Can You Use Oil-Based Paint Over Water-Based Primer?

Oil paintings have taken a soft spot in the hearts of many people. It has been picking a lot of popularity, and many have selected it as their go-to pick for carrying out different projects. In fact, we can go a step ahead and state that the growth will remain constant for a prolonged amount of time.

However, when people start to work with oil paints, they have loads of confusion. Among them, the question – can you use oil-based paint over water-based primer is the most common. The nature of oil-based paints makes it seem like they will not work on water-based primers. Because, after all, oil floats on water!

So, does that mean oil paints will float on water-based primers as well? Let’s find out, shall we?

Is It Necessary to Use a Primer for Oil Painting?

Before we get to the elephant in the room, let us talk about whether it is necessary to use a primer for oil-based paints or not. So, the short answer is no. Using a primer for oil painting projects is not essential at all. But that applies to a couple of surfaces. For example, you will not need any primer for painting on cards or paper.

A Must When You Are Painting On Canvas

Primer is a must if you plan to use oil paint on canvas! Why? You will notice that the oil paint will perform exceptionally well on the surface if it has a primer. Can you guess what makes it perform better? Oil-based paints can cause a problem when the canvas is made of cotton or linen.

The paint, on its own, can make the canvas deteriorate after a while. So, even if you do not face any problems while using the paint, you might find the surface getting deformed after you are done with the project. Well, the primer can eliminate the chances of that happening.

What Are You Using the Oil Paint for?

The fact of whether you should use a primer or not will highly depend on the circumstance and situation you are in. Keep in mind what you are using the oil paint for and which surface you are going to work on. If the surface does not require a primer, there will be no need to use it.

Now, if you plan to use oil-based paint on canvas, cloth, or linen surfaces, you should use a primer, whether it is water-based or not. That said, you might think that your canvas is pretty high in quality and it will not require any primer protection. But in reality, even the high-quality canvas requires a primer.

Is It Possible to Use Oil-Based Paint over Water-Based Primer?

With the basics out of the way, let us get back to the topic that brought you here in the first place. So, can you actually use oil paints over water-based primers? Wouldn’t the oil paint float on the water-based primer? Well, you can definitely use oil paints over water-based primers.

In fact, you will get better overall results if you utilize water-based primer on your surface before working with oil-based paint.

Things to Consider Before Using Oil Paint on Water-based Primer

Can You Use Oil Based Paint Over Water Based Primer

There are a couple of things that you need to consider before using oil-based paints on water-based primers:

Ensure That the Primer Is Bone Dry

To ensure that you get the best possible outcome, you need to make sure of one thing. The primer should be bone dry before you work with the paint.

If the primer is not dry, the oil paint will not bond with the surface or the primer that well. In fact, if the primer is still a bit wet, the oil-based paint will not adhere that well to the surface. Eventually, your masterpiece will look like a mess.

Pick a Good Water-based Primer

When it comes to water-based primers, a decent gesso is probably the best option. Not only does it come at a lower price point than the others, but it also dries exceptionally fast. That means you will not have to wait for days just to continue working on your project.

Another thing that makes gesso a great pick is that it is widely available. You will not have to work that hard to get your hands on one. Also, if you are looking to bring the most life out of your project, you should work with nothing but the high-quality oil paint set.

There are loads of budget-friendly and beginner-friendly options available.

A shortcut to determine whether the set you are getting is high in quality or not is to look at the quality of the ingredients. If they are high in quality, the paint will provide better results than others.

Can I Use Oil-Based Primer with Oil-Based Paint?

The thing about oil-based paint and primer is that they have the same thing as a base, which is the oil. For that reason, it gives the feeling that the combination should work like a charm.

However, if you take a look at what professional artists are using, you will notice that most are utilizing water-based primers. Here are the reasons why:

Oil-based Primers Are Comparatively Expensive

First of all, oil-based primers are not cheap. You will need to make a good room in your budget if you want to work with them. Secondly, some oil-based paints will not work that well with oil-based primers. You will need to go through a lot of hassles to get your desired outcome.

Most Oil-based Primers Are for Home Décor

Another thing that you should note is that most of the oil-based primers available in the market are for home décor. They are not suitable for arts and crafts. And if you plan to work with them, you will be signing yourself up to go through tons of hassle. For that reason, if you do plan to work with oil-based primers, check the label first.

On the other hand, most water-based primers will work with oil-based paints. And as we have mentioned, gesso will provide a substantial amount of bang for the buck. You will not need to set a high budget for a project if you plan to work with gesso. It is widely available as well.

Are Water-Based Paints or Gesso Compatible with Acrylics?

You might have noticed yourself utilizing acrylics for different projects. Well, some of the projects do call for something more than oil-based paint. And the good news is that you can not only use water-based primers for oil-based projects but also acrylics.

So, if you stick with water-based primer or gesso, you will not need to switch from one primer to another when you find that the project requires both oil-based paint and acrylic. Furthermore, gesso comes at a much cheaper price point, making it pretty easy to get it in bulk.

Can You Use Gesso As an Undercoat for Oil-Based Projects?

We love gesso a bit too much! It is highly versatile, and as you might have guessed, it works both as a primer and undercoat! And you can use it for oil-based projects without facing any issues. However, you need to consider one thing before picking gesso as an undercoat.

You would need to wait for a while before you work on the layers. Leaving the gesso for a good amount of time to dry is what we are suggesting here. If you do work on the additional layers before the gesso dries up, your layers can become a mess. However, the result will be consistent when you let the gesso dry.

That said, when it comes to getting a gesso, you will find yourself among tons of options. Usually, the ones that are a bit better than the others will cost you a bit extra. However, the extra cost still makes that gesso cheaper than the oil-based primers.

Why Should You Purchase High-quality Gessos?

Wondering why would you want to pick the decent gessos? Well, the low-quality ones can cause a bit of a problem on different surfaces. They might not let you work with the oil-based paints properly. On the other hand, when you spend that extra few dollars on good-quality ones, you will get much better output on your project.

Furthermore, the high-quality gessos are more beginner-friendly. Even if you are a beginner working with water-based primers with oil-based paints, you can still make your project flow with high-quality gesso.

Should I Seal Oil-Based Paint When I Use It on Water-Based Primer?

Technically, you will not need to choose whether or not to use a seal on your painting depending on the primer you are using. Usually, the main thing that people consider while deciding to seal a project is if it is delicate or not. And if the artwork is too delicate, artists would seal it. Wondering why?

Well, the sealing will ensure that the artwork remains in pristine condition for a prolonged time. And sometimes, the seal will be well-capable in protecting a painting even if the piece does not have a primer on the bottom.

That said, we do recommend sealing your artwork even if you do use a high-quality primer and oil-based color set. The sealing will preserve the coloring and quality of each stroke better. And if you properly preserve your old works, you can compare how far you have come when it comes to skills after a couple of years.

Yes, you could argue that you can just click a picture of your old artwork and then compare it with your new work in the future. But with a physical copy, you can make an apple-to-apple comparison pretty easily.

What Should You Avoid While Using Painting Oil-based Paint Over Water-Based Primer?

As we have mentioned earlier, many artists will paint over water-based primers without letting them dry properly. The thing about oil-based paint and water-based primer combination is that they will not mix properly. Do you know why? Because oil floats on water. And the same thing applies to the primer and paint.

So, if you try to mix the oil-based paint before letting the primer dry, your paint will be a total mess. You will only be wasting precious oil-based paint by doing so. We understand that you would generally be more interested in finishing your artwork rather than waiting for a prolonged amount of time.

But thanks to the nature of the water-based primer and oil-based paint, you will not get adequate results if you mix the oil-based paint on top of the water-based primer if the prime is not bone dry. You can try and see it for yourself. However, we recommend using an old and beat-up canvas for the experiment.

In short, no matter what you do with the water-based primer and oil-based paint, do not paint over the primer if it is not dried up properly. It will ruin your canvas, and you will be wasting your precious materials.

How to Make Water-Based Primer Dry off Quickly?

Gessos dry up relatively fast. And if you opt for a high-quality gesso, you will not even have to wait for that long to use the oil-based paint over the primer. Just a couple of hours will do the trick.

Another thing that we would recommend is leaving the primer in a place where it will be less exposed to debris and dust but more exposed to air. Air will do a proper job of making the water-based primers or gessos dry up.

Final Words

To wrap things up, if you are still wondering if can you use oil-based paint over water-based primer, you can! In fact, water-based primers will make the oil-based paint get its best form. However, to get optimal results, you should let the primer dry up first, or else the paint will be all over your canvas.

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