Thinning Rustoleum Paint for Spray Gun


Last updated: May 17, 2023

Professional Tips and Hacks On How to Thin Rust-oleum Spray Paint for Spray Gun

Thinning rustoleum paint for spray gun

Rust-oleum is the world’s leading paint brand, popular for its premium quality paint and finishing products. Rust-Oleum paints can be applied with a brush or roller, although using a spray gun is much quicker, more efficient, and more convenient. 

Moreover, as an oil-based paint, Rust-Oleum paint tends to be thicker, so if you want to use Rust-Oleum with a sprayer, you must thin it out, and this requires some knowledge of the best thinning solvents and procedures. 

In today’s tutorial, we will highlight what you need to thin Rust-Oleum oil-based paint for a spray gun, how to thin Rust-Oleum paint, and the benefits of thinning rustoleum paint for spray gun before applying it with a sprayer. 

Thinning Rust-oleum Paint for Spray Gun

The best way to thin Rust-Oleum paint for a spray gun is to use Acetone. Mix it with paint on a large plastic container and stir gently, maintaining a ratio of 10-15%. You can also use mineral spirits or xylene, where for every gallon of paint, you can add six grams or ounces of xylene thinner. To ensure accuracy, use a viscometer to test the paint’s viscosity and ensure maximum consistency before spraying. 

What is Rustoleum Paint

Rust-Oleum specializes in all types of paints, varnishes, and other surface finish products. Established in 1921 by a sea captain, the company is known for its premium quality paints and coating solutions for home and industrial use. 

The earliest Rust-Oleum formula had fish oil, but for nearly a century, the product has undergone significant improvement and innovation and now contains several other ingredients, including Alkyds, epoxies, latex, and polyurethane. 

Is it Necessary to Thin Rustoleum Paint for a Spray Gun?

Rust-Oleum mainly features thick oil-based paints. The low viscosity makes it harder for the paint to flow smoothly through the spray gun, so thinning is extremely necessary. 

For example, if you want to use Rust-Oleum paint with an airless sprayer, you must thin out the paint with acetone, lacquer thinner, mineral spirits, or xylene. This helps you achieve a higher viscosity and consistent flow with the spray gun. 

However, if you use a high-power sprayer, thinning may not be necessary. Thick oil-based paint typically works best with paint brushes and rollers, but spraying requires thin paint. The Rust-Oleum paint company recommends using acetone and mineral spirits to thin out their oil-based paints to achieve a smooth, clean finish. 

What Do You Use to Thin Rust-oleum Paint?

You can thin Rust-Oleum paint with several thinning agents, such as Acetone, xylene, mineral spirits, and lacquer thinners. Below is an overview of how to thin Rust-Oleum paint with different thinners. 

Thinning Rust-Oleum Paint with Acetone

Acetone evaporates and dries faster, making it the most preferred thinning solvent. It’s the one product recommended by Rust-Oleum for thinning their oil-based enamel paints. 

You can use Acetone to thin out oil-based paint for spraying on metal and other non-porous surfaces, as it will dry faster, saving you more time. 

However, you should not over-thin the paint but maintain a 10-15% thinning ratio. Always ensure that the resulting viciously is consistent with the manufacturer’s spray gun recommendations. 

In addition, you can use Acetone to remove spray paint stains from spray guns since it has high solvent strength.

Using Lacquer Thinner to Thin Rust-Oleum Paint

Generally, lacquer thinners are more suitable for lacquer-based paints since they often contain corrosive solvents. The caustic characteristics of lacquer thinners make them incompatible with oil-based Rust-Oleum paints, although they can work with other types of paint. 

Again, lacquer thinners are unsuitable for enamel-based paints, mainly if used on plastic surfaces. 

Since lacquer thinner is generally hot and dries faster, it’s best used as a cleaning solution for painting equipment after spray painting.

Using Xylene to Thin Rust-oleum Paint

Xylene works best with paints containing hammered or metallic finishes. Such paints are ideal for rust-proofing metal surfaces. The best solvent ratio to use with Xylene should be 15% since it doesn’t evaporate as quickly as acetone. 

However, it’s best to allow your paint to dry gradually, so if you’re looking for a product that will give you excellent results while allowing you to work on a large surface at your own pace, use Xylene to thin your paint.

Thinning Rust-Oleum Paint with Mineral Spirits

To thin paint with mineral spirits, you need a few supplies, including a spray gun, a funnel, a measuring cup, mineral spirits, a stick for stirring, a plastic container, protective gear, and some rags. 

Protective equipment is essential to protect yourself from the harsh materials emitting from the toxic solvents you’ll be working with. In this case, a face mask, rubber gloves, and goggles are crucial. 

The next step is to open the can of Rust-Oleum paint and gently stir it to disperse the pigments. Depending on how much paint you want to thin, pour the amount into the plastic container using the measuring cup. 

Next, add mineral spirits using a ratio of 1:4. For every four cups of Rust-Oleum oil-based paint, you add a cup of mineral spirits. The catch is the thinning solvent should be 20%, and Rust-Oleum paint should be 80% to avoid over-thinning . 

Once added, mix and stir, adding more paint thinner as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency. Once the thinned paint is ready, load it into your spray gun ready for spray painting. 

How Do You Thin Rustoleum Paint for a Spray Gun? 

Typically, you’ll find the manufacturer specifications on which solvent to use for thinning a particular Rust-Oleum oil-based paint and the procedure to follow. 

While following these recommendations is good, working with an expert tutorial for all types of Rust-Oleum paints is more convenient and seamless. Below is our proven step-by-step guide on the best way to thin Rust-Oleum paint.

Step 1: Gather the Materials You’ll Need

For any paint-related project to succeed, you must have the necessary materials in place. When it comes to thinning Rust-Oleum paint for a spray gun, you’ll need the following:

  • A clean bucket or plastic container
  • A mixing dowel or stick for stirring the paint.
  • Paint thinner of your choice (acetone or mineral spirits, etc.)
  • Rustoleum paint.
  • Spraying equipment with a nozzle
  • A clean piece of cloth to wipe the nozzle
  • Paint funnel and measuring cup
  • Safety gear.
  • Viscometer.
  • a test piece for testing paint consistency and quality (scrape metal or wood)

Step 2: Add the Paint to a Bucket

Transfer the paint you want to thin to the bucket or clean container. We recommend a large bucket capable of containing more paint and thinner.

Step 4: Add the Thinning Agent

Using a measuring cup, add the required amount of paint thinner to the paint. Use the ratio specified on the product label. For example, if using acetone or xylene, use a ratio of six ounces for every gallon of paint. 

If using mineral spirits, maintain a ratio of 20% and so forth. Of course, after mixing, you must test the viscosity to ascertain if the consistency matches your spraying system and expected painting outcome.   

Step 3: Stir Thoroughly

Paint pigments or colors naturally settle at the bottom of the can. When spraying, you want to bring out the most of these pigments as much as possible, so you must unsettle them to ensure they are redistributed evenly before thinning. 

This is best achieved by pouring half of the paint into a large bucket and stirring to redistribute the pigments. Stir the paint thoroughly, including the clomps left at the bottom of the can and the remnant on the walls. Break everything, then mix it inside the can to create a consistent, uniform product.

After stirring the paint in the can, the next step is to gradually mix it with the paint in the bucket and stir continuously to incorporate everything. Also, try pouring the paint back and forth between the bucket and the can until you achieve a perfect consistency. 

Step 5: Test Paint Consistency

You can test the viscosity or consistency of your paint in any way, as there’s no standard approach to it. You could eyeball it to ascertain if the thickness is satisfactory and good for your spray gun, or you can use a viscometer. 

If you prefer the natural method, consider applying the paint on a test piece such as wood, metal, or a similar substrate. 

Otherwise, use a funnel to run the paint and check its flow. If the outcome is smooth, then it is good, and the paint is usable. If not, continue adding more thinning solvent, or use a viscometer to check the internal resistance to the flow of your paint. 

If you wish to go the extra mile to protect your spray gun or nozzle, consider loading the sprayer with a small amount of thinned paint and then test-spray to see if everything is perfect. 

This should help you determine the outcome of your work once you start spraying rustoleum paint.

Loading the sprayer with paint is even easier with a funnel, as it helps avoid spillage. Next, fasten the nozzle and test spray the paint.    

Transfer Paint into Sprayer

If you’re satisfied with the viscosity after testing, transfer the thinned paint into an airless spraying system and embark on your painting project. 

Thinning rustoleum paint for spray gun

Note: Spray paint and paint thinner contain multiple solvents that may be toxic, so ensure you wear protective eyewear, face mask, and hand gloves to avoid direct contact and stay safe.

What is the Ratio for Thinning Rust-oleum paint?

Thinning Rust-Oleum oil-based paint can be achieved with different types of thinning agents. The most common approach is using acetone. 

Here, you need to maintain a ratio of 6:1,  you should add six ounces of acetone for every gallon of paint. However, factors like humidity and overall temperature will determine the final outcome. 

That means the thinning process for Rust-oleum paint may involve some trial and error, necessitating a test piece resembling the substrate you intend to spray as it helps gauge the effect. With the test material, you’ll get a rough idea of what the result of your project will be, then you can make adjustments as needed. 

On the other hand, if using mineral spirits to thin oil-based paint, consider using a ratio of 80:20, where you add 20% of thinning solution against 80% of paint.

What are the Benefits of Thinning Rust-oleum Paint?

Rustoleum paints are usually packaged in small spray paint cans, ideal for small spray painting projects. However, larger paint cans suitable for larger projects are also available, although, with these, you can use a brush or roller. 

But brushing and rolling can be slow and time-consuming, so spraying with a spray gun is a better option. Suppose you wish to spray paint canned Rust-Oleum paint for larger projects. In that case, you’ll need to thin out the paint for optimal spraying, among other benefits such as:

  • Better control: Thinning paint allows you to adjust and control the paint’s thickness according to your preference and gun functionality. If used in its factory condition, Rust-Oleum may damage your spray gun due to thickness. Thinning the paint with suitable thinners helps make the paint smooth and more usable. 

  • Better results: Spraying thinned Rust-Oleum paint is much easier and produces better smoothness and overall quality results than thick paint, which may create blobs and roughness. 

  • Quick dry time: Thin oil-based paint typically dries faster, reducing the time you have to wait between coats, and ultimately speeding up your project. 

  • Equipment functionality: Thick oil-based paints like Rust-Oleum should not be used with spraying systems as they can damage your equipment early into the project. However, using thinned paint on your sprayers guarantees a smoother process that will not compromise the functionality of your equipment.

FAQS – How to Thin Rust-Oleum Paint for Spray Gun

Can I use xylene to thin oil-based paint?

Yes. Xylene is one of the solutions to dealing with thick Rust-Oleum paint. This thinning agent is best used on oil-based paints, adhesives, epoxies, lacquer, varnish, anti-rust, synthetic enamels, and outdoor paints. Xylene can also work as an adhesive remover and a cleaning agent for paint sprayer. 

Do you need to thin rustoleum paint for spraying?

Yes. Rustoleum is a thick oil-based enamel paint that may damage the sprayer if used in its factory state. Therefore, thinning is extremely necessary to ensure the flow is smooth and consistent. Thinning paint also helps the paint to dry faster, reducing the time you spend on the project. It also allows you to adjust the paint viscosity to a desirable level. 

How do you spray oil-based Rust-Oleum?

Before you can spray Rust-Oleum paint, consider its thickness. If it’s too thick, mix it with acetone or a similar thinning agent inside a large bucket to thin it out. You can then load the paint into the sprayer tank and spray with the gun. 

How to mix Rustoleum paint for spray gun

The ratio for mixing spray paint thinners with Rust-Oleum depends on your chosen product. Always follow the specifications from the manufacturer. For example, if using acetone, use a ratio of 10-15%. If using turpentine, use a ratio of three parts to paint against one part thinner. If using mineral spirits, use and if using xylene, add six ounces to a gallon of paint.

How many coats of Rustoleum spray paint should I use?

Spray paint usually requires several thin coats for the best quality finish. However, Rust-Oleum paints are typically thick, so only a few coats should be applied to ensure it cures and dries within the specified time. In that case, apply a maximum of two coats, and allow at least 2 hours of drying time. If you follow this rule, your project should be fully dry and cured within 24 hours. 

Is Rust-Oleum 2x water or oil?

Rust-Oleum paints are generally known as oil-based paints. However, the company also manufactures water-based paints. To determine which is which, look for the ingredients listed on the can. If it contains petroleum, petroleum distillates, and acetone, it’s an oil-based paint. On the other hand, you can identify a water-based Rust-Oleum paint if it mentions using water as a cleaning agent. Oil-based paints should be strictly cleaned with solvents. 

Can you thin rustoleum with gasoline?

Most spray paints are typically flammable. Gasoline is a highly flammable liquid with highly volatile ingredients that can ignite at the slightest trigger. As you paint, the gasoline vapors accumulate and travel airborne. If they encounter a heat source, your project will blow up in flames. Avoid using gasoline to thin paint or as a solvent to clean paint stains. Instead, use mineral spirits or similar less volatile products mentioned in this guide. 

Summary – How to Thin Rustoleum Spray Paint

If you understand the right procedure and suitable materials, it’s not too difficult to thin Rust-Oleum paint. The materials you’ll need include a bucket, paint thinner of your choice, clean rags, stirring stick, funnel, paint sprayer, protective gear, and Rustoleum paint. 

Some of these items are readily available in your home, while some, like a paint dowel and funnel, come as part of the package. Begin by stirring thoroughly to incorporate all the pigments, then add thinner, mix, load into a sprayer, and test viscosity. 

Always remember that you cannot use Rust-Oleum with a spray gun in its factory condition, or it will damage your paint sprayer. Hopefully, this guide will come in handy when you need to create a uniform consistency of your Rust-Oleum paint. 

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