Rust-Oleum has made a name for itself as a trusted paint brand and is loved for its ability to rust-proof surfaces. And although you can use a paintbrush to apply Rust-Oleum, a spray gun can come in handy when painting large metallic surfaces. But to use Rust-Oleum in a spray gun, you’ll first need to thin it for spraying.

In this article, we’ll show you some of the steps to observe when thinning Rust-Oleum paint for spraying. Ready? Then let’s get straight to business.

1. Gather the Necessary Materials

It’s important to first ensure you have the necessary tools needed to thin your paint. Here’s a list of everything required:

  • Stick (to stir paint)
  • Small metallic surface similar to the one you’re spraying on
  • Clean bucket between 1 ½ to 2 gallons
  • Thinning solvent
  • Rust-Oleum paint
  • Spray gun and its nozzles
  • Funnel
  • Graduated measuring cup
  • Protective gear, including  face mask and safety glasses
  • Clean cloth (to wipe nozzle)

A viscometer is optional, but can be useful in measuring the paint’s thickness.

Before you start the thinning process, it’s crucial to have all your protective gear on, including your gloves, eyewear, and face mask. The substances used are highly flammable and can be toxic when inhaled or if they come into direct contact with your body.

2. Pour the Paint Into a Container

First, open the paint container and stir the paint thoroughly using a wooden stick. Stirring ensures that all paint pigments and clumps dissolve to make the paint extra smooth. You should then pour out your desired amount of paint into the bucket using a funnel to prevent spilling.

While some experts might pour out paint without a funnel, using one is highly recommended if you don’t want to pour too much paint than needed.

3. Add the Thinning Solvent

The next step is adding the thinning solvent to Rust-Oleum. Carefully add the thinning solvent into a measuring cup to ensure you use the desired amount. Once satisfied with the portions, you can proceed to add the thinning liquid to the Rust-Oleum. 

4. Stir the Mixture

After adding the thinning solvent to Rust-Oleum, the next step is to stir thoroughly. You can add more thinning solvent if the Rust-Oleum doesn’t thin out immediately. But as you add more solvent to the mixture, remember that Thinning more paint than needed might leave you counting losses, especially since the paint will lose some of its factory properties upon thinning.

5. Test the Consistency

Load some of the thinned paint in your spray gun and spray on the metallic surface to see if the thickness level matches your preference. This is where a viscometer can come in handy, but you can likely eyeball what you’re looking for. 

6. Load the Sprayer and Paint

Once you reach your desired thinning consistency and are satisfied with the final outcome, the final step is to load your spray gun and proceed to paint your surface. When spraying, remember to allow the paint enough time to dry before making modifications or adding another coat.

Do You Need to Thin Rust-Oleum Paint for Spraying?

You’ll need to thin Rust-Oleum paint if you want to spray on large surfaces such as vehicles. Rust-Oleum paint is highly viscous and won’t be shot out of a spray gun if not adequately mixed with thinning liquid.

Therefore, thinning makes it possible to spray the paint using a spray gun. But you’ll first need to prepare Rust-Oleum by mixing it with a thinning agent (in the right ratios). 

For spraying medium to small surfaces, you can skip the thinning process and buy Rust-Oleum paint in spray cans, more specifically when working on small to medium-sized surfaces. The Rust-Oleum Spray Paint (available on amazon), dries fast and is resistant to chipping and fading. However, if you need to spray large areas, the paint can be purchased in larger cans.

Thinning can also be skipped if you decide to use a paintbrush. However, using a spray gun will save you time and is a lot more practical for large projects.

Rust-Oleum Thinning Ratio

To thin Rust-Oleum, you need to mix the paint and thinning solvent in proper ratios.

The recommended ratio for thinning your paint is 1 gallon of paint with 6 ½ ounces of thinning liquid.

However, the “perfect” ratio will depend on different factors, including the type of paint and thinning agent you prefer to use.

The size and type of surface you plan to spray your paint should also play a part in determining the ideal Rustoleum-thinning agent ratio

Using too much thinning agent will make your paint look light and runny, while using too little will leave your paint thick, thereby increasing the chances of clogging your spray gun.

Lastly, your spray gun will have instructions on the viscosity of paint needed for optimal use. To be on the safe side, it’s crucial to ensure your thinning ratio matches these requirements to avoid clogging your spray gun.

What to Thin Rust-Oleum Paint With

You can thin Rust-Oleum paint with either acetone, xylene, mineral spirits, or lacquer thinner.

Some solvents are recommended to use with specific Rust-Oleum products. Due to this, following the instructions on a specific paint is highly recommended.

It’s necessary to thin your paint if you’re going to spray it on a large surface. Thinning also helps you paint more easily and faster than using a paintbrush.

Thinning Rust-Oleum With Acetone

Rust-Oleum recommends using acetone as a thinning agent for its paints.

Acetone evaporates quickly, meaning your paint will dry up very fast, especially in hot weather.

This can come in handy if you’re working on large metallic surfaces but don’t have all the time in the world to wait for the paint to dry. But it can also prove problematic if the paint is too thin and dries extremely fast.

Ideally, you should target a 10-15% thinning range to avoid over-thinning, which can increase the maximum drying time required.

Once done thinning the Rust-Oleum with acetone, you can then measure the resulting viscosity of the paint to ensure it is at par with the spray gun manufacturer’s recommendations.

Acetone is also good at removing paint from equipment such as spray guns and paint brushes due to its impressive solvent strength.

Thinning Rust-Oleum With Xylene

Xylene can also be used to thin Rust-Oleum paint that contains a metallic and hammered finish.

Most experts recommend using less than 15% xylene when mixing with paint since xylene can make the paint dry a lot slower compared to acetone.

Having your paint dry slowly will have an overall better finish, especially on large surfaces.

Thinning Rust-Oleum With Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits can also be used to thin some Rust-Oleum paint products.

Like acetone, mineral spirits also make the paint dry quickly. This explains why you should restrict the thinning to 20% or less when using mineral spirits.

Rust-Oleum strictly advises against thinning its oil-based paints using mineral spirits. This is because mineral spirits can be corrosive on oil-based paint.

However, you can use mineral spirits to clean painting equipment.

Thinning Rust-Oleum With Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is made of potentially corrosive solvents and is normally used to thin lacquer-based paints.

While it’s still possible to thin your paint using lacquer thinner, its caustic characteristics make it unideal for mixing with Rust-Oleum oil-based paint. Lacquer thinner can also make surfaces dull and even melt plastics as they cause enamel-based paint to dry very fast.

Rust-Oleum strongly advises against using lacquer thinner on its oil-based paints. However, you can still use it for cleaning painting equipment as it is hotter than regular thinner, hence cleans much better.

Advantages of Thinning Rustoleum Paint

  • Adjusts paint viscosity: Thinning paint allows you to adjust its viscosity to one that suits a spray gun. In its factory state, Rust-Oleum can damage a spray gun due to its viscosity. However, thinning with the right agents will make the paint a lot smoother and easier to spray.
  • Smoother finishes: When using thinned Rust-Oleum paint, you’ll be well placed to make smoother and more durable finishes. The job will also look a lot neater when using thinned Rust-Oleum paint.
  • Fast-drying: Thinned Rust-Oleum paint will dry fast, allowing you to move on to other steps without having to wait for too long. This can come in handy when working on large surfaces.
  • Thinning protects your spray gun: Thinning Rust-Oleum paint also translates to better protection for your spray gun. The thinned paint won’t block the gun, which allows it to perform optimally for a long period.

The Benefits of Using a Spray Gun

A pneumatic spray gun or air spray is a device used to spray paint on surfaces. Using a spray gun will also make your paintwork look professional and smooth.

Spray guns can be:

  • Siphon-feed
  • Gravity feed
  • Pressure feed
  • General-purpose

The type of spray gun you choose will depend on the nature of the painting project, the paint viscosity, and the material to be sprayed on. Finishing costs may also affect the kind of spray gun you choose.

Here are the advantages of using a spray gun to paint your projects:

Application Is Fast

Spraying can be done on surfaces of different types and sizes faster as compared to using a rag or brush.

This is in part due to the atomization of the thinned paint, which makes it easily flow from the nozzle of the gun. Atomization makes drying of the paint faster, meaning you can add another coat or sand faster.

Leaves Smooth Finishes

A spray gives out finishes in thin layers. This means those nasty scratches and annoying blemishes won’t be obvious and can be tolerated.

The smooth finishes make it a lot easier to apply several layers depending on the project you’re working on.

Very Versatile

Most rag or brush finishes can be done with a spray gun.

However, the same cannot be said when using a brush. With a spray gun, you can use different painting styles such as toning and shading, which are otherwise difficult to do by hand. 

Greater Control

A spray gun will give you more control over the amount of thickness of coats compared to when using a rag or brush. You can adjust aspects such as the fan size, air pressure, fluid flow, ensuring you are spraying even and light coats on your surface.

With a spray gun, you can also access those hard-to-reach spaces like vents and corners easily.

Easy to Use

Using a spray gun may seem like a difficult task, especially if you’ve never used it before. However, it is a simple device to understand. Some people even claim that using a spray gun is a lot easier than painting surfaces using a brush.

Better Consistency and Quality

A spray gun will give you a high-quality finish in comparison to a paintbrush due to the high-quality finish. With a spray gun, you won’t get any of those roller or brush marks on your paintings.

Air bubbles, drips, runs, and sags are also highly minimal or non-existent when spraying.

However, you’ll need to properly set up, use, and maintain your spraying system for it to serve you well.

Investing in a spraying system is highly recommended if you plan on spraying for home projects or business purposes.

Wrapping Up

Thinning Rust-Oleum is necessary to reduce the paint’s viscosity and allow for smooth flow when being sprayed. A good Rust-Oleum thinning job will also prevent your spray gun from jamming due to clogs. 

To reach your preferred thinning level, you can add more paint or thinning liquid as you stir.

A viscometer can also help you determine whether the paint’s viscosity is within the desired range. 

Remember to be extra careful when adding thinning agents to avoid making Rust-Oleum excessively thin.

Here are all the steps to thinning Rust-Oleum for spray painting:

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Pour the paint into a container.
  3. Add the thinning solvent.
  4. Stir the mixture.
  5. Test the consistency.
  6. Load the sprayer and paint.

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