Can You Paint Over Flat Paint? (With Different Paints)

Flat paints are known for their low sheen and colorful finish. But, can you paint over flat paint?

You can paint over flat paint. That’s because flat paint doesn’t have a protective or glossy finish that repels moisture. As such, paints will stick over flat paint. 

However, the flat paint finish must be clean and in good condition before applying paint. That’s because filth, grease, oils, or scratches prevent good adhesion between flat paint and the new paint.

If the flat paint is sealed, you must remove the sealer first before applying the new paint. 

Paints Stick Well To Flat Paint

Does Paint Stick To Flat Paint

Paints stick well to flat paint. That’s because flat paint doesn’t have a glossy or protective finish that will repel moisture. So, all types of paint, including oil-based paint, will stick to flat paint. 

When dry, flat paint forms a textured dry finish. For paints to stick, the surface must be dry and textured. This way, the paint will bite into the textured surface and stick. Since flat paint has a textured finish, the paint will stick. 

However, if the flat paint is sealed, new paints won’t stick to it. That’s because sealants (such as polyurethane) form a glossy and protective layer over flat paint that repels moisture. So, if you apply paint over a sealed flat paint, the paint will slide off the glossy finish and won’t stick. To apply paint over a sealed flat paint, you must first remove the sealer.

Also, if the flat paint is dirty, damaged, or chipping off, new paint won’t stick. That’s because the filth will prevent good paint adhesion. Paints won’t stick to wet flat paint either.

Sanding is Necessary

Can You Paint Over Flat Paint Without Sanding or Priming

You can paint over flat paint without sanding or priming, but only if the flat paint coating is clean and smooth. However, if the flat paint is damaged or rough, you must sand and prime it before painting over it. 

Here’s what happens if you don’t sand or prime before painting over flat paint:

  1. Poor Paint Adhesion – If the flat paint is damaged, no paint will adhere to it properly. You must repair the flat paint by sanding, priming, and in some cases, applying more coats of the flat paint for the paint to stick.
  2. Wet or Sticky Paint – If there’s poor adhesion between flat paint and the new paint, the finish will turn sticky.
  3. Terrible Protection – If you apply paint over damaged flat paint, the new paint won’t stick and won’t protect the surface underneath. The new coating will peel off after a while. 

How To Paint Over Flat Paint?

Before you paint over flat paint, you need a few tools:

  • Clean rags
  • A cleaning solvent
  • Primer paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • A pair of gloves
  • Sandpaper
  • A gallon of paint
  • A paint bucket

1. Check If The Flat Paint Was Sealed

Check If The Flat Paint Was Sealed

First, check if the flat paint is sealed with a topcoat or not. 

To know if the flat paint is sealed, use the water test: 

  1. Pour a few drops of water over the flat paint. 
  2. Wait a few minutes. 
  3. If the paint absorbs the water, the flat paint isn’t sealed.
  4. The flat paint is sealed if the paint doesn’t absorb the water.

Flat paint is water-based, and as such, it doesn’t repel water. But, if the flat paint is sealed, the sealer topcoat will repel moisture and make the flat paint water-resistant. 

If the flat paint is sealed, you must remove the sealer. To remove the flat paint sealer, use a chemical-based paint remover. 

2. Sand The Flat Paint

Sand The Flat Paint

If the flat paint coating is smooth, even, and clean, you don’t need to sand it. However, if the flat coating is uneven, dirty, or has imperfections, you must sand it. 

Sanding will remove the surface imperfections and leave behind a smooth, even surface for the new paint to stick to. Also, sanding will remove some parts of the flat paint and create tiny ridges for the new paint to stick. To sand flat paint, use fine-grit sandpaper.

You must apply a primer if the flat paint has holes or cracks. Apply 2 coats of oil-based primer.

3. Apply The Paint Over The Flat Paint

Apply The Paint Over The Flat Paint

Once you sand and prime the flat paint, you can apply the new paint. Since flat paint is water-based, you can apply all types of paint over it. 

To apply paint over flat paint, use a paint roller, paintbrush, or sprayer. Since flat paint is thin, you can apply up to 3 coats of paint over it. Each coat must dry properly before applying the next one. 

5. Seal The New Paint

Seal The New Paint

Optionally, you can seal the new paint with polyurethane or varnish. The sealers will produce a glossy layer over the paint and protect it from moisture, water, and scratches. 

Types of Paint You Can Apply Over Flat Paint:

Types of Paint You Can Apply Over Flat Paint

Next, let’s check out a few paint types and see if you can use them over flat paints.

Semi-Gloss Paint

You can apply semi-gloss paint over unsealed flat paint. That’s because semi-gloss paint sticks well to flat or matte paints. Also, flat paint doesn’t have a glossy finish that repels semi-gloss paint. 

Satin Paint

You can use satin paint over flat paint. If you don’t have a primer, flat paint can be used as a basecoat (primer) for satin paint.

However, the flat paint must be clean and dry before applying satin paint. That’s because satin paint is a semi-gloss paint, so stains and filth on the flat paint will prevent the satin paint from sticking properly. So ensure to wipe and clean the flat paint before applying the satin paint.

Eggshell Paint

You can apply eggshell paint over flat paint. That’s because eggshell paint and flat paints are water-based paints. So, both paints are compatible. You can even mix eggshell paint and flat paints since both paints have no sheen or gloss.

High-Gloss Paint

You can use high-gloss over flat paint. When dry, high-gloss paint forms a glossy finish, so you can use high-gloss paint as a sealer (or topcoat) for flat paint. 

However, the flat paint must be clean. That’s because high-gloss paints will reveal imperfections and damages in the flat paint. 

Clear Gloss Paint

Clear gloss paint can be applied over flat paint, but the flat paint must be clean and in good condition. That’s because clear gloss will reveal stains and imperfections in the flat paint.

Also, clear gloss paints are thick, so you need just one or two coats over the flat paint.

Latex Paint

Since flat paint is water-based, you can use latex paint over it. You don’t need to sand flat paint in most cases because latex paint will stick regardless.

However, you must seal the finish because water-based paints aren’t durable.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint can be used over flat paint as long as the flat paint is dry, clean, and sanded. However, flat paints can’t be used over oil-based paints except if you remove the gloss off the oil-based paint first.

Since flat paint is water-based, you can paint over it with all types of paint. However, the flat paint coating must be clean, even, and have no imperfections before applying new paint.

Also, water-based paints work best over flat paints than oil-based paints. 

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