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Question DetailsAsked on 5/11/2016

Should I not use oil based primer on wood floor under carpet. I heard the smell is horrible.

I have had rust stains come up onto the carpet from cleaning the carpeting. I think I had water damage that rusted the nails on the floor and that came up in the cleaning process. I want to cover the wood and nails with primer to stop it from stains coming up on new carpeting. Paint store says to use oil base to solve problem but another person said don't due to the smell. Can you help?

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4 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Yes oil based paint will smell more than most latex or acrylic paints - certainly for a week or more as opposed to the day or two curing time with latex/acrylic, and if you put flooring/carpet over it before it totally cures (which can be 2-4 weeks in high humidity) it can end up smelling for a year or more - especially if covered with a solid flooring or foam carpet pad that retards the evaporation, so you need to be sure it has really stopped outgassing and is hard, not soft or readily dentable, before covering it.

However - will do a lot better job of stopping rust staining from nails and makes the wood much more water resistant in the event of spills.

Personally if I were doing it I would use oil based (not latex variety) Kilz primer AFTER hand painting (and drying) Rustoleum rusty metal primer (the fish-oil based orangish red variety) on the nails themselves (could use spray can type for quicker drying) - and letting it dry 2 days before putting on the Kilz.

Some people, to be quicker, use a laquer (chemically basically like fingernail polish) on the nails to seal them, then may or may not put a primer over all (definitely do if wood is water stained too). A laquer can cure overnight, but you generally do NOT want to use that as your finish coat - padding and carpeting will normally stick to it quite badly because final outgassing of the laquer thinner solvent dissolves moist synthetic building materials and carpets/pads - not all the way through, but leaves a mess to clean up when you peel them up to replace them down the road.

If drying time is a critical consideration like a business/office environment then oil is not the way to go - if in a residential environment where you can stay off it for a week or so total then you can accelerate the solvent evaporation with an oscillatory fan - about $30-45 for a 16-18" cheap one at box stores or Amazon or such.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


Thank you for your great advice. I purchased Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose Oil Based Primer (versatile sealer & stain blocker) interior - oil based formula. Is that ok, or should I buy the KILZ? I was planning on painting it Sunday which will be 11 days before the new carpet is put down. Do you think that will be enough time for the odor to go away if we have alot of rain and not being able to keep the doors open all day? I was also told to just paint the primer over the nails, would that work?

Answered 3 years ago by Polansu


That primer should be fine unless you have mold or mildew staining in the floor, which you would want to kill with a stain-blocker and mold killing primer. If any mold/mildew (black/brown growth stains) on floor, if the primer you have does not have mold killer I would get a packet of mold killer additive to add to the primer - a few bucks for a packet good for 1 gallon of paint - be careful - also comes in 5 gallon additive packets. Should be available at any paint store, some box store paint departments. Stir in well.

If the nails are rusty, I would really use a rusty metal primer on them first, because I would not count on a normal primer preventing rust bleed-through during carpet cleaning. Professionally, if on a job with carpet/rug without padding a contractor would probably remove and replace the nails with screws in a high-end job to avoid any risk of bleed through, or power wire brush them first to remove the rust from the exposed surface and then rusty metal prime them, but that might be more work than you are up to. If the carpet is getting a padding under it just rusty metal primer should do fine, I would expect.

One coat primer - I would not count on it. 2 coats of primer might work, but not really designed to stop rust bleedthrough - I would treat the nails first, then overcoat with the primer. If you use spray Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer tonight or saturday you should be able to do the primer on Sunday.

As for primer drying - 11 days should certainly be adequate - but if rainy all that time (especially first couple of days) I would get the circulation up - use oscillating fan (you can buy, or rent at tool rental places) or at least crank the furnace up (assuming not in A/C mode in your neck of the woods yet) to say 75 to increase the drying rate and create more circulation. It should be pretty obvious to you when the smell drops off - typically 2-3 days for primary solvent evaporation to occur with decent ventilation and not excessive humidity, then anywhere from another 3-10 days to essentially no smell at all. Generally, once the primary smell is pretty much gone and the paint feels totally dry with no tackiness if you stick your fingernail in it - even though there will still be a lingering aftersmell, should be safe to put carpet padding and carpet down.

Other alternatives for p[eople considering this issue would be putting down a vapor barrier under the padding/carpet - 6 mil poly, or using a vapor barrier faced carpet padding, same as you would on an on-grade concrete slab though the detailed edge-sealing done on concrete would not be needed in this case.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


You said, " If the carpet is getting a padding under it, just rusty metal primer should do fine, I would expect." I'm confused. The carpet is getting padding so you think I can just spray the rusty metal primer (spray can) and no primer or after I spray 2 days later will need primer, and need 2 coats?

Sorry, this is all new to me so I'm a little slow on this. I've actually never painted.

Answered 3 years ago by Polansu


OK - I tried to cover all bases and ended up confusing you.

If ONLY rusty nails is the issue, no residual brown or black mildew or mold staining in the subflooring (plywood or OSB or particle board or planks or whatever subflooring material you have) then a good coverage but not thick runny coat of rusty metal primer on the nails, let try till zero tackiness or strong smell (probably a day or a bit more, possibly much less if spray-can applied) then recoat should handle it. If the primer you got says it is good for preventing rust stains from penetrating then use it instead - two coats, which might mean 2-5 days total time to fully dry ready for carpet.

IF you have mildew/mold or are uncertain, then if the primer says it is good for preventing rust passthrough, paint the nails only one coat, let dry, then full coat the entire subfloor with a coat.

Reading up on the manufacturer website, they don't say anything about nail rust bleed-through, so I would go with the Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer for a coat or two (two easy if using spray can as drying time only 4-6 hours if not done too heavy), then the Sherwin Williams Primer over the entire floor IF the wood has residual mold - and get the mold resistant additive if feasible for the primer. Presumably you got a liquid can of paint, not spray cans if going to do the entire floor because otherwise you are spending a LOT of money on spray cans to do a whole room floor, plus risk getting it on walls and windows and such).

To check if first coat is dry enough, after strong odor dissipates if dry it should resist fingernail penetration and NOT stick to your nail, and if you put a couple of layers of paper towel on the paint (to avoid getting on shoes) and step on it and it does not stick to the towel or discolor it, it is ready for recoating or carpeting, depending on which coat this is.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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