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How to Thicken Paint

Updated February 21, 2017

Easy to apply straight from the can, indoor and outdoor wall paint should be mixed to the correct consistency by the manufacturer. If you get an unusually runny batch of paint or want to cover a textured wall paint or wood surface, you might want to use a thicker paint. Available at most paint retailers, ready made paint thickener should provide some relief for drippy paints.

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  1. Pour the paint from the paint can into a larger paint bucket that is at least 25 per cent larger than the paint can.

  2. Pour a small amount of the paint thickener into the paint and stir with the paint stirring stick. The amount to use will vary by manufacturer so read the label on the paint thickener container.

  3. Paint a small amount of paint onto a surface such as a piece of cardboard to test the consistency for thickness. If the paint is still too thin, add more paint thickener and stir well.

  4. Do not add more than 25 per cent of cellosize hydroxyethyl cellulose than the paint. The amount of thickener should not be greater than three to one.

  5. Tip

    Although a bit tricky to master, paint can also be thickened a bit by leaving the lid off the can for about three hours, stirring every 15 minutes to keep a layer of scum from forming on the top.


    Although it may work to thicken paint, never apply flour to paint because it may become mouldy.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paint stirring stick
  • Cellosize hydroxyethyl cellulose (paint thickener)

About the Author

Donna Tinus

Donna Tinus has been a writer since 2005. She has a background in medical terminology and has written articles for various websites on topics such as family, finance, medicine, health, pets, gardening, beauty and relationships. Tinus holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Centenary College.

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