How to Thin Oil Based Paint for Spray Gun

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Did you even use oil paint on a gun spray to paint your car or piece of furniture but couldn’t be satisfied with the result? Using a spray gun helps you to get a breeze and smooth finishing of painting that you may hardly get by brushing the paint. But the reason behind not having a satisfactory result must be the paint.

Oil paints tend to be thicker, so when you spray them, liquid can’t come out like a breeze and spread all over the place. The solution to this problem is making your oil paint thin by using thinning products.

Here in this article, we will discuss how you can make oil-based paints thin for use with a spray gun. 

How to Thin Oil Based Paint for Spray Gun

What is Oil-Based Paint?

There two types of paints are available in the market, and they are latex and oil. Latex paints are water-based, and they are thin and dry quickly. While oil paints are oil-based, they tend to be thicker and take a longer time to dry. Latex paints are great and come with many benefits, but the oil paints are thinner, and they don’t clog up the nozzles by drying in the gun. 

When you want to use oil paints, you get two options for subtypes, and they are synthetic and natural. Synthetic oil paints are mostly known as alkyd, while natural oil paints are known as linseed. Among these two subtypes, the natural one is more expensive than the other one. But oil-based paints are a combination of chemicals, oils, and solvents that sometimes become too thick for sprayers. Then you need to thin them by using thinner. 

Thinning Oil Based Paint for Your Sprayer

Thinning is generally the procedure of making the paint oil-based less thick and sticky. This process is mostly used for thinning surfaces like lacquer thinner, turpentine, and mineral spirit. It helps to break the stickiness and thickness of the paint. Besides, it also helps the paint liquid spread more evenly and easily.  

To thin the paint, you will require a few tools and materials. Having the right and all the necessary tools will make the process quicker and easier. Here is the step by step guide that you can follow to thinning and a list of all the necessary equipment:

Tools & Materials That You Need to Have

Below items are must-have items for the thinning task:

  • An overall dress and an apron
  • Face mask
  • Containers
  • A bucket filled with warm water 
  • Stick
  • Thinner, for example, mineral spirit, turpentine, and lacquer thinner.

Step-by-step Process to Make Thinner

Put on The Right Protective Attire

Start the thinning process by wearing the right protective attire to give yourself shields. You must wear it as the oil-based paints are not good for the skin. They contain ingredients that can cause cancer when you inhale them for a long period of time. That’s why it is necessary to wear a gas mask or face mask.

Wearing an overall and an apron is necessary as the oil-based paints harden on clothes and skins. You need to provide a shield for your skin and clothes so that they don’t come in contact with oil-based paints. Besides the apron and overall, you should wear gloves to prevent your hands from coming in touch with the paint. 

Pour The Paint in The Container

The next step is to prepare the paint, bring your special container and pour the paint into it. It would be better if you measure the quantity of paint before you start the paint mixing process. Another thing is you should choose a container according to the quantity of paint you need. Pour the paint slowly into the container, and please keep your eyes on the calibration so that you do not cross the exceptions. 

Add The Thinner

Once you are done taking the proper amount of oil-based paint, now it’s high time to add the thinner. The proportion of the thinner solely depends on the recommended ratio of the manufacturer. That’s why you shouldn’t skip reading the manual that comes with the thinner. 

But the general ratio of 1:3 of the thinner is the standard measurement for mixing them with the paint. For better understanding, you should mix one part of the thinner with the third portion of the paint. We would suggest you keep the speed of the task low as you may don’t want the thinner spill on the ground or create any unnecessary havoc.

Stir Thoroughly

When you are done adding the proper amount of thinner with the paint, immediately mix the two liquids thoroughly by using a stick. First, mix these two slowly and then increase the speed gradually. The main thing you need to observe here is not to spill the paint on the ground.

Test The Outcomes

After you mix the two substances by stirring the paint, you need to test the outcomes. The purpose behind it is to test whether the outcomes are according to your expectations or not. You may need to add a bit more thinner if the mixture is too viscous. And you may need to add a bit more of the paint if the mixture is too thin. Be careful while adding extras, and stir the liquids gently.

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Place in Warm Water

Now bring the bucket of warm water and place the thinned paint into it. This step will help you to maintain the viscosity the way you want and also will prevent the paint from getting hardened. After completing the process, make sure you seal the container to reduce the chances of losing moisture. You must create thinner when you actually need it, don’t make extra to store for after uses. And use the thinner quickly after making it because if you left them for a long time, you might need to redo the process to make new thinner paint. 

Pour in The Spray Gun

When your thinner paint is ready, pour the liquid on a spray gun. Just open the canister of the sprayer and pour the liquid slowly. Be careful while pouring, do not fill the canister with pains; otherwise, it will create a barrier while closing the sprayer. That’s pretty much it, and you know it’s good to use the thinner paint over the desired surface.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Why Should I use an Oil-Based Paint?

It is better to use oil-based paints on the surface as these paints can cover the surface more thoroughly with just a coat. Oil paints don’t shrink easily, and that is another reason why you should use oil-based paint. These paints require longer to dry, so you get more than enough time to work on them. They stick to a pace where traffic is high, besides oil paints can spread over more smoothly and evenly. 

What paint do you use in a spray gun?

You can use both oil paints and latex paint on the spray gun. But latex paints are water-based, and they are already thin, so it doesn’t require any thinner. However, latex paint will dry in the nozzle of the sprayer gun. While oil paints are oil-based, and it is a thick liquid that may require thinner to make the viscosity usable. But the good thing about this, they don’t dry on the nozzles. So you should use oil paints in a spray gun.

Is Acrylic Paint Oil Based?

No, acrylic paint is not oil-based, then what are they? Oil paints consist of oils, chemicals, and solvents which make the paint liquid thick; thus, oil paints become oil-based. At the same time, Acrylic paint consists of water and other ingredients that make the liquid thin. As this pain contains water and doesn’t have oil in it, so it is clear that Acrylic paint is water-based. 

How is Oil Paint Different from Latex Paint?

There are plenty of differences between oil paint and latex paint, and the most significant difference is the ingredients they are made of. Oil paints are basically oil-based liquids, and latex is water-based paints. Oil paints require plenty of time to dry on the surface while latex dries quickly. The consistency of oil-based paint is thick, and they cover the surface smoothly with just one coat. And latex paints are thin inconsistency, and they need a few coats to provide smooth finishing.


Now you know the steps of thinning oil-based paints for spray guns and why you should choose oil paints for spray guns. But you need to be careful while taking paint and thinner in a container. If you exceed the limit you wanted, you may need to do the calculation again to fix the problem. 

Make sure you are using the necessary tools and covering your skin and nose while working with thin oil paints. They are not good for your health, so you must follow the safety precautions. Hope all the information above on how to thin oil-based paint was helpful. 

Avatar for Jack R. Stephen

I am Jack R. Stephen from Dallas, TX, USA and Co-Founder of Handy Tool Tips. I am a tool expert with years of practical experience. Besides my professional work, I love writing to help others with knowing handy tools thoroughly. For recreational & enjoyment purposes, I love going to hike with my best friend, Cameron. He was mentioned in several News Portals for his outstanding skills and professionalism for making great stuff with his tools. If you would like to chat with me please feel free to reach out via facebook or twitter or email.

3 thoughts on “How to Thin Oil Based Paint for Spray Gun”

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