How to Thicken Oil Paint: 9 Tested Ways

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Have you thinned out your oil paint too much, or was it too thin to begin with? Just because your oil paint is too thin, it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and spend a lot of money on a new set of paints.

There are a few different ways that you can thicken oil paint yourself, so you don’t have to buy new paints. You will likely need to buy a couple of things to thicken the paint, but it will cost you a lot less than buying new paints in the long run.

Some of the methods I am going to talk about today include thickening oil paint with linseed oil and other mediums. You will learn what mediums to use, as well as how to use them to give your paints a thicker consistency.

If you wish to know how to thicken oil paints, keep reading to learn more about some of the methods many artists use.

Use Thickening Agents to Make Oil Paint Thicker

As I mentioned in the introduction, there are a few different ways that you can thicken oil paints to get them to the ideal consistency. First, we will take a look at the thickening agents you can add to your oil paints.

#1. Impasto Medium

This is a gel-like medium that can be added to oil paint. It will increase the density of the paint, giving it impasto qualities. This medium can also be used to improve the color of the paint.

You can use an impasto medium right out of the jar, or it can be mixed with oil paint to thicken it. If you are going to use this oil paint thickener, make sure it is thoroughly mixed with the paint and that you don’t end up over-mixing, which can also lead to problems, such as cracking.

#2. Painting Butter

Another option is to use painting butter. This is a thick substance with the consistency of butter. You will need to prepare painting butter with damar resin, resid oil, and beeswax.

Painting butter can also be mixed with oil paint to create textured brushstrokes. There are a couple of drawbacks to using painting butter. It can be difficult to mix with certain colors, and it can compromise the drying time of your paint.

#3. Cold Wax Medium

This is a mixture of solvent and beeswax that can be added to oil paint to thicken it. You will end up with a matte finish, which will give your painting more density.

The cold wax medium can be applied right out of the jar. As with painting butter, the cold wax medium can compromise drying time.

#4. Linseed Oil

Many artists prefer to use linseed oil to change the density of their paints. If you only use small amounts it will work well to create transparency and improve the flow of many different types of paint and painting products.

There is a problem with linseed oil though. It can turn yellow over time, which will cause your paintings to take on a yellowish hue.

#5. Beeswax Medium

This is another substance that has the texture of butter. It is made with a mixture of damar resin, linseed oil, and beeswax.

When you mix beeswax medium with oil paint, it is going to greatly improve the density of the paint. This in turn will allow you to be able to create textured brushstrokes.

Like some of the other mediums I have mentioned, beeswax medium can be difficult to mix with some colors. Also, it can compromise paint drying time. You must be careful when using beeswax medium to thicken oil paint to get optimal results.

#6. Oil Painting Ground

This can be used to produce texture in your oil paintings and thicken oil based paint. But, it doesn’t seem to work as well as other thickening agents. This is because when mixed with paint you could end up with a texture that is a bit on the gritty side.

It also won’t increase the thickness of your paint as much as some of the other agents I have mentioned. This means that you need to be very careful when using it, use it in moderation, and make sure it is compatible with your paints.

Use Additives to Thicken Oil Paint

In addition to using thickening agents, you may also want to consider using one of the following additives.

#1. Drying Oil 

There are several different drying oils you can use to thicken oil paint. These include stand oil and fast-drying linseed oil.

Not only do these oils help to improve the density and transparency of oil paint, but they are also great for giving the paint more depth and glossiness.

You will need to be careful when using drying oil because it will make the drying time of your paint faster, which means you will need to paint more quickly.

#2. Resins

You can also use lime matic or damar resin to thicken your oil paint. These resins will not only make the paint thicker but also give it added gloss.

Resins are great for improving the longevity of oil paints. It will also make your paintings resistant to many problems, including yellowing.

#3. Powdered Marble or Fine Sand

Fine sand and powdered marble dust are great tools for thickening oil paints. Marble dust is made with calcium carbonate, and it has a very fine texture. It is very dense, which is why it is popular as a thickening agent.

When you mix powdered marble with oil paint it will improve both the texture and the density of the paint. Marble dust is white, so it won’t affect the colors of your paints. Just make sure that you mix it well to get the best results.

Alternatively, you can use fine sand. I don’t advise going to your local beach to get sand. Many art supply stores sell very fine sand that you can use to thicken your paint.


As you can see, there are several ways that you can achieve thick oil paints. It only takes a few minutes to mix any of the above-mentioned products with your paint, and then you can get to the fun part, which is working on your painting.

If you find that your oil paints are too thick, you can try any of these methods. Chances are you already have some linseed oil, so I suggest starting with that. If it works for you, then you won’t have to spend money on other products.

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