How To Thin Enamel Paint For A Spray Gun?

Though most of us know what enamel paint is, I will briefly describe it for the newcomers to painting. Enamel paint is a paint that gives a hard, durable, and glossy finish while drying in the air and is suitable for small projects and outdoor surface coating that is subject to wear and temperature variation.

However, if enamel paint is cured once, it becomes very hard. This feature has made it famous for windows, doors, woodwork, trims, floors where foot and hand traffic is extensive.

Firstly enamel paints were oil-based, but now water-based enamel paints are also available in the market.

Oil-based enamel paints: These are odorous and need more time to dry completely, like 8-24 hours. You can clean these paints using paint thinners. These paints emit poisonous fume, so you have to ensure proper ventilation of that place while using these indoor.

Water-based enamel paints: These paints take less time to dry than oil-based ones; 8 hours is fair enough. You can easily clean these paints using water.

Thinning enamel paint for a spray gun.

Uses of enamel paints:

The higher versatility of enamel paints has made these popular for numerous projects. These are used on metal surfaces, copper, plastics, ceramics, concretes, and many more. Enamel paints are perfect for surfaces that are washed frequently as these paints are moisture resistant. Other uses are as follows

  • Refurbishment of outdoor grill: These paints are perfect for outdoor painting as they have rotproofing and waterproofing features and give glass-like finishing upon drying. Heat-resistant enamel paints are also available; you can apply those to the surface that gets hot.
  • Painting model figurines: Enamel paints give outstanding performance for painting small projects like model airplanes or cars. These paints will provide a glass-like finish and a protective layer on the model vehicles. So your small projects will be more shiny and durable.
  • Painting outdoor and indoor furniture: Repainting outdoor furniture is necessary as they are subject to more wear and tear. Enamel paints can be of great use here. Enamel paints can also be used on home appliances, the kitchen, bathroom, stairs, and more.
  • Reburnishing floors: Floor enamel can be used for concrete, basement, patios, and porch. Few layers of enamel on floors can act as a protective element against scuffs and dirt. And you don’t need to repaint for a long time.
  • Other uses: There are fast-dry enamels available in the market that dry shortly after application and suitable for counters and refrigerators. High-temperature enamels are ideal for brakes, engines, and BBQs. Nail enamels are used to color nails for their fast-drying, gloss retention, and color retention features.

When not to use enamel paints:

  • Enamel paints are not recommended to use for inside dry walls as maybe we don’t want a shiny effect on inside walls. So it is wise to use comparatively less expensive paints for this purpose.
  • Enamel paints are strictly forbidden if you have respiratory issues as it emits toxic fumes. In addition, most of the enamel paints are oil-based, thus toxic. In many states of the U.S.A, enamel paints have been banned for their toxicity.

Pros of enamel paint:

Enamel paints have several pros that made them popular among homeowners.

  • They are mildew resistant.
  • Resistant to humidity and moisture.
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • It gives a durable, hard, and smooth finish.
  • Multiple washes don’t affect its finish.
  • The application process is easy.

Why should you thin enamel paint:

Usually, enamel paints are comparatively thicker and not ideal for applying directly from a paint can. So thinning is done to confirm that enamel paint is ready to apply using a spray gun. In addition, it is done to reduce its viscosity by mixing it with a thinner. However, spraying thick paint materials is not a good option as it may cause dot formation, and the spray gun can stop working.

Specifically, oil-based enamel paints are stressful to apply if not thinned. But you can paint non-stop if you thin the paint material. Moreover, it reduces drying time and orange peel and prevents the paint mixer from being hard when you leave it open. So it is essential to learn the thinning process.

Things needed for thinning enamel paints:

Before discussing how to thin enamel paint for a spray gun, you need to know what is needed for this task except for paint.

  • Safety gloves, goggles, and respirator: You must wear safety equipment like goggles, gloves, respirators first to thin oil-based enamel paint as it emits poisonous fume. If you cannot arrange a respirator, then wear a mask instead.
  • Strainer and stirrer: For the thinning purpose, you will need a high-quality strainer and a stirrer. Any plastic or wooden stick can be used as a stirrer. By utilizing a strainer, you can remove the dust, dried flakes, clumps, and other impurities from the paint mixture.
  • Spray gun, roller, or paintbrush: You have to have the tool ready like a spray gun, roller, or paintbrush for applying the enamel paint on the surfaces.
  • Paint material and thinner.

Types of thinner suitable for enamel paints:

You should know which thinner is perfect for enamel paints and which thinner should not be used. A list is given below to remove your confusion regarding thinner.

Thinner Compatibility with enamel paints
AcetoneThough acetone can thin enamel paints, it is not recommended. However, you can use it for cleaning brushes or remove paint from different surfaces. One reason for not using acetone as thinner is that it can dissolve plastic, so using it as thinner may cause complications if you paint the plastic surface.
TurpentineTurpentine can thin enamel paints, but it is also not recommended. It speeds up the drying time of many oil-based paints. So if you paint a surface using an airbrush, it can be clogged. Moreover, the surface can get damaged.
WaterYou can use water to thin enamel paint only if the paint is water-based.
White spirit/ Mineral spiritIt is the best option for thinning enamel paints. However, it neither speeds up drying time nor changes the brightness.
Lacquer thinnerIt can be used to thin enamel paints, but it is not recommended due to various drawbacks. Like it can give a dull or poor finish, or it can damage the plastic surface.
AlcoholYou can use alcohol as thinner depending on the brand of enamel paint and kind of alcohol. So it is best to use mineral spirit.

If you don’t understand either your paint is oil-based or water-based, then a small test can solve your problem. Take a tiny amount of enamel paint on a surface and add a few water drops to the paints. Then try to mix the water and the paint. If water and paint get mixed, then it is water-based. But if the water makes drops on paint and doesn’t get mixed, then it is oil-based. As we all know, water doesn’t mix with oil.

But most of the time, it is written on the paint can, whether oil-based or water-based.

I’m sharing the step-by-step thinning procedure of enamel paint that will give you the best result.

Step 1- Select a ventilated space:

It’s vital to select a ventilated area for the enamel thinning process. You need to work in a properly ventilated space, even if you wear a mask or respirator. Exposure to the poisonous fume from paint thinner or oil-based enamel paint can cause breathing problems. In addition, there are some other side effects, such as dizziness and nausea. The well-ventilated room has some signs.

  • It should have doors or windows on at least two opposite sides of the room.
  • The room ceiling should be high.
  • There must be an exhaust fan.

Or you can do this task at the garage opening the door fully.

Step 2- Wear safety equipment:

Don’t forget to wear a respirator or mask, goggles, and hand gloves to protect yourself from the poisonous effect of enamel paint or paint thinner.

Step 3- Check the paint can label:

Go through the label of the paint can carefully. You need to check several things, such as if the paint is oil-based or water-based and if the manufacturer has recommended any thinner and its amount. Also, don’t forget to check if you are using the color before its expiration date. Without limiting the label appropriately, you can add the wrong thinner to the paint.

Step 4- Test the paint first without thinning it out:

You don’t need to thin all enamel paints. So it is recommended to use it firstly without thinning it out. Pour a small amount of paint in the spray gun through a top-quality strainer to remove all the lumps. Otherwise, the lumps can clog the nozzle of the spray gun.

Then spray the paint to a testing board. If the painting job is done smoothly and you get your desired painting effect, then no need to add thinner. Carry on your painting job following the above steps.

Step 5- Thin the enamel paint:

If step-4 does not work out, then you should thin the enamel paint with white spirit/ mineral spirit/ water depending on the paint type in the proper ratio. So pour the enamel paint into a large mixing bucket and add thinner in the recommended ratio. Usually, half-pint or 1-pint thinner is mixed with one gallon of enamel paint. Keep adding the thinner into the paint, stir the mixture, and notice how the viscosity changes.

Step 6-Test second time:

If you think that the paint and thinner have been mixed properly and the right consistency of the mixture is achieved, you should go for second testing. So refill the paint sprayer and start painting. This time you should proceed with double coating.

If you are satisfied with the paint application, finishing, and drying time, you can continue your painting project. However, if still the desired consistency is not achieved, add more thinner.

To remain on the safe side, always add a small amount of thinner when adding it for the second or third time. Stir the mixture properly and continue the double coating as long as desired painting effect is not achieved.

Related: How to Clean HVLP Spray Gun?

Six tips to thin out enamel paints like a pro:

Here is some expert advice for you. These will save both your time and paint material.

  1. Do a test each time after adding a small amount of thinner with a paintbrush, roller, or spray gun to avoid over-thinning. This procedure may take time, but paint is saved.
  2. Do not use two thinners for one enamel paint, like switching to water from mineral spirit.
  3. You can do the funnel test to get the required consistency of the paint mixture.
  4. It is mandatory to thoroughly read the paint label to get the best result as different manufacturers can provide different thinning instructions.
  5. The enamel paint thinning procedure is also affected by the weather, especially the oil-based enamel. In humid weather, you have to add more thinner for the perfect mixture.
  6. Use a measurement beaker for the thinner and determine its precise amount. This step will help you in the further enamel painting job.

So here is the entire thinning procedure of enamel paint. Probably you would not have thought earlier that this procedure is so easy. By following the guides and steps, you can get your desired painting effect and make your outdoor and indoor more attractive than others.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *