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A woman working with in a workshop

When it comes to painting a surface with a sprayer, there are a couple of factors that can significantly affect the finish. Is the paint you’re using too thin, or perhaps too thick? Are you even using the right kind of colorant? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how to properly thin the paint before using it in your sprayer. In case the colorant is coming out of your device in little drops and not in a fine spray as it should, we advise trying out the following DIY solution -it just might solve your problems. A word of caution, though -the following method does not work with oil-based paints, but only with the latex ones. To thin oil-based colorants, you’ll have to use special thinning agents.

Required Supplies

  • Paint sprayer

  • Latex paint

  • Paint can opener

  • Mixing cup

  • Stirring stick

  • Jug with water

  • Funnel

Step 1

Carefully open the can of dye, and then pour its contents into the mixing bowl you’ve prepared. As you can already guess, the amount will depend on the size of your project. For example, spraying the base of a standard coffee table with two or three coats will require around half of a quart-sized cup.

Step 2

Once you’ve poured the dye into your mixing cup, start to slowly and carefully add water to make a mixture. Take a stirring stick and stir thoroughly. The goal is to completely mix the water with paint. Make sure to pour only a small amount of water at a time -you don’t want to make a mess.

Step 3

Take a funnel and test out the paint in order to see if it’s as thin as you wanted it to be. Most sprayers have their “times” at which the dye flows through the funnel until empty. This information can usually be found in the user manual that you’ve got with your sprayer. In case you can’t find the manual or didn’t get one, try to find the information on the manufacturer’s website.

Once you do, test out the sprayer and add more water if the colorant is still too thick. You’ll have to repeat these steps until you achieve the desired thickness.

Although this entire procedure might look like a real hassle to deal with each time you’re about to use your sprayer, it’s undoubtedly worth it. Not only will the paint go on smoother, but it will also dry faster and make everything look better and more pleasing to the eye.

A hand mixing the paint

Some Additional Tips

  • The type of paint that you choose informs everything else one does during the thinning process. As you can already guess, every kind of dye requires a different approach to thinning. Typically, a vast majority of paints can be thinned with water. However, those based on oil will require you to use a mineral-based thinning agent. Colorants such as polyurethane enamels, epoxy, and lacquers all use different thinning agents, so it’s essential to carefully read the container label before making the purchase.

  • When working with large volumes of paint, make sure to test a small quantity of thinned paint before moving onto thinning the entire batch. Also, don’t forget that the total amount of thinner needs to be multiplied for larger volumes. For example, a teaspoon of thinner per one quart is equal to four teaspoons per one gallon.

  • A convenient alternative to thinning is adding some conditioner. These come in several different formulations and brands, such as, for example, Penetrol and Penetrol 2. They’re capable of making the paint flow much more easily and they don’t affect its sheen while doing so.

  • Even though mixing and thinning paint isn’t a really dangerous process, the fumes that can beingested during it can be quite harmful. To be safe, make sure to protect your lungs and eyes with a face mask and a pair of safety goggles.

  • If you have several different types of sprayers but don’t have to means to thin the paint, use an airless sprayer. These types of sprayers are capable of spraying thicker paint than their siphon-fed or HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) counterparts.