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How to Thicken Latex Paint Using Simple Methods at Home

How to Thicken Latex Paint Using Simple Methods at Home

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Working with different types of paint will cause you to need to do different things to get the desired results. Latex paint is one of the most common types of paint out there.

This is because it’s a very versatile type of paint that can be used in many places. You can easily use this paint to handle interior paint jobs, but it can also be used for exterior painting.

You might find that the latex paint that you bought seems a bit thin. Depending on what you’re trying to do, you might want to thicken the paint up a little bit.

Is there a reliable way to thicken latex paint? Keep reading to learn how you can thicken latex paint reliably.

You’ll also get information about how to thicken other types of paint just in case you need to use them. It’ll help you to feel much more confident that you can get your painting project done while getting good results.


Evaporation is one of the simplest ways to get latex paint to thicken up. By simply exposing the latex paint to the air, it’s going to cause the water to evaporate.

This naturally makes the paint become thicker since there will be less water present. You won’t need to do much else to thicken latex paint in most situations.

Simply find an area that has good ventilation and open your can of paint. Stir it thoroughly and then just let it sit for a while.

Come back and check on the paint after an hour has passed. Stir the paint again and see if it has reached the desired consistency.

It might take several hours for the paint to thicken up as much as you want it to. That means that this process can be a bit tedious.

Regardless, it’s nice to know that you can thicken up the paint without having to possess some type of esoteric knowledge. You should be able to get the paint thick enough with just a bit of patience.

Remember to stir the paint every hour to check on how it’s doing. Eventually, it’ll be just right, and you’ll be able to get started with your painting project.

Since this option can take time, it’s recommended to let the latex paint evaporate for a while before you’re supposed to start painting. It’ll keep you from feeling like you’re wasting your time.

Consider Using HEC

Some people say that using hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC) is the right way to go when trying to thicken latex paint. This is a common thickening agent that can be used on both interior and exterior latex paints.

It’s pretty simple to use this to thicken paint so long as you have the HEC that you need. You need to create a slurry using HEC and water to get the right results.

The best thing to do is to use six parts water and one part HEC. It’ll need to sit for about 30 minutes to thicken up properly before you can use it.

Once the slurry has been mixed up properly, you’re going to slowly pour it into the latex paint. Stir the paint thoroughly so that it will mix with the slurry properly.

This is a lot faster than waiting for the latex paint to evaporate. If you’re on a strict schedule, then it might be handy to have HEC that you can use.

You’ll sometimes find this at the store being marketed as a latex paint additive. The package won’t necessarily say “HEC,” but you’ll be able to tell that you’re getting the right thing by reading the package to get more information.

Use Drywall Joint Compound

This next idea might seem strange at first, but it works very well overall. You can thicken up latex paint by adding drywall joint compound to the mix.

Some people do this for reasons other than thickening the paint up, too. It’s well-known that drywall joint compound can help latex paint to have a more textured consistency.

Certain painting projects might benefit from this texture change. Luckily, it’s just as easy to add drywall joint compound to latex paint as it is HEC.

Simply take a little bit of the compound and add it to the paint can. Stir things up as thoroughly as you can to ensure that it combines properly.

You want to add just a bit of the compound at a time so that you don’t go too far. Keep stirring as you add bits of the compound until you reach the desired level of thickness.

If you have drywall joint compound at home, then this could be a very simple solution. It will thicken up the latex paint quite fast, and it doesn’t take an expert touch to mix it with the paint.

So long as you remember to stir things thoroughly, you’re going to get good results when using this method. The only reason to avoid using drywall joint compound would be if you don’t like the textured consistency that this brings to the table.

Household Thickening Options

You might have some items sitting around at home that you can use to thicken latex paint as well. People have used things such as cornstarch and sugar to thicken latex paint in the past.

It’s more common for people to use household items like this when thickening tempera paints. You can still get pretty decent results when using them in latex paint, though.

Do you have sawdust from a recent renovation project? You could stir this into the paint to try to thicken it up.

Another option is to try using sand from your yard. If you have a lot of sand on your property, then this might be a very easy way to thicken paint up fast without having to spend any money.

Even salt could potentially be used as a thickening agent. It’s just up to you whether you’re comfortable using some of these more strange ideas for thickening latex paint.

It might be easier and more predictable to use HEC or drywall joint compound. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get decent results using household thickening agents, but it’s just up to you to experiment and see how things go.

Thickening Watercolor Paints

Thickening watercolor paints is incredibly simple. Essentially, you just need to use less water if you want the paint to be thicker than normal.

Using too much water is what will make the paint thinner. Some people like to use thick paint when they’re creating art, but others will like using thin paint.

One of the advantages of using thicker paint is that the colors will likely be more vibrant. Try not to use more water than you need to if you wish for the paint to remain thick.

Thickening Tempera Paints

Thickening tempera paints is going to involve using household thickeners, in most situations. As mentioned earlier, things such as salt, sugar, and cornstarch can be utilized to thicken up paint.

These paints are normally mixed with water, and they work like watercolor paints in many ways. Sometimes all you’ll need to do to make the paint thicker is add more pigment to the mix.

You can use the household thickeners if you want to make the paint even thicker than normal. Things such as sawdust and sand should work just fine to make the paint as thick as possible.

If you use cornstarch, then the paint will have a smoother texture. Using a coarser option such as sand will give the paint a coarser texture.

Many famous artists of the past have used household items to thicken paints. Flour is another good option, and you’re almost surely going to have some all-purpose flour in your pantry.

Thickening Oil Paints

Thickening oil paints is as easy as using less paint thinner and more paint. You usually have to use thinners such as turpentine when using oil paints.

One good option is to use stand oil in lieu of turpentine. It’ll help to make the paint thicker.

This option even makes the paint dry slower than usual. You should have a glossy finish if you choose to use stand oil with your oil-based paint.

Thickening Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints work a lot like watercolor paints in many ways. You add water to them and then apply the pigment to the canvas.

Thickening things up is simple because you can just use more color while using less water than you typically would. Some people also choose to add acrylic mediums to the paint to make things even thicker.

Sometimes using acrylic mediums will make things more textured, too. Modeling paste can also make the paint incredibly thick, but it might make the paint a bit too thick, in some cases.

Final Thoughts

You’ve learned a lot about making different types of paint thick. Specifically, you’ve learned how to make latex paint as thick as you need it to be.

There are plenty of options for you to consider. You could just allow the water to evaporate in the paint, but it might be faster to add something such as drywall joint compound or HEC.

Use this advice to get the best results no matter what type of painting you’re trying to do. Hopefully, this will help you to have a good time when painting your home or creating a work of art.

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