Do you want to know how to thin oil-based paint?

As you know, in terms of giving something a new and dazzling look, oil paint beats other types of paints – latex-based or water-based – in several, if not all, possible ways. When it has completely dried, aside from having the overall look taken on another level, the surface with it on would turn out smoother, glossier even. Besides, oil-based paint can even reinforce an object, increasing its resistance to stain and scratch.

However, all of these come with a price. Quality oil paints from manufacturers with a long-standing reputation tend to be thick, real thick. For this reason, applying them on your projects’ surfaces can be tricky. Not to mention, they take longer to dry compared to other kinds of paints.

That brings us to the main topic of today’s article. Unless you can dilute oil paint, your project might turn out to be a real disaster. Lucky for you, we have prepared a helpful guide right here. Without further ado, let’s get started!

How to Thin Oil-Based Paint?

The name speaks for itself. Paint thinner, obviously, is a solvent made to dilute paint and turn working with thick paint into something less of a struggle. On the market, paints thinners come in all shapes and sizes, and many work super well for oil-based paint. Hey, perhaps even the producers of these handy products have had a hard time dealing with thick oil paint for a while!

Anyhow, with a nice can of paint thinner, cracking the code for oil-based paint will no longer seem that impossible. Now, let’s take a look at what we should do to have some thinned oil-based paint up and ready, shall we?

Step 1 Grab the Suitable Thinner

Grab the suitable thinnerNot every solvent out there can give the best result when mixed with oil-based paint, so you have to be very careful with this selection phase. Quality paint thinner is not that expensive, but you will not want to rebuy another can just because the first one does not fit the bill.

And not to worry, these days, oil-based paint has become quite common in multiple different working areas so products meant for them are all over the stores out there. You will find something cutting out for your requirements shortly, we are certain of that.

In case that you have deep pockets and are ready to pay more just to get the best thing, we have one suggestion. Try Mineral Spirits! This solvent is basically the same as regular thinner because they share the same main component. However, in terms of diluting one, it is much, much more useful.


  • Thinner can be a true hero to your project, but a total villain to your health. It gives off toxic fume that you will not want to directly inhale. So, do not forget to put on safety mask and gloves when working with it
  • Most of the thinners out there do not smell very nice. Stink even. Better prepare yourself for the odor in your room after your project is finished or you might go into shock.

Step 2 Mix the Paint with the Thinner

Mix the paint with the thinnerNow that you have got your favorite oil paint and thinner, let’s get to another crucial aspect of ‘How to thin oil-based paint’. And that is, mix them up!

Wait, do not be rash, you cannot just go and pour as much thinner as you want into your paint. Yeah, we know, the more the better. But that seemingly golden rule does not apply to this case. As a matter of fact, if you blend an excessive amount of paint thinner into your paint, you will get nothing but a disaster. The chemical in the thinner will end up ruining your paint’s oil content, thereby destroying its adhesion.

Here is what you need to do: Measure both substances carefully as you carry on the task. Most people prefer a 2:1 ratio of paint to thinner (with about 200 ml of the former and 470 ml of the latter). The result retrieved is pretty neat – a nice balance of thick and liquid – so we think it is quite okay.


  • Do not pour all the thinner into your paint in one go. Take it slow, and stop until you think you have reached the right amount (which means the end result will look like paint from any freshly opened can).
  • A piece of advice: Prepare a paint stirrer for this step. It will give the mixture an outstanding consistency.

Step 3 Testing!

TestingWe know that you are eager to revamp your thing right now – and your belonging is also eager for its new look – but wait. You have to see whether the thinned paint looks great on your stuff or not. Dip your brush into it, run it on your furniture, and then see whether the new thickness meets your demands or not. If you are yet satisfied, keep on blending and testing until you have what you need.

Not confident with the substance you just create as this is your first time and you are afraid that you would mess up? Not to fret, just test it on a piece of paper and see how things turn out.

Useful Tips

In this part, we would like to introduce you to some extra tips and tricks we have collected during our years of working with oil-based paints. They have come in handy to us many times before, and we know that they would help you out too.

Handy Medium

Handy mediumIf you want to improve the quality of your paint, you can try and make yourself a medium instead of regular paint thinners. The pros do this all the time. Just mix linseed oil (or stand oil) with mineral spirit or turpentine and an ideal alternative for paint thinners is completed.

Safety First!

Safety firstAs mentioned above, paint thinners are considered as health hazards and long-term exposure to them is not recommended. In other words, try not to make direct contact with the solvent and put on all the essential protection clothes (gloves, safety glasses, and masks) during your work.

Meanwhile, the painting environment should be well ventilated. If you have a fan, turn it on and leaves it nearby. This will ensure that vapors and fumes from the thinner cannot get close to you.

Also, most of the time, paint thinners are flammable. So, avoid placing them near anything that is likely to start a spark. You do not want to have your house burnt down just for painting something, do you?

Last but not least, keep the solvents away from the reach of your children and your pets!

Cleaning with Ease

Cleaning with easeYou might not know this, but oil-based paint can be quite stubborn and may refuse to leave your brush even when your project have finished. And do not try to fix it with water, we all know what kind of mess it would become after that. In case this type of problem ensues, just pour some paint thinner on the brush and the paint will come off easily.

However, this will not work on already dried paint. Therefore, after you have finished decorating your place, clean the brush and everything involved in the process as soon as possible.


Decorating or revamping things using oil-based paints might not be easy, but this does not mean it is downright impossible. Know the right way to thin the substance, and you will have your dream project finished in no time.

We know that you are, perhaps, considering the idea of ditching oil paints and move on to something that is more…user-friendly. Well, you really shouldn’t. Not all paints out there that can give the object a pretty, glossy surface as well as a new layer of protection as this.

Plus, sometimes, challenging yourself a little bit can be quite fun. The feeling that you have just achieved something, even when that is just a little mundane thing like painting, is really what you would not want to miss.

Well, that is all there is to it. We hope that our guide on How to thin oil-based paint could bring you, and your little home, an interesting experience. You have no plan this weekend? Then why not take out your old furniture and begin giving it a new and better look? The result might surprise you!