If you have unused paint, you may be wondering if you can store it outside. Likely, you want to keep the leftover paint for any needed touch ups in the future. Storing paint after a project is complete is a problem many DIYers encounter.

Paint shouldn’t be stored outside. Paint is susceptible to extreme fluctuations in temperatures and shouldn’t be stored long term in environments that are hot, cold, or highly humid.

This article will explain why paint shouldn’t be stored outside. It’ll also explore other storage options, how to store paint, and how to discard paint. Continue reading to learn more on how to preserve your unused paint.

Is It Ok to Store Paint Outside?

Paint shouldn’t be stored outside because temperature plays a significant role in paint consistency. When the paint is exposed to high temperatures, it dries out and can damage the pigment. On the opposite end of the spectrum, in cold temperatures, paint can separate, damaging the emulsion.

The moisture from humidity can ruin paint in a different manner; it can cause the paint can to rust, contaminating the paint with rust flakes.

There are two basic types of paint:

  • Water-based paint
  • Oil-based paint

These paints have different features, and it would benefit you to understand the differences between the two to ensure that you preserve your paint as best as possible.

Water-Based Paint vs. Oil-Based Paint

Water-based paint, like water, freezes at 32 °F (0 °C). Water-based paints can last for about 10 years when properly stored. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, freeze at about -4 °F (-20 °C), and when properly stored, can last approximately 15 years.

Can You Store Paint Outside in the Winter?

You should not store paint outside in the winter. While it is sometimes okay to store paint outside in the warmer months, it is not suitable in the winter. Paint should not be stored in temperatures below 40 °F (4.44 °C), as some paints freeze at 32 °F (0 °C).

Can You Store Paint Outside in a Shed?

Paint shouldn’t be stored outside in a shed. Because paint reacts under extreme conditions, it shouldn’t be stored in sheds (or garages) because these areas aren’t insulated.

Understandably, sometimes sheds or garages are your only options. If this is true for your particular situation, store the paint on a shelf and not on the concrete floor.

What Should I Do if My Paint Freezes Outside?

If your paint freezes, it may be salvageable. You’ll need to let it thaw completely. Once unthawed, stir thoroughly with a paint stick. You can also opt to take it to a paint store or hardware store to be shaken.

In some cases, the paint will retain its texture, thickness, and consistency as before. If it does, it is usable. If there’s any change in the paint after unthawing and stirring, the paint is no good and needs to be discarded properly. Sometimes, bad paint may have an off smell. Last, you’ll want to paint a test surface. If the paint spreads roughly or is otherwise not smooth, the paint is no good.

How to Discard Bad or Unwanted Paint

Paint can be toxic to the environment, so it must be disposed of safely. Taking the proper precautions is essential, particularly when you’re discarding oil-based paint.

Water-based paint can simply be thrown away when it dries out, but it must be completely dry. If you choose, you can mix water-based paint with equal parts cat litter. After about an hour, the mixture should be thick and unable to spill. It can then be thrown away just like other garbage.

Oil-based paint contains high amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is flammable. Thus, oil-based paints are considered hazardous household waste. You should check with your local authorities to find the proper disposal for oil-based paint. Sometimes, collection sites or events are hosted to discard this type of paint.

Where Should I Store Unused Paint?

In the best case scenario, paint should be stored at temperatures between 60 and 80 °F (15 and 26 °C). This temperature range is similar to room temperature in most homes. Keep this in mind as you select a storage location for your unused paint.

The best place to store paint is in an environment that’s both climate controlled and low in moisture. In short, be sure the space isn’t too cold or too humid. Ideally, the space meets three criteria:

  • Cool
  • Dry
  • Dark

Some of the best spaces are basements and closets. Be sure the area is dust- and dirt-free to prevent any from falling in when you open the can again.

Special care should be taken when storing oil-based paint. As discussed earlier, it’s flammable. Because of its combustibility, oil-based paint shouldn’t be stored near heat sources or open flames like pilot lights. The vapors can cause a fire or flashover.

How to Store Unused Paint

Where you store paint is important, but how you store it is also a crucial factor in preserving the paint. The key is to keep as much air out of the can as possible. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Start by cleaning the rim of the lid if using the original paint can.
  2. Next, secure the lid by putting a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the paint can. Doing this will help create a tight seal.
  3. Using a rubber mallet, pound the lid into the place. (If you don’t have a rubber mallet, you can lay a piece of wood on top of the can and then hammer with a regular hammer.)
  4. Next, turn the can upside down. The can shouldn’t leak as these steps should make the can airtight. However, some people choose to store the upside down cans inside of a plastic tub.
  5. Finally, make sure to label your can. It’s easy to confuse multiple cans of paint that were stored for extended periods. It’s recommended that you label the cans with the color and the room or area where you used the paint. It would also be helpful if you kept the paint’s color code as well.

With these tips, you’ll avoid unnecessary hassles when it’s time to do a touch up.

In Conclusion

Storing paint outside isn’t a good choice. However, there are other spaces, such as closets and basements that are ideal locations for paint storage. With the right knowledge about paint and paint storage, you can preserve your unused paint for years to come.

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