Does Paint Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on November 3rd, 2022

If you need to paint a wall or a porch in your home or have a DIY project planned, a can of paint is a must-have. And now for the main question: how long does paint last? Continue reading this article to find out how.

What Factors Influence Paint Shelf Life?

If you are not a professional painter or a contractor, we presume you are unaware of the nuances of paint storage guidelines. How long can paint be kept? The right answer is that it all depends on the type of paint we’re talking about and how it’s kept.

empty red and blue cups

If we talk about any painting preserved in a closed can, its lifetime will differ from paint kept in an open container. Similarly, the validity period for acrylic, oil, and latex paints differs.

Oil-based paints, for example, are extremely long-lasting, but latex and water-based paints are less durable despite being equally efficient. As a result, oil paints are mostly employed in commercial and residential construction.

On the other hand, water-based and latex paint is far superior for various indoor and exterior jobs, as well as painting wooden furniture, among other things. These two forms of paint dry significantly faster than oil paint, making them popular among creative homeowners.

Nonetheless, there is one question that many people are concerned about. Does paint deteriorate? Let us investigate.

How Long Do Different Paints Last?

As previously stated, the storage time of paint is determined by its kind. The simplest and most transparent approach to finding out how long you may keep your paint is to examine its label – all of the information, as well as the limits of use and appropriate storage conditions, can be found there.

On the other side, it is conceivable that the can label is missing or difficult to read. In this scenario, knowing the approximate duration of storage for various paints is important.

  • If you have an oil-based paint and maintain it in a cold and dark area that is tightly sealed so that no humid air can get inside, you can be sure that the pain will endure for a maximum of fifteen years. This kind of paint has a two-year shelf life.
  • Alkyd paints are also very long-lasting, almost as long as oil paints.
  • When it comes to latex exterior paint, how long does it last? If the container is not frozen, it can survive between two and 10 years. The same is true with latex-acrylic paints.
  • When stored properly, chalk paint has a similar extended storage time (from one to five years).
  • Milk paint has a shelf life of one to seven days.
Paint TypeLifespan
Latex or Acrylic-Latex Paint2 to 10 years
Oil-Based Paint2 to 15 years
Chalk Paint1 to 5 years
Milk Paint1 to 7 days

What is the shelf life of primer?

Primer is comparable to paint in that it contains some of it and other chemicals such as adhesives. Because of this commonality, the shelf life of these two items is comparable.

So, if you store your primer according to the instructions on the can label and keep it firmly packed, you may expect it to last for two or three years.

It includes both drywall primers and regular paint primers.

Does Paint Expire At All?

It does, unfortunately. The major cause is that the paint was kept in the incorrect circumstances.

The following are the general guidelines for keeping any type of paint:

  • Keep the paint away from extremes of heat and cold.
  • Keep it in a cold, dry location.
  • Never, ever allow your paint to freeze or melt.

On the other side, one type of paint does not mean age when properly preserved. We’re discussing acrylic paint. Do acrylic paints have a shelf life? No, it does not.

However, when maintained in incorrect circumstances, it becomes molded and dry. Simply smell your acrylic paint to see whether it is still in good condition. If it’s rotten, you’ll notice a sour, unpleasant odor.

How To Tell If Paint Has Gone Bad

Depending on the storage conditions and the type of paint, paint can deteriorate in various ways. Here are a few indicators that the paint has gone bad:

  • Paint is moldy or smelly: Paint that has been sitting in storage for an extended period may begin to mold or mildew if it contains bacterial contamination. When you open the can and see mold inside or smell a strange stench emanating from the paint, you’ll know something has happened.
  • Paint is “chunky”: Paint that has been sitting for a long time may settle, so you’ll need to mix it before using it thoroughly. Paint with pieces, maybe from freeze/thaw cycles or rust from the container, should not be used. However, other sources claim that straining or sifting the paint can extend its life.
  • Paint has dried out: If the paint has dried out, save a little portion of it for color matching in case you need to conduct touch-ups in the future.

How to Know How Old Your Paint Is

Keep careful note of the age of your paint. With a permanent marker, write the date of purchase on the container. Keep a record of your paint purchases, especially if you paint your home.

You’ll need the precise paint mix if you ever want to paint in scratches on the wall, and you could run out at some time (or have to toss your paint if it goes bad).

Make a note of:

  • The paint’s brand name
  • The date of purchasing
  • The hue of the paint’s name
  • What kind of paint is it and what kind of finish it has
  • The formula numbers are taken from the can.

That may appear extravagant but believe us. When you wish to repaint in ten years and truly like the color, the information above will make it a cinch to obtain a fresh can in the exact shade you desire.

How to Store Paint

The simplest approach to preventing paint from deteriorating between applications is to store it correctly. Unfortunately, this suggests that the notorious paint shelf isn’t the greatest option.

Paint should not be exposed to direct sunshine or extreme temperature fluctuations. Though an uninsulated garage or attic is no longer an option due to temperature fluctuations, a basement is still a feasible choice.

Paint, on the other hand, should always be thoroughly sealed. Putting a piece of plastic wrap over the top before rapping on the lid is an easy method to do this. The plastic wrap will assist make the seal more moisture-tight when you reattach the lid with a few mild knocks of the hammer.

Oh, and make a note of the date.

How to Extend the Life of Paint

Attempt to adhere to the guidelines outlined on the paint label.

Also, if you don’t want the paint to worsen, don’t pour it into another container.

To prevent air from entering the can, place a sheet of plastic cover on top of it, then seal and push the lid securely.

Keep the paint in a cold, dry location.

Don’t allow it to freeze or get too hot.

Remove any organic materials from the paint, such as leaves, grass, tree bark, etc.

What Can You Do With Old House Paint?

Use up your old home paint before it dries up! Here are a few crafts that will make good use of old home paint:

  • Furniture Distressing
  • Murals
  • Front Doors
  • Touch Ups

If you have no plans to utilize the paint and no place to keep it, many organizations, schools, and churches will accept paint contributions for their projects. This page discusses the many methods for reusing, disposing of, and recycling old paint.

How do you get rid of the remaining paint?

  • Remove the lid and let the paint dry fully if there isn’t much paint. It’s fine to throw it away once it’s completely dried up.
  • Companies such as Habitat for Humanity and PaintCare collect and recycle unused paint. You might also look for a hazardous waste disposal site in your neighborhood.
  • Drop it off at a landfill that has a facility for “household hazardous waste.”
  • Pour any remaining paint away from the sink, toilet, or storm drains. The paint might clog the water sewage system and contaminate the tap water.


Editorial Staff

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