enamel paint thinning process

How to Thin Enamel Paint (Step by Step)

In this guide, you will learn how to thin enamel paint like a pro in less than 10 minutes, even as a beginner painter.

And why should you listen to us?

Well, let’s say because not all thinner works with enamel paint.

For instance, thinning oil-based enamel with water is wrong. You will experience separation because it is almost impossible to mix water with oil.

Also, thinning with Turpentine is quite aggressive and could damage the surface. Or are you talking about thinning with alcohol, lacquer thinner, or acetone?

We have done all the testing and know what works best with enamel paints. So, do I have your attention now?

Read Also: How To Thin Semi Gloss Paint

Why Should You Thin The Paint?

How to Thin Acrylic Paint

You’ve got the ideal enamel paint for the job, and you can’t wait to bring your property back to its lost glory. But wait a minute antsy homeowner, you’re forgetting something: Thinning.

Enamel paints are usually thick, and not ideal to apply straight from the gallon – especially if you want to spread the paint painlessly, for quick project completion.

More precisely, applying oil-based enamel paint is stressful. Aside from having issues with maneuverability with a paintbrush or frequent clogging with an air-brush, too much viscosity will cause lumpiness, ridges, or change of color.

However, you can turn the table around by thinning the paint.

Thinning the paint in question will adequately reduce the viscosity so you can spray paint non-stop.

Additionally, it reduces orange peel, as well as the drying time, while preventing the paint from hardening when left opened.

With that said, it’s imperative to learn how to thin enamel paint.

Things You Will Need For the Job

How To Thin Enamel Paint [Water, Mineral Spirits, and White Spirit]

enamel paint thinning process

Earlier I mentioned several thinning methods that aren’t suitable for your enamel paint –from what we have tested.

So, I’m just going to give you the method that works best with the follow-up guidelines to avoid over thinning and messing up your craft.

Select the Ideal Location

I can never stop emphasizing how critical it is to choose a well-ventilated room for any painting operation because I once had an awful experience with the non-ventilated area.

Exposure to the toxic fume from enamel paint or the paint thinners can cause difficulty in breathing. Other side effects include nausea and dizziness.

For this reason, you should ventilate the room by opening the windows as wide as possible, while the fans are running – to push the fumes out of the window, not just circulating them.

Or you could choose the garage (if you have one). Open the garage doors, so you don’t trap any fumes in your home.

Protect Yourself

Putting on a rubber glove, safety goggles, and a respirator while working doesn’t mean you’re doing the most.

If adequate ventilation is not possible, ensure you protect yourself.

Check the Paint

Before opening the paint, go through the label to ensure if it is an oil-based or water-based product.

If it is an oil-based, do not use water to thin the solution. However, you can if it is water-based.

Also, you should take note of the manufacturer’s thinner recommendation, whether there is a specific amount of thinner specified or you can thin the paint at all.

Prep the Enamel Paint

If your enamel paint is thinnable, open the gallon and stir it with the paint stirrer.

If you’re using a spray gun to apply the paint, you should go the extra mile by pouring the solution through a paint strainer into an empty bucket to remove any lumps that might clog the nozzle.

Do the First Testing

At this juncture, you should feed it to the spray gun and spray it onto the board. Pay close attention if it projects the paint smoothly and evenly.

If so, there’s no need to thin the paint. On the other hand, if the sprayer propels the paint inefficiently, proceed to step 6.

Thin the Paint

Pour the paint into a large bucket. If you are want to thin in a large quantity, you should add the thinner per the gallon you have in the bucket.

Mix the recommended amount of mineral spirits, white Spirit, or water into the paint –this could be 1/2 pint or 1 pint of the thinner per gallon of paint.

Then stir thoroughly and watch how the paint runs off the stirrer.

Second Testing

It is easy to see the finish line, get excited, and screw the whole thing with an unready paint.

So, do the second testing. Refill the spray gun then check the viscosity. This time, test two coats of enamel paint. If you’re okay with the application, drying time, and finish, you are good to go.

However, if the chemistry is too thick, repeat steps 6 and 7 accordingly. If you properly thin the enamel paint, you can achieve a professional finish.

Read Also: How to Thin Oil Based Paints

Expert Tips

  • Test the paint consistency with a sprayer, paintbrush or paint roller after each mixing, to avoid over thinning.
  • Do not use two thinner. For example, using a mineral spirit then switching to water.
  • At step 6, you could use the funnel test to get accurate measurements as well.
  • I don’t recommend using your hand to stir the paint.
  • Each manufacturer provides different thinning instructions for their product. Hence, follow the instructions for the best results.
  • Weather also affects the thinning process of enamel paint, especially oil-based. When the temperature is humid, it requires more thinning compare.

How do you thin out enamel paint?

So what do you use to thin out Enamel Paint? The short answer is Mineral Spirits. Mineral Spirits or White Spirit, is perfect for thinning out Enamel Paints. You can also use commercial Enamel Paint thinners but they are mostly just specially mixed Mineral Spirits.

How much thinners do you mix with enamel paint?

A general guide is 1 part thinner to 3 parts paint. All equipment used in mixing and applying the mixture should be clean and dry.

How do you thin oil based enamel paint?

Steps for Thinning Oil Based Paint for Your Sprayer

  • Pour the paint through a strainer into a clean container.
  • Add 1 part mineral spirits or turpentine for every 3 parts paint.
  • Stir paint with a clean stir stick until the thinner and the paint are fully mixed.
  • Run the thinned paint through a funnel.

How do you make paint thinner?

You can use acetone or nail polish remover as long as it is acetone-based. You will need one part acetone to three parts paint which is roughly a cup and a half of acetone. Add the paint you wish to thin to the bucket. Then add half of the acetone and stir thoroughly for at least five minutes.

How do you thin Rustoleum enamel paint?

Rust-Oleum can be thinned by mixing it in a container with acetone, xylene, or mineral spirits. The correct ratio is 1 gallon of paint to 6.5 ounces of acetone. To get the right paint consistency for your spray gun, use a viscometer or simply test the paint and add more paint or acetone as needed.

How much turpentine do I mix with enamel paint?

Can I Mix Turpentine With Enamel Paint? You can give your paint a slightly thick consistency by mixing 1 cup (240 mL) of turpentine or mineral spirits with 2 cups (470 mL) of oil-based paint. Make sure the paint is even and uniform by using a paint stirrer.

What is the ratio of enamel and thinner?

For general purpose thinning, a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of paint to thinner or similar ratio is appropriate. It is important to keep the amount of paint higher than the amount of paint thinner. If it isn’t, the paint may be too thin and can cause the color shade to be lighter than desired on the finished surface.

What can I use in place of paint thinner?

A greener alternative, Real Milk Paint Citrus Solvent can be used wherever paint thinners or mineral spirits are required. Made of 98 percent pure citrus peel oil extract (the other two percent is water), its crystal-clear formula won’t add an amber color to tung oil.

How much thinner do I add to oil based paint?

A paint thinner allows for the paint to flow and smooth out after brush application. The standard mixing ratio is 8 ounces or 1 cup of thinner to 1 gallon of oil-based paint. Oil-based paints are desirable on a variety of surfaces, because they dry to a hard durable finish and are easy to clean.

What do you mix with oil paint to thin?

The most basic way to thin oil paint is by using a solvent such as mineral spirits or turpentine. Solvents will thin the paint very rapidly and thoroughly and are low viscosity, which means they have a more watery consistency.


There you have it. You probably wouldn’t have guessed how easy it was to thin enamel paint.

With our guide, learning how to thin enamel paint the appropriate way, while retaining its glossy nature is a piece of cake.

WARNING! One more thing is to keep track of the proportion of thinner you’re using for the job. If you are mixing multiple times, maintain that same proportion, so you have the same texture throughout the chemistry process.

Lastly, if you encounter any trouble along the way, be sure to lay your complaint via the comment section below. We will be obliged to answer you ASAP.

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