How To Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

How To Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

The efficiency of a paint sprayer can also be dependent on the effectiveness of the spray nozzle in spraying different thicknesses of paint. For the less durable ones, it will be difficult to spray oil-based paints without thinning.

However, this is not an issue because you will still need to thin an oil-based paint anyways. With a thinned paint, you will be able to get an even finish even if the paint is non-self leveling.

So in today’s article, you are going to learn how to thin oil based paint for spray guns of all types.

Read Also: How to Thin Latex Paint for HVLP

Why Should I Use Oil Based Paint?

How To Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

It is not news that oil-based paints take too much time to dry. If you need to apply multiple coats for a perfect finish, it will take almost the whole day just painting a small piece of item.

Some enthusiasts also claim that oil-based paints are fading out gradually as latex-based paints are becoming the most preferred for projects.

While these may be true to some extent, some advantages of oil-based paint cannot be compared to any other. So why should I use oil-based paint?

For imperfections and damaged areas, oil-based paints offer better coverage than latex paints.

They have been proven to be suitable for high traffic areas.

With oil-based paint, you get deeper color options than water-based paints.

Overall, they are better in low-temperature climates and offers better protection against rust and corrosion on metals.

Should Oil Based Paint Be Thinned For Spraying?

Two factors will determine if your paint will require thinning. The first one is the type of spray gun. For most, if not all of the High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) spray guns you will find on the market, it will require thinning because the nozzle may be too tiny to spay out a thick paint.

This will lead to clogging of the spray gun nozzle.

The second reason is dependent on the surface you are spraying. For rough surfaces or surfaces that will not easily bond with oil-based paint, you will need to spray multiple thin layers of the paint.

For any of the cases above, you will need to thin your paint for effectiveness.

Items Needed For Thinning An Oil-Based Paint

  • The oil-based paint
  • Turpentine or mineral spirit
  • A container
  • Paint strainer
  • Empty bucket or container
  • Funnel
  • Stirring stick

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How To Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

Why Should I use an Oil Based Paint

When thinning oil-based paint, the thinner is the most important to give attention to. You cannot use water for oil-based paint. They do not mix.  So it is recommended to use either mineral spirits or turpentine for this purpose.

The ratio of the thinner to paint matters a lot. It is determined by the type of surface you are painting. It also depends on the thickness you think the spray gun can conveniently handle.

Whatever the case may be, ensure that the thinner does not exceed the paint; otherwise, when dried, the color will be lighter than what is desired.

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Step 1

Pour the paint into the empty container. You will need the funnel and the paint strainer when doing this. The strainer will help prevent any paint clumps present in the paint.

These clumps will not get dissolved in contact with the thinner. One reason why you want to do this is to avoid possible clogging of the spray gun nozzle.

Step 2

Next is to add the thinner into the container with the paint. Follow the ratio stated on the paint label. Otherwise, you can, by experience, tell how much thickness will be required for your spray gun to work with.

Step 3

By using a clean stir stick, stir the mixture thoroughly to get a fine texture of the paint and thinner.

Step 4

You will need to test if the viscosity of the paint is okay for the spray gun. Most spray gun comes with a viscosity cup. If yours does, then next is to immerse the viscosity cup into the mixture and fill up to the top.

Lift the viscosity cup from the mixture. The paint starts to drip off continuously at the bottom of the cup. Record how many seconds it will take until the continuous flow ends from the bottom of the cup.

The recommended average time for this is stated in the manual of the spray gun.

Step 5

If you have achieved the desired viscosity for the spray gun, then feed the mixture into the paint container of the sprayer, and you are ready to start your painting project.

Note that sometimes, the viscosity test, as stated in the manual, may not be effective.

If the paint is able to spray out from the sprayer nozzle without clogging up, then you are good with the thinning process. If otherwise, then add another 1 part thinner until you get the desired mixture.

Read Also: How to Use a Paint Sprayer with Air Compressor

The Sprayer Tip Keeps Getting Clogs And Erratic Pattern

Should Oil Based Paint Be Thinned For Spraying

When you properly thin paints, you should not have issues of clogging, at least not frequently.

However, if you are sure to have effectively thinned your paint and you still get frequent clogging and erratic pattern, then there is one possible cause.

This may be caused as a result of previously dried paint that wasn’t adequately washed or cleaned off. Losing the spray gun to remove those paints from the nozzle tips will solve the problem.

Also, if you do not wish to go this way, operating the sprayer at a higher pressure can be useful in forcing out the clumps blocking the nozzle.

Read Also: How to Paint Acrylic Paints

How do you dilute paint for a spray gun?

In general, thinning latex paint should be done at a minimum of 10% or 1 gallon of paint to quarter cup water. This is done if you are using anything besides the
airless sprayer. However, if you are using an HVLP sprayer or handheld system, you might have to increase your water percentage to 20-30%.

What is the ratio of paint to thinner for spray gun?

Step 2: Use the Right Amount of Thinner

Check paint container labels for the manufacturer’s recommended paint to paint thinner ratio. 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.

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.

Can you thin oil-based paint with paint thinner?

For cleaning brushes, paint thinner is best since it’s half the cost of mineral spirits and basically works the same. Both can be used to thin oil-based paints and varnishes and to clean paintbrushes. Paint thinner is mineral spirits, but in a less refined form.

Should I thin oil-based paint?

Why Do You Thin Oil Based Paint? It is necessary to thin oil paint when spraying spray guns. The oil-based paints will not flow freely if you do not thin them, and the consistency will be too thick to spray effectively if you do not thin them. You could damage your spray gun, and the finish could be poor.

How do you thin oil based 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 thin oil-based enamel paint?

In short, yes you can but only if the Enamel Paint, that you want to dilute, is water-based. If the Enamel Paint is oil-based then you should use Mineral Spirits as a thinning agent. Water will only work for thinning water-based Enamel Paint and not for oil-based Enamel Paints.

Can you thin oil based paint with white spirit?

One of the most useful substances as part of any painting project is white spirit. It thins and breaks down any left-over paint, making it easy to clean in a very short amount of time. In addition to being useful as a cleaning product, it is also essential for thinning down oil-based paints.

Can you use water based paint in a spray gun?

Can you use water based paint in a spray gun? Yes, water based paint can be sprayed with a paint sprayer. How do you thin water based paint? Water based paint is thinned with water.

What viscosity should paint be to spray?

approximately 100 cps
There is a rule of thumb in the paint industry that a viscosity of approximately 100 cps (1 P, 0.1 Pa•s) provides acceptable spraying, brushing, or roll coating.


So that is all you need to know on how to thin oil-based paint for spray gun. It may sound simple or unnecessary, but skipping this step may end up making you spend more time and resources.

So if you wish to complete your project faster, then you will want to take this seriously.

Also, do not forget to always observe safety precautions when using paints and, more especially, when using paint spray guns.

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