Can You Paint Over Old Paint? Yes, Here’s Your Guide!

Can You Paint Over Old Paint? Yes, Here’s Your Guide!
Can You Paint Over Old Paint
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I get asked all the time can you paint over old paint? The short answer is you can but . . .

Another one of those clear as mud moments on this blog!  There are different answers based on the situation you are faced with at the moment. Are you looking at wood? Looking at peeling railings? Faced with a moody teenager’s black walls?

Let’s get started!

Can You Paint Over Old Paint on Wood?

Okay, this is as good a place to start as any.  Let’s say you have a a hand me down piece of furniture like this commode that I have at my house. It was given to me by a neighbor when I was a kid and has been my night stand, an entry way table, Victoria’s changing table, and most recently a dresser in her room.

Now this beautiful antique piece is going to be part of my guest bedroom suite or if you watch my YouTube channel you’ll know it as the O.G.’s Room.

It definitely needs a coat of paint.  It has always been white and I think it’s going to stay white but it needs to be refreshed.  To paint over a surface like this

Commode Top
All This Needs to Be Cleaned Off Before Painting!

you need to make sure it’s clean, and all the adhesive residue has been removed.

Then you’ll want to give the surface a light sanding.  You can use a scuff pad or a fine grain sandpaper.  This is to ensure the coat you’re putting on has something to bite into and will stick to your surface better than if you had not sanded or scuffed the surface.

Then paint as normal. Wait about 20 minutes after your first coat of paint to start a second coat if you need one.

Can you Paint Over Old Paint that Is Peeling?

Let’s look at my porch railings.

my railing
My Railing

I know. I’m ashamed. The last time these were fixed up was 11 years ago.  The railings are peeling bad.

For this type of surface or any surface where the paint is loose you will want to scrape the loose bits away.

It’s is essential that you get rid of all the loose pieces. The new paint won’t hold the old paint down. It’s not glue. You can of course use like Rust-Oleum Binding Sealer which will hold down paint flakes.  If you ignore this step then you will be repainting again very soon.

A pressure washer can take care of the bulk of the work really quickly. But if you don’t have a pressure washer then grab a scraper and a wire brush.  First use the scraper to flake away the large loose pieces of paint.  Once the big pieces are gone use the wire brush to lightly brush across the grain to remove any of the small loose pieces that might be left.

Wire Brush
Wire Brush Against The Grain to Get the Small Bits

Whatever paint is left behind can safely be painted over.

Can You Paint Over Old Paint on Wall?

In short yes you can paint directly over an already painted wall.  Do you need to prime the wall? If you are using a lighter color over a dark color then YES!  This will save you from using expensive paint to cover the dark walls.

Here’s a handy little tip for you (a secret I learned years ago).  If you have the hardware store tint your primer to match your wall color it will be easier to cover dark surface in one go than it would be if you used a white primer.

You do not need to sand the walls or scuff them. Just paint straight on top of the old surface.

I hope this cleared up any questions you have.  If not then leave me your questions below.  I’m happy to share what I know with you!

If you haven’t yet checked out my post on how I painted my entire basement for less than the cost of one gallon on paint, make sure you click HERE to read it!


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