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How to Mix Paint for Your Spray Gun: 8 Simple Steps

variety of paints

variety of paints

If you want to spray paint effectively, you need to mix paint properly. Paint that has been improperly mixed may not be even. It will likely not spray effectively and may even damage your spray gun. Properly mixed spray paint should go on smoothly and efficiently.

Luckily, mixing paint isn’t very difficult. If you know how to mix paint properly, it is hard to mess it up. As long as you do the steps in the right order and carefully measure everything out. In this article, we’ll go through each step-one-by-one so that you can carefully figure out how to mix spray paint properly.

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1. Make Sure Your Tools Are Ready

close up spray gun
Image Credit: Pixabay

Before you begin, you should ensure that you have all the tools necessary for the job. You should also ensure that your paint sprayer, face mask, and other tools are not damaged and ready to be used. Do any cleaning before you begin mixing your paint. You want to be ready to go before you start mixing, so you don’t have to stop in the middle of a step to find something.

Here is a quick list of everything you’ll need: paint, water, paint strainer, paint sprayer, paint thinner, safety goggles, test board, face mask, and sprayer tips.


2. Figure Out Which Paint to Use

paint swatches in canvas
Image Credit: Pixabay

Different paints are designed for different things. You’ll want to use a paint that is suitable for a spray gun and matches the project you’re doing.

Depending on the paint you choose, you’ll also need to have the required liquid ready to mix with it. Different types of paints require different liquids. Latex-based paints mix with water, for instance. Water is not enough to dilute oil-based paints, though. Mixing your paint with the correct liquid is essential for it to spray correctly.

You’ll also need to ensure that the paint is designed to be thinned, though. Some paints can’t be adequately sprayed and shouldn’t be used for spray painting.


3. Put on Protective Gear

person wearing respirator
Image Credit: Pixabay

Before you even begin mixing, you should put on the appropriate protective gear. Paints release toxic fumes, especially when they are sprayed. You want to inhale as few fumes as possible, which means also being careful while you’re mixing.

For this reason, you’ll need to wear a painter’s mask. These are pretty easy to find at most hardware stores. You’ll also need safety goggles and gloves to prevent possible contact with the paint. Many of the toxins in paints can be absorbed through the skin, so you’ll want to avoid as much contact as possible.

In some cases, you may even need a respirator to maintain the proper ventilation. If you’re working in tiny confines, a respirator is recommended.


4. Put the Paint Through a Strainer

When the paint is sitting in its container, it can form clumps. These clumps typically sink to the bottom. If not removed, they can clog a spray gun and cause other problems. For this reason, you’ll need to strain out all the lumps before you begin mixing the paint.

This is done quickly through a paint strainer. They are designed specifically for this purpose and are straightforward to use; you merely pour the paint through them.


5. Test the Paint

man paint spraying a wood plank
Image Credit: Leszek Glasner, Shutterstock

Not all paints need to be thinned to be sprayed. Some are thin to be used without any additions. You will need to test the paint to figure out if it needs to be thinned before use.

To do this, put a minimal amount of paint into your paint sprayer and try it out on a test surface. A piece of cardboard is typically a good idea. If you’re getting the quality spray you want, you can stop here and start spraying.

However, if the paint doesn’t spray out properly, you will have to thin it out. Otherwise, you will end up with an uneven texture or may even clog up your gun.


6. Mix the Paint

mixing paints
Image Credit: Pixabay

If you’ve concluded that you need to mix your paint, then now is the time to start mixing. You’ll need to thin your paint with the proper liquid, which will depend on the paint type. Most paints specify the liquid to be used somewhere on their container.

All mixing should preferably be done in a separate bucket. Just fill the bucket up with a moderate amount of paint and add small amounts of the thinner. When the paint seems a bit thinner, test it in the spray gun again. The exact amount you need may depend on the type of paint, your spray gun, and your climate. Generally speaking, you’ll need about ¼ cup of thinner to one gallon of paint.

When in doubt, always lean to the thicker side. You can always thin the paint out more later, but you can’t make it thicker again.


7. Put the Mixture in the Spray Gun

Now it’s time to transfer the diluted mixture into a spray gun. You can do this by simply pouring the mixture into the spray gun. If it is too heavy, you can also use a large spoon to transfer the mixture over, though this will take much longer.

Once the mixture has been transferred, you can start spraying. This is another whole topic in and of itself, so be sure to research the best ways to go about spraying paint.

8. Cleaning the Equipment

When you get done, it is essential to clean all your tools. This includes things like your paint strainer and bucket, which are easy to forget about after you’ve been spraying for a while. You’ll need to run water through the spray gun a few times to ensure that you remove all the paint.

Be sure to clean your safety gear too. These things can get worn out, especially after extensive exposure to paint fumes. You may need to change filters and replace safety equipment.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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