A Quick Glance…

The longevity of paint depends on a few key factors such as its type, the conditions of storage, and if it’s already been opened or not. Unopened cans of paint, when stored in a cool, dry place, can last for up to 10-15 years. However, this can be significantly reduced once opened, with the paint typically lasting 2-5 years if properly sealed and stored. Latex or water-based paint tends to have a shorter shelf life compared to oil-based paints. However, remember that even properly stored paint might degrade in quality over time, affecting its color, consistency, and overall performance when applied.

Store paint the right way to preserve it’s shelf life

If you have unopened cans of paint in your house, more likely than not it is usable. Unopened cans of paint last for years when stored correctly. Unused latex and water-based acrylic paints last up to 10 years, and the shelf life of alkyd and oil-based can be as long as 15 years.

Since unopened paint hasn’t spent much time exposed to air, it still has the same ratio of liquids and semi-solids, although the ingredients have probably separated over time. But if you stored the can in the garage or shed where it froze or was exposed to extreme heat, even fully sealed contents could be ruined.

Signs that paint has gone bad

There are signs to look for to see if your paint went bad. You can open up the can and blend the contents with a paint stirrer. This may take a bit so do not try and do this quickly. Then go ahead and dip a brush in the paint and brush it onto a piece of cardboard. If the paint goes smooth, you should be good to go! If the paint is grainy and has lumps in it, the extreme temperatures probably altered the makeup of the paint and you are better off getting a new can.

How can you make sure that your cans of paint last as long as they should? Finding matching paint colors can be difficult, so what you can do is store paint indoors away from any change in extreme temperatures and sunlight. That is bad for paint. When it comes to storing a half empty paint can, place plastic wrap over the top, place the lid back on and hammer it in place.

While you are there, might as well mark the date and color for your future reference. This will make sure your paint does not go bad quickly.

Paint disposal

If you are done with your paint and do not intend on using it again there are plenty of options for you as well. You can have your dried paint be curb-side picked up along with your trash.

To dry out the leftover paint, lay a sheet of plastic or a bunch of newspapers on the ground and spread the paint over it, and let the sun dry it out. Do this on a day that’s not too windy and keep children and pets away from the area.

You can call professionals to come pick it up and dispose of it for you. Just a warning, this will more likely than not cost you money. The simplest option may just be to find someone who wants it and give it away to them. That way the paint will get used and you do not have to worry about clean up.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paint
  2. https://www.glidden.com/inspiration/all-articles/does-paint-expire
  3. https://www.consumerreports.org/paints/how-long-does-leftover-paint-last/

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