How To Latex Paint With Polyurethane? (4 Steps)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

You can mix latex paint with water-based polyurethane as they use the same solvent (water). You can’t mix latex paint with oil-based polyurethane as they use different solvents (water and oil).

To mix latex paint with water-based polyurethane, pour water-based polyurethane into a clean bucket, add latex paint, stir the mixture, and test the mixture.

Mixing them is done to give the finish color tint. Being a clear coat, polyurethane doesn’t have paint pigments on its formula; this means its finish has no color and is transparent. So, if you mix these two paints, you will get a durable colorful finish.

Can You Mix Latex Paint with Oil-based Polyurethane?

You can’t mix latex paint with oil-based polyurethane as both have different solvents (water and oil). Latex paint uses water as its solvent, while oil-based polyurethane uses oil (natural or synthetic).

Both finishes dry when the solvent (oil or water) evaporates from the coating. Since water evaporates faster than oil, latex paint dries faster than oil-based polyurethane — so they have different drying times.

If you mix latex paint and oil-based polyurethane, the mixture won’t dry properly, evenly, or at the same time, and its flow will be inconsistent since oil and water don’t mix. Some parts of the mixture will dry while others will remain wet for longer, leading to an uneven and cracked finish.

You can mix latex paint with water-based polyurethane.

How To Mix Latex Paint With Polyurethane?

To mix latex paint with polyurethane, do the following things.

  1. Pour Water-based Polyurethane Into a Clean Bucket.
  2. Add Latex Paint.
  3. Stir the Mixture.
  4. Test the Paint Mixture.

Note: You can mix latex paint with water-based polyurethane only. Don’t mix it with oil-based polyurethane as you will ruin both finishes.

The tools you need for this project are listed below.

  • A Can Of Latex Paint
  • Water-based Polyurethane Finish
  • A Clean Bucket
  • Water
  • Paint Mixer Or Turning Stick
  • A Measuring Cup

1. Pour Water-based Polyurethane Into a Clean Bucket

Pour the needed amount of water-based polyurethane into a clean bucket. Use a measuring cup to measure how much you poured.

Always pour water-based polyurethane before latex paint and not the other way around.

2. Add Latex Paint

Use a ratio of 2:1 (2 parts polyurethane to 1 part latex paint) to mix the finishes. Use 1/2 part of latex instead of 1 part if you don’t have a colorful or bright finish.

The latex purpose in the mixture is to tint polyurethane as the sealer doesn’t have paint pigments (is colorless) while latex paint is formulated with pigments.

The mixture will have the same color as latex paint. If you want to mix two (or more) colors of latex paint, mix them beforehand and pour the mixture into the clean bucket.

3. Stir the Mixture

To stir the mixture of latex paint and polyurethane, do the following things.

  1. Use a paint mixer or turning stick,
  2. Ensure the turning stick touches the base (bottom) of the container while stirring.
  3. Stir for 15 minutes if you are using a turning stick and for 5-7 minutes if you are using a paint mixer.
  4. Add drops of latex paint to the mixture while stirring if needed.
  5. Stop stirring once the paint has a consistent color and flow.

4. Test the Paint Mixture

Test the mixture on a dispensable item to see if it has a consistent flow and color, and if it dries properly.

You mix re-stir the mixture or add more latex paint if the finish has an inconsistent color, turns sticky, or doesn’t dry properly.

If the mixture dries properly and has a consistent color shade, you can use it.

Can You Apply Polyurethane over Latex Paint?

You can apply polyurethane over latex paint to increase the durability of the finish and protect it from moisture, water, scratches, and other elements.

Latex paint is water-based and isn’t formulated with protective additives, so the paint doesn’t protect the surface underneath. Polyurethane is a sealer and is formulated with protective additives that make its finish glossy, moisture and scratch-resistant.

If you apply polyurethane over latex paint, the sealer will protect the paint from moisture, water, scratches, etc.

For outdoor surfaces, use exterior or oil-based polyurethane while for indoor surfaces use water-based polyurethane.

Can You Apply Latex Paint over Polyurethane?

You can’t apply latex paint over polyurethane as polyurethane has a glossy and moisture-resistant finish that prevents liquids (including latex paint) from penetrating or adhering to its coating.

Latex paint won’t stick or dry and will peel off if you apply it over a fully dried polyurethane coating (oil and water-based).

You must remove the polyurethane first and then apply the paint.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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