The Complete Guide to Painting Over Gloss Paint

Painting over gloss paint can be daunting, especially if you’re unsure how to proceed. However, you can easily achieve a professional-looking finish with some knowledge and the right tools.

Painting over gloss is achievable as long as you prepare the surface properly. Cleaning the area must ensure it’s free from oil, dirt, and grease. Once done, use sandpaper to scuff up the gloss paint. Primer is also essential as it creates a better bond and helps create an even finish.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What kind of paint can you use over gloss
  • What you need to know about sanding
  • What you need to know about priming before painting
  • How to paint over gloss paint

What Kind of Paint Can You Use Over Gloss?

Paint Finishes

When it comes to painting over gloss, it’s important to note that doing so directly is impossible. This holds regardless of what type of finish will be applied on top.

The reason is that gloss finishes are designed to be durable and resistant to wear and tear, so they don’t provide a porous surface for the new paint to adhere to. As a result, painting over gloss requires proper surface preparation to achieve a successful outcome.

Some effective surface preparation methods include sanding the gloss finish to create a rough surface for the new paint to grip onto, using a deglosser to break down the gloss finish so that new paint can adhere to it, or using a paint stripper.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to weigh your options carefully and choose the one best suited for your painting project. Finally, priming the surface using a high-quality primer that is specifically designed for glossy surfaces is crucial.

Paint Types

Latex and oil are the two types of paints most commonly used for painting over gloss paint. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each type of paint and discuss the situations in which one might be preferred.

Oil-based Paints

Oil-based paints are known for being durable and moisture-resistant, making them a great option for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms. They also offer a glossy finish that can be very appealing.


  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Offers a glossy finish
  • Can be used on a wide variety of surfaces


  • Releases strong fumes, which can be harmful if inhaled
  • Longer drying time that can be an issue when painting indoors
  • VOC (volatile organic compound) levels are higher, and therefore less environmentally friendly

Water-based Paints

On the other hand, water-based paints offer a quick drying time, are easier to clean up with soap and water, and release fewer fumes. They are popular among homeowners due to their ease of use and environmental friendliness.


  • Lower VOC levels, making them more environmentally friendly
  • Easier clean-up with soap and water
  • Quick drying time
  • Releases fewer fumes, making them safer for indoor use


  • Not as resistant to moisture as oil-based paint
  • Not suitable for areas with super high-traffic

Using Water-Based Paint over Oil-Based Gloss

The straightforward answer is no if you’re wondering whether you can use water-based paint over oil-based gloss. Water-based paint cannot adhere to oil-based paint due to its incompatible chemical compositions.

If you attempt to apply water-based paint directly on top of oil-based gloss, it will inevitably peel off or fail to bond properly, resulting in an unsightly finish.

So, what can you do to switch from oil-based to water-based paint and vice-versa? To ensure a successful outcome, you need to take appropriate preparatory steps.

The first step is thoroughly cleaning and sanding the surface to remove dirt, grease, or gloss. This will help create a rougher surface for the water-based paint to adhere to and improve the chances of a successful outcome.

After sanding, apply a suitable primer compatible with water-based paint and the underlying oil-based surface. Remember that not all primers are created equal, so select one specifically designed for this purpose.

Applying an oil-based primer would be ideal as it creates a barrier between the two types of paint and provides better adhesion for the water-based paint.

Once the oil-based primer has dried, you can then apply a water-based paint of your choice. It’s important to note that water-based paints tend to dry faster than oil-based paints, so you may need to work with smaller sections at a time to avoid unsightly brush marks or streaks.

Why Choosing the Appropriate Paint Matters

Choosing the right paint is a crucial step in painting over gloss paint. Selecting an inappropriate type of paint can lead to problems such as poor adhesion, uneven coverage, and durability issues. It’s important to remember that oil-based paints are incompatible with water-based paints, so take the necessary steps before attempting to repaint.

Priming Gloss Paint Before Painting: What You Need to Know

What is Primer and Its Role in Painting Over Gloss Paint

Primer is a special type of paint that serves as the base coat for the finish coat. It offers several benefits, such as better adhesion, improved coverage, and enhanced durability.

Priming gloss paint before painting helps create an ideal surface for the new coat of paint to adhere to and reduces the chances of it peeling or cracking down the line.

You must use a primer for the best results when painting over gloss. This is especially important if you switch from oil to water-based paint since oil and water do not mix.

Applying a suitable primer will help create an ideal surface for the new coat of paint to adhere to and reduce the chances of it peeling or cracking down the line.

Choosing a primer compatible with the type of paint you plan on using is important when painting over gloss. For example, select an oil-based primer if you’re using an oil-based paint. If you’re using water-based paint, then choose a water-based primer instead.

It’s also important to consider the type of surface you’ll be painting over. Some primers are designed specifically for metal surfaces, while others are better suited for wood or other materials. Read the label carefully before purchasing the right product for your project.

Types of Primers

Primers are essential in the world of painting, as they ensure the longevity and durability of the paint job. There are different primers, each with its corresponding advantages and disadvantages.

Oil-based Primer

Oil-based primer is highly effective in providing a flexible and durable surface that prevents paint coats from expanding or contracting due to temperature changes. This makes it ideal for use in areas with varying climates where the painted surface is likely to contract or expand.

When oil-based primer is applied to wood, it seals the porous surface of the material and helps prevent tannins from bleeding through the paint. This is especially useful when finishing unfinished, heavily weathered, or previously varnished wood.

The primer also creates a barrier against moisture and other elements that can damage the painted surface, making it more durable and long-lasting.

However, the use of oil-based primers comes with some distinct disadvantages. Firstly, it produces high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can harm human health if not used in a properly ventilated area. Additionally, oil-based primers can take a long time to dry, sometimes taking more than 24 hours to become fully dry.

Latex or Water-based Primer

Latex primer is a water-soluble acrylic primer suitable for drywall, plaster, masonry, woodwork, and painted metal surfaces. Latex-based primers offer numerous benefits compared to their oil-based counterparts.

They are extremely flexible and dry much faster, in as little as 3-4 hours. This advantage makes them ideal for surfaces that require a quick turnaround time. It also evens out surfaces and provides excellent coverage for repaired areas. This results in a more uniform and aesthetically pleasing finish.

One major advantage of latex primers is that they do not emit VOCs into the atmosphere. This makes them ideal for individuals that are conscious of their environmental impact and want to create a healthy living space.

Regarding durability, latex-based primers excel due to their superior cracking resistance. This is especially important for surfaces that experience expansion and contraction, such as exterior walls and doors. The added flexibility ensures that the surface remains intact without cracking or peeling.

However, it cannot effectively cover dark stains and deep discolorations. This can result in uneven coverage requiring multiple coats, increasing time and cost. Also, latex primers are not ideal for hardwood and metal surfaces, requiring specialized primers to ensure optimal adhesion and durability.

Shellac Primer

Shellac primer is a highly adhesive and fast-drying solution that is commonly used in the woodworking industry. Its ability to effectively seal wood knots, pitch pockets, and stubborn tannin bleeding makes it a preferred choice among professionals.

One of the key benefits of shellac primer is its optimal stain-blocking qualities. It forms a hard, glossy surface that provides excellent adhesion and prevents stains from penetrating it. This makes it an ideal choice for surfaces prone to staining, such as cabinets, furniture, and doors.

However, shellac primer does have its drawbacks. One of the biggest disadvantages is the harmful fumes it produces. This means that you must take precautions, such as wearing a protective air mask and ensuring the working environment is adequately ventilated.

Another issue with shellac primer is that it is not as versatile as other types of primer, such as latex and oil-based. It may not adhere as well to certain surfaces or be suitable for certain applications.

Sanding Gloss Paint Before Painting: What You Need to Know

When painting over gloss paint, sanding the gloss layer is one important step to achieving a smooth and long-lasting finish. Sanding down the gloss layer helps the new paint adhere properly by providing a rough surface for it to grip onto.

What Sandpaper to Use for Sanding Gloss?

The type of sandpaper you should use for sanding gloss depends on the specific project. For most home-use projects, it is recommended to use fine-grit sandpaper with a grit between 120 to 220. These grits will produce a smooth and even finish that is perfect for painting over.

How Much Do You Need to Sand Gloss Before Painting?

When sanding gloss paint, taking your time and not rushing the process is important. Sanding should be done methodically and evenly to ensure no missed areas. Generally, you will want to sand until the surface feels smooth, even when you run your hand over it.

Keep in mind that if the underlying layer is wood, you should be careful not to sand too deeply. Doing so can damage the wood and make it difficult for the new paint to adhere properly.

Can You Paint Over Gloss Without Sanding?

The good news is that it’s possible to paint over gloss without sanding. But before you do, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Painting Over Gloss Without Sanding

One of the biggest advantages of painting over gloss without sanding is that it saves time and effort. Sanding can be a time-consuming and messy process, and it can also create a lot of dust.

Disadvantages of Painting Over Gloss Without Sanding

The main disadvantage of painting over gloss without sanding is that the paint may not adhere properly. Glossy surfaces are usually smooth and hard, which can make it difficult for paint to stick to them.

This can result in flaking, peeling, and chipping of the paint, which can ruin the overall look of your project. Another potential disadvantage is that when you paint over gloss, it may not look as smooth as it would if you had sanded it down first.

Other Options for Painting Over Gloss

Several options are available if you are looking for an alternative to sanding. One is to use a liquid de-glosser or degreaser. These products will remove the glossy finish, allowing the paint to adhere more effectively.

Another option is to use a paint stripper or remover. These products are designed to remove the gloss from surfaces, allowing you to apply a fresh coat of paint without sanding down the surface first.

Take note that whether you sand, use a deglosser, or a paint stripper, priming your surface is always recommended.

How to Paint Over Gloss Paint

Tools and Materials

Step 1: Prepare and Protect the Surrounding Areas

Before you begin, it is important to ensure the area is well-ventilated and wear a protective air mask. It’s also important to cover surfaces or items that should not be painted.

Remove any hardware, fixtures, decorations, and switch plates attached to the wall. Cover any furniture or other items in the room and tape off the edges of trim, molding, and baseboards with painter’s tape.

Step 2: Prepare the Surface

It is important to clean the surface first because any dirt, dust, or grease on the surface will make it harder for the paint to stick. That is why using a damp cloth or sponge is important to wipe down the surface before painting.

Step 3: Remove the Gloss Layer

The next step in painting over gloss paint is to remove the glossy layer. This is important because it helps the new paint stick better. It also makes the final result look smoother. There are several options to do this:

Option 1: Sandpaper

Sandpaper is a time-honored method of removing gloss from painted surfaces, and it’s often the first choice for many DIYers. Sandpaper works by rubbing away the gloss layer, creating a rougher surface to which new paint can easily adhere. This option is particularly effective for removing small areas of gloss, and it’s inexpensive.

However, sanding can be time-consuming and exhausting, especially for larger surfaces. It’s also important to ensure that you use the right type of sandpaper for the job, as too coarse grit can damage the surface.

Option 2: Liquid deglosser

Liquid deglosser is another popular option for removing gloss paint. This product is applied to the surface with a cloth or a brush and works by chemically breaking down the gloss layer. The liquid deglosser leaves the surface matte, which makes it easier for the new layer of paint to stick to.

This option is great for larger surfaces and is generally easier and faster than sanding. Liquid deglosser is also relatively inexpensive. However, it’s important to wear protective gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes from the product can be strong.

Option 3: Paint Stripper

Paint stripper is the most aggressive method for removing gloss paint. This product works by dissolving the paint layers down to the substrate. As a result, it’s often the most effective way of removing multiple coats of paint, including varnish and polyurethane coatings.

However, paint stripper is the most expensive option of the three and can be dangerous if improperly handled. It’s important to wear protective clothing, including gloves and goggles, and to work in a well-ventilated area. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and to dispose of the product responsibly.

Step 3: Prime the Surface

Once the gloss layer has been removed from the surface, it’s time to prime it. Priming is an important step in painting over gloss paint because it helps to seal the surface and create a better bond for the new coat of paint.

For best results, use a high-quality primer like Zinsser Cover Stain. Apply the primer with a brush or roller, and cover all surface areas, including the nooks and crannies. Allow the primer to dry for at least two hours before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4: Paint the Surface

Once you have prepped and primed the surface, it’s time to paint. Start at one corner of the wall and work across in long strokes, overlapping each stroke slightly.

Make sure to cover all surface areas with even coats of paint. Allow each coat to dry for at least two hours before applying the next.

Once you are finished, use a clean cloth to remove any excess paint from the edges of the wall. Inspect the wall for any imperfections and touch up as needed. Finally, allow the paint to dry completely before reattaching hardware or fixtures.

With these steps, you should have a complete guide to painting over gloss paint, and the result should look great.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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