How to Thin Enamel Paint for Spray Gun?

Have a hard time with thick fluids? Need to water down the enamel paint? Then you must know how to thin enamel paint for spray gun to curb the worries.

Enamel paints are one of the most common paints you will find. Used on hard wear or outdoor use, it not only is the best option but also looks great when put on perfectly. The problem with enamel colours is that it is thick and dense. 

No matter what medium or tool you use, the viscosity of enamel colours is too much compared to other paints. So if you want to make quick work, you must know how to use it the right way.

So if you are planning to roll over a surface that doesn’t need thick overwork, then you might be doomed. To escape the trouble, you must know how to thin enamel paints for a spray gun. It is possible and we are here to let your know how.

What is an Enamel Paint and what is it used for?

Have you seen exterior walls? You get it, enamel paints are there on the surface. Enamel paints are more lustrous looking than acrylic paints. Enamel dries slower than acrylic but gives a sheeny look to it. For a long-lasting coloured surface, glossy finish, enamel paint is the thing you need. It is used to coat surfaces indoors, outdoors. For example, it can be adorned with glass, plastic, wood, copper, metals and house walls of course.

Why Thin the Paint?

The most common question about paint is that why do you need to make it dilute a bit to apply on a surface? The answer is, you don’t have to dilute paint always, but for enamel paints depending on surface and spray guns, you might need to work it out. 

How to thin enamel paint for spray gun

Thinning will lower the viscosity and so you can paint freely, plus smoothly without having colour degradation or lumps on the surface. Enamel usually hardens slowly and hardens too fast. To make it alter, thinning is a good process to make the paint dry faster and make it appear just normal, not too hard or too light on the surface.

Before we move on to the step by step options, we are going to tell you about the safety precautions. It is the most important aspect while dealing with paint.

Safety Precautions

  • First use a respirator to block the unwanted odour and harmful chemicals into your lungs. It might affect your health. 
  • Use eye goggles to protect the eyes and gloves to cover your hand well enough so that you don’t get in contact with chemicals.
  • Get a bucket, stirrer, strainer. These three things are essential to any paintwork.
  • Make sure you have sufficient water access and mineral spirits for the thinning purpose
  • Lastly, get the weapon of your choice, joking! The paintbrushes, rollers or spray gun if you prefer.

Step by step guide on how to thin enamel paint for spray gun?

The problem with dealing with enamel colours is that many painters overthink the colours and get into trouble. You don’t want to be purchasing colours one after another. The overall process is not as hard as you think. We have seen people ruining and messing up precious paints and impairing their work just for the lack of knowledge.

Step 1: Pick the right place (well ventilated)

You must select a place where you can deal with enamel paints. As we mention, enamel paints or any paints emit toxic fumes and odours which are harmful to humankind if they are not wearing safety gear. So why jeopardise others safety for a paint job? Use a room or a safe place to work in, make sure the room you are in has enough ventilation for breathing space. 

The ventilation will mainly help to guide away from the fumes and smell. Make sure not to work in an enclosed area, as you will suffocate and surely inhale the toxic chemicals. USe a garage and keep the doors, windows open. 

Step 2: Start with the precautions we mentioned

Never forget to wear safety gear or avoid ventilation. You must use goggles to protect your eyes from splashing paints. Then use hand gloves for avoiding contamination and direct contact. Then you should also go for the respirator or mask we talk about. Use a respirator to keep yourself healthy. No one wants to inhale these menacing smells and fumes.

Now open up the windows and doors if available. Should be available, because we prefer you to work in a well-ventilated room. Keep the airflow comfortable. Not too congested or unbreathable. 

Step 3: Know your paint

The first thing you should do is to read the instructions on the paint container. You must know what type of paint it is. Is it a water-based solution or an oil-based solution? Everything is important because, if you want to thin an oil-based colour you are in disarray. Water-based products are a bit flexible and can be thinned in easier ways.

Keep in mind that all manufacturers will mention or recommend you the thinning medium and let you know the limit. Don’t miss it, have a good read first and then move to the next process.

Step 4: All about paint preparation

Keep in mind that not all colours are thin able. If the paint can be diluted or needs to be diluted it will be tagged somewhere in the container. So keep an eye. If you come across a colour bucket that allows dilution. Then you are lucky here read this article. 

If the paint can be thinned, pop up the lid and use a stirrer first to make it mix well. don’t worry, it’s already mixed adequately, but all you are doing is making it smoother to work with.  

For people using a paint sprayer, the reason why we have dedicated this writeup to you people. Best Paint sprayers are complex tools. Don’t take it that easy. You cannot just pour paint on it and think it’s going to work magic. No! You will have to strain the colour so that all the extra lumps are omitted right before it goes into the sprayer cylinder. Otherwise, it won’t work as you want it to.

Step 5: Check whether the colour needs dilution

The paint you are working with might not need thinning. Thus it’s better to strain it and put the paint in the sprayer. Use a wood surface to sprinkle the paint for test purposes and see if it is too thick or thin. If the thickness is desirable, you are good to go. If too thick for the surface, the next step is for you.

Step 6: Time for the thinning process

Well, this is what you’ve been waiting for, right? Well, the processes we talked about previously are all as important as this one. Use a large bucket to carry the paint. Open the container and pour the colour into the bucket. 

If you are using oil-based paints then you will need white spirits, mineral spirits and such things. If you are working with just water, have it in an adequate amount. You never know you may need to add further. 

The interesting and most im=ortant part is the mixing. The manufacturer should mention the amount needed per gallon. But the holy grail is that most painters and DIYers use 0.2 liters (½ pint) pint to one gallon of paint. Some will use 0.4-0.5 liters to a gallon of enamel paint. Time to stir the paint and see the fluidity and viscosity. You will be able to feel the difference.

There is no hard law about it, but this is the ideal measurement. Plus, you are going to check the manual and paintbox for thinning measurements. So you shouldn’t worry about it. Try it out. There could be a few mishaps at first, we hope not. But if that happens, it’s a learning process for you. Follow our guide and we assure you you can be a master worker at it.

Step 7: Test what you’ve produced

The work is not done yet. You have to check if you have done a good job. PUt the thinned liquid in a sprayer and use it to spray on a test wood. Check the viscosity and look for lumps or any blemishes. If any mishaps appear, then try out the process again. Don’t get disappointed. Remember ½ pint to a gallon, or 1 pint to a gallon is the general rule pros follow. Still check the written recommendation on the brand bucket.

Step 8: What you need to know

Always recheck your outcome, USe a sprayer and test as many times as needed to give an awe-inspiring final finish. Accurate mixic=xing measurements are very crucial. You must use a funnel to measure the liquid. don’t be like you can judge it by your eyes.

Don’t dilute or attenuate the product beyond repair. In simpler words, don’t thin out the colour too much. If you dwindle excessively when it comes to thickness, it will lose its lustrous look. You will have to paint over and again. Keep it in a neutral balance. Not too thin or too thick. Keep an 

Never use your hand, bare hands to stir the paint. Get a stirrer please! Be careful about your health. 


What is the rightful quantity of mixing thinner?

If you are talking in pints then 0.5 pints of thinner is sufficient for a gallon of enamel paint. Some people will use 1 pint to make the process smoother. Most importantly, follow the instructions mentioned on the manufacturer label.

How thin should enamel paint be for sprayer guns?

This depends on your working medium. If you are working on something too hard and thick, make the paint a bit more luxuriant. If you observe that the paint is too thick, too stiff to spray paint it. Go and thin the paint for the best possible result. The thinning depends on the user and how they look overall.

Can I use paint thinner instead of mineral spirits?

The answer is that you can use any thinning module to make the viscosity lighten up. Mineral spirits are good options. Remember, that paint thinners are spirits in a less refined variation. 

What is the purpose of thinning oil paints?

Well, it will give you a better drying time, more importantly, a lower viscosity to work on different kinds of surfaces. 


Paint thinning is not the most daunting task. So take a chill pill and get to follow this article on how to thin enamel paint for a spray gun. Painting is fun but needs some work done as well. No matter if it is your house or any fence, outer structure or any given surface. Enamel paints have high viscosity and you may find lumps on them too. So stirring and straining is also necessary. We have talked about it. Check above. The problem with most people is that they don’t make it work ideally. If you follow the steps, enamel paint thinning can be a cakewalk, thus your paint job can be a masterpiece, believe us. 

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