Paint Thinner vs Mineral Spirits (Which One is Better?)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

In the painting world, there are hardly any other products as similar as mineral spirits and paint thinner. Both solvents are used to thin paints, clean stains, and wipe painting equipment. But, what’s the difference between them?

Mineral spirit is a type of thinner gotten from 100 % petroleum distillation. That gives the solvent some features that are different from regular thinners.  

Paint thinner refers to a broad range of solvents that are used to thin paints. The term “paint thinner” refers to the function of the solvent and not its content. They often include additives in the formula and can even be made from two or more solvents.

Popular thinners include acetone, turpentine, rubbing alcohol, and even mineral spirits.

Mineral Spirits

What Is Mineral Spirit?

Mineral spirit is a petroleum-distilled solvent. This means the solvent is gotten from a process of distilling crude oil through heat. It has no additives or extra solvents in its formula. The solvent is 100% gotten from petroleum distillation.

It is used for thinning oil-based paints and cleaning paint off painting equipment. After painting, you can soak the roller, brush, or even spray gun in a bucket of mineral spirits to dissolve and remove paint.

However, you can’t use mineral spirits to thin water-based paint given the high deposits of oils in it.

Paint Thinner

What Is Paint Thinner?

Paint thinner is more of a term than a product. It refers to any liquid or solvent that can be used to make paint lighter or thinner. Even water is considered as thinner since it’s used to thin water-based paints.

But paint thinner often refers to oil and solvent-based liquids that can be used to lighten the flow of oil-based coatings. They often have complex chemical makeup. Asides from the main ingredient which could be any solvent or natural matter, it also includes additives in its formula.

For instance, turpentine is gotten from the distillation of pine tree resins but it also includes additives like benzene. 

Related Read: Different Types of Paint Thinners?

Paint Thinner vs Mineral Spirits

The differences between paint thinner and mineral spirits are listed below.


Mineral spirits is more expensive than paint thinner.

Paint Thinning

Mineral spirits is used to thin oil-based paints (or sealers) only, while different paint thinner types are used to thin water-based and oil-based paints (or sealers).

Both thinners can be used to dissolve and remove paint finishes from the surface.

The Effectiveness

Mineral spirits is better at thinning oil-based paints than paint thinners.

User Difficulty

Mineral spirits is easier to work with than paint thinners.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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