How Long Does Paint Last In a Can? Detailed Guide

All You Ever Wanted to Know About It

how long does paint last in a can

Whenever you need to paint a wall or a porch in your house, or you have planned some DIY project, a can of paint is a must in such a case. And here comes an important question: How long is paint good for? To figure this out, keep on reading this article.

Related: Does Paint Go Bad When It Freezes?

What Does the Shelf Life of Paint Depend On?

We assume that, if you are not a professional painter or a contractor, you probably don’t know the specifics of a paint storage rules. How long can paint be stored? The correct answer will be that everything depends on what kind of paint we are talking about, as well as the way it is being stored. 

It means that if we talk about any paint being kept in a closed can, its lifetime will be different from the paint that is being kept in an open container. Same way, acrylic, oil, and latex paints have a different term of validity. 

Related: Can You Paint Vinyl Siding?

does paint go bad

For example, oil-based paints are very long-lasting whilst latex and water-based paints are less durable though being the same efficient. That is why oil paints are mostly used for commercial and residential projects. 

On the other hand, water-based and latex paint is much better for various interior and exterior tasks, as well as painting wooden furniture, etc. These two types of paint get dry much faster than oil paint which makes them favorites among creative house owners.

Nevertheless, there is a question that worries many people. Does paint go bad? Let’s find it out.

How Long Do Different Types Of Paint Last?

As we have already mentioned above, the storage time of paint depends on its type. The easiest and most obvious way to find out how long you can keep your paint is to check its label – all the information can be found there together with the terms or use and required storage conditions.

On the other hand, it may so happen that the can label is missing or impossible to read. In this case, it is useful to know the approximate time of storing different paints.

  • If you have an oil-based paint, and you keep it in a cool and dark place sealed firmly so that no air of humid can get inside, be sure that in this case, the pain will last for a maximum of fifteen years. The shortest lifespan of this kind of paint is two years
  • Alkyd paints are also long-lasting, almost the same as oil one
  • How long does latex exterior paint last? If its container is not frozen, it can last from two years and for up to ten years. The same goes for latex-acrylic paints
  • Approximately the same long storage period (from one to five years) a chalk paint has when being stored correctly
  • Milk paint lasts from one to seven days

Related: Can You Paint When It Rains? Useful Tips and Advice

how long is unopened paint good for

Does Pain Expire At All?

Unfortunately, it does. The main reason why this can happen is that the paint was stored under the wrong conditions. 

The common rules for storing any paint are the same:

  • Keep the paint away from heat and cold
  • Store it in a dry and cool place
  • Never let your paint freeze or melt

On the other hand, there is one kind of paint that doesn’t get old when being stored correctly. We are talking about acrylic paint. Does acrylic paint expire, you may ask? The answer is no. However, it tends to get molded and dry when being kept under the wrong conditions. If you want to check whether your acrylic paint is still ok, just smell it. If it’s bad, you will sense sour unpleasant smell.

how long is paint good for

How Can I Define That Paint Is Already Bad?

As in the case of acrylic paint, you can check the condition of your paint by smelling it. If you sense the sour or rotten odor, the paint is not good. 

Another way to check the paint is to simply look at it. Usually, bad paint has signs of discoloration or some traces of mold on its surface. Sometimes, it may look like jelly.

What if there are no such signs, though? Check it manually! Take a long stick and mix the paint thoroughly (make sure you reach the bottom of the can, too). If you see that the paint components are mixed together completely, it’s good. But if your paint is out of order, you will feel and even see some hard pieces or lumps inside. 

If it so happened that you noticed something is wrong with your paint, check it carefully. In case it is no longer possible to use it, you’d better throw it away because bad paint tends to have poisonous vapors that can be harmful to your health.

How to Make Paint Last Longer?

 Obviously, try to follow the rules mentioned on the paint label. 

  • Also, don’t pour the paint into another container if you don’t want it to get worse. 
  • To prevent any air from getting inside the can, put a sheet of plastic cover on top of the can and only then close the lid and press it firmly.
  • Store the paint in a cool and dry place
  • Don’t let it freeze or being heated up
  • Take out any organic elements out of paint like leaves, grass, pieces of tree bark, etc
how long can paint be stored
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How Long Does Primer Last?

In fact, primer is a bit similar to paint because it contains a bit of it along with other ingredients like adhesives. Because of this similarity, these two products have a similar shelf life period. So, if you keep your primer according to its storage rules mentioned on the can label, as well as being sealed tightly, you can be sure that it will last for two or three years.

It refers to both drywall primers and ordinary paint primers.

When using these simple rules, you will be able to prolongate the life of your paints and re-use them many times when needed to keep your house well-groomed.

Read next: How to Make Paint Dry Fast?

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