Can You Thin Latex Paint With Water? [Explained!]

Working with latex paint has some benefits. One of them is that latex paint is ready to use as soon as you get it home in a mixed condition from the store. The rate of viscosity applied by the manufacturers in a fresh container is often enough for most latex paint applications. However, if the paint is old and evaporation takes place, thinning can be necessary. When preparing latex paint for spray painting, you will also need to thin it.

Since latex paint is water-based, you can only use water for thinning. You cannot use paint thinners to thin latex paint because oil and water do not mix. If these petroleum based solvents are added, the pigments in latex paint will separate, leaving you with an unusable mess.

How Much Water Should You Add to Thin Latex Paint?

Water is necessary for latex paint to thin and mix with other ingredients. Too much water can cause the paint to become runny and difficult to control, while too little water can leave the surface dry and brittle.

In general, for thinning latex paint, adding 1/2 cup of water (118 milliliters) for each gallon (3.8 liters) is recommended. The water should be at room temperature.

Depending on the thickness or application of the paint, the ratio may vary. For instance, when working with a paint sprayer, you will have to increase the water percentage by 20% to 30%. High-quality paints are typically thicker and require more water than cheaper alternatives. 

How Do You Know If Your Latex Paint Is Too Thick?

To determine whether your latex paint is too thick first you’ll need to mix the paint well. Use a paint stick and stir 5 to 10 times going up and down in a spiral motion. 

Next, you’ll need a kitchen funnel and a ladle/scoop. Pour some latex paint through the funnel while holding it over the paint can/container. If the paint is too thick, it will clog the exit hole or take a long time to drain. If the paint is thin enough, it will flow freely through the funnel.

What To Do If Your Latex Paint Is Too Thick?

Doing the funnel test if you find out your latex paint is too thick, adding more water will be necessary. Add an additional 1/8 cup of water (30 milliliters) per gallon of latex paint. If you are unsure of the paint thickness, do the funnel test again.   

Will Mixing Water Change the Color Of Latex Paint?

Thinning latex paint with water will make it less solid and make it lighter in color. This will not cause a big issue if you mix the paint properly after adding water in the proper ratio. When using multiple cans of similar-colored paint for a job, make sure to mix them together in a five-gallon bucket before starting to paint. This ensures that the colors will match each other better. If you think you have thinned your latex paint a bit too much, use multiple coats of paint when painting.

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