How to Thin Rustoleum Paint for Spray Gun?

thinning rustoleum paint for spray gun

Rustoleum is a popular paint brand that is nearly a century old. It has become quite popular over time for its rust-proofing capabilities.

Today, many metal surfaces ranging from ships to roofs to equipment to vehicles, and more are covered in Rustoleum paint.

While there are spray cans available, for painting larger surfaces you will need to buy the paint in quantity and mix it properly for spraying.

Below we will look at what to use for diluting the Rustoleum paint and how to do so correctly for achieving the desired results that last. Let’s start by knowing some basics…

What is Rustoleum Paint?

Rust-Oleum paint is a product that was invented by Robert Fergusson in 1921.

A sea captain by trade, he noticed that when fish oil was spilled on the rusted metal deck of his boat, the rust did not spread.

At first, he mixed whale oil with paint to achieve the desired results, but over time the formula changed considerably.

Instead of whale oil, Rustoleum now contains polyurethanes, latex, epoxies, and Alkyds to name just a few ingredients.

What Type of Paint is Rustoleum?

Today, Rustoleum is the most popular rust-preventative paint brand in the US and Canada.

It is also number one in terms of the professional, specialty, and decorative segments of the paint industry.

The overall popularity of Rustoleum is considerable and it has held its prominent place in the spotlight for a long time.

Until 1994 Rustoleum was a family-owned company, but now it is part of RPM International Inc.

Although nearly 100 years old, Rustoleum is still quite popular and the company itself has reached over a billion dollars in sales.

The success of the company starts with its remarkable product, but it also continues with the different ways the product is packaged.

So popular is Rustoleum that people use the paint for larger projects that use a spray gun like Wagner.

painter thinning rustoleum for spraying

Steps for Thinning Rustoleum Paint for Spraying

Rust-Oleum comes in spray cans, which are fine for small to medium-size surfaces.

However, if you want to paint something large such as a vehicle, tractor, or other equipment, you are better off purchasing Rustoleum in a paint can and thinning it with mineral spirits before using your own spray gun.

You can always use a paintbrush if you do not want to thin it but putting in a spray gun will make the job go faster.

For thinning it, you will need to get some acetone which will thin the paint properly.

Based on the manufacturer’s recommendations it’s good to avoid products such as lacquer thinner or mineral spirits for thinning Rust-Oleum oil-based paint – although you can use them for quick clean-up.  

You will also need a few buckets large enough to hold the paint that you want to thin and a wooden stirring stick.

Once you are ready, all you need to follow the 3 easy steps;

Step 1- Pour and Stir

Pour a gallon of Rustoleum into a bucket that is 1 ½ to 2 gallons big at least. This is because you’ll need to stir the paint.

Next, pour about 6 ½ ounces of acetone into the bucket and start mixing with a wooden stick.

Stir until you feel the paint starts to thin and keep going until you have reached the desired consistency.

Step 2- Test the Paint

Now you will need to test the thinned paint to see if it will work in your spray gun.

You can use a viscometer which will measure the viscosity of the paint.

Or, you can simply add a small amount of paint to the spray gun and test it on an unwanted surface, such as scrap metal.

You can then judge the results and color with the help of a paint mixing chart.

If required, add more acetone or more paint depending on if you need it thinner or thicker and to get the right color (lighter or darker).

Step 3- Load The Sprayer

Once you have reached the desired viscosity, you can now fully load the airless sprayer and start applying the paint.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the spray gun, wear the appropriate protection, and hold the gun at enough distance to cover a decent-size area while still being close enough to add a good layer of paint.

If you use the viscosimeter, you can then record the results and rely on that again if you decide at another time to thin some more Rustoleum.

The bottom line

Thinning Rust-Oleum paints like Tremclad is no rocket science if you know the right process and the right kind of products to use.

The best way to thin Rustoleum oil-based paint for spraying is to mix 6.5 ounces of acetone for every gallon of paint.

Alternatively, you can mix it with mineral spirits or xylene in the ratio of 6 to 6.5 grams of thinner for every gallon of the paint.

No matter you are mixing Rustoleum paint colors or using a single one, just follow the above guidelines.

Hopefully, these will help complete your task very easily without wasting your paint, thinning agents, and energy.

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