How to thin oil based paint for a spray gun is a question asked by many folks when completing their home painting projects.
DIYers want to get the same results as the professional painters in the same amount of time.
Getting those amazing results requires choosing the right products for your job. An oil based paint offers you advantages over latex paint, especially in high trafficked areas or exterior paint projects.
Oil paint provides a better seal against dirt, grime, stains and the outdoor weather. Let’s get thinning!
Oil based paint are available in two different types. Alkyd, which is synthetic or linseed, a natural oil. Alkyd paint is less expensive and tougher, so it is more common.
Oil based paints are more durable making them the best for exterior work, doors, bathrooms, cabinets or trim. Oil paints take longer to dry and clean up requires paint thinner/turpentine/mineral spirits.
No. Acrylic paint is water based. You may find paint labelled either latex OR acrylic. They are the same thing and you use them in the same way. Thin and clean with water.
Unlike latex, which is water based, oil based paints are based on a formula of mineral spirits and petrochemical solvents. This makes them less popular than latex.
If you need durability against high use and exterior weather, oil based is the clear winner.
|Oil based||Water based|
|Richer Color||Good for Walls/Ceilings|
|More Durable||Budget Friendly|
|Stands up to low/high heat||Dries fast|
|Covers stains: no bleed through||Easy Clean up|
|Dries slowly||Not as durable|
|Longer Clean up||Stains may bleed through|
There are just some things that only oil based paints can do such as:
Painting with oil based paints means dealing with a bit more fumes during and after painting called VOC’s. Although these days they even make oil paint with low VOCs.
Drying time is also longer, but we think it’s a trade off for richer more durable colors and better paint coverage.
Clean up is the more difficult part. You have to use mineral spirits or turpentine to clean your paint sprayer and brushes instead of just water.
Whether or not a primer can be thinned so it can be applied with a paint sprayer depends on the paint manufacturer.
If you look at the application instructions on the product, you will find a thinning ratio to follow, assuming it is permitted.
If the label of the primer does not specify a thinning ratio, then it must be assumed that the primer should be used as it is. Run the undiluted primer through your sprayer to evaluate its thickness.
In most cases, it will spray as a thin mist and you’ll be fine.
If it sprays thickly, then you may need to apply the primer manually.
Attempting to thin a primer that is not intended to be thinned can change how it applies, how it dries, or how it supports a layer of paint in the future.
Definitely do your research and make sure you purchase a paint that can be thinned for a spray gun. Paints that can be thinned will list so on the paint can.
Some will even list the ratio of thinner to paint, making it easier and faster for you to get painting.
If you are trying to thin an oil based paint or primer, you cannot use water to do so. Water and oil do not mix. You’ll need to use mineral spirits to get the job done.
For oil based primer, follow the manufacturers instructions on how to thin.
Don’t forget to strain the oil based paint before mixing to remove clumps, impurities, and prevent clogging.
This is one step the Pros rely on to get those killer results you are working hard for.
If the paint is able to flow freely through the funnel, then you have the correct consistency.
Should the paint clog up in the funnel, then add another 1 part mineral spirits or turpentine to the paint in the container.
Then thoroughly mix the product with another clean stir stick.
Continue this process, adding your mixing agent, as necessary until the paint flows freely through the funnel.
If your oil based paint is still not thin enough for your spray gun, add small amounts of the thinning agent and test until you reach the right consistency for spraying.
Once mineral spirits or turpentine is added to oil based paint to thin them for a spray gun, the characteristics of the paint will change.
The color may be lighter or darker and the drying time may be different.
Thinner paint typically requires more coats for complete coverage and a desired finished. Factor this is along with extra drying time when completing your projects.
For a long-term project, an oil-based primer is a better option. Oil-based primers take more time to dry and require thinning to apply through a spray gun.
The results tend to last much longer compared to other primer and paint types.
Some paint types are incompatible with some primer types. Be sure to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer when using any primer or paint.
Oil based paint has many advantages over latex paint, and may be the best paint to use depending on your project.
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Painting with oil based instead of water based paint requires a different approach. With latex, you can just apply a new coat over top of the old coat of paint.
Not with oil based paint. You have to be careful to test the old paint coats type to make sure you don’t apply oil based paint over latex paint.
If you apply oil based paint over latex, you could have problems down the road. If moisture or changes in temperature affect the base coat of latex, the whole paint job could start bubbling and lift the oil paint right off.
Painting latex over oil is OK but oil over latex is a no no.
Pro Tip: Always use a primer!
Lifting, bubbling and chipping will happen and you will have to remove all of the paint and start from scratch.
According to Glidden, testing if the base coat is latex or oil is as simple as dipping a cotton ball in some alcohol and rubbing it over a small area. If the cotton ball is clean, then you have oil based paint.
The answer is yes. You can you all of the same tools with oil based paint that you use with latex paint.
However, you will want to purchase higher end products to apply your paint.
This is because you will be cleaning them with mineral spirits or turpentine and you want the rollers, brushes and trays to be able to withstand the cleaning process.
Many paints contain harmful vapors that can enter your lungs. Some vapors may cause asthma-like symptoms when they are inhaled. Once symptoms appear, they may take several weeks to begin improving.
When painting with a paint sprayer, atomized molecules can enter your airway.
If you don’t wear a respirator, those chemicals will enter your air passageways when you tackle your next painting project.
The goal of a paint respirator or mask is to make sure you can still keep breathing easily. Even if there are vapors, paint molecules, or chemical contaminants in your immediate vicinity.
A paint mask guards against the nuisance contaminants that are in your environment. For example, dust, pollen, and other non-toxic particles.
Paint respirators are required to provide protection against vapors and harmful chemicals. Some models may even protect against mold spores and other small contaminants.
You mostly likely need a specific type of respirator, such as a vapor-resistant model, for specific results.
When using a paint sprayer, a pair of painting coveralls with a hood is a good investment. You’ll protect your hair and clothes without worrying about what happens.
DuPoint makes a Tyvek coverall suit that is extremely affordable and includes shoe protection as well that is available on Amazon.
Oil based paint is more durable and thicker than latex which means it takes longer to dry. Expect is to be dry to the touch in about 6-8 hours and ready for a second coat in 24 hours.
Of course, if you live in a high humidity area, the drying time will take longer than if you live in a drier climate.
The video below will walk you through how to clean your sprayer after using oil based paints. The cleaning kit in the video does a great job and is available here.
This quick drying formula will be dry to the touch in 2-4 hours versus other brands that can take 6-8 hours.
This oil based paint is rust resistant so you don’t need to worry about your projects getting rusty. Great for exterior and metal projects.
This is a solid, versatile oil based paint option that can go anywhere and on almost anything from metal roofs to trailers and fridges, this paint is super versatile.
Oil based paints provide a ton of advantages over latex paint. Depending of what you are painting and your desired finish, you may choose to use oil based paint over latex.
Thinning oil based paint for your sprayer is different than with latex paint.
Our 5 step simple process on how to thin oil based paint for a spray gun will get you painting faster than you thought you could.
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