Painting Enamel over Latex – What do the Experts Recommend?

Painting over an already painted surface can be a little tricky, especially for beginners. Paints can be of many different types, but today we’ll be focusing solely on repainting over latex. The first question we’ll address is, “Can you paint enamel over latex.â€

Can you paint enamel over latex?

No, it is not a recommendation to paint enamel over latex, enamel paint has an oil base, and latex paint has a water base. That is why painting enamel directly over latex can never be a good idea. Enamel painted directly over latex can quickly start cracking and peeling.

According to many professionals, you can paint oil-based paints such as enamel over water-based paints such as latex, but only if the surface is adequately ready for this process.

You should also make sure that the latex has thoroughly dried before you start applying enamel over it. Once the latex has dried, it won’t chemically react with the enamel. Let the latex sit for at least 14-20 days before you start brushing enamel over it.

It can take latex up to 60 days to completely cure but letting it sit for two or three weeks is good enough if you are short on time.

Preparing the surface for enamel

You can use oil-based paint over water-based paint, but you’ll have to prepare the surface properly before you begin this process. For preparing your surface for repainting, follow the steps we’ve listed below.

  • Make sure there is no moisture left in the latex paint.
  • Take medium grit sandpaper and sand the latex-coated surface you want to paint over. Roughen up the painted surface and thoroughly remove any chalk or dust.
  • Apply a good quality bonding primer over the sanded latex. Try to use an oil-based primer, but if you can’t find one, use a latex primer just.
  • Use an oil paint conditioner to bring your enamel to a proper consistency for painting. The enamel should neither be too thick nor too thin for painting.

After following all the steps mentioned above, you can start painting enamel over the surface you have prepped.

Is painting enamel over latex recommended by professionals?

No, professionals do not recommend coating a latex-covered surface with enamel. Professionals recommend using latex for repainting a latex painted surface. When you paint enamel over latex, the enamel surface can start cracking and eventually chip off. If you really want to do it, make sure to prepare the surface for lower chipping risk.

Instead of using enamel, you can use a water-based paint for coating over the latex-covered surface, or you can simply remove the latex before painting enamel over any surface.

How to remove latex?

If the latex paint is wet, you can use a damp cloth to wipe it away gently. Latex is water-based, and you can dissolve it in water as long as it is wet. Once all the water has evaporated, removing latex can be a bit challenging. You can try to remove it with solvents such as alcohol for softening the paint.

Best methods for removing latex

Using a heat gun

If you don’t own a heat gun, you can easily buy it online or from any hardware store near you.

Lately, I have been using SEEKONE heat gun, and it is a very powerful machine perfect for melting old and stubborn paint.

 Start with wearing your heat protection gear because a heat gun can heat up to a thousand degrees Fahrenheit and cause a nasty burn if touched accidentally.

Keep your heat gun a couple of inches away from the painted surface and keep moving it around to prevent overheating. Once the paint starts to soften, use a scraper to scrape the softened paint off the surface. Be a little patient and work on a small area at once for best results.

Using alcohol to remove latex

Manufacturers use alcohol in many paint solvents. You can easily buy rubbing alcohol and soak the dried latex in it. Wait until the paint starts softening. Ideally, you should not leave it on for more than 15-20 minutes because it can damage the painted surface.

I generally use rubbing alcohol by vaxxen labs. It works perfectly every single time, and it is also pocket-friendly. On top of that, buying it from Amazon saves me the trip to a pharmacy.

After 10-15 minutes, the latex will start bubbling, and you can easily scrape it off. Avoid repeating this process again and again because alcohol can damage surfaces like wood.

Using ammonia for removing latex

Ammonia is a mild solvent and will not harm any surface if applied for a couple of minutes. Use a towel or a cloth soaked in ammonia to cover the painted surface. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes. After the soaking time is over, you’ll notice that the paint has started melting a bit.

Use a scraper to scrape the paint entirely and avoid soaking the surface again in ammonia.

Using vinegar to remove the paint

White vinegar is considerably cheap, and it doesn’t cause any harm to the surface on which you apply it. Soak the paint in vinegar until it softens, and then scrape the paint using a metal scraper. Using vinegar for large surfaces can save you a lot of money.

Commercial paint removers

You can buy paint removers from any hardware store near you. These removers can work very well, but using them for large areas can be expensive. These removers also contain harsh chemicals that can damage wood or polished surfaces. You should read the instructions before you apply these to a painted surface.

How to identify if the paint used on an old item is enamel or latex?

Use a cotton pad or a plain rag and soak it in water, remove the excessive moisture and rub it over the painted surface. If you see a paint stain on the cotton pad or the rag, the paint used on that surface is latex. If there is no paint stain, you can use enamel paint.

Never paint over the top of another one without knowing the kind of paint that was previously in use. Accidently painting enamel directly over latex or latex directly over enamel can be a disaster. 

Your paint will start to crack and peel. It will look awful. The only way you’ll be able to remove it is through sanding, and sanding is a very time-consuming process. So, either you’ll have to spend a lot of money to get it done professionally, or you’ll have to spend a substantial amount of time to do it yourself.

To protect yourself from this trouble, identify the kind of paint present on the surface and work accordingly. It is better to sand slightly as well as prime the surface before you repaint it. This process may take a little time, but in the end, all this effort will generate great results.