How to Dilute Water-Based Paint

Diluting paint can improve paint flow but should be done sparingly. Over-diluting water-based paint reduces its ability to cover flaws and adhere to a surface. Water dries at a slower rate than paint and can alter the drying time specified on the product label. The water-to-paint ratio can vary from one product to the next, so finding the dilution or thinning recommendations on the product label is recommended. One-quarter cup of water per gallon of water-based paint is a doable ratio because it is minimal. If more than a 1/4 cup is added, then you may need to apply several coats of paint.

Diluting paint can improve the flow but may decrease the quality of the finished job.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • 1/4 measuring cup

  • Water

  • Stir stick

Step 1

Pour 1/4 cup water into a 5-gallon bucket.

Step 2

Pour 1 gallon of water-based paint into the bucket.

Step 3

Mix the paint with the water for several minutes until they are thoroughly mixed, using a stir stick.


Follow the diluting or thinning directions on the label of the paint product for appropriate water-to-paint ratios.