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Can rustoleum paint be mixed for color?

Rustoleum is a popular brand of paint known for its durability and use on metal surfaces. Many DIYers and crafters use Rustoleum for projects that require a customized color. The good news is that yes, you can mix Rustoleum paint colors to create unique shades. However, there are some important factors to keep in mind when mixing Rustoleum paints.

How To Mix Rustoleum Paint Colors

When mixing Rustoleum paint colors, follow these basic steps:

  1. Make sure the paints you want to mix are the same base and finish (e.g. alkyd enamel, acrylic latex, etc.). For best results, only mix the same types of Rustoleum paints.
  2. Choose paint colors that are close together on the color wheel. For example, mixing a red and yellow will create an orange. Colors directly across from each other will dull or muddy.
  3. Mix in a separate container – never directly in the can. Use a plastic cup or disposable bowl.
  4. Add a small amount of one color into the other and mix thoroughly with a stir stick.
  5. Add the second color gradually until you achieve the desired shade.
  6. Test the mixed color on a piece of cardboard or scrap wood.
  7. Apply thin coats of the blended paint to your surface, allowing drying time between coats.

Some quick tips when mixing Rustoleum paint:

  • Darker colors are more dominant – add lighter colors slowly
  • Mixing more than two colors can get muddy quickly
  • Add a few drops of white to lighten a color
  • Start with a ratio of 4:1 and adjust from there

Can You Mix All Rustoleum Products?

While you can mix most Rustoleum paints, some products are not compatible for mixing:

Compatible for Mixing Not Compatible for Mixing
  • Universal spray paint
  • Painter’s Touch acrylic latex
  • Stops Rust alkyd enamels
  • Chalked ultra matte paint
  • Textured spray paints
  • Specialty finishes like hammered or metallic
  • Primers, clears, or sealers
  • Automotive paints

Always check the label to ensure the Rustoleum products you want to mix are compatible. Mixing incompatible paints can lead to paint failure down the road.

Tinting Rustoleum With Colorants

Another option for customizing Rustoleum paint colors is to tint the paint with universal colorants.

Some Rustoleum paints are able to be tinted at home with universal tinting colors, such as those designed for latex paint. This allows you to turn a basic white or neutral Rustoleum into a wide range of colors.

To tint Rustoleum paint:

  • Choose a tintable paint like Rustoleum Universal or Painter’s Touch.
  • Select a universal liquid or powdered paint tint.
  • Add very small amounts of tint and mix thoroughly.
  • Test on cardboard until you reach the desired hue.

Tinting with colorants can provide an alternative to mixing Rustoleum paints directly. However, take care not to over-tint the paint, as adding too much tint can compromise the paint qualities or lead to early fading.

Tips for Mixing Rustoleum Paint

Follow these tips when blending Rustoleum paint colors:

  • Mix thoroughly – use a drill attachment or stir for several minutes to fully incorporate the colors.
  • Mix small batches – only mix what you need for the project to avoid waste.
  • Add slowly – gradually add the secondary color until you get the right hue.
  • Use a ratio – start with a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio when combining colors.
  • Record quantities – write down the mixing ratios to recreate the shade later.
  • Seal and store – seal mixed paint in an airtight container and store any leftover mixed paint.

Advantages of Mixing Rustoleum

Here are some of the benefits of mixing your own custom Rustoleum paint colors:

  • Cost savings – mixing two cans is cheaper than buying quarts of special colors.
  • Color matching – blend to match existing colors or fabrics.
  • uniqueness – create one-of-a-kind colors.
  • Small projects – mix only what you need instead of buying full cans.
  • Color variety – choose from an unlimited palette of shades.

Disadvantages of Mixing Paint

There are a few potential drawbacks to consider when mixing Rustoleum paint:

  • Results can be unpredictable
  • Too much variation in technique can alter the color
  • Metallic and specialty finishes don’t mix well
  • Requires testing and sampling to match existing colors
  • Need to mix correctly or risk paint failure
  • Muddy colors can result from bad mixing

While mixing paint does take some practice, once you understand the basics it can be a useful technique for Rustoleum projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Rustoleum Spray Paint Mix Well?

Rustoleum universal spray paints are designed to be mixed to create custom colors. The fast-drying spray paint mixes quickly and easily. Follow the recommended mixing techniques and test spray on cardboard.

Can I Mix Oil and Water-Based Rustoleum?

No, Rustoleum makes both oil-based alkyd enamels and water-based acrylic latex paints. But the two types should never be mixed together. Only mix the same solvent-based paints.

What Happens When You Mix Too Much Paint Color?

Adding too much of the secondary color can overpower the base color and result in dark or off-shade results. Start by adding very small amounts of the second color and increase gradually. Too much colorant can also compromise the paint’s integrity.

Should I Mix Paint In a Plastic or Metal Container?

Always mix Rustoleum paint colors in a disposable plastic or paper container like a cup or bowl. Metal containers can react with the paint. Glass is also okay for mixing. Discard containers after one use.

Can I Store Mixed Rustoleum Paint?

Yes, leftover mixed Rustoleum paint can be stored for future use. Transfer to an airtight plastic or glass container. Seal tightly and store in a cool, dry place. Be sure to label the container with the colors and mixing ratio for reference.


With some understanding of color theory and the right techniques, Rustoleum spray paints and brush-on formulations can be successfully blended to create custom colors. While all Rustoleum products are not compatible, their universal paint lines mix well. Mixing two colors is a budget-friendly way of achieving unique shades and color matches. Just be sure to mix thoroughly, add colors slowly, test your mixes, and properly store any leftover paint for future projects.