Interior Trim Paint Disaster

Learn how to tell the difference between latex and oil based paint, as well how to fix it.

This post was written from experience. This blog has always been a place to inspire you to tackle your own home projects. I believe it’s just as important for you to learn from my mistakes as well.

When the house was getting all new carpet I decided to paint the trim first. The carpet was being installed in the master suite and entire second level of the house. This was a great time for me to paint all of the trim work. No need to take a chance with new carpet, right?

I decided to go with Olympic One Paint + Primer, interior latex paint semi gloss. It doesn’t smell bad, it’s affordable, and covers very well.

Interior Trim Paint Disaster

Learning to paint a room from top to bottom yourself is one of the best DIY skills to have. While I’m sharing this mess, I have painted 99% of the time with zero issues. AND I am still painting.

Now for the disaster part.

Latex vs Oil based paint disaster

Here are a few things I know

  • 9 times out of 10 professional painters will paint all trim work with oil based paint.
  • You can’t paint latex paint directly over oil based paint BUT you can use water based primer over oil based paint, so prime first

Here is what I was unsure about

  • Did we have oil based paint, since we didn’t build this house I was unsure? (I had already painted the laundry room trim with latex paint a couple of years ago with no issue.)

Here is what I discovered

  • We in fact do have oil based paint.
  • Latex paint with primer will “sort of” stick to oil based paint.
  • Sort of doesn’t cut it.

Y’all, when the installers put the carpet in my painting disaster nightmare happened. They were trying to be careful because I told them it was freshly painted. This was not their fault, I take all the blame.

Then this happened, the not sticking part…

And this, the sort of sticking part…

Handy tip: the alcohol test!

You can determine if you have oil based paint with this trick. Clean and dry a section of wall or trim. Take a cotton ball or square, wet with rubbing alcohol and wipe a small area. If the paint comes off you have latex paint.

Here is what I will do to fix it

  • Sand off the paint from the baseboards
  • Repaint with primer
  • Now paint with latex paint
  • Diligently protect our new carpet

I’m not going to lie, I was devastated. Seriously, overwhelmed. I left the house and went for a walk (threw in stadium stairs just to expend all of my anger.) I always talk with GOD when I walk and he always has a way of bringing me back to my place of joy. Once I was home, I admired our new carpet then really checked out all of the damage.

Thankfully the hall upstairs is getting new baseboards and our bonus room wasn’t oil paint so it looks perfect. There are blessings even in our misfortunes.

My tip for you, use the alcohol test to determine if you have latex or oil based paint. I’m off to sand.

Frequently asked questions

Why latex paint instead of oil based?

Latex paint emits fewer orders, can be cleaned up with water and is not flammable. Latex also dries much faster than oil based paints. Oil based paint takes significantly longer to dry requiring you to keep anything from touching the paint.

PIN this photo so you never make the same mistake I did!

Trim Paint Disaster and how to avoid the same mistake


  1. What primer do you use on oil painted trim in order to then repaint with latex?

  2. Thanks for that tip! I had already repainted my laundry room with no issues so I had assumed it was the same. I’ll use this tip next time for sure. I’m going to add this tip into my post, thank you.

  3. Take a cotton ball and denatured alcohol and rub it on the painted surface. If any paint comes off it’s latex, if not, it’s oil based. I had this happen to me too and it’s mess to correct. My painter knew how to test for it. Hard lesson to learn.

  4. Oh my are home was built in the 80s and every base bored door trim is in latex oil paint..lord i know it lasts for every ..i was wanting to change the color in are home since everything is(WHITE) now from reading i know i can change it….thanks color.. color.. color:-)

  5. This made me have heart palpitations for you. Bless you friend. Hope it turned out to beautifully on round 2!

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been thinking about re-painting some of my trim and would’ve gone with a latex paint/primer. (I don’t know if my trim was oil or latex based when last painted). Now I’ll have a better approach.

  7. Oh no!!!! So sorry. Make sure you get the tool to protect your carpet when you paint. It’s sort of a flat metal almost like a spackling knife but waaaaay longer/bigger. You wedge it down between the carpet and baseboard, almost under the baseboard then pull down slightly and paint the exposed baseboard. Then pull it out, move it and repeat. It’s super easy and will keep your carpet clean. Good luck!

  8. Man… that is rough!!! I really, really feel for you. Thanks for sharing it all with us!

  9. I know you had a big job for sure! I’m just thankful that I don’t have to redo all of the crown molding, especially in the tray ceiling. Thanks for sharing the Ben Moore details, sounds like a fantastic product.

  10. Bless your heart!!!! Oil based is tough and durable. It’s like every homeowner should pass the torch by letting us know! We built out house and used oil based Ben Moore trim paint per recommendation. Don’t regret it at all, but I knew. When I painted our kitchen cabinets and trim from green to white last year that’s why I dreaded it so much! Since I knew I had oil, I had to sand, prime first and sand. Luckily, Ben Moore has a new Advance line that is latex with oil properties. It’s very expensive, but amazing paint! So I’m getting my oil durability with easier future results. But…if I had not know what I was dealing with…I’d have done just like you. Hugs and prayers my friend. It’s going to be amazing when finished.

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