Cleaners and Thinners

House Painting Sydney

Most modern house-paints are water-based. Being water-based gives a few advantages, the most important being the ability to clean brushes and rollers with plain water. But these water-based paints also tend to be low odour, have low toxicity, and can by thinned out (if necessary) with plain water.

There are no real disadvantages with water based paints, other that the fact that a few specialist paint finishes are only achievable with oils. Water based paints cover all most all home painting situations.

Occasionally we use oil paints, perhaps to get deep glossy finish, or because we are using a metallic paint. These oil based paints require strong solvents for cleanup, and for thinning.

Until recently there have been only two main solvents used for cleaning oil based paint. One we turpentine (turps), the other was mineral spirits. Acetone was a third, less common, option.

Turpentine is derived from pine tree resin. It has a strong odour and should only be used in a ventilated area. It will harm eyes and skin. It is fine for cleaning brushes.
Good quality turps can be used to thin oil based paints. Cheaper quality turps will cause yellowing of paint. Check the label to see if the turps is suitable for thinning.

White spirits, sometimes just called paint thinner, is a petroleum product. Like most strong solvents it is quite toxic to skin and eyes, and should only be used outdoors or in a well ventilated area. It is fine for cleaning brushes.
Good quality white spirits (often labelled artist’s white spirit) can be used for thinning paint. Other white spirit may contain impurities that will discolour some paints.

Water based turps is a new product. It is very useful for cleaning brushes and rollers, and actually leaves the brush bristles softer than other solvents. It is also low odour. But it cannot be used to thin paint. Use it for cleanup only.


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