7 Paint Thinner Types And Brands [And What They’re Good For]

If you are planning to do a painting job for your home, it's important to have all the necessary items you'll need to make the job effortless and easy. One of the things a lot of people miss out on getting are paint thinners, thinking they aren't necessary. At some point, you'll realize paint thinner is needed, and you'll have to run out to get a can for your project.

Paint thinners aren't just used to thin out the paints. In other circumstances, paint thinners are also used for cleaning brushes and removing stains. Depending on the kind of paint that you will be using for your project, there are different kinds of thinners you should use.

The can with a thinner from the upside view. - X Paint Thinner Types And Brands [And What They're Good For]

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Types of Paint Thinners [Including Examples of The Best Brands]

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X Paint Thinner Types And Brands [And What They're Good For]

For every kind of paint job, whether it is for the home or artwork, paint thinners are used in various ways. Their most common use is already stated in its name—it thins out the paints so that they will be easier to apply on any kind of surface or to create a kind of finish. Of course, thinning paint also weakens its structure, so thinners are also used for cleaning.

There are many types of paint thinners that are available on the market, but they have specific paints which you can use them with. We've listed down the types of paint thinners you will typically find to help you decide which one you really need for your painting job.

Paint Thinner: Oil-based & Water-based

Smudged Can of Paint Thinner

You'll often see these in the hardware store, but "paint thinners" are actually thinning compounds that people use to thin, dilute, and clean oil-based paints. Typically a product of petroleum distillation, natural resins, and oils. Paint thinners definitely work as an ideal thinner for oil-based paints.

Oil-based Thinners

Check out this odorless paint thinner on Amazon.

Paint thinners that are compatible with oil-based paints can also work with stains and varnishes. They are also great for cleaning the brushes and equipment used during painting. Aside from using this thinner for home painting, this can also dissolve and remove grease, grime, and oil.

Sunnyside is a great paint thinner brand because it is odorless, making it perfect to use indoors. You can use this thinner in places that should not be exposed to harsh chemical smells, like hospitals, care facilities, or places where children stay.

Water-based Thinners

Get this water-based paint thinner on Amazon.

If you'd like to thin water-based paints, it is crucial to look for water-based paint thinners. Some water-based paints that can be thinned are chalk, latex, or acrylic paints. Using a different kind of paint thinner may not yield good results for your paints.

Thinners for water-based paints are often necessary for jobs that use paint guns or whenever a smoother glide with the brush is needed. Generally, thinner water-based paints make better finishes for certain surfaces. 

1. Lacquer Thinner

The can with a thinner from the upside view.

Lacquer thinner, otherwise known as cellulose thinner, is a compound that is used specifically for lacquer, sealants, and top coats. This thinner is usually combined acetone, butyl acetate, toluene, xylene, and sometimes other paint chemicals to create a solution that can thin lacquer and similar materials.

See this lacquer thinner on Amazon.

Sunnyside also has a lacquer thinner, which many people prefer to use for lacquers and epoxies. This thinner can also clean and remove paint residue from brushes and equipment immediately after use. It evaporates at a much slower rate, allowing the coating to have some time to level for an even finish.

2. Naphtha

Paint brush and varnish can, paintbrush and transpicuous lacquer, white color container on wooden floor background — Photo

Sometimes, oil-based paints and sealants like enamels, varnish, and wood stains need a different kind of thinner. Naphtha is an excellent thinning compound for these materials because it comes from petroleum distillation and synthetic resins like regular paint thinners. 

Their biggest difference from Naphtha comes in its drying time. Naphtha dries very quickly because it evaporates from the paint coating as soon as the layer is laid down. This thinner will least likely ruin or separate the paint while waiting for it to dry.

Get Naptha solvent on Amazon.

Kleen-Strip's Naphtha can be used in place of regular paint thinners if you need a faster drying time. Naphtha also works as a cleaner for surfaces and machine parts to remove oil, grease, or waxy residue.

3. Xylene

Xylene is actually a paint thinner that is produced by Ultrimax, a known UK brand. There is no xylene thinner available locally on the US market because this is hardly used as a thinner in the US. Rather, it is mixed into lacquer thinners.

Technically speaking, xylene is a synthetic-based thinner that is strong enough to thin metal spray paints for better finishes. Xylene can also be used as a resin, adhesive glue, and rust remover for certain surfaces. You can also use this thinner to clean paint equipment that requires low contaminants.  

4. White Spirits

White spirits are technically better suited at cleaning surfaces to remove paint residue from surfaces. This solvent works absolutely well with fresh paint, and it will effectively remove splatters from concrete, wood, and tile. If the paint has dried, white spirit won't be able to remove the residue because this solvent is very mild. 

Check out white spirits on Amazon.

Most white spirits like AK Interactive are not strong enough to thin oil paints alone. However, it is possible to use white spirits on water-based latex paints and enamel to thin them. If you really want to use white spirit on oily paint materials, you should mix this with other thinning solutions like mineral spirits in order for it to be effective.

5. Turpentine

Turpentine is an oil that is derived from the distillation of resin from living coniferous trees. Out of all the paint thinners, we can technically call this an organic paint solvent because of how it is harvested from plants. 

Get this turpentine on Amazon.

Creekwood Naturals is a brand of turpentine that uses 100% pure and natural gum spirits from pine rosin. This paint solvent is commonly used in art oil paints because it helps accelerate the drying time of these paints. Typically used as a medium for painting, it can also clean artists' brushes, and it is a necessary multi-tasking tool in the studio.

6. Denatured Alcohol

Chemically speaking, denatured alcohol is simply ethanol that has additives mixed into the solution to turn it into a poisonous, foul-smelling alcohol that deters consumption. The most common use of this alcohol is to fuel alcohol burners and camping stoves.

See this denatured alcohol on Amazon.

As a thinner, denatured alcohol is primarily used for water-based paints and shellac stains. Sunnyside is a brand known for its solvents, and one of the primary uses of their denatured alcohol is to be used as a cleaning agent that removes dirt, grease, wax, and glue from most common hard surfaces. 

7. Mineral Spirits

The most popular out of all the paint thinners, mineral spirits, is a thinning compound that can be used on oil-based paints, clear top coats, and sealants. It can also be used to thin out wood stains because it is derived from petroleum distillation and its chemical structure is very similar to turpentine.

Check out this odorless mineral spirit on Amazon.

Kleen-Strip's mineral spirits are odorless and are very effective in thinning out paints and cleaning painting equipment. Aside from paints, it also works really well in thinning varnish and stain, which is great for working with wood projects. This mineral spirit is also very useful if you need to clean remnants and residue of old paint jobs that have gone dirty.

Can I Add Water To Make Paint Thinner? 

Pouring water

Of course, the easiest and most economical paint thinner for water-based paints is water. Typically, most paints don't need to be thinned if they are freshly opened, but some people may need less viscous paint for whatever job they need to do. Latex paint, in particular, can be thinned using water.

However, one of the disadvantages of thinning paint using water is that it also dilutes the color of the paint. Hence if you will be using water as a thinner, you will need to paint a few extra layers to make sure that you're getting the color that you expect. If you will be using multiple cans of paint, make sure to note the amount of water you will be using.

In Conclusion

For any paint job, it's always important to have paint thinner on hand to ensure that your paint's consistency is at its optimum. These paint thinners not only do that but also help clean your brushes and equipment, which can effectively make your tools last longer. Just make sure that for every paint you use, the right paint thinner is on-hand with you.

Are you looking for more information about paint thinners? Look no further because we have great articles you might find interesting:

How Long Should Paint Thinner Sit?

Does Paint Thinner Expire? [How Long Does It Last]


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