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How to Dilute Paint for Sprayer – Easy Guide for Thinning Different Paints

For proper application and coating, paint needs to be thinned. Thinning a paint can enable smooth application and modify its texture, tone, luminosity, permanence, etc. It also makes a good blend of colors depending on the type of surface to be applied. You can also dilute or concentrate the paint by thinning it, as this can increase or decrease its pigmentation. Spraying requires a typical type of consistency for better application of paint. Therefore, thinning paint can help spray it more easily over a surface. This will also help create even and fine coats of paint due to its even texture caused by thinning. Thinned paint is also easy to spread, spray or roll over a surface. But how to thin paint for sprayer? Read on to know different techniques

How to Thin Paint for Sprayer / Spray Gun?

Different varieties of paint need to be thinned in different ways.

1. How to Thin Water Based Paint for Spray Gun?

Acrylic paints are water-based and easy to thin to do with water. For thinning this water based paint, add water up to 30% , in general, for all kinds of surfaces. However, when working on absorbent surfaces, you can dilute the paint with 50% water. Make sure to not go beyond 50% water content in the mix, as this would affect the paint’s ability to blend in well.

2. How to Thin Out Oil-Based Paint for Spray Gun?

Typically, you can thin oil-based paints with the help of turpentine or mineral spirit. However, you might need to look at the paint label to be sure of what to use to thin the paint. Other alternatives of oil paint thinners include kerosene, acetone, alcohol, etc. Consider these steps to thin oil-based paints:

  1. Strain the paint down into a bucket or container to reduce any lumps in it. As lumps can cause resistance while spraying the paint, it is important to filter the paint before use.
  2. You can follow the instructions given on the label of the paint bottle to thin it. Or else you can simply follow a regular paint to thinner rule. For every 3 parts of paint, add to it 1 part of thinner.
  3. Keeping the proportion of paint higher than that of thinner in the ratio is important for spray gun. Using fewer portions of paint compared to thinner can make the color of the paint go light. This would result in lighter paint when sprayed on the surface.
  4. Make sure to mix the thinner well with the paint. You can also opt for a paint stirrer that will drill in faster and evenly mix the composition.
  5. Before spraying the thinned paint on the desired surface, consider testing it. Use a funnel and let the paint pass through it. If it passes clean, the mixture is good to go with all kinds of sprayers or paint guns.
  6. If the paint sticks on the funnel walls, consider adding more thinner to it. Again, try passing it through the funnel and repeat it until it flows cleanly through the funnel.
  7. Also, adding extra amounts of thinner to the paint makes it lighter in the shade. This means that you will need to do extra coats of the paint on the wall and other surfaces to get the right shade of the paint. This would ultimately result in extra time for the paint to dry to be ready for further coatings.

3. How to Thin Latex Paint for Sprayer?

Latex paints are comparatively thicker, and thinning them for sprayer would involve the following steps:

  1. As latex paint has a thicker consistency, it can easily settle at the bottom of a container forming lumps. You might need to stir it with a thick stick or anything to mix it well and get it all together. Keep stirring it for about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternately, you can also try transferring it repeatedly from one bucket to another to mix it well to allow its lighter molecules to rise.
  2. Analyze the thickness of the paint as there are chances that you might not need to thin the paint. It is only when the paint is too thick that it is thinned.
  3. Take hold of a funnel and pour the paint into it. If the paint flows down the funnel clean, you would not be required to thin it. However, if the paint sticks on the walls of the funnel and does not come out clean from the funnel, it must be thinned.
  4. Strain out all the impurities from the paint. If the paint has been kept for too long, it must have chunks of impurities and clumps of paint which cannot be diluted by thinning. So, it is recommended to remove it to get better results while spray painting.
  5. Thin latex paint with water. Measure the water while adding it to the paint in small proportions. The amount of water required to achieve the consistency of paint depends on the viscosity of the paint. It requires more water for thinning paints with a thicker consistency. However, lesser water will do the job for fine and creamy textured paint.
  6. You will require somewhere around 120 ml of water for every one gallon of paint. Begin with using 8 ounces of water at room temperature. Gradually, add water as per requirement. You can also consult the manufacturer to know the right amount of water to achieve the desired consistency.
  7. Now, gently stir the water and paint mix to get an even texture. You can use a wooden stick or stirrer to get a uniform blend.
  8. If bubbles appear on the surface of the paint, let it settle. Bubbles mostly appear due to the presence of water when not mixed properly. Keep the mixture aside and let it stand for some time to reduce bubble formation.
  9. Make sure to test the consistency of the paint and water mix. Allow the mix to flow through a funnel if the paint comes clean without sticking alongside the funnel. Otherwise, you will have to repeat the process by adding water and analyzing its consistency.
  10. Once the paint is thinned, test it on a tiny patch before spraying this latex paint on the entire surface.

How to Thin Paint for Different Paint Sprayer Types?

HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) Paint Gun

Since the HVLP paint gun is used for spraying oil-based paints, thin paint for it is simple. Start by adding 10% water to the paint. Then, test its consistency by taking the funnel test and, if required, add more water slowly in lesser portions to achieve the right consistency. You can also use the HVLP paint gun for latex paints in the same manner.

Airless Spray Gun

You might ask do I really need to thin paint for airless sprayer? Usually, an airless spray gun goes well without thinning paints. You can use the paint directly. It is best suited for latex paint. While the larger structures work well without thinned paints, smaller ones may need thinned paint for use.

What to Do When the Paint is Too Thin?

Sometimes, thinning can make the paint too thin to be used. This usually happens while working with water-based paints. If the water content becomes too much, the proportion of the paint can run out, and you will not be able to use it.

To solve this problem, start by adding a little paint to the thinned mixture. Begin with adding half a cup of paint and stir it very well to determine the exact consistency of the overall paint. Then, if required, gradually add paint in smaller proportions to avoid over addition. Keep stirring the mixture every time you add paint to it to achieve the right viscosity. Also, make sure to test the consistency with the help of a funnel. If the paint mix slides down the funnel smoothly, the process is complete, or else you will have to continue until you reach the right consistency.


Mixing and thinning paint is easy and can be conveniently carried out at home. Knowing the right technique and equipment and other essentials, you can easily thin paint at home and use it indoors. Moreover, spray painting is a simple process if you know the perfect tool and the type of paint that best suits your surfaces.