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Rules for Blending Paints

There are many reasons why you might want to blend paints as you work to reinvent your bedroom, kitchen, or any part of the house. However, there are also many reasons why you shouldn’t head out into the garage and start mixing whatever old cans of paint may be laying around. Indeed, there are rules to be followed.

The Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb for blending paints is to ONLY mix like coatings together.


  • Do mix different finishes together if it suits your needs. For instance, mixing a flat with a semi-gloss finish will dull the gloss finish, resulting in a milder, more relaxing finish, perhaps for a bedroom. Or, if you’ve got some flat and high-gloss paints lying around and you want a more semi-gloss finish, mix the two until the desired semi-gloss is achieved.
  • Do mix different colors together as long as they are of the same base. Just remember that the more colors mixed together, the more likely a bland, grayish color will be the finished product. There are some important rules for blending colors as well. Your local paint store will have colorants available so that you can create your own colors.


  • Don’t mix alkyd with latex paints. Alkyds are similar to oil-based paints, which do not mix well with water-based products.
  • Don’t mix shellac-based products, such as clear wood stains, with latex, alkyd, or oil-based paints. What you get is a cottage-cheese-style result that will be less than appetizing.
  • Don’t mix paints haphazardly, even if you are mixing like coatings. Get a paint card from the local paint store and choose your blend carefully. There is no reason why you can’t be a DIY paint mixer, especially considering how expensive professionally blended paints can be. Just make sure to make some test runs on a makeshift palette or the like. The last thing you want is a ruined can of paint or dissatisfaction with your new walls.

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