Water-based Paint vs. Oil-based Paint

In prepping my daughter’s study spot (to be painted tomorrow), I had to do some extra work around her desk. This summer I refinished her desk with oil-based stain which bled under the tape and on to the wall. No matter how good your tape is, oil-based stain will bleed through to the wall. (Yes, even if you pray to the paint Gods)

This is why I did the desk before the walls. Imagine how livid you’d be if you did the walls first and this bright red stain screwed up your perfectly painted wall. The stain will bleed, no matter what, but especially if you have textured walls like mine. These kinds of walls just laugh at tape and the idiot who spent  $8 per roll, only to pull it and be greeted with this horror above. I only taped the desk to minimize the damage, I knew the stain would bleed (I stopped praying to the paint Gods years ago. They’re selfish, sadist whores and I hate them).

Before you use water-based paint you MUST prime out any oil-based products that may be on the walls. Stains and the paints used on baseboards and door casings are usually oil-based products. Water-based products WILL NOT stick to oil-based paint. This can be confusing because Oil-based paint WILL stick to water-based paints. Just try to remember that oil sticks to everything (have you ever tried to get an oil stain out of your favorite t-shirt?), but water doesn’t stick to anything.

I started by taping off the desk, and finding a crappy brush. I use bad brushes for this because primers are hard on brushes, and I don’t want to ruin an expensive one. The primer I’m using for this is Zinsser 1-2-3 Plus, which sticks to anything. Now I know you’re saying, “That product is water-based and you said water doesn’t stick to oil!” Glad to hear you’re paying attention. Primers are different. Primers break rules. I don’t know how, but just make sure you read the labels. KILZ original primer, for example, is an oil-based primer that, once it dries, you can go over it with water-based paint. I know, it’s anarchy. Let’s move on.

I painted a thick white line of primer over the red oil-based stain. Most primers are not completely cured for 24 hours, so I try to prime the day before I paint. This ensures that when I paint, it doesn’t bubble up over the oil. If you paint water-based paint over a primed surface that hasn’t cured long enough, it may not be able to block the oil properties from seeping through, and your paint can bubble or slide off.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I would skip that step,” and you’re welcome to. I used to think like that. Let me tell you what happens when you skip this step. You paint your whole wall with 2 coats of really expensive paint. You excitedly pull off the tape and the whole bottom half-inch of paint peels off to reveal the red stained wall. Awesome! Now you get to tape off the area again, and prep it the way I told you to, and paint it AGAIN. It puts a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t it? Do it the right way the first time, believe me, it saves you time and heartache in the end.

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