Can You Paint Acrylic Over Enamel? [Explained!]

You can directly paint acrylic over enamel only if the enamel paint is water-based. For oil-based enamel paint, you must prepare the surface or the paint will fall off. Cleaning, sanding, and priming the surface beforehand will make sure that acrylic paint adheres to the enamel and the color will not fade.

It’s already clear to you that acrylic and enamel paint has some differences. While acrylic is water-based paint, enamel is oil-based. So, can you paint acrylic over enamel or the paint will peel off soon?

Read on to know more about painting acrylic over enamel, we’ll explain why acrylic is less likely to stick to enamel, whether you can paint acrylic over enamel primer, and things like these.

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Enamel?

Acrylic can be used on top of water-based enamel paint. You cannot, however, do the same with oil-based enamel. This is because oil-based enamel has a thick, glossy finish that prevents paint adhesion. Before applying acrylic paint, this glossy top must be sanded and primed.

Painting Over Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is a type of paint that dries to a hard, glossy finish. It is typically used for painting building exteriors and outdoor objects that will be subject to wear and tear. Enamel paint can be tricky to work with, as it is difficult to get a smooth finish without brush marks showing through.

Painting over enamel paint can also be challenging, as the glossy surface of the paint makes it difficult for the new paint to adhere properly. If you’re planning on painting over enamel paint, there are a few things you should do in order to ensure the best possible results.

First, sand the surface of the enamel paint until it is dull and rough. This will help create a more evenly textured surface for your new paint to grip onto. Next, apply a primer designed for use on glossy surfaces. This will help the new paint adhere more effectively. Finally, when applying your new coat of paint, use long strokes in order to avoid creating any brush strokes or other imperfections in the finish.

Why Doesn’t Acrylic Stick to Enamel?

Normally, water-based paint does not adhere to oil-based paint, and therefore acrylic paint will not stick to enamel paint if painted over directly. Most exterior enamel contains paint pigments as well as UV and moisture resistant additives. These additives are also responsible to prevent acrylic from adhering to enamel paint.

Still, you can paint acrylic over enamel paint given that you sand and prime the enamel finish properly. Sanding will remove the glossy paint layer of the enamel, and priming will create a smooth base for the new paint to stick better.

If you use acrylic paint directly over enamel it will eventually peel off. Also due to the enamel’s oil content, the acrylic finish will be discolored. So, before painting with acrylic, you must prepare the enamel paint surface first.

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Enamel Primer?

It is often necessary to paint over an existing layer of paint, whether it be for a fresh new look or to cover up damage. Enamel primer can be a great base for new paint, but can you paint over it with acrylic?

The short answer is yes, you can paint over enamel primer with acrylic paint, but it is not recommended. Enamel primer is designed for use with oil-based paints, and acrylic paint will not adhere well to it. If you do decide to paint over the primer with acrylics, be sure to sand the surface first to rough it up a bit so that the paint will have something to grip onto. Sanding will also help create a more even surface overall.

Once you have sanded down the primer, wipe away any dust with a damp cloth. Next, apply a layer of gesso if you are using acrylics that are not self-priming. Gesso helps improve the durability of your painting and also provides another barrier between the old layer of paint and your new one. Allow the gesso to dry completely before moving on.

Now you are ready to start painting! Begin by applying a thin layer of acrylic paint over the entire surface. You may need to apply multiple coats in order to achieve full coverage depending on the color you are using. Allow each coat to dry completely before adding another until you reach the desired opacity. And that’s it!

Can You Paint Acrylic Enamel Over Oil-Based Enamel?

It is possible to paint acrylic enamel over oil-based enamel, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll need to make sure that the surface is clean and free of any grease or dirt. You can do this by sanding the surface with a fine-grit sandpaper.

Once the surface is prepped, you can apply your acrylic enamel paint. Make sure to use a primer designed for use with oil-based paints before painting, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times.

Can You Paint Acrylic Over Water-Based Enamel?

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used for a variety of applications. It can be thinned with water or thickened with an acrylic gel or paste to create different effects. Acrylic paint dries quickly and can be cleaned up easily with soap and water.

Water-based enamel is a type of paint that uses water as its primary solvent. Water-based enamel dries harder and has a higher gloss finish than latex or oil-based paints. It is also more resistant to chipping and fading. However, because it contains less pigment than oil-based paints, it may not provide as much coverage. 

Can you paint acrylic over water-based enamel? Yes, you can!

Because both types of paint have a similar solvent, you can paint one over the other. However, when painting acrylic over water-based enamel be sure to lightly sand the glossy finish of the enamel paint first. This will let the new paint (acrylic) stick to the surface better. In addition, if you are painting light colors over dark ones, apply a primer. It will help prevent uneven coloration and streaking.

How Do You Paint Over Enamel?

Step 1: Paint Test. Assuming you want to know how to paint over enamel paint the first step is to determine if the enamel paint is oil-based or water-based. This can be done by checking the labels on the cans of paint, or by doing a solvent test.

To do a solvent test, apply a little bit of denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to a cotton ball and wipe it over a small section of the enamel paint. If the paint comes off onto the cotton ball, it is an oil-based paint and you will need to use an oil-based primer before painting over it. If the paint does not come off, then it is water-based and you can proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Sanding. No matter what type of paint you are dealing with, you will need to sand the surface before painting over it. First, clean the enamel surface with soap and water, then sand it lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. This will help create a smooth surface for the new coat of paint to adhere to. Sand in small circular motions until the entire surface feels smooth when running your hand over it. Be sure to vacuum up any dust created from sanding before moving on to Step 3.

Step 3: Applying Primer. Once again, whether you are using an oil-based or water-based primer will depend on what type of enamel paint you are trying to cover up. Generally speaking, it is always best practice to use a primer that is similar to the type of paint you will be using for your topcoat. So, if you are planning on using latex paint for your topcoat, use latex primer; if you are going with an oil-base topcoat, select an oil-base primer, etc.

Apply your chosen primer using a roller or brush following the directions on the can until evenly distributed across the entire surface. Allow time for the primer to dry completely before proceeding with painting.


Keep in mind that painting over enamel with acrylic can be tricky since both paints have different properties. Acrylics are water-based while enamels are oil-based. This means that if you aren’t careful, the two types of paint can start to separate and peel off the surface.

To avoid this problem, make sure you use a high quality primer designed for both types of paint, usually latex. With proper preparation and care, you should be able to achieve great results when painting over enamel surfaces with acrylics

Can You Clear Coat Over Enamel Paint? Read here.

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