How To Thin Enamel Paint? (Step by Step Guide)

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From when I was young, I have always been passionate about everything DIY.

My parents called me a hoarder, but in my mind, I was an inventor, and I still share the same passion today.

I recently needed to thin enamel paint for a project, so I decided to put all the information in one place to help anyone who faces the same problem.

Why Do You Need to Thin Enamel Paint?

In my case, I wanted to repaint the doors in my house. I have planned to do this many times but never got around to it.

Recently my daughter decided it would be fun to draw on a door, so it was finally time to start this project.

But enamel paint is quite thick and not easy to work with, especially if you want to apply an even coat.

Thinning the paint reduces the viscosity so you can apply the paint much easier and smoother.

What You Will Need

As with every project, preparation is key. You will need safety goggles to protect your eyes and rubber gloves for your hands.

It is best to do this in an open area as the fumes can also be quite strong.

Open your windows if you are doing this indoors, and turn on a fan. In case of any spills, choose an area with a surface that you don’t care about, such as open ground, or maybe in your garage.

We will also need some water and some thinner. Finally, we need a bucket for mixing and a paint stirrer and strainer.

Read the Label on Your Paint

Before you start, make sure to read the label on your paint. Some paints are water-based and others are oil-based, and it’s important to know which yours is.

If it is water-based, we will not need to use thinner as we can use water to thin the paint.

With oil-based paint, water will not mix with the paint, so we will need to use thinner in this case.

Many labels will also mention whether the paint is thinable or not, and may even have a recommendation printed on it.

Now before we thin the paint, we will make a simple test to determine how much thinning is required.

Test Your Paint

I decided to use a spray gun since I was going to be painting several doors. The first step is to run the paint through the paint strainer to remove any lumps that may clog the nozzle on the gun.

My paint was quite thick, but I placed some into the gun without any thinner to see if the paint came out evenly.

There was not enough paint coming out, so my paint definitely required some thinning.

Thin Your Paint

Pour the paint into the bucket and add a small amount of thinner. Remember that we can always add more thinner later, but if we add too much now, there is no going b

ack. I had a gallon of paint, so I decided on 1/2 pint of thinner. Once the thinner is added, stir thoroughly to make sure the mixture combines well.

Lifting the stirrer from the paint, I watched how the paint drips from the stirrer to determine if I had added enough thinner.

I added a little more thinner to my paint, as it was still a little bit thick. I put this mixture into the gun and the result was perfect.


And that was that. I was quite surprised how easy it was to thin enamel paint. The result was a paint that was easy to apply and made my job easier.

The extra effort to thin paint first is definitely worth it, as painting with it becomes a much easier task.

Good luck with your project and happy painting.