How to Thin Enamel Paint for Better Results

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Thinning enamel paint is a process that can improve the results you get when you are painting. When the paint is too thick, it cannot be easy to apply evenly and may not look as good as you want it to. By thinning the color, you will make it easier to use and give yourself a more polished look. In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to thin enamel paint and achieve the best results.

What is Enamel Thinner?

Enamel thinner is a product used to dilute enamel paint. It is typically mixed with the color in equal proportions, but it can also be added in smaller amounts to adjust the consistency of the paint. Enamel thinner helps improve the flow and leveling of the color, making it easier to apply evenly.

Does Enamel Paint Need Thinner?

Yes, enamel paint needs thinner. Most colors need lighter of some sort to be appropriately applied. The purpose of more delicate is to adjust the paint’s viscosity (or thickness) so that it can be spread more easily. If you don’t use enough thinner, the color will be too thick and not distributed evenly. If you use too much thinner, the paint will be too thin and will run off the surface before it has a chance to dry.

What Thinner Should You Use for Enamel That Work?

When it comes to thinning enamel paint, you can use a few different things. Each type of thinner will give you a different result, so it’s essential to know which one to use for your project.

Here are the most common types of thinners and what each one is best for:


It is possible to use acetone to paint plastic, but it is not recommended. Acetone can dissolve the plastic.


Turpentine is a solvent that is used to thin oil-based paints. It is made from the resin of pine trees, and it has a strong odor.

Turpentine is available in two forms: distilled and gum spirits turpentine:
  • Distilled turpentine is the most common type, and it can be used for both painting and cleaning purposes.
  • Gum spirits of turpentine are a little more expensive, but they are considered a higher quality product. They are less likely to cause damage to paint finishes, and they have a more pungent odor than distilled turpentine.

However, turpentine can speed up the drying time of oil-based enamel paints. This can be a problem because it can be challenging to use, and it might not be a good idea to use it for airbrushing.


Water-based paints are the most cost-effective and accessible option, but they only work with oil-based enamels. Success here depends on which type of acrylic paint you use – thinning out will be necessary for thinner coats; however, mineral spirits may also solve this problem if your Acrylic Paints refuse to stick anywhere near as well!

White Spirit / Mineral Spirit

The white spirit or mineral spirits are a great way to thin out your enamel paint. This will help you get that perfect consistency for painting, and it won’t affect the color of any stains, which means no more mixing different shades!

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a possible option for thinning enamel paints, but it has many drawbacks. It can remove too much of the color and leave behind an uneven surface with bubbles or spots that won’t sand well at all – making them look messy rather than smooth like they should when using lacquers instead of traditional watercolors and oil paints.


Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol as a paint thinner. Although it is more suitable if water-based enamel rather than oil-based – make sure to find the right kind that has 30% or 70%. You’ll also need some cleaner like dish detergent, so your brushes don’t clog up on top of dried-up paints instead!


Xylene is a dangerous and toxic chemical that can lead to side effects such as headache, dizziness, or drowsiness when mishandled. It’s best avoided by hobbyists who want to paint their projects in the home instead of using solvents like this one for thinning paints with water-based mediums like acrylics/watercolor etc. You might also like our article how to thin acrylic paint for an airbrush.

FAQs about Thin Enamel Paint

How Much Mineral Spirit Should You Use?

The mineral spirit is a critical component in the process of thinning paint. It does two things: it helps the paint flow more quickly and dilutes the paint, so it’s not as thick or dense. The latter function will depend on how much you want to cut your color, but if you’re starting with painting, you’ll want to use a medium amount of mineral spirit – about one-third cup for every quart of enamel paint. That way, your colors will be less likely to clog up your brush or drip off your project before they dry correctly.

What Should You Use With Caution When Thinning Enamel Paints?

When thinning enamel paints, it’s essential to use the right ingredients cautiously. If you don’t, you could end up ruining your paint job.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinning enamel paints:
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) is one of the most common thinning agents used in enamel paint. It’s a powerful solvent that can degrade plastic and rubber, thus causing cracks or warping on your model. Be sure to use it sparingly if you’re going down this path!
  • Acetone is another popular choice for thinning enamels because it evaporates quickly without leaving behind any residue like other solvents might do. However, acetone will also break down plastics just as easily as alcohols do, so you’ll need to be careful not only when applying but also during clean-up with this method!
  • Water makes an excellent thinner if all else fails because there isn’t anything harmful in it to cause damage or discoloration on your model.
  • Windex is a standard household product that contains ammonia. It can be used as an alternative method for thinning enamel paints if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar, which is often associated with this cleaner.

What Thinners For Enamel Paint Should You Avoid?

If you’re looking for some thinners to use with your enamel paint, then it’s essential to know what these thinners are not. You can’t just go into any old hardware or art supply store and find the right thing.

Here are 4 things that you should avoid when shopping around for some thinner:
  • Turpentine: This is not a good idea because turpentine contains oils that will reduce the durability of your enamel paint job. Avoid this one!
  • Naphtha: Avoid naphtha because it has strong solvents that can erode the coating on your work surface over time.
  • Linseed Oil: Don’t bother using linseed oil as a thinner for your enamel paint. It has a high evaporation rate, which can cause your paint to dry too quickly and crack.
  • Xylene: This is an excellent option for enamel paints to use as a thinner. Xylene is non-evaporative and doesn’t have harsh chemicals that damage your work surface or the paint itself.

When looking for an excellent thinner to use with your enamel paint, be sure to avoid turpentine, naphtha, and linseed oil. Instead, go with xylene, which is non-evaporative and won’t damage your work surface or the paint itself. Happy painting!


So, what is the best thinner to use for enamel paint? The answer is it depends on the brand of enamel you are using. Always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before thinning any paint. Acetone, turpentine, water, and white spirit/mineral spirit are common thinners used for enamels. However, some brands may recommend a specific thinner that you should use. If you are unsure which thinner to use or have questions about how to thin your enamel paint properly, contact the manufacturer for more information.

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *