5 Tips for Keeping Water-Based Paint Thin

5 Tips for Keeping Water-Based Paint Thin


5 Tips for Keeping Water-Based Paint Thin

Imagine you open your closet to get out an old can of paint for your latest painting project. As soon as you’re all prepped, you open up the can and don’t see the “paint” you were expecting to see. Latex paint is water-based and when it isn’t used for an extended period of time, it begins to thicken. If latex paint hasn’t been used for a while, the thickness will be comparable to some sort of putty. Just because the paint is thick, doesn’t mean it is a complete loss, though. Follow these 5 tips for keeping water-based paint thin and ways to thin paint if steps towards prevention fail.

Once your paint is thin, you are back on track with starting your project! If you are in need of any assistance, Great Pros would love to help! Let us know what you need and up to 3 painting contractors will reach out to you with free price quotes. Based on their quote and reputation, pick which painter fits your project best!

How to Keep Water-Based Paint Thin

  1. Keep your paint can closed. This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t even want to bring it up. When you are finished pouring paint into the rolling pan or bucket, you need to close your can immediately. Since latex paint is water-based, the moisture that keeps the paint thin will begin to evaporate when exposed to the outside air. With a lid over the top, the moisture will stay right where it belongs, in the can.


    keep your paint can closed


  2. Don’t store the paint too long. Even with the lid over the can, latex paint will thicken if it isn’t used for multiple months or even years. The condensation within the paint will still manage to escape and you’ll be left with a thick putty-like substance. Kind of a bummer right? Well, there are ways to turn that “putty” into paint again!
  3. Stir well and often. If your paint has sat for a while, it is likely going to need some stirring to smooth it out. With latex paint, the heavier particles will settle towards the bottom of the can. This creates an interesting dynamic when stirring. If you stir the paint from side to side, don’t expect to thin the paint out anytime soon. The most effective ways to stir latex paint is to stir from bottom to top or top to bottom. Do this for at least 5-10 minutes for the best results. Aside from stirring, The best way to mix your paint together is actually to use two paint cans and pour the paint back and forth from one can to the other.


    how to stir paint


  4. Just add water! Stirring might not be enough to thin your paint out. There are a few additive options, but we’ll start with the easiest one. Since latex paint is water-based, try adding water before anything else! Add the water in 1 or 2 ounce increments and use the same stirring techniques that were suggested above. Continue adding water slowly and keep doing so until the consistency is what you are looking for.
  5. Try a commercial thinning additive. If water wasn’t doing the job for you, a commercial thinning additive might be your next best option. Thinning additives can be found at your local home improvement store and can do more than just thin paint. Additives can also act as a paint conditioner which will make the paint easier to apply and help remove visible brush marks. While additives can save a can of paint and revitalize it, they are also expensive. If you do choose to use one, make sure to use the can of paint quickly since additives give the paint a very short shelf life. If your paint goes bad after the additive, we would suggest buying a new can of paint.

My Paint Just Won’t Thin

If you have tried everything you can think of and followed our guide without success, it might be time to throw your old can of paint away. If that’s the case, make sure to search how to dispose of paint properly. There are always other options of paint to choose from and it shouldn’t be too difficult to buy the same can or something very similar. If you need help with your next painting project, let us know exactly what you need and we’ll be sure to provide some fair price quotes free of charge.