How To Thin Latex Paint For A Spray Gun (6 Easy Steps): With or Without Water

Latex paint is water-based paint and generally thicker than oil-based paints. Thinning out latex paint can be a relatively simple thing to do given that regular tap water can be used to thin it – No harsh chemicals required.

To arrive at the correct viscosity for application and to prevent over-thinning the paint, a little planning goes a long way. In this article, we will take you to step by step in how to thin your latex paint enough to be used in a spray gun.

You Will Need

  • Paint you want to thin
  • Clean paint container with an airtight lid (important for preserving)
  • Some old newspaper or cardboard
  • Measuring Cup
  • Throw away Paintbrush
  • Paint Stirrer (Consider buying a paint stirrer attachment for your drill to make light work of big jobs)
  • Tap water
  • Five-gallon bucket

How To Thin Latex Paint For A Spray Gun With Water?

Pour Paint Into a Bucket

Begin by taking your 5-gallon bucket or suitable size bucket for your project, and start pouring your paint into the bucket. It helps to thin latex paint in larger patches to help ensure a consistent result.

Add Water To The Bucket

Start adding your water little by little and stir as you go. DO NOT pour all the water in at once or else you will destroy your paint.

For every gallon of paint, you will require ½ cups of room temperature water. When it comes to thinning latex paint, the amount of water required to thin the paint varies on the brand.

The general rule of thumb is, the better quality the latex paint is, the thicker it will be, and the thicker the paint, the more water required.

Stir Water Slowly

Use your paint stirring stick or mechanical stick to mix the paint thoroughly while adding little bits of water. Constantly assess the thickness of your paint while you are doing this by mixing in up and down spiral motions, stopping occasionally to watch the paint run down your stirring stick.

Make sure you use up and down motions will stirring to help break up heavier molecules that may have settled to the bottom of the tin.

Try using a funnel to assess thickness by holding the funnel over the paint can and using a ladle or old mug to pour the paint into the funnel.

Watch as it flows down your funnel. If it does not flow freely down your funnel, keep on stirring

TIP – A gallon of paint that has been sitting around for a while can prove tricky to mix thoroughly if the solvents and pigments have separated. It may be worthwhile going down to your local hardware or paint store to remix the paint for you given their power mixer.

Read More — LVLP Spray Guns Review 

Test your Latex Paint

If you feel your latex paint has thinned out enough or looks close to it, grab a piece of scrap cardboard and a paintbrush (or if you are brave enough your sprayer).

Paint the latex paint onto the cardboard or wood and allow it to dry. Once it has dried begin adding an additional coat. Once dry, observe your results.

If your paint has thinned out too much, it would have dripped when applied, however, paint that is too thick will resemble the texture of the orange peel. If your paint is the correct consistency, it should appear dry and smooth.

Add More Water If Necessary

If your latex paint is still too thick, begin adding more water following the same process as above. Remember, it is important to add slowly.

Repeat the funnel test if necessary. The rule of thumb for adding more water a second time around is an extra half cup of room temperature water per gallon of latex paint.

Read More — HVLP Spray Guns Review 

Start Spraying

Once you feel you have achieved the correct consistency, you can begin pouring your paint into your sprayer. Remember to pour it through a strainer into the reservoir.

Always remember to take your time. It is easier cheaper and less time consuming to take your time to thin your paint with water than it is to get it wrong and have to start again or purchase more materials.

How To Thin Latex Paint For A Spray Gun Without Water?

Determining the Thickness of your Latex Paint

Begin by opening the can of paint by grabbing a flat blade screwdriver and begin prying off the lid. Move around the lid in a circular motion lifting as you go.

It is important that you do not misshape the lid by prying in one spot if you wish to reseal save the remainder of the paint for later use. Damaging the lid can cause the tin to lose its airtight quality required to perverse the paint.

Stirring method

Being by stirring your latex paint using your paint stick or mechanical painting stick (this extension saves a lot of time if you plan on thinning paints often) for 5 to 10 minutes.

Make sure you use up and down motions will stirring to help break up heavier molecules that may have settled to the bottom of the tin.

Pouring method – Another clever way to mix paint is simply by pouring it into a bucket and back out again to the paint can. Do this repeatedly for 5 minutes.

Learn More — How To Dry Paint Faster? 

Stop and Assess

After stirring or pouring your latex paint for some time, it is now to stop and assess the thickness of your paint. Slowly lift the stick out of the paint and observe how the paint slides off the stick.

If your paint looks smooth and resembles the consistency of thick cream, you can stop stirring. If, however, your paint takes 5 or more seconds to drop down, it has not been thinned out enough.

Pro tip – Try using a funnel to assess thickness by holding the funnel over the paint can and using a ladle or old mug to pour the paint into the funnel. Watch as it flows down your funnel. If it does not flow freely down your funnel, keep on stirring

Prolonging the Life of Latex Paint

If stored at room temperature and sealed correctly (airtight container), latex paint can last upwards of 10 years. Here are some neat tricks to ensure your paint lasts for the longest time possible.

Tip 1 – When opening a can of paint, you should take care in how you pry the lid open. Simply sitting a flat instrument into one side of the can and pushing upwards constantly will only deform the lid and render no longer airtight.

It is important therefore that when opening the lid, you go around the lid and apply pressure in different spots gently. Avoid turning your prying instrument as this too can damage the lid.

Tip 2 – Before sealing your can of paint – ensure that the lid and general surface area of the opening is wiped clean. If this is not done, the paint can dry around the lid over time making it more difficult to remove next time.

Tip 3 – If you are not using the same paint can make sure that whatever you keep your paint in, that it is airtight. A jar should suffice.

Tip 4 – When using your paint, try pouring the amount you think you will need out of the container, rather than dipping your brush in and out of the paint can. This will prevent contamination.

Tip 5 – Avoid storing your paints in areas where they may freeze or overheat. This can destroy the quality of the paint over time.

Tip 6 – Make life easier for yourself. A few extra minutes of TLC can save you a headache later on down the track. Dab some paint from the can onto the lid so that you will know in future what color it is. Also, write down the date you opened the can on the lid.

Leave a Comment