Painting is a great way to refresh and restore your home or commercial building. After you paint your favorite room, you may be left with a few extra cans of paint and primer. While it is good to keep some extra paint handy for touch-ups, you need to make sure your old paint is still usable before you begin. The last thing you want is to touch up your home with lumpy or moldy paint! So, how long does paint last? Use this guide to learn more about how to store leftover paint to extend shelf life and whether it should be used.

Does Paint Have an Expiration Date?

While paint cans don’t necessarily have an expiration date printed on them, they do eventually go bad even when stored in optimal conditions. Most water and latex-based paints have a shelf life of 2 years when stored in a cool, dry area after opening. Sealed paints can be usable for up to 10 years. Oil and alkyd-based paints can last as long as 15 years.

Paint is made with a balanced ratio of liquids and semi-solids to keep it smooth for a long period of time. It is also difficult for mold to form in unopened cans of paint, making them last longer.

The best way to see if your paint is still good is to stir it for several minutes. It isn’t uncommon for paint to separate over time, so it may look watery or off-color when you first open the container. Usable paints will be creamy and smooth after stirring, even after sitting for years. If you notice large lumps or the paint is hard, it isn’t usable anymore.

Before you start a new project with your leftover paint, you will want to test it. Either paint a very small area or a piece of cardboard and let it dry. This will help you make sure you get the finished look you want and will help you see small lumps you may have overlooked when stirring.

Should You Save Leftover Paint?

After a project, it is always a good idea to store any excess paint you may have for touch-ups later. If you chose a custom color, having some paint on hand will make matching the color easier if you need to refresh the paint in the room. Even if you plan on hiring experienced professional painters to create the room of your dreams, storing a little excess paint is a good idea.

How to Properly Store Paint

Air changes the chemical make up of most paints. Whether you are planning on storing your paint for a week or 10 years, you need to make sure it is properly sealed. When closing the can of paint, take a rag and gently hammer the metal lid closed. Be sure to wipe away any excess paint from the top of the can so that it is easy to open later. When you are ready to use the paint again, all you will need is a flathead screwdriver to pry it open.

Once the paint is sealed, you need to find a cool, dry place to store the can. Extreme heat or cold can also affect the chemical makeup of the paint. The last thing you want is for the paint to become chunky or for the color to warp!

Even though the can is tightly sealed, you should also select a storage area that won’t be exposed moisture or weather. Water surrounding or entering the metal can may promote mold growth. If you notice any signs of mold on or in the can, do not use the paint.

How Often Do I Need to Repaint My Home

Even the best quality paint doesn’t last forever. How long your paint job lasts will depend on several different factors, such as how exposed to the elements the paint is. For professional interior paint jobs, most rooms need touch ups every 5 to 7 years.

Some areas that have additional exposure to moisture or smells may need to be repainted more often. For example, most bathrooms and kitchens need to be repainted every 2 to 4 years. Areas that are rarely used, such as ceilings, won’t need to be repainted as often.

Exterior surfaces may need to be repainted frequently depending on the materials, exposure to sunlight or other weather conditions, and how vibrant you want the colors to be. Most people repaint their home exteriors every 5 to 10 years with high-quality exterior paints.

While your paint may not have a set expiration date, there are several factors that can affect its usability. Proper storage will significantly extend the shelf life of your paint so that it is ready to use for your next project.