thinnerThinners (in the wood coatings industry) can generally be defined as a blend of solvents designed to be added to coatings before (and sometimes during) application to achieve the desired consistency as well as adapting the coating to changing environmental conditions.

Solvents are also used in the manufacturer of such coatings to achieve the consistency, ease of application and wetting properties of the specific product and to some extent the film drying time. This specific mixture of solvent is formulated to optimize the properties of the coating.

Before application, you are generally required to add some ‘thinner’ to your coating. Of course your paint supplier should guide you in this process of what thinner to use, but you also have control over the amount of thinner added before and during application which can be adjusted to enhance the end result, e.g. improve flow, adhesion and rate of evaporation, eliminate blistering etc.


  • Some thinners are primarily designed for cleaning and can contain very aggressive solvents which may not be suitable for coatings and significantly affect its performance.
  • Many cleaning/general purpose type thinners that are usually ‘cheap’ to buy will be made of contaminated recycled solvents which can compromise the performance of the coating.
  • Other supplier branded thinners may be incompatible with Sherwin-Williams products and could compromise not only the application properties but the end result finish as well.
  • Always refer to the Technical Data Sheet (TDS) of the product you are using to determine the recommended Sherwin-Williams thinner. Alternatively please contact your local technical representative or call/email one of our offices.
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