How to Thin Oil-Based Paint (To Maintain the Painting Consistency)

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So, you want to take your painting skills to the next level and are searching for insights on how to thin oil-based paints? You are in the right place.

Oil paints need a lot of patience from artists. Besides, they need solvents for thinning and take time to dry.

When selecting thinning oil paint solvent, ensure that you get them from art supply stores. It is important to work from rooms that are well-ventilated too.

James Elkins once said, “To an artist, a picture is a sum of ideas and blurry memory of ‘pushing paint,’ breathing fumes, dripping oils and wiping brushes, smearing and diluting and mixing.”

Now that you have the little information at hand, let’s get started.

What is Oil-Based Paint?

Oil-based paint refers to a specific paint type that dries slowly and contains pigment particles suspended in drying oil, mostly linseed oil. There are two unique types of oil-based paints. The alkyd one is synthetics, linseed, and natural oil.

Alkyd paint is more common, and it is cheaper and tougher. Oil-based paint is perfect for bathrooms, doors, exterior work, trim, or kitchen cabinets.

This oil painting takes more drying time. You will also need mineral spirits/turpentine/thinners to clean them up.

Thinning Oil-Based Paints

For artists, there are several ways to thin oil paints. The perfect thinning procedure depends on how thin you need to make the paint, what you want to accomplish, and the painting technique.

You can decide to thin the paint in small amounts making it buttery or even giving it a soup-like thinning consistency. Thinning will help cover your canvas easily and faster and fill in the texture.

The basic way of thinning oil paints is using solvents. Solvents are less costly than oils and mediums.

However, solvents thoroughly and rapidly thin the paint and are of low viscosity, thus maintaining consistency.

Why Thin Oil-Based Paint?

Oils are constructed with dense and larger molecules than painting mediums like waterproof and acrylic paints. It is advisable to thin oil-based paint before applying it.

Large molecules take a lot of time to dry, thus the extra time between painting layers to prevent mixing.

Thinning the oil paint makes the molecules flow out to the surface, allowing your brush to roll more easily. The consistent flow will help in spreading and removing extra paint.

Also, applying thinned oil paint smoothly and evenly helps control the brush marks appearing in the end paint.

Also, it aids in making subtle changes to the color tone through the tonal value that is lightening and darkening.

3 Quick Ways of How to Thin Oil-Based Paint

1. Choose a Thinner

You can choose either a solvent thinner or a medium. 


The solvent thinner will dilute the oil paint, and you can use them to clean your painting brush. However, use turpentine to create a more watery blend.

Remember to work in a ventilated room and find other less-odor options when using solvent thinner.

Ensure that you get a solvent from an art supply store since hardware stores’ solvents aren’t similar.


Each medium has a unique effect, with several mediums to use for oil-based paints. Some of the mediums may thicken the paint while others thin it.

So, it’s crucial to be aware of what it will do before applying it to your paint.

2. Blend the Paint

To begin with, you will want to stay assured of the paint thinning down in the first layer of the oil-based painting.

For instance, you can take the oil paint blob and place it on the palette. After that, add your preferred thinning agent.

In your first layer, use a dime-sized amount of thinner and paint. Blend the oil paint and thinning agent well using a pallet knife, and you will be ready for painting.

3. Golden Rule

Apply thinner colors first since they dry quickly. The less-thinned oil paints should go to the top layers.

Applying the oil paints in that order will result in a crack-free paint since thinner colors are quick to dry.

Also, it is important to ensure that each layer is fully dry before making another layer.

The Procedure for Thinning Oil-Based Paint

First, pour the paint using a filter, and then your container.

Secondly, infuse each of the three paint parts with one part, turpentine or mineral spirit.

Thirdly, stir the paint using a clean stirring stick and mix it completely with the thinner.

Finally, use a funnel to run the paint thin.

How to Mix Oil-Based Paint with Solvents

Take a medium or small-sized jar and pour some of your solvents into it. Ensure that you use a jar with a tightly-fitting lid to control excess evaporation and fumes.

Dip the brush tip in the solvent for a little paint, and dip most of the brush for extra soupy consistency.

After that, take the brush to the paint and blend it using a palette. Keep repeating until you achieve your desired viscosity.

Moreover, if you are thinning large amounts of paint, sprinkle the solvent in the paint on the palette.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I mix with oil paint to make it thinner?

Mineral spirits with less odor and turpentine solvents will help thin your paint. For a smooth paint consistency, use linseed and safflower oil.

How do you thin oil paint naturally?

Dry oils contain natural plant-based oils. Oil paint is constructed with particles from pigments and linseed oils.

Meaning linseed oil will thin the paint when a lot is added.

How do you thin oil paint with white spirit?

Serve the medium with a tablespoon of 5ml of the linseed oil in a little glass container. To thin the oil out, add two tablespoons of 30ml of the mineral spirit into the jar.

How do you thin Rustoleum oil-based paint?

Blend the Rustoleum oil-based with mineral spirits, xylene, and acetone using a container and a stirring stick to stir the blend.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, artistic solvents evaporate completely, preventing negative effects on your painting colors.

Besides, thinning with solvents helps the paints dry faster than the natural oils. Generally, our above guide is the perfect solution on how to thin oil-based paint.

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Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen

I love to paint, mostly nature and I dabble in some abstract paintings. Here I will share some tips and tricks I learned over the years.

About Me

I love to paint, mostly nature and I dabble in some abstract paintings. Here I will share some tips and tricks I learned over the years.

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