Can You Paint Over Flat Paint? (How-To)

Flat paints are common for their finish and colorful appearance but can you paint over flat paint?

You can paint over flat paint. This is because flat paint doesn’t have any protective film or gloss on the finish. As such, nothing is preventing proper paint adhesion so paints generally stick to flat paint.

However, you need to ensure that the flat paint is clean and in good condition before painting over it. This is because filth, grease, oils, and damages on the flat paint will prevent good adhesion between the flat paint and the new paint coating.

You should also know that if the flat paint has a protective sealant over it, you will need to remove it before applying the paint.

Does Paint Stick To Flat Paint?

Does Paint Stick To Flat Paint

Paints stick well to flat paint. This is because flat paints don’t have any gloss or solvent in their formula that repels paint. Generally, all types of paints will stick to flat paint including oil-based paints and sealants.

For paint to stick, the underlining coat or surface has to be dry and textured. This way, the paint coating will bite into the surface and stick well. Flat paints possess the needed dry and textured requirements.

Since the paint is water-based, flat paints dry to form a textured surface making it possible for all paints to stick. However, you should know that there are a few scenarios where the paint will not stick to flat paint.

If the flat paint is damaged or chipping off, then paints will not stick to it. If the flat paint has gouges, cracks, or dents, other paints will not stick to it because the flat paint is damaged. Also, if the flat paint is filthy, the paint will not stick to it because the filth will prevent good paint adhesion. Paints will not stick to wet flat paints either.

Another reason paint will not stick to flat paint is if the paint was sealed. Since flat paints are not oil-based, the paint is usually not as durable as oil-based paints. So to make the paint more durable, flat paints are usually sealed. To make the flat paint more durable, the sealant is designed to make it impossible for anything to penetrate the flat paint underneath.

So if the flat paint was sealed, no type of paint will penetrate it meaning that no paint will stick. To apply paint over sealed flat paint, you have to remove the sealant first. Asides from these scenarios, the paint will stick to flat paint.

Can You Paint Over Flat Paint Without Sanding or Priming?

Can You Paint Over Flat Paint Without Sanding or Priming

You can paint over flat paint without sanding or priming but you should only do this when the flat paint is in good condition to be painted over. If the flat paint is damaged or rough, you’ll need to sand and, in some cases, prime before applying new paint.

Here are the dangers of painting over damaged flat paint without priming or sanding:

Poor Paint Adhesion

If the flat paint is damaged, no paint will adhere to it properly. You have to repair the flat paint by sanding, priming, and in some cases, applying more coats of the flat paint for the paint to stick.

Wet or Sticky Paint

As a continuation of the above, if there is poor paint adhesion, then the paint will not stick well or dry properly. Instead, the paint will remain wet and turn sticky.

Foul Smell From the Flat Paint

Since the paint will remain wet or sticky on the flat paint, it will start to produce an offensive odor after a while. The odor is caused by the chemicals that haven’t dried and bacteria in the paint.

Terrible Protection

Paints applied over damaged flat paint will not offer proper protection to the wood or surface underneath. The paint itself will also wear off easily with minimal contact.

Now, let’s check out how to paint over flat paint.

How To Paint Over Flat Paint?

As explained earlier, painting over flat paint is easy but if you don’t know the right steps, the task can turn difficult. Not to worry though, this guide will show you how to do this in 5 simple steps. But first, you’ll need a few tools and supplies:

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

Here is a 5-step guide on how to paint over flat paint:

1. Check If The Flat Paint Was Sealed

Check If The Flat Paint Was Sealed

The first step is to check if the flat paint was covered with a top coat. To know this, run a razor or nail across the flat paint finish. If the nail packs gloss, the flat paint was sealed. If the nail or razor packs dry paint or paint flakes, the flat paint wasn’t sealed. Some sealants like varnish offer scratch resistance so using a nail might not work.

For such sealants, the water test will work. To do this, put a few drops of water on the flat paint. If the water is absorbed by the paint, the flat paint wasn’t sealed but if the paint repels the water, the flat paint was sealed. If the flat paint was sealed, you should remove the glossy sealant to allow the new paint to stick. You can remove the sealant by stripping it off.

2. Sand The Flat Paint

Sand The Flat Paint

The next step is to sand the flat paint. This step can be skipped if the flat paint coating is smooth. But if the flat paint is rough or bumpy, you need to sand it with fine-grit sandpaper before painting over it.

Sanding helps to smoothen the rough terrain of the flat paint. It also improves adhesion between the flat paint and the new paint.

3. Prep The Paint

Prep The Paint

You will need to prep the paint before applying it. The paint might require stirring like oil-based paints, shaking like spray-on polyurethane, or thinning like varnish. You should prep the paint in a clean paint bucket.

If required, you should apply a coat of paint primer at this stage. Ensure to allow the primer coating to dry before applying the paint. You should also know that water-based primers work better on flat paint.

4. Apply The Paint Over The Flat Paint

Apply The Paint Over The Flat Paint

The next step is to apply the new paint over the flat paint. But before you can do this, you should wipe and clean the flat paint to remove any imperfection.

Since flat paints aren’t thick, you can apply up to 3 coats of paint over them. Ensure to allow each coat to dry for at least 30 minutes before a re-coat. You should also know that water-based paint is the best choice over flat paint.

5. Seal The New Paint

Seal The New Paint

When the paint is dry, you can choose to seal it. This means putting a few coats of a sealant over the flat paint. This isn’t necessary but it will make the new paint last longer.

If you decide to do this, ensure to go with a sealant that is compatible with the type of paint that you put over the flat paint.

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 use semi-gloss paint over flat paint as long as the flat paint wasn’t sealed. This is because semi-gloss paints generally stick well to flat or matte paints.

Also, flat paints don’t have any sheen or gloss that will repel the semi-gloss paint. However, before putting semi-gloss paint over flat paint, the flat paint has to be dry and properly sanded.

Satin Paint

Satin paint can be used over flat paint. Painters even use flat paint as a primer coating before applying satin paint. However, you need to ensure that the flat paint is dry and clean before applying satin paint.

This is because satin paint is a semi-gloss finish 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. This is because eggshell paint and flat paints are water-based paints. So both paints are very compatible. You can even mix eggshell paint and flat paints since both paints have no sheen or gloss.

High-Gloss Paint

High-gloss paint can be used over flat paints. In the painting world, high-gloss paints are usually used as a sealant or top coat over flat paints to protect the flat paint. However, you need to ensure that the flat paint is in good condition before applying the high-gloss paint.

This is because high-gloss paints will reveal imperfections and damages in the flat paint. So to ensure you have a smooth and clean finish, ensure that the flat paint is in good condition.

Clear Gloss Paint

Clear gloss paint can be applied over flat paint easily but you also need the flat paint to be in good condition before applying clear gloss over it.

This is because clear gloss will reveal stains and imperfections in the flat paint. You should know that clear gloss paints are usually thick so you need just onw or two coats over the flat paint.

Latex Paint

You can use latex paint over flat paint. In some cases, you don’t even need to sand as latex paint will stick to flat paint easily. However, you might need to seal the finish with a protective sealant after as latex paint over flat paint doesn’t offer the best protection, especially on wood.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint can be used over flat paint as long as the flat paint is dry, clean, and properly sanded. You should know that flat paints can’t be used over oil-based paints except you abrade or strip the gloss off of the oil-based paint first.

Water-Based Paint

Water-based paints like acrylic paint, chalk, and milk paints can all be used over flat paint since these paints are all water-based.

Final Words

In summary, you can paint over flat paint but you need to ensure that the flat paint is clean and smooth. If the flat paint is damaged, you should fix it before slapping new paint over it so the new paint can stick.

Also, remember that water-based paints work best over flat paints than oil-based paints. Finally, sanding and priming will guarantee a good result.

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