How to Thin Chalk Paint

Chalk paint has become the paint of choice for many DIY enthusiasts, including beginners, and experienced painters. 

Although it’s easy to use, it’s certainly thicker than regular latex paint. Many prefer to thin it out, and for good reason too. By thinning your paint out, you can avoid dragging paint to ensure even brush strokes, and also get more bang for your buck by spreading your paint out more. 

In this post, we’ll discuss how to thin chalk paint.


Chalk paint is thicker than most paints. If you find it difficult to apply it to furniture due to its thickness, you can thin it with water. Pour about a cup of your chalk paint into a pail, and mix in about a tablespoon of water. If the chalk paint is still too thick, add more. 

How to Thin Chalk Paint in Three Steps 

Thinning chalk paint doesn’t require too many tools or supplies. Since it’s water-based, you can easily thin it with water. How much water you thin it with will depend on your desired consistency.

Tools and Supplies

  • Chalk paint: Most brands that can be thinned
  • Water: You can use tap water, but if you plan to store the thinned paint, distilled water is a great choice
  • Paint stick or anything you can stir the paint with
  • Container for the thinned chalk paint (e.g empty can of paint, cup): The size will depend on the amount of chalk paint you’ll be using
  • (Optional) Measuring cup and measuring spoons: For precise measurements
  • (Optional) Tinfoil: To prevent the chalk paint from flowing over the rim of the can

Related: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer Too Thick? Do This…

Step 1. Prepare your workspace

While this step isn’t strictly necessary, it’s recommended that you do so. Working with paint can get messy pretty quickly. Cover your work surface with a drop cloth, plastic sheet, or old newspapers. This will protect it from spills and drops and will help with the cleanup later on.

Step 2. Pour chalk paint into a separate container

Find a small container that’s large enough for a few cups of chalk paint. A pale or even a Tupperware container is perfect. Make sure that the container is clean.

Wrap tinfoil around the rim of the can of your chalk paint. Doing so will prevent the paint from flowing over the rim and dripping down the side of the can. 

Pour chalk paint into the container. Start by adding about a cup. You can always add more to your container as needed while you chalk-paint your furniture

Step 3. Add water to the chalk paint and stir it

Pour a small amount of water into the container with the chalk paint. About 1 tablespoon of water per cup of chalk paint is a good start. Use a measuring spoon if you want precise measurements.

Using a paint stick, stir the paint thoroughly until the water has fully combined with the paint. 

There may be thinning instructions printed on the label of the can, but how much you thin your paint really depends on your desired consistency.

Step 4. Test your paint

Dip your paintbrush into your thinned chalk paint. Test it on a sample surface and gauge whether you’ve thinned it enough. If not, repeat steps 2-4 as much as needed until you achieve your desired consistency.

If the chalk paint has become too thin, you can thicken it again by adding more chalk paint. Remember to mix thoroughly whenever you add water or paint. You want your thinned chalk paint to be smooth and consistent.

How To Thin Chalk Paint For Sprayer

Paint spraying is a chalk painting technique practiced by many.

Since chalk paint is so thick, your paint sprayer likely won’t be able to process the paint without thinning it first. Thinning your chalk paint for a paint sprayer follows a similar process but with a few added steps. 

Pour chalk paint into a separate container. Add as much as you are willing to spray at a time. If you’re unsure, start with a small amount, then add more later on.

In the same container, pour a bit of water. The recommended amount is 12-13 ounces of water for every gallon of chalk paint or about 10% of the volume of chalk paint. Stir the paint thoroughly with a paint stick until the water has fully combined with the paint.

Check the consistency of the paint by running it through a straining funnel. If the thinned chalk paint flows freely through the funnel, then you have achieved the right consistency.

If not, then you will have to add more water to thin your chalk paint some more. Add about 10% of the volume of the chalk paint at a time, and mix thoroughly each time you add water. Do this as many times as you need until the thinned chalk paint is able to flow freely through the funnel.

Once you’ve achieved the right consistency, it’s time to load it into the sprayer. Test spray it onto a sample surface and then get started on your project. 

How To Fix Lumpy Chalk Paint

Chalk paint can become lumpy for several reasons:

  • It could be that the chalk paint is really old. Chalk paint can dry out as it ages, and it can happen faster if the container is not properly sealed.
  • The chalk paint was exposed to air for a long time. This may cause the solvents in the paint to evaporate, causing the paint to thicken and form lumps.
  • There’s also the possibility that dust or dried paint bits found their way into the paint can. When they mix with the chalk paint, lumps form.

If lumps have already formed, you can do several things to fix the issue. First, try mixing the paint using a paint stick and see if that fixes the problem. If not, you may be able to fix it by straining it.

Prepare a separate container, and cover the top with a paint strainer or fine mesh strainer. Pour the lumpy chalk paint into the container, making sure that it goes through the paint strainer. 

If none of the fixes above work, you have one last option and that is to use an electric hand mixer. Set the speed to low, and blend your lumpy chalk paint. After a while of doing so, the lumps should disappear.

If the last option doesn’t work, then you will have to replace your chalk paint.



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