How to Tell If Paint Is Oil-Based

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It is important to know whether your paint is oil-based or latex-based. This applies whether you are painting a surface for the first time or you are painting over old paint. Latex paint will not adhere well to oil-based paint, so if your walls are oil paint, you will want to keep it the same. However, the first step is to find out what you have.

You may also have old paint cans in the garage and want to know what they are. This is important because your preparation is different depending on what kind of paint you use. Fortunately, there are ways to determine whether your paint is oil-based or not.

Look for Old Paint Cans

If you have just moved into a house, you may want to repaint or touch up the walls. Often people have leftover paint and keep it in the garage or the basement. Even if you plan to paint a new color, you need to know so that you can prepare the walls properly. If you find the old cans, they will usually say oil-based paint on the can somewhere. Then, you will know what kind of paint you need to buy to paint your walls.

Test it with Rubbing Alcohol

You can test the paint to find out whether or not it is oil-based. You can start by washing a section of the wall. Mix a little bit of light detergent with warm water, and wash the section of the wall. Then, make sure that you dry it with a clean towel. You can take a cotton ball and soak it in rubbing alcohol. Then, rub the cotton ball over the clean area. If the paint comes off, it is latex. However, oil-based paint will remain on the wall.

If it is oil-based, you will need to use an oil-based primer on the wall. Latex paint will not adhere to a wall painted in oil-based paint.

Buy it at the Paint Store

Of course, the easiest way to tell if a can of paint is oil-based or not is to buy it at the paint store. The can will be labeled, and you will not have any question about what kind of paint it is. However, remember that while oil-based paint is more durable, it takes longer to dry and it can be difficult to clean up.

If you spill it, you will need turpentine of paint thinner to clean it up. It will not clean up with water and soap. You need to pay attention so that you can wipe up any spills before they dry. There are benefits other than durability with oil-based paint. It gives you more coverage in one coat, and it doesn’t shrink when it dries.

However, oil-based paint has a higher likelihood of cracking, fading, and yellowing over time. The fumes are also very strong and can make you feel nauseous. You cannot pour oil-based paint down a drain, and you must dispose of it according to your town guidelines.

While latex paint will not stick to oil-based paint on the wall, it will stick to an oil-based primer. If you want to paint your walls or furniture with latex paint, you can cover the old paint with an oil-based primer, and after you allow it to dry, you can cover it with the latex paint.

An oil-based primer also does a great job of covering stains and imperfections on the walls. If you are unable to determine the paint type or have any questions, it is always safe to use the oil-based primer before you paint the walls.

It is important to determine what kind of paint is on the walls when you want to repaint. Use the tests above and make sure that you know what kind of paint is in the can before you get started.

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