How to Make Transparent Paint

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Any color and virtually any type of paint can be made transparent and used for a variety of decorative and faux effects. Many decorative painting techniques call for thinned-down paint. Merely thinning paint with water results in a runny, uneven finish. Mixing paint with faux glazing medium or paint additives allows you to use the paint to give it a translucent, transparent look that doesn't drip or run. Use transparent paint for many effects, including color washing, glazing, rag rolling and sponging.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Glaze or additive
  • Clean bucket
  • Paintbrush
  • Choose a glaze or additive. Faux glaze is basically interior paint without colorant and can be mixed with interior paint in any ratio depending on how transparent you want it to be. Add a product such as Floetrol paint additive for less-translucent paint for either interior or exterior use.

  • Mix the paint and the glaze or additive together in a large, clean bucket. Use eggshell, satin or semi-gloss paint to mix with your glaze or additive. Experiment with the ratios and check the instructions on the label because not all paint-thinning mediums are alike. Mix enough to do the whole job, with a little left over for touch-ups.

  • Test your transparent paint mix on a painted card or an unobtrusive part of the wall. Let it dry before deciding whether you've mixed it the way you want it or if it needs adjusting. The mix will darken as it dries.

  • Pour what you need into your paint bucket or tray as you work. Keep the transparent paint mixture covered so it doesn’t dry out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some paint stores will mix a glaze to your specifications.
  • Plan on getting between 300 to 400 square feet of coverage per gallon, depending on the porosity and texture of the surface.
  • Store a sealed container of the mixture in a cool, dry place for touch-ups.

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