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Old 10-26-2009, 07:47 AM   #1
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Acrylic vs enamel


Good morning, yesterday we purchased a green colored acrylic paint for our kitchen cabinets that are a very light creme colored enamel. To make a long story short, we painted directly over the enamel without using a primer. My questions are 1. is it 100% necessary to use a primer first when painting over enamel 2. if so, then are there any products that can safely remove the acrylic without removing the enamel below? Thank you very much for any assistance you can provide.

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Old 10-26-2009, 08:21 AM   #2
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Acrylic vs enamel


If you painted directly over an oil-based enamel with an acrylic or vinyl latex product it is not going to adhere to the surface and is probably going to start to bubble and peel away in short order. You should have de-glossed the surface and used an oil/solvent based alkyd primer first. You can paint over an alkyd with either oil or latex.

The good news is that once the new paint is dry and cured (a few weeks), you may be able to just grab a corner of it with a drywall knife and peel it off in sheets. This will be even more likely to work if you made the mistake of using a crappy paint that doesn't adhere well in the best of circumstances---like Behr or Valspar. If peeling it doesn't work, try a sharp scraper and/or lots of sandpaper. As a last resort you may have to strip everything off.

If you painted over what is sometimes known as a latex semi-gloss enamel with another latex product you may be alright although you still should have deglossed the surface first.


Last edited by user1007; 10-26-2009 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:42 AM   #3
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Acrylic vs enamel


Thank you for replying. The paint is Benjamin Moore 100% acrylic paint. I had purchased it at an Ace Hardware store, and the "paint specialist" told us to soak a cotton ball in finger nail polish remover and rub it on the surface. She said if paint comes off, then we have an enamel based paint which will need a primer coat. The paint did not come off. Now that the entire kitchen has been painted, I feel that we are the victims of very bad help. Not sure if this gives you any more information, but it looks like we are going to have to remove this paint ourselves.
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:54 AM   #4
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Acrylic vs enamel


The paint store gave you good advice. The test is a good one. The nail polish would have reacted with an oil-based emulsion. It sounds to me like you have latex semi-gloss---not oil-based enamel---under the new paint and you should not have to worry. If you did not de-gloss the surface the new paint may not adhere as well but it will not bubble and come off like latex over oil. And you used great paint so that is in your favor. Good luck.

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Old 10-26-2009, 09:10 AM   #5
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Acrylic vs enamel


So oil based and enamel are different types of paints? I was under the impression that they were the same. When we purchased the house, the paint is listed under enamel, so if that's the case and the paint on our cabinets did not come off with the polish remover, then I guess we can continue to paint. Good thing I did not call the store. The lady was very very helpful and took her time with us, but I didn't think the information was correct. I really appreciate you helping me with this.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:22 PM   #6
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Acrylic vs enamel


Paint consists of a few components. There is whatever it is made of to suspend everything---oil base suspensions or water based suspensions for example, binders that hold everything together and ultimately deposit something on the surface (flat to high gloss) when all else evaporates---can be petroleum based or natural oils, alkyds or water soluble vinyls and acrylics, etc., and pigments and other miscellaneous things that distinguish a quality paint from a crappy one.

Enamels really refer to the surface left behind and can be either oil-based or latex (such as eggshells or semi-gloss although gloss finishes are also getting better). Latex products have lower VOCs and are therefore better for the environment and are easier to clean up. Oil enamels used to be preferred because they tended to have harder finishes, were available with higher gloss, showed fewer brush marks, and were easier on spray equipment. They are not as colorfast as acrylics and vinyls though and they chalked over time as part of their natural aging process.

Modern additives give latex paints similar performance properties to oil application. Nanotechnologies and other paint configurations are also emerging. Even the auto industry is being forced to convert to acrylic enamels. It is increasingly difficult to find or illegal to use oil-based paints in some regions.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:57 PM   #7
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Acrylic vs enamel


Maybe it is just me but I am confused. You said you used the nail polish remover and the paint did NOT come off,right?
This would mean that it is oil based and you should not be painting over it with latex unless proper prep work has been done,ie,primed, sanded, deglossed or a combination of these.
Maybe I am just missing something.


if that's the case and the paint on our cabinets did not come off with the polish remover, then I guess we can continue to paint.
I am thinking, no.


You can paint over an alkyd with either oil or latex.

primer only

The nail polish would have reacted with an oil-based emulsion. ??
I think it would react with a latex not an oil
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:07 PM   #8
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Acrylic vs enamel


I hope I gave correct advice but Chris, if it confused you I have reason to be concerned. Ordinarily I use alcohol to test paint and it will get a reaction from latex not oil. They used nail polish remover though which would be solvent based? I don't think it would react with acrylic or vinyl but maybe I am wrong?
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Old 10-26-2009, 11:55 PM   #9
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Acrylic vs enamel


The word "Enamel" nowadays is meaningless...kinda like "Kleenex".

Enamel USED TO mean/imply Oil paints, because they formed a hard coating....like the enamel on your teeth. Latexes weren't as prevalent, and weren't as good.
When Latexes started getting better in the 80's, Marketing departments started using that buzzword to "play up" their Latexes.

In the last 20 years, EVERYTHING is called "Enamel"!
Many people are still confused about it though.
The thinking seems to be..."Do I have regular Latex, OR a Latex Enamel"????
Sooooo....the term Enamel no longer has ANY relevant meaning.

And yep...the Acetone in the nail-polish will soften/wrinkle a Latex/Acrylic paint. If your existing paint wasn't affected, you had an Oil-base paint.
>>> Chrisn has it right... going from Oil to Latex, you need to...
* Sand to dull the sheen moderately,
* Remove every molecule of dust,
* Prime with a good Latex primer,
* Then apply the new paint.

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Old 10-27-2009, 04:44 AM   #10
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Acrylic vs enamel


And yep...the Acetone in the nail-polish will soften/wrinkle a Latex/Acrylic paint. If your existing paint wasn't affected, you had an Oil-base paint.


Thanks Faron,I had a pretty stressful weekend visiting my son @ school and thought maybe by brain was just in melt down mode.

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