Lacking knowledge of how to thin paint for sprayer is a recipe for disaster. Why? Well, the secret of painting like a pro and getting a smooth and professional-looking surface is precisely thinning the paint to the right thickness. 

If the paint is too thin, it will be too watery and take several more layers of paint until it looks the way you want. If you have the paint too thick, you’ll have trouble pushing the paint into the sprayer, and you’ll spend time and effort trying to do the job. 

Preparation before thinning paint

To do the process of thinning paint, you need these materials:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Large funnel
  • Paint-stirring sticks
  • Water for mixing the paint or paint thinner

Depending on the paint type, the thinning process may vary.

How to thin Latex paint for sprayer?

Latex paint is pretty thick, so the thinning process is something that has to be done. Luckily, you can use water for this easy process. Put the paint in the measuring cup and stir it. Then follow these steps for a smooth spraying water-based paint at home.

  • First, open the paint and mix it thoroughly. The step is unnecessary if the paint is new from the store or been through a mixing machine.
  • Then you can start pouring the amount of paint you need into the container. The paint should be evenly consistent.
  • Adding a small amount of one-quarter cup of water each time to adjust the viscosity more accurately, so you don’t have to add again. Mix the paint and water and then measure the consistency to see if it is as desired.
  • The paint’s viscosity must be tailored to the application, which is why it must be checked beforehand. Measure by running the paint through a funnel spout to see if it flows evenly out. Fill the paint in the spray gun and test it on some cardboard or other material. If the result is good, then you should take note of the paint-water proportions. Otherwise, add more water to the paint
  • Repeat the thinning process until you have the desired consistency.

How to thin Acrylic paint?

Thinning Acrylic paint is pretty easy as it is a water-based paint. The thinning process is somehow similar to those of the Latex. Keep in mind that using too much water will totally ruin your Acrylic paint, which means it is unable to bond and, then flake off, as a result. 

How to thin oil-based paint?

Although oil-based paint seems to be less thick than Latex, it also needs thinning for optimal results. Remember to read through the manual description before thinning to ensure you get the right thinning ratio. 

Normally, mixing an oil-based paint needs more than the water solely. In many cases, you have to use the paint thinner to thin paints that are oil-based. The mixing ratio is typically 10%, however, it will be affected by 3 things:

  • The type of application
  • Specific coating surface
  • Types of the spray gun

How to thin paint for HVLP sprayer? 

This is primarily used as an oil-based paint sprayer, and mixing paint for HVLP spray guns might not be done with water solely. These types of sprayers may also be used for indoor and latex paint applications. However, the paint would have to be thinned out a little bit. You can start the thinning process with 10% water, and then add more water until you achieve the desired consistency.

Adding a paint conditioner to water-based paints like latex can help paint spray more easily without actually thinning it out. The paint conditioner does not affect the ability of the paints to stick to the surface.

How to thin paint for Airless sprayer?

The Airless spray gun system works well with latex paints, some of which do not even need the thinning process for spraying. You can pour the paint from the can and use it directly. However, some small airless spray systems may have issues with un-thinned paint. Therefore, to easily do the job, you can thin the paint by going for 20% water and the paint should spray well. 

How to know when the paint is thinned enough?

You can use the viscosity cup to measure more accurately. This cup should be included in some good quality spray systems as it acts as a funnel to check the paint’s viscosity. When you pour the paint into the cup and the paint comes out smoothly and evenly, it’s okay. Otherwise, if it’s going to run out too quickly, you’ve thinned too much. If there’s a dense blob and the paint comes out erratically, you’re going to have to thin more.

What if the paint is too thin?

If your water-based or latex paints are thinned, use half a cup of water and mix it thoroughly. If you’ve applied too much water and the paint runs out, it’s too thin, and you cannot use it anymore. You will need to add half a cup of paint into the bucket slowly, then stir thoroughly and add more paint until you reach the desired consistency. The paint should come out of the funnel evenly and smoothly.

how to thin paint for sprayer

Be aware of weather conditions

As mentioned above, weather conditions may affect the paint’s thickness. When you spray, you should set the airflow as the instruction and then thin your paint as the manufacturer’s recommendations. There should be some written notice on the spray gun. You will also need to adjust the paint’s thickness depending on the heat and humidity because they can affect the paint’s viscosity, especially in cold weather conditions. 

Testing paint’s consistency 

The factors that affect the consistency of paint for spraying may depend on the moment and may include:

  • Weather conditions: hot or cold
  • Humidity
  • Air pressure
  • The tip size of the spray gun

You can use this instruction as a guideline and adjust based on the spray result. You should make gradual adjustments. If you paint too much, the paint will not stick to the surface properly and the entire paint container can be spoiled.

You should also always test the paint on another surface similar to the surface you intend to do the job. You can use a smooth hardboard, not materials like plywood or surface since you cannot correctly check the paint’s consistency.

Be safe when spray painting 

 safe when spray painting 

You should always wear protective gear when painting because apart from water-based paints, most paints can be poisonous as they produce fumes that can be harmful, particularly to the eyes and lungs. Protective gear can be respirator with a chemical cartridge and eye goggles. Also, wearing gloves keeps your hands safe and clean when you work with paint.

Final Words

A paint sprayer is a practical tool that saves you time to do your DIY projects. With this post, you know all about how to thin paint for different types of the sprayer so that you can practice with your desired painted surface.