How To Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

If you’ve ever decided to take the DIY route and try your hand at spray painting, you might have ended up with less than satisfactory results, causing you to ask yourself the question, “What did I do wrong?”

If that sounds like you, then rest assured that you’re not alone. Whether you’ve decided to elevate a wall with vibrant color, a favorite piece of woodwork, or even your car, it’s important to ensure that you nail the basics by choosing the right type of paint.

Plain old oil-based paint is far too thick for your spray gun to properly disperse, while its viscous formula is prone to drying quickly, meaning that it is not ideal for layering, and very difficult to remove off the surface if you make a mistake.

So, in order to be able to properly use oil-based paint for your spray gun, you’re going to need to thin it.

Below, we’ll show you exactly how to do so, so that you can achieve the very best result. Let’s jump in.

How to Thin Oil Based Paint for Spray Gun

What is Oil-Based Paint?

Oil-based paint is a type of paint formulation that is most commonly available in two different kinds.

The first is known as Alkyd, which is a type of oil-based paint that is made of synthetic oil, while the second is known as Linseed, which is a type of natural oil.

Out of the two types, Alkyd paint is the most affordable oil-based paint out of the two and is widely considered to be the most durable, too.

Most commonly, oil-based paints are used to paint kitchen cabinets, cars, doors, and many outdoor surfaces, as it is better suited to handling the elements than standard paint.

However, despite this, oil-based paint takes longer to dry than other types of paint, and is also pretty difficult to clean up if any spills occur.

How to Thin Oil-Based Paint:

Thinning is essentially a process that helps to make an oil-based paint less thick and difficult to work with.

In order to do it, you’ll need to employ the use of either a lacquer thinner, turpentine, or mineral spirit, as these will be able to break down the thickness of the paint, making it more fluid and easy to work with.

However, before we get started with our step-by-step walkthrough, let’s first take a look at some of the tools that you’ll need in order to be able to do the job correctly.

Tools you need:

  • PPE or some other type of protective clothing
  • Face mask and goggles
  • One bucket of warm water
  • A mixing stick
  • Painting container

Your chosen thinning product. You can choose from a mineral spirit, turpentine or a dedicated paint thinner such as lacquer thinner.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Thin Oil-Based Paint:

1. Put on your protective clothing

Before you do anything else, you’re going to need to put on your protective clothing. Ideally, we recommend wearing full PPE, as this will ensure that you’re safe and protected from the thinner.

However, if you don’t have that, you can wear other types of protective clothing, such as an apron and gloves over your normal clothing. In addition to this, you should also ensure that you are wearing both a face mask, as well as goggles/glasses.

This is because oil-based paints are usually made of a powerful formula that contains many different chemicals.

Some of the chemicals present within oil-based paint have been proven to potentially cause cancer, especially if inhaled for a long period of time.

Therefore, in order to avoid breathing in the fumes, it’s imperative that you keep your face mask on at all times while dealing with both the paint and chosen thinning product.

2. Pour the paint into your painting container

Now that you have all of your protective clothing on and you’re ready to go, the next step is to pour the oil-based paint into the painting container.

Depending on the size of the surface or item you have chosen to paint, you’ll need to consider the size of your painting container, and whether or not it is big enough to accommodate the amount of paint you’ll need to finish the job properly.

Ensuring that you’re wearing your gloves (so that your hands won’t come into contact with the paint) slowly begin pouring the paint carefully into the container, making sure that you stop before it reaches the top.

3. Add the thinner

Now, for the most important bit! After you have put your oil-based paint into the container, now you’re finally ready to add the thinning agent which will help to make your oil-based paint more fluid-like and easier to work with.

The best way to figure out how much thinner you’ll need is by taking a look at what the manufacturer recommends, although as a general rule of thumb, you can assume that a ratio of 1:3 will be sufficient enough to successfully thin the pant.

4. Stir the mixture together

With your stirring stick, immediately begin to stir the mixture together, so that the thinner is properly able to blend into the oil-based paint.

It’s important to not make a mess and accidentally cause any of the mixture to spill out of the container onto the surrounding area, so be sure to take your time and stir the mixture slowly.

After a few minutes, you should begin to notice that the mixture will begin to feel more ‘liquidy’ and easier to stir, which is an indication that you can now stop stirring as the thinner has done its job.

5. Try it out!

Now, all that’s left to do is to try it out. If you notice that mixture is still a little too thick for your liking, you can be all mean to add a few more drops of the paint thinner.

In contrast, if you notice that the paint is too watery, you can add some more oil-based paint, and then try testing it out again until you are satisfied with the result.

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