How are oil paints thinned

Paint spray guns can be a great tool in making your painting project a breeze.

Why go through the tedious process of hand painting a large surface with a small brush when you could be coating entire walls in just minutes with a spray gun?

Before you get too trigger happy, though, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

For example, if you are using oil-based paint in your gun, you need to thin it out before it can be used.

How exactly do you do that? Is it easy? Do you need special equipment? And why should you use oil-based paint as opposed to latex?

We will answer all of these questions and more for you here in this article. So, get your drop sheets ready, because we are about to get started.

What Is Oil Based Paint?

First, why are we using oil-based paint in the first place? Do we have other options?

You do, actually. Though, if you want to use a spray gun for your indoors, you’re more likely to use oil-based paint.

Here’s why.

There are two primary types of paint—latex, and oil.

Latex paints are water-based, thicker, and tend to dry quickly while oil-based paints are thinner and stay wet longer.

Now, latex paints have their place and benefits but, because oil paints tend to be thinner at the start and don’t clog up the gun by drying in the nozzle, they are more commonly used in spray guns.

When it comes to oil paints, there are then two subtypes—synthetic or natural.

Synthetic oil paint is usually referred to as alkyd whereas natural oil paints are called linseed. As with most things, the natural option tends to be more expensive.

Regardless of the type, you are using, oil-based paints are a complex combination of oils, chemicals, and solvents and, sometimes, the mixture can be too thick for spray guns and need to be thinned out.

Why Use Oil Based Paint?

So, aside from latex paints being thicker, why choose oil paint if you have to thin it out anyways? The answer depends on what your needs are.

Oil paints provide a better protective seal than water-based paints, so the surface you are painting is shielded against dirt and grime, even mold and mildew.

Oil paints may be harder to clean up than latex paints and take longer to dry.

But oil paint’s durability usually makes it the preferable choice—especially if you are painting something that will tend to get dirty often (like a kitchen) or be exposed to nature (like an outdoor wall).

How to Thin Oil Based Paints for Spray Gun?

The first step begins at the paint store.

Not all paints can be thinned, so when you are shopping around, check the label to make sure you are purchasing a paint that can either be used directly in the spray gun you have or can be thinned for spray gun use.

The type of spray gun you have matter a lot, as well as some paints and guns, are incompatible even after the paint has been thinned.

So, don’t be afraid to talk to a paint expert at the store to make sure you are using a good paint/spray gun combination.

Once you have made the correct purchases, check the label of the paint for thinning instructions.

Thinning your oil-based paints for a spray gun can be done as follows…

Things you will need

While you are at the store, you’ll need to purchase some thinning agents.

The instructions on your paint can specify what to purchase, but a typical thinner is a turpentine or mineral spirits.

It will also help to have a bucket that you are ok with being painted permanently, some stirring sticks, paint strainers, gloves, and a funnel.

5 Easy Steps for Thinning Oil Based Paint

Step #1 First, pour the paint into the bucket through the strainer, which will catch any paint clumps.

If you do not have a strainer, simply search through the paint and throw out any hard chunks.

Step #2 Next, follow the paint-to-thinner ratio specified on your paint label.

A good rule of thumb is 1 part thinner (mineral spirits or turpentine) for 3 parts of paint.

Step #3 Now make sure to stir the thinner into the paint thoroughly using a clean stir stick.

Step #4 A good way to make sure the paint is thin enough for a spray gun is to put the paint in the funnel.

If it flows through easily, then it should work for most paint guns.

Step #5 If the paint struggles to get through the funnel, add one more part thinner until it flows.

One thing to keep in mind when using thinner is that it may lighten the color of your paint and take longer to dry.

Because the paint is now thinner, you will need to apply more coats than usual in order to get the color and protective coating that you want.

Because of the longer dry time, you may have to wait longer between coats as well, so be sure to give yourself some extra time.

However, the amount of time and effort you will save by using a spray gun as opposed to a brush is still very much worth it.

Tips for Painting Indoors with Thinned Oil Based Paint

Before you begin using your newly thinned paint, you need to make sure the surface is prepared properly.

If the area you are painting already has old paint on it, it is best to use a primer.

This is especially true if the surface has latex paint, as it is never good to paint with oils directly on top of latex paint.

Remember, latex paint is water-based—and water does not mix well with oil.

This means your new oil paints will not properly adhere and apply to the new surface well. That’s why we use a primer!

The steps for thinning primers are very similar to the steps for thinning the paint itself.

Always refer to the instructions on the can first and, if the paint label does not explicitly state that it can be thinned, then it is best not to do so.

Additionally, certain types of paints only work with certain types of primers, so be sure that you are buying the right combination when you are at the paint store.

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Jack Luis

Jack Luis is a painter by profession who love painting his clients’ ideas on their walls. In his free time, he likes to read and write about new techniques/technologies that are being (and can be) implemented in his profession. Read more about him here or get in touch with him here.

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