make sure to clean and prepare the surface thoroughly before applying the primer.

Q. Is it necessary to sand the oil-stained surface before applying a primer?

  A: Yes, sanding the oil-stained surface will help remove any loose or peeling stain and create a smoother surface for the primer to adhere to. Use a medium-grit sandpaper for best results.

Q. What type of brush should I use when applying latex stain over a primed oil stain?

  A: A high-quality synthetic brush, such as one made with nylon or polyester bristles, is recommended for applying latex stain.

These brushes provide a smooth, even finish and are easy to clean.

Q. How can I ensure an even finish when applying latex stain over oil stain?

  A: To achieve an even finish, apply the latex stain in thin, even coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next.

Use long, smooth strokes and maintain a wet edge to avoid lap marks.

Q. Can I apply latex stain over oil stain on exterior surfaces, such as decks and fences?

  A: Yes, the same process of cleaning, sanding, priming, and staining can be applied to exterior surfaces as well.

Make sure to use products specifically designed for exterior use and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper application and drying times.


Yes, you can put latex stain over oil stain with the right preparation.

By following the steps above and using the appropriate tools and materials, you can successfully apply latex stain over an existing oil stain for a beautiful and durable finish.

Remember, the key is proper surface preparation to ensure optimal adhesion and lasting results.

Suggested Products:

  1. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer: This primer is well-regarded for its strong adhesion and compatibility with latex stains. It can be applied over oil stains to prepare the surface for latex stain application.
  2. Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint: This high-quality latex paint is known for its durability and excellent leveling properties. It provides a smooth, even finish when applied over a primed oil stain.
  3. Wooster Pro Nylon/Polyester Angle Sash Brush: This high-quality synthetic brush is designed for use with latex paints and stains. The nylon/polyester blend of bristles ensures a smooth, even application and easy clean-up.
  4. Rust-Oleum Clean & Etch: This cleaner and etcher is useful for preparing surfaces with oil stains before applying primer. It helps remove dirt, grease, and oil, allowing the primer to adhere more effectively.
  5. 3M Pro Grade Precision Sanding Sponge: This medium-grit sanding sponge is designed for use on wood and paint surfaces. It is ideal for sanding oil-stained surfaces to create a smooth, even surface before applying primer.
  6. BEHR Premium Solid Color Waterproofing Wood Stain & Sealer: This latex-based wood stain and sealer is specifically designed for exterior surfaces such as decks and fences. It can be applied over a primed oil stain for long-lasting color and protection.
  7. Purdy White Dove Roller Cover: This high-quality roller cover is designed for use with latex paints and stains. It provides a smooth, lint-free finish and can be used to apply latex stain over a primed oil stain.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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