How Long Does It Take To Mix Paint?

Although paint seems like it's ready to go at a moment's notice, this is actually a mixture that needs to be well-stirred before use. Whether you're painting the interior or exterior of your home, it's important to mix your paint will in order to ensure an even coating and even color of paint, as well as prevent future damage to your walls.

On average, it will take approximately 2 to 5 minutes to mix paint, depending on the saturation you want and the amount of paint you need to cover your home. If you want to visit a store that custom makes paints for your home, this process can take up to 10 minutes to choose the best color for your home. There are certain best practices to consider when using paint, including using the proper tools and timing for different paints.

Female house painter mixes black and green paints - How Long Does It Take To Mix Paint

What Is Paint Made Of?

Paint is considered a homogenous mixture, meaning that, although it might appear uniform, it is comprised of various components that allow it to properly paint your home and withstand the test of time. Paints are made of various components, including:

  • Pigment: The pigment is what gives the paint its color. These pigments were once closely guarded secrets, but are now readily available to help create your own paints in store or at home. These pigments are usually made of titanium oxide, or clay, talc, or calcium carbonate. 
  • Binder: The binder is the part of the paint that keeps everything together in paint. Think of a binder as the egg yolk that binds together all of the ingredients in a cake batter. Binders can include acrylic or vinyl acrylic paints.
  • Additives: This is perhaps the most essential component in the paint that makes it work well for painting your home. These additives make up a small portion of the overall paint, but they add valuable benefits to your paint such as insulation properties, insecticide, things to improve coverage of the paint, and even glitter for a unique look. This paint additive on Amazon removes odors. 

  • Liquid: The liquid is also known as the solvent, and it is the medium which suspends all of the pigments, binders, and additives. The liquid solvents can be made of a variety of mixtures, including mineral spirits and turpentine.

Why Do I Need to Mix Paint?

All of the components in paint make it unique and give it the ability to be successfully used for your home projects. For instance, imagine using paint used for your canvas or watercolor paints to use on your home. These mixtures simply don't work, since they don't have the industrial strength additives, solvents, binders, and pigments used in traditional paint.

Because paint needs to be effective at protecting and decorating your home, it's important to mix it well in order to properly combine these components into a single, usable mixture.

Old paint in a rusted paint can.

Not mixing your paint leave you with a mixture that just doesn't work, as you can see in this picture of a can with paint that has settled. Eventually, all paints will settle, so if you have an old paint can, it's even more important to mix this paint well before use. 

Factors that Affect Mixing Time

There are several factors that will impact how long it will take you to mix your paint. As mentioned earlier, most standard paint mixers can mix paint in as little as 2 minutes. However, these paint mixers are usually only available at retail stores. If you do a lot of paint work and decorating in your home, or use a lot of paint cans, this handy industrial strength mixing machine on Amazon can mix up to a gallon of paint in 1.5 minutes.

The length of time will depend on:

  • The cycles per minute of the machine. The one recommended above that can shake paint in 1.5 minutes operates at a cycle of 1400 per minute. The higher the number of cycles per minute, the faster your paint will be mixed.
  • The amount of paint you are mixing. Even the best industrial paint mixers can take up to 30 minutes to mix cans of paint together that are 5 gallons or more. This is because the bigger the gallon, the more components and present, and the more force is needed to completely mix it well. 
  • How long the paint has been sitting unused. If you've just mixed your paint at the store, and you want to take it home to use it, a quick stir with a stir stick should be sufficient. However, if you are just buying your can of paint or if it has been sitting for a long time, chances are the components have settled to the bottom and require more stirring. 
  • Whether you're mixing your own custom colors. Many hardware stores give you the opportunity to mix custom paints using their selection of pigments. Keep in mind that choosing the color, getting the base can, and then adding pigments to shake the can will take longer than simply using a pre-made color. However, it's well worth it to get a color you truly love.

In addition to these, one of the biggest factors to how long it takes to mix paint will be the types of tools you use for the job.

Best Tools to Mix Paint

Female house painter mixes black and green paints

Depending on the type of paint you are using, and how big of a can or gallon you have, there are certain tools that are better for the job than others. Below are our picks for the best tools to use for mixing your paint.

  • Handheld Wooden Stirrers. These are the best tools to use for smaller cans of paints, and best of all, they are cheap and are sold in bulk. Make sure to measure how long the stick is and how deep the can of paint will be, so you can choose a stick that will reach all the way to the bottom of the can while you stir.
  • Mixing paddle drill attachment. Paddles such as these here are excellent tools to use to stir your paint cans at home using a simple drill. All you need to do is place the attachment on the drill, place it into your can, and begin your drill so you can mix your paint until you get a consistent coating. This is a good tool to use for bigger cans of paint from 1 to 5 gallons. 

Handyman is mixing colors in basket with help of drill for painting walls during renovation. Worker makes paints by working tool.

  • Industrial paint shakers. These are the types of paint mixers you will see in hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. These are great to mix larger cans of paint as well as thoroughly combine paint. However, some paint stores won't use these mixers to mix old cans of paint that have been previously opened. In this case, stick with a paddle drill attachment. 

How to Mix Paint

There are certain steps you need to take before mixing your paint. These are:

1. Make sure your can of paint is not damaged and still good to use. If you notice a bulging can, this is a sign of paint going bad, according to Consumer Reports, and should not be used. 

2. Open your can of paint carefully using a flathead screwdriver or paint can opener, such as this one seen in this picture. These are the best tools to use to open a can of paint that has been shut over time.

a house painter opens a can of paint with a screwdriver

3. If stirring using a stirring stick, scrape up the sides using the stick or even a spatula. Then, make sure to incorporate all these side paint into the actual mix. If using a drill and paint mixer, use the mixer once it is already in the can and make sure to reach all the way to the bottom. 

4. Keep stirring until all components are mixed and there is a smooth texture. For older pain, feel free to filter it using a regular panty hose or cheese cloth to get rid of clumps.

5. Store leftover paint in an air-tight container in a room that is cool and dry and doesn't face temperature extremes.