How long can we keep old paint?

How long can we keep old paint?

Sometimes friends or clients will ask how long they can keep old paint.  It’s a great question, as some communities have strict rules about disposing of household chemicals, including paint!  Most homeowners have cans of leftover paints lying around their garage or utility closets. You don’t necessarily have to throw those out. You might be able to use them for touch-ups.
If your paint cans have been adequately sealed and stored, they can last for several years and even be re-used for touch-ups. You must have kept them away from freezing or extremely hot temperatures.
Shelf Life:
Assuming paint has been properly stored, the shelf life will depend on the type of paint.
Solvent-based or alkyd paints can last up to 15-years if they’ve been stored properly. That means they’ve not been opened (at all) and have been stored at correct temperatures.
Latex and water-based acrylic paints can last up to 10 years if they’ve never been opened and kept from extreme temperatures. Any leftovers should be used within two years, kept tightly closed and stored in a cool, dry place.
Re-using Paint:
If you’d like to re-use stored paint, open the can, stir and mix it well, and then test it by brushing it onto a test surface before applying it to your wall or another surface. During long-term storage, paints tend to separate into liquids and solids, with solids sinking to the bottom of the can.
Some signs that the paint has spoiled:
  • Solids have hardened at the bottom and can’t be mixed.
  • Any sign of mold in the paint.
  • If the paint isn’t mixing well or if there are solids not softening into the paint.
Paint Disposal:
If you need to dispose of old paint, check the guidelines from your community, city, or state for proper paint disposal.  Alkyd and oil-based paints are typically treated as toxic waste and need to be correctly disposed of.
If you’d like us to tackle one of your paint projects, please call us to discuss the project and possibly schedule a free estimate.

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