If you’ve recently finished a paint job, chances are that you have a good amount of left-over paint lying around. Obviously, you would like to keep this paint to use later on, but how long, exactly, will that paint last? The answer depends on what kind of paint you have and how you store it.
If it’s unopened, you can use it
An unopened can of paint has pretty long shelf life—10 years for latex and water-based paints, and 15 for oil-based. This is only the case, however, if you properly store the can at room temperature. Keeping your paint can outside or in the garage can expose it to extreme temperatures that will ruin the contents inside.
What to look for
Paint can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years depending on certain conditions. With such a wide-ranging shelf life, it’s best to look for signs that your paint is past its prime rather than relying on a specific date. If the lid is puffed-up or the can is bulging, then the paint is past its prime. Even if the can doesn’t show any of these signs, it’s still a good idea to test the paint out on a piece of cardboard. If the paint applies to the cardboard easily, then it can be used. However, if the surface is rough and the color streaky, then the paint is no longer good.
How to store paint
In order to have your paint last as long as possible, you need to store it in the proper conditions. This means storing it in room temperature conditions inside an air-tight container. You can keep it in the original can, or you can switch it to a clean jar with a screw-on lid. Finally, be sure to label it so that you know when this paint was used and for what room.