How Long Does Paint Last After Opening

Many homeowners have leftover cans of paint in their garages. How long does paint last? It’s not a good idea to throw away paint leftovers after completing a project, in case you ever need to touch up the work. You should always have more paint than you think you will need. Knowing how long paint will last is a great idea.

Bacteria is a common cause of paint that has spoilt prematurely’. When bacteria enter the paint, they can multiply, causing a smell. This clearly indicates that the paint has gone bad when you open the lid.

This blog will give you clarity about how long a paint lasts after opening.

How long does the paint last if opened?

Paint cans can last for over a decade. However, the paint itself can last even longer. The amount of time your paint will last once you’ve opened it is determined by how you store it. Check to see if the paint lid is fully closed. This is a common mistake.

Store the cans in a cool, dark area when temperatures are stable. You should also cover the paint using a plastic and thick cloth. These tips will keep your paint in good shape.

The common paints used for painting houses include acrylic and latex. These paints are easy to remove and are non-toxic. It is essential to store them safely and manage them carefully.

How Long Does Paint Last After

How long does sealed paint last?

There are no rules you can apply regarding shelf life because many factors come into play. As a guideline, unopened acrylic and latex paint can stay in good condition for up to 10 years in a tin, while you can store oil-based and alkyd paints in an airtight container for up to 15 years.

Oil-based paints that have been opened and resealed can be used up to 10 years after the first use, provided you store them properly. Oil-based paints have a longer shelf life because they are less hospitable to bacteria and mold.

You may find that the paint is less useful if you have stored your acrylic or latex paints in an outbuilding or shed exposed to freezing temperatures. Paint that is frozen and thawed repeatedly can become lumpy and could result in an unintended pebbledash look. Store your paint in a dry, dark place where it will not get subjected to extreme changes in temperature.

How many coats of paint on wall needs to be applied: find in this article here

Types Of Paint

You will likely find four types of paint in your home, each with a different shelf-life and different factors that can affect it.

Oil-Based Acrylic Paint

These paints, which are glossy and thick, are usually used for woodwork or metal. They are easy to apply and have a long shelf life. The paint has the longest shelf-life because of its chemical composition. The oil content of the paint makes it prone to split.

How long will the emulsion last? Unopened cans can last up to 15 years. Once opened, the contents should last several years.

Oil-based paints that look and smell good but have separated will return to paintable if you mix them well using a paint stirrer. These paints can quickly dry out if left open.

Water-Based Emulsion Paint

Using water-based paint or emulsion in your home is common since you can apply it on ceilings and walls for most projects. This is called latex paint in America and has much less chemical content than oil-based paint.

If stored in a safe place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, this paint can last between 2 and 10 years. Paint that is frozen repeatedly can become grainy and solid. If conditions are good, it may be possible to stir the paint to remove the lumps. However, if it has become spoiled, you may need to purchase a new can of paint.

The good news is that this paint will last many years when stored properly.

Milk Paint

It is the least well-known paint type used to restore or reproduce antique furniture. Due to milk proteins, Milk Paint is the least durable paint type. It is not worth trying to use old paint as it will only last a few hours unless it’s sealed well, maybe bashed with a rubber mallet. Keep it in the refrigerator while you’re using it. Do not store it outside or in a shed.

Chalk Based Paint

Chalk paint can upcycle furniture and give it a traditional, smooth finish. It is also great for metal and wood. It can be distressed with sanding and layered in various colours.

How long will the paint last after opening? It can last between 1 and 5 years if kept out of the air. Paint can get a thickened layer loosened with water and then stirred to smooth it out again.

Are you curious to know weather chalk paint is waterproof or not then read this article now for more information.

What Factors Impact Paint Shelf Life?

Opening the paint can is one of the factors that will affect the shelf life. The temperature and humidity in the storage area are also important factors to consider. The paint reacts quickly to temperature changes. You will know if you have ever painted something in winter or summer.

Do paints go bad when exposed to cold temperatures? Once opened, store the paint in a cool and dry environment to extend its shelf life. Paint can freeze, and it will, at least partially if you don’t. Does paint turn bad when exposed to high temperatures? It is possible that paint could go bad if exposed to extreme temperatures. However, depending on the paint type, it may become explosive if stored in a high-temperature environment.

How To Tell If Paint Has Gone Bad?

  • Rancid or Sour Odor

Some paints may have an unpleasant smell once the lid gets opened. Some paints may smell like mildew or mold. The smell of the paint may diminish but not disappear if applied. This smell is caused by bacterial growth.

  • The paint has been repeatedly frozen and thawed.

You should avoid freezing your paint mixture, but you can still thaw the frozen paint if it does not smell bad or clumpy. However, paint experts tend to agree that repeated freeze-thaw cycles will eventually cause paint to break down.

  • Overly Lumpy paint

After some time, it is normal for latex to form a thin film on top. If the paint has hardened beyond a thin layer, it’s time to throw it out. Water will not dissolve solidified paint chunks.

  • Jelly Like Paint

Paint no longer in its prime will be completely or partially jelly-like. This is a substance that is neither liquid nor solid but a goopy substance between the two that won’t mix well.

You can thin paint by adding paint thinner or water to paint based on oil.

How Do You Store Your Paint?

You can store leftover paint no matter what type of paint you use. Keep it away from air exposure. Keep in mind these simple but effective tips when you are storing extra paint.

  1. Remove all excess paint on the top and edge of the can. This will ensure a better seal that keeps out the air.
  2. Replace the lid.
  3. Before hammering the lid back on, place a flat piece of wood on top. The lid will go on more evenly and create a better seal.
  4. Mark the can with a Sharpie of the area or room you painted and the year and date you did it. After a few years, you’ll be glad you did not skip this step.
  5. Store leftover paint where the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees or rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that the garage and attic are not ideal storage areas for most people. Keep away from heat-generating appliances such as furnaces.

Is it possible to use old paint that has separated?

Paint that has sat for a while will naturally separate. This is nothing to worry about. The lighter liquid will rise while the denser pigments sink. Stir and thoroughly mix the paint to recombine.

It is best to throw away the paint if it refuses to blend. A thin layer of skin or material at the top should not be a concern. Just remove the material and discard it.

How long does spray paint last after opening the can?

Spray paint’s lifespan is significantly reduced when you open the can. You may not be allowed to use spray paint the same way within one year after opening the can.

The rule of thumb is to open the lid and reduce the can’s lifespan by half. If the original lifespan of the spray paint was four years, then opening the can will reduce the remaining life to only two years. The type of paint, the duration of exposure, and the kind of exposure (moisture or UV) will determine how long it lasts. 

paints-cans with roller and color

Frequently Asked Questions

Does fence paint go out of date?

Fence paint has a shelf life of at least three years if stored in an airtight container. Follow the instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer.

How long does paint last in a bucket?

You can seal the bucket of paint you’ve poured in it with plastic if you want to put your painting project on hold for a while.

You can achieve this by sealing the bucket with masking tape and covering it with a plastic sheet or bag. After the bucket is airtight, it can dry for several days without the paint forming a surface.

How long does house paint last?

The fact that exterior house painting contains more VOCs does not mean it has a longer shelf-life. Regarding longevity and storage, exterior paint adheres to the same guidelines and rules as interior paint.

Can you use old paint?  

If the paint does not have a smell, mold, lumpy, too thick, or has separated, you can still use it. Try stirring old paints to bring them back to life. You can also paint a small test area to determine if it will adhere.

How long does acrylic paint last?

Unopened acrylic paint can last for about ten years. Cans that have been opened and sealed can last up to five years. if you want to freeze acrylic paint for preservation then do it after reading this post for better understanding and best results.


The paint’s shelf life is longer than expected, but the lifespan decreases significantly once the paint opens. It is essential to test any old paint before use. Also, if the old paint has become unusable due to age and usage, it should be disposed of safely.

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