Mineral Spirits vs Paint Thinner: What’s the Difference?

Paint thinness or thickness is critical for a perfect application.

You may have gotten the colour right, but you need consistency as well.

Mineral spirits and paint thinner are products that can be used for such tasks.

They are also very effective after painting for cleaning the rollers and the brushes.

The two products can be used interchangeably; they perform the same functions.

But mineral spirits vs paint thinner: what's the difference between the two?

The differences mainly occur in the effectiveness between the two.

They are indispensable solvents that any painter needs for thinning the paint and cleaning equipment after use.

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Main Differences Between Mineral Spirits and Paint Thinner

In terms of effectiveness, the spirits are more effective than thinners.

Disolving Paint

Both can be used to dissolve paint, but the spirits are more desirable.

Smoothness of Paint

The paint will dry to be smoother and more level on the surface when thinned by the spirits.

Evaporation Time

It also evaporates faster than thinners and has a better general performance.


Thinners are blended with additives like benzene, while the spirits are one hundred per cent petroleum distillates.


The purity in spirits is what makes many people use it over thinners.


Thinners are cheaper than spirits. If you are working on a tight budget, you can go for the thinners.

They will do the job, not as effective as spirits, but you will have clean equipment and a thin coat.

Also, when you need to paint thin of a piece of furniture to refresh the look urgently.

Thinners can do the job and save you some money in the process.


Since the spirits are more purified, they are less smelly than thinners.

They both emit unpleasant odour due to their components, but the spirits are better.

There is also odour-free spirits that are available. They are the best for indoor use; you won’t choke on the smell.

The thinners are best to use outside in a ventilated area because it takes time to air out.

But you should always wear protective gear when handling either of them.


Spirits are more versatile than thinners. They are not restricted to the small paint jobs around the home.

You can use them to remove paint, tar, oil or gunk on any surface around the house.


Thinners can also be used for larger surfaces like concrete, metal and wood, but the emission can be troubling.

Spirits will work in any environment and has many more uses because of the less smell they emit.


Thinners are more toxic. The two products are made from distilling petroleum; just that, spirits are more refined.

The toxic organic compounds in thinners are what makes it smell more when being used than the spirits.

For a homeowner with kids and pets around the house, the odour-free spirits are perfect for interior use.

Both products are useful you have to be careful and choose according to where and what you are working on.


Both products are made from minerals and are used for the same purposes.

It comes down to how effective spirits are over thinners in the general performance.

Since they are almost double the price of thinners, they can be challenging to purchase. 

For a tight-budget project, you can use thinners, and they are also easy to buy in bulk for future use.

When you want a better finish and easy workability, then you should go for the spirits.