How to Thin Paint for Paint Sprayer

Doing a paint job might not sound that hard, but it takes lots of time, energy, and effort. Painting with a paint sprayer has made the work of painting easier. But even while using paint sprayers, you have to know a few steps to choose and use the sprayers and the paints correctly. Apart from all that, the density of your paint is also a big thing while using a paint sprayer. And for that reason, you must know how to thin paint for a paint sprayer. 

Thin Paint

Why do you need to thin paint for paint sprayer?

If you use paint without thinning it, the result of your sprays will be uneven. It will also lack consistency in some places. As a result, the end result of your paint job will not be as you expected it to be. In easier terms, you cannot get the expected consistency of the paint and even spray all over the project without thinning your paint properly for your paint sprayer. 

Though there are some sprayers that do not require specific types of paints to be thinned before using them with the sprayer, most sprayers and most types of paints will not give you a good finish if you do not thin the paint before use. That’s why knowing and thinning paints according to their type, and the sprayer they are going to be sprayed with is very important. 

How to thin oil-based paint

While using oil-based paint, the first thing that you have to do is reading the instructions or the label clearly. On the label, the maximum thinning ratio of the paint will be mentioned. You will also need to know what type of thinner you can use to thin your oil based paint. After that, you can follow these steps to thin your oil based paint.

  1. Mix the paint inside the container thoroughly.
  2. Pour out a small amount onto another container or bucket. 
  3. Now start adding the thinner to your paint. While adding, add the thinner in a small amount. 
  4. Keep adding the thinner until you get the required viscosity.
  5. Test if the paint is being sprayed evenly by giving it a test spray.
  6. Repeat these until you get the best result.
Oil based paint

How to thin paint for HVLP sprayer

Before you start thinning your paint, first, you have to read the instructions on the label of your paint and on your sprayer properly. After you have done that, here are the steps that you need to follow for thinning paint for HVLP sprayer.

Step 1: Strain the oil-based paint

While you are thinning paint for HVLP sprayers, always strain the paint to remove all the impurities. This will also allow the paint to have a better mix, and the chemicals will be evenly distributed throughout the whole can.

Step 2: pour the paint into a bucket

You will be doing the first step and this step at the same time. Make sure the bucket you are pouring your paint into is a clean one. And while pouring the paint into this bucket, you will be pouring it through the strainer. 

Step 3: add thinning agents

For oil based paints, you will have to use thinning agents such as turpentine or mineral spirits. The best thinning ratio is supposed to be 1 : 3. which is one portion of thinning agent for three portions of paint. In order to get a better consistency, it is advised to keep adding by a small amount. This way, the paint will not get too thin. 

Step 4: mix it

After adding the thinning material, mix it thoroughly. Keep stirring the oil based paint and the thinning agents until they are fully mixed with each other. If you don’t mix them well enough, the paint will remain uneven. 

Step 5: Test and repeat

For this step you will need a funnel. Take your thinned paint and run it down a funnel. If the paint runs freely, it would mean that you have achieved the required consistency for your HVLP paint sprayer. If it does not, then repeat step 3 and step 4 again. 

lvlv paint sprayer

How to thin paint for LVLV paint sprayer

LVLV stands for “Low Pressure Low volume.” They deliver a compact finish for your paint job. To thin oil based paints for a LVLV paint sprayer, you simply have to follow the same steps that you followed for thinning the paint for HVLP paint sprayer. Here is a quick review of the steps. 

Step 1: strain the paint

Step 2: pour in on a bucket

Step 3: add thinning agents

Step 4: mix it

Step 5: Test and repeat

How to thin paint for airless paint sprayer

Airless spray guns also deliver a very satisfactory finish with any type of paint. The larger airless spray guns can support spraying paint without thinning them. But the smaller ones often require thinned paint for a better result. However, if you are using oil based paint with an airless spray gun, you do not have to thin the oil based paint. 

But if you want to thin your oil based paint to spray it with your airless sprayer, just follow the same steps. Just don’t make the paint too thin and maintain the ideal thinner to paint ratio for the best result for your paint job. 

thin latex paint

How to thin latex paint

In comparison to oil based paints, latex paints are thicker. That is why almost all types of handheld sprayers require you to thin latex based paints before spraying them. The thinning process of latex based paint is easy. Latex based paints do not usually require any extra thinning agents. One can easily thin latex based paints by adding water. Here is a step-by-step process on how to thin latex paints.

  • Mix the paint thoroughly inside the paint container.
  • Pour out the amount you need into another bucket. 
  • Add water to the paint. Add water in turns and always add a small portion.
  • Keep adding water until you reach the required viscosity.
  • Test if the paint has been thinned enough.
  • Repeat the process if needed. 

How to thin paint for HVLP sprayer

HVLP prayers give better results while you are using oil based paints. But these sprayers can also be used with water-based paints. Here are the steps that you need to follow to thin latex based paints for an HVLP paint sprayer. 

Step 1: strain the paint

Just like mentioned for oil based paints, while you are using an HVLP paint sprayer, always strain your paint to get rid of all the impurities. 

Step 2: take required amount into another bucket

For mixing the paint properly and straining purposes, take out the required amount into another container or in a bucket. While pouring the paint into the bucket, you will have to set the strainer on top of the bucket. 

Step 3: add water

For using latex based paints with HVLP sprayers, the paint needs to be thinned out a bit more than usual. In this case, you can start by adding 10% water to the paint. That means you will be adding one portion of water for every ten portions of paint. 

Step 4: mixing

In this step, you will have to mix the water and paint very thoroughly. After mixing it, check the viscosity of the paint. 

Step 5: Test and repeat

After mixing the paint properly, test it and repeat step 3 and step 4 if needed. Remember, you have to achieve a specific viscosity for HVLP paint sprayers. You cannot do that without knowing how to thin paint for paint sprayer.

How to thin paint for LVLV paint sprayer

As we already mentioned, latex paints are really thick. So, they need to be thinned out for almost all of the paint sprayers. For thinning latex paints for LVLV paint sprayer, just follow the steps for thinning latex paint for HVLP paint sprayer.

How to thin paint for airless paint sprayer

Most larger-scale airless paint sprayers do not require paints to be thinned out. But some mini-scale handheld sprayers might require the paint to be thinned before use. In such cases, follow the above-mentioned steps to thin out the latex based paint. Whenever you are thinning out latex based paint, be careful and add little water at a time. In this way, the paint will not become too thin. Have a look at best paint sprayer for furniture.

 Final verdict:

Whether you are learning how to thin paint for paint sprayer for any professional work or personal home decorations, this step-by-step guide will help you thin the paint properly for any paint sprayers. Read and follow all the steps to be sure about what you have to do. 

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