Does Acrylic Paint Expire? Lifespan & Best Practices

You may have heard some conflicting information on whether or not acrylic paint expires.

In this blog post, we will explore the lifespan of acrylic paint and give you best practices for storing it so that you can make an informed decision about when it’s time to replace your stock of paints!

Does Acrylic Paint Go Bad?

It’s been said that acrylic paint will go bad after about three years of being unused, but this isn’t entirely true. Acrylic paint can last indefinitely if it is stored properly in a cool dark place. It should also be sealed tightly and not exposed to air or moisture for long periods of time.

And if you store the paint without following the best practices, the lifespan will be greatly reduced. It may only last for one or two years before signs of spoilage start to show up.

does acrylic paint go bad

Why Does Acrylic Paint Go Bad?

Acrylic paint will spoil if it is exposed to heat, light, or air. It’s important that you store your paints in dark containers and keep them sealed tightly so they aren’t exposed to these elements for too long of a period of time.

Heat and Cold Cause Issues

If your home is too hot, the paint will start to dry. The opposite can happen in a colder environment where condensation occurs and moisture builds up on the paints.

People have a misconception that weather protective paints are not prone to these issues but this is not true. Until the paint is fully cured, the weather protection mechanism doesn’t really kick in.

Exposure to Light and Air Causes Issues Too

It’s important that you don’t expose your paints to extreme temperatures for too long. Back in the day, they used to pour paint into a container and then seal it up with clay lids. This is one of the best ways to store acrylic paint but this technique isn’t very practical when you are trying to work with it.

So, we recommend using small tubes and bottles so that you don’t expose paints to harsh environments for long periods of time.

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Plus, it’s important that you don’t leave the paints out on your table or workspace where they are exposed for weeks because this will cause them spoilage quickly.

store acrylic paint in cool dry place

Mold and Mildew Ruins Paint

If you are storing your paint in a humid or moist environment, mold and mildew can start to grow on the paints.

This is caused by moisture that has gotten into the container from improper sealing or exposure to water vapor for too long of a time. It’s also important not to store paints with other substances like salt because this can lead to spoilage.

Best Practices for Storing Acrylic Paint and Extending the Shelf Life

If you want to make sure that the lifespan of your acrylic paint is as long as possible, make sure you follow these guidelines:

  • Keep the paint sealed tightly and stored in a cool dark place.
  • Don’t expose to heat or light for extended periods of time.
  • Keep paints away from food substances like oils, salt, sugar, and vinegar – these can cause decay!
  • Make sure the temperature is well-maintained at around 60 to 80 Fahrenheit. Keep paints away from extreme temperature changes.
  • The storage area must be dry, well-ventilated, and free of insects.

What Happens If You Don’t Store Acrylic Paint Properly?

You will start to notice discoloration, cracking, and darkening of the paint once it’s been exposed for too long. The pigment starts to break down into a sticky substance that is hard to clean off your palette or brushes. These are all signs that it’s time to replace your paint.

Signs That Acrylic Paint Has Gone Bad

In some cases, acrylic paint can go bad if it is not stored properly. There are many signs of spoiling in the paint, and when it starts to spoil, you will know because the colors start to get dull. The paint could also become watery or have spots or bubbles on the surface.

Another way acrylic paint can become unusable is by getting dried out. This is common when you are storing the paint for too long or the container for storage has leak or openings for air to pass. Sometimes you may see separation of paint inside the tube – this is a sign that the pigment has separated from the medium.

Plus, expired paint can smell sour or have a strong chemical odor.

acrylic paint shelf life once opened

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last Once Opened?

Once you open the paint, it’s important that you use them within a month or two. If they are not used in this time frame, the pigment breaks down and causes brittleness in your paints.

You may see that some paint lasts for a long time after removing the factory seal but that doesn’t happen always. In most cases, you’ll see the paint starting to dry out within a few weeks.

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It’s important that you protect your paint once it is opened to prevent oxidation. One way of doing this is by placing the lid tightly on the container and storing them in a cool, dry place where there aren’t any sunlight or heat sources. If left open, the paint begins to evaporate and you’ll notice a change in texture.

Can I Use Expired Acrylic Paint?

Yes, but be aware that the paint may no longer have the same characteristics as it did when fresh. There are many ways to utilize old or expired acrylic paint for something fresh and beautiful. Here are some you can follow-

Restoring Dried or Hard Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints dry due to dehydration. So, the easy way to restore its original consistency is to rehydrate the paint. Mix a small amount of water with the dried paint to restore its consistency and you’re ready to go.

If the paint is dried too hard and merely adding water isn’t working, you can pour the water in the container and leave the paint to soak for a night. The hard acrylics should start to soften and with a paintbrush, you can stir it into a smooth liquid.

Fixing Lumpy Paint

Lumpy paint can be an issue sometimes and the best way to deal with that is by throwing the paint away. Revival of lumpy paint takes a lot of time and effort. Plus, you never know if it will be back on its original consistency again as the reason behind lumpy paint can be different.

If you notice that there is only a portion of paint is lumpy, you may try to get rid of that portion only while using the other parts that are good for application.

Revive Separated Acrylic Paint

Leaving the acrylic paint for long years in storage can cause it to separate. However, you can revive its original painting consistency by stir mixing the paint with a paintbrush or by using a stick. If the paint is separated in an acrylic painting tube, you can revive that by pressing the tube from both sides until the paint restores to its original consistency.

However, it’s a bit hard to know whether the paint is separated or not until you dispatch some of the contents from the tube. If that’s what happened to you, you should squeeze out all the contents from the tube in a separate container and mix it.

When should you throw out acrylic paint?

You should throw out acrylic paint when after following the above procedures, the paint is not getting to its original consistency, or at least close to it so that you can use it somewhere.

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t try to restore bad acrylic paint with a lot of effort as there is very little chance that the paint will get to its original consistency. In most cases, you will be able to use it but it won’t be like fresh paint coming out of a sealed bottle.

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storing acrylic paint

What to Do With Old Paint?

Here are some of the things that you can do with aged acrylic paints-

Getting Rid of Old Paint

If you have an old can of paint, there are a few ways that you can dispose of it. The best thing to do is either through a hazardous waste disposal facility or by giving it away.

A lot of people will throw paint cans in the trash, which isn’t illegal but can be harmful to the environment if they start leaching into water sources. If you give your old paints away instead of throwing them out, then at least you’re not adding to the problem.

You may have some old paint left in a jar or can that you want to get rid of, but don’t know who would be willing to take it off your hands. If this is the case then try looking for local artist studios near you and see if they’d like any more materials for their work. Go through our guide on acrylic paint disposal for more info.

Use Old Paint for Practice

It’s not always necessary to get rid of old paint. If you don’t mind that the color is a little off, or if it has hardened into a solid lump, then you can just leave it as-is for your own painting practice. This will save money as you won’t be wasting fresh paints for practice.

Mix Old Paint with Fresh Acrylic Paints

You can also save money by mixing the old paint with new to create a different color. Just be sure not to mix it too much, as this will lower the quality of your paints and may turn them unusable over time.

How to Prolong Acrylic Paint Dry Time?

The best way is not to break the seal of the acrylic paint to eliminate the risk of contaminants causing issues. Acrylic paint can last a life unless you get a low-quality product or the seal has been broken and the paint was exposed to humidity, light, air, etc.

So, you can simply avoid breaking the seal. If you do, you need to ensure that you have closed the container perfectly without any room for air to pass through. Plus, take a close look at the temperature.

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