Can I Mix Water with Wall Paint? And How to Do It Correctly?

Painting the walls in your home or any space is an excellent way to freshen up its look. Most people who want to paint their area apply ready-to-use paint. Yet, there are sometimes reasons to mix paint with something else instead. In this article, we want to discuss mixing wall paint with water.

We want to know if we can mix paint with water and why? Also, how can we integrate wall paint with water? Besides answering those questions, we will consider some reasons for mixing wall paint with water. Also, we offer tips for applying water-mixed wall paint.

Can I Mix Wall Paint with Water?

Yes and no. Technically, you can mix paint with water if you want to. It’s not a crime, after all. But the more crucial question is, should you?

Mixing wall paint with water depends on the paint you intend to mix. Two types of paint stand out when selecting wall paint: oil and water-based or emulsion.

Oil paint has many advantages, including its rich colors, high gloss finish, broad coverage, and flexibility. One disadvantage is that oil paint has a strong smell. On the other hand, water-based paints like acrylic and latex paint do not have a strong odor. Also, they are easy to apply and are unlikely to fade due to ultraviolet exposure. Water-based wall paints have become more prevalent in recent years than oil-based paints.

If you use oil-based paint, you should know that oil does not mix with water. Because oils do not contain polar parts, they cannot dissolve in water. When oil and water are put together, there is a visible separation between them. Hence mixing water with oil paint will not produce effective results. You should avoid mixing regular oil paint with water.

If you want to mix water with paint, it is best to use water-based wall paint because it is water-soluble. Water-based paint only becomes insoluble when dry.

To summarize this section, you should not mix oil-based paint with water. It would be best if you only mixed water-based paint with water.

Reasons For Mixing Wall Paint with Water

While using paint as instructed by the manufacturer is fine, there are some benefits to mixing it with water. They include:

1) Color Control

You can control the wall paint color intensity by mixing it with water. Suppose you want a lighter hue of a particular color. You can achieve this effect by mixing paint with water.

2) Easy To Spread

Mixing paint with water can make it lighter or thinner and easier to spread as you paint. Adding water also slows down the speed with which the paint dries and increases its workability.

3) Cost Effectiveness

Painting large spaces can increase the paint you need, driving up your bill. Mixing paint with water can reduce the amount of paint you need.

4) Suitable For Newly Plastered Walls

When painting freshly plastered walls, it is advisable to paint the first coat with water-mixed paint, also known as mist coat. Water-mixed paint will soak into the plaster better and prevent peeling or cracking.

How Much Water Should I Mix with Wall Paint?

You can use different water-to-paint ratios depending on the outcome you want. Some recommend mixing a gallon of water with 5 gallons of paint. In some use cases, especially when thinning out paint, painters combine every gallon of paint with half a gallon of water. Some paints have instructions for mixing them. You can follow those instructions as well.

However, the general rule and our recommendation for adding water to paint are that the water should be no more than 10% of the paint you intend to use. For example, mix half a gallon of water with 5 gallons of paint.

How To Mix Paint with Water

You will need some materials to mix the paint, including:

  • Wall paint
  • Water (Distilled or demineralized water is preferred)
  • Stirring stick or mixing paddle attached to a cordless drill
  • Container
  • Measuring cup

Steps For Mixing Wall Paint with Water

  • Pour the water into the wall paint container in a gentle manner
  • Measure the amount of water needed. Please do not add water greater than 10% of the amount of paint you have.
  • Gently pour the water into the wall paint container.
  • Mix the paint and water thoroughly with a stirring stick. The job will be easier if you use a mixing paddle attached to a drill. If you have a paddle, put it into the mix and turn on the drill at its slowest speed.
  • Check the paint consistency by dipping the stick into the mix. If the mixture is too thick, add more water. Otherwise, if it is too light, add more paint.
  • Keep mixing the paint until you get the desired consistency.

Tips For Mixing Wall Paint with Water

When mixing water and paint, do not include too much water. We recommend adding only some water at a time. Once you have measured the water needed, pour small amounts for every gallon of paint added into the container. Stir before adding more paint and water. For example, mix a cup of water with every gallon of paint. This will ease stirring and improve mix consistency.

Mix the paint and water through and through to avoid patchy finishes. You can make the stirring process smoother by attaching a mixing paddle to a cordless drill.

Test the color on a small area before painting the entire wall to ensure you get the desired color and consistency. Apply the paint to a drywall or wooden panel and let it completely dry. Then, add the second coat, let it dry, and observe how the paint looks. The aim is to have dry paint with a smooth texture on the tested surface.

Seal the paint mix tightly if you are not applying it immediately because water-based paint dries fast when exposed.

If you intend to apply the paint with a sprayer, you should conduct a funnel test to check the paint’s viscosity or thickness. Run some paint through a funnel held over the bucket. The goal is for the paint to flow through the funnel without clogging. Suppose the funnel becomes clogged; do not apply the paint. Instead, thin it out with more water. Add small amounts of water to the paint and mix until it passes the funnel test.

Tips For Applying Wall Paint Mixed with Water

The surface to which you want to apply paint must be clean, dry, and free of dust or debris. Also, sand the wall using sandpaper if it is glossy. Suppose the paint water mix has been in storage for a while after the initial mix. In that case, stir it to remove clumps before applying it to the wall.

Use a brush to paint the seams of the wall before painting the larger surface with a roller. Cut in on the edges and seams around the floor, corners, ceilings, electrical outlets, doors, and window frames.

Use a roller appropriate for the wall surface texture for painting large areas. Using a roller to paint all places you can reach with it would be best. Rollers make painting easy and ensure paint consistency.

Apply multiple coats of paint to achieve a consistent and smooth finish. It would help if you first painted a base coat, as this will overwhelm gloss or current colors on the wall. After the base coat dries, apply an overcoat.

Immediately clean any spills on the floor or surfaces you do not wish to paint. If the paint spill dries on the surface, cleaning will become more challenging. If the paint has dried, you might need a paint thinner to clean the area successfully.

You should note that water-mixed wall paint may only be ideal for some surfaces. Water-mixed paint is suitable for most surfaces, including drywall and plaster. However, water-mixed paint is less than ideal for areas with high moisture, like bathrooms and kitchens. It is advisable to use specialized paint that withstands moisture in such areas.


So far, we have answered whether you can mix water with wall paint, and the answer is yes. Mixing water with paint is doable, but it is only advisable to do so with water-based paints, as oil paints do not mix well with water. We also identified reasons for mixing wall paint with water. Better color coverage, easier spread, cost control, and newly plastered walls are reasons for mixing wall paint with water.

In mixing paint with water, we recommend that the water in the mixture not exceed 10% of the paint amount. We also recommend thoroughly stirring the water and paint mixture for consistent texture. Also, test the color and consistency of the paint in a small area to see if it is appropriate. Be careful not to spill paint on surfaces you are not working on, and if you do, clean it up before it dries up as soon as possible.