Faux Finish Blog

How Long Does Left Over Paint Last?

Do you have a garage full of old paint and you’re not sure if it’s still good?  At what point should you toss them?

Important information you may want to know before you use leftover paint.

Old paint cans in garage

How long does paint last

It depends on what kind of paint it is and if the container has been opened. Oil paint can remain useable up to 15 years if it was never opened and if it was stored in a cool dry place. Acrylic paint (Water based) is good for up to 10 years if never opened and stored in a cool dry place. If it has been opened it should last about 2 years if it was closed tightly and stored properly.

How do I know if the paint is bad

Paint normally separates when stored for a length of time. If you can stir the paint back into a liquid you can probably use it. If the paint has hardened on the bottom it’s time to toss it. If the paint smells bad or has mold on it , it’s time to get rid of it.

Bad Paint

Saving Left over paint

If you have left over paint you may want to save it for touch ups, transfer the left over paint into smaller containers and label them. Make sure you put the name of the paint where it was bought and the number associated with the color and what room you used it in on the can. If you have gallons of paint leftover and you don’t plan on painting any other room, you may want to donate it or offer it to a friend. Habitat For Humanity collects donations for painting project in most cities.

Paint Can with label

Paint Disposal

PLEASE DO NOT throw paint in the trash. If you can’t use old paint, solidify latex paint with cat litter before you throw it away. Mix one part paint to two part clay-based kitty litter, mix it up and let it dry out before disposing it. It should solidify within an hour. If you have oil based paint it’s best to open the can and let it dry out or call your local environmental protection officials or Solid Waste Authority for locations to drop it off.

Kitty litter


Where To Store Paint

  • The key to successful paint storage is to keep it in a cool dry place.
  • For example, a nice dry basement. If you don’t have a basement? Find a spot in a closet inside your house. The 2 most important factors when you’re choosing a place to store leftover paint are: low-moisture and temperature-controlled.
  • When leftover paint is stored in a place that gets very hot or very cold, the paint will change in consistency, making it unusable.
  • Eventually, the paint will turn into hazardous waste and it must be disposed of in safe manner rather than throwing it out with your regular trash.


How To Store Paint

  • Take the time to clean paint off the lids and rim to obtain a tight seal. (Don’t wipe your paint brush on the lip/rim of the can while painting — because paint will get in the grove making it difficult to seal the lid properly.)
  • Us a layer of plastic wrap as a gasket between the can and lid.
  • , Store paint cans upside down so the paint itself creates an airtight seal against the lid.
  • Do not use a hammer to you close the can. It will deform the sealing rim and allow air to come in. Instead, use a rubber mallet.

How To Use Leftover Paint

  • When it comes time to use your leftover paint, do not grab the can and start shaking it to mix the paint!
  • First, open the can and assess the condition of the paint that’s inside. Even paint that is still usable is likely to have a thick skin formed on top of the paint. That skin must be removed and disposed of before mixing the paint.
  • If you shake up the paint before removing this skin you will have lumps and globs in the paint that will require you to pour the paint through a strainer before you can use it.

I hope this was helpful information. If you would like to learn more painting tricks and tips follow me on facebook. Hope to see you there.

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Cheryl PhanHow Long Does Left Over Paint Last?