09 Jul Can I use old leftover paint?
Do you have some old paint lying around, and wondering if it’s still useable? It might be, depending on a few factors. Our expertise as Northern Virginia painting contractors means we can offer some advice.
Here’s what you need to know to decide if it’s time to toss (responsibly) your old paint.
Open or unopened?
If the paint can was never opened, it should last for years if stored correctly. However, if an unopened can was exposed to extreme temperatures, like you’d get in an attic or garage, it likely isn’t useable.
- Alkyd and oil-based paints can last 15-years.
- Latex and water-based acrylic paints last up to 10 years.
Be sure to mix the paint very well once you open it, especially if it’s been sitting around for years. The ingredients have probably separated.
Test the paint.
You will want to test the paint from an unopened can before you try to use it. Have a piece of cardboard or scrap wood handy. Here’s the process:
- Open the can and mix the paint thoroughly with a paint stirrer. This might take several minutes.
- Moisten a brush with the paint and brush it onto a piece of cardboard or scrap wood.
- Look for a smooth finish, a sign that the paint is good to use.
- If the paint looks lumpy or grainy lumps, despite thorough mixing, it should not be used.
Opened cans of paint that you’ve stored where there are no extreme temperatures might be useable. Here are four things to know about opened paint cans:
- Paint skin: Paint that was once opened might have a thick skin or layer on the paint the next time you open it. Remove it carefully with a paint stick before you start mixing the paint.
- Mixing: If the paint mixes easily and well, it should be good to be used.
- Smell the paint: If the paint smells rancid or has mold inside the can, you will need to discard the paint responsibly because it’s been contaminated. Check your local community’s rules for discarding paint.
- Check for lumps: Sometimes, opened cans of paint will develop lumps. If there aren’t too many lumps, you can pour the paint through a paint strainer to remove them.
Proper Paint Storage:
Once you have invested in paint, you’ll want to make sure you store it carefully for the next time you need it. Be sure to store it in a place with moderate temperatures. Unclimatised attics, sheds, and garages are not good places to keep paint. You want somewhere away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.
Use plastic wrap over the top of the can before you tap the lid firmly back onto the can. Don’t forget to write the date somewhere on the can for future reference!