Does Acrylic Paint Expire?

If you are a business owner, painter, or retailer and have been wondering if acrylic paint expires, then this post is for you. 

Acrylic paint does not expire, but it will change its consistency over time to become more difficult to apply with an even finish. 

To avoid your acrylic paint from drying out and creating streaks in your work:

  1. Store the cans upside down.
  2. Seal them tightly after every use.
  3. For best results, try to use fresh paints within six months of opening the can. 

The shelf life of acrylic paint is being discussed in this post. Read more to find out what you need to know about how long it lasts. And if your old, unused containers are still suitable for something.

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last?

The longevity of acrylic paint will depend on the quality of paint and how they are stored. Acrylic paints can last for up to 15 years if not exposed to sunlight or high heat. Avoid storing them in a hot attic during the summer months because it could shorten their lifespan.

Acrylics function best when they’re stored in a cool and dark place because their pigments don’t need much light exposure for the colors to be preserved.

Therefore, to help prevent damage from UV rays or excess heat, make sure the lid is tightly sealed with no cracks around its perimeter before storing away your acrylic paintings.

The best method to keep your paint looking fresh is by using a few simple steps. 

  • First, wipe the edges of the can along with around its lid so that there’s no residue left on it when you put it back together again. 
  • Next, place a block of wood over the top for stability, then use a rubber mallet tap into place firmly to ensure sealant stays inside where you want it without any leakage happening. 
  • Lastly, before storing away, make sure to write down where you used the paint to have it ready for touch-ups in case needed later. 

How Do You Know If Acrylic Paint Has Gone Bad?

If you see an old acrylic paint can does that mean that it is expired? No. Here are 4 things that you need to check to know if acrylic paint has gone bad or not.

An easy way to tell if acrylics have gone bad is by smelling them. They often develop a sour, mildew stench when they’re past their prime, and it’s usually an indication that the paint has degraded in quality.

Some will dry out, while others might begin to separate or grow mini-gardens of undesired pathogens. Here are a few of the common issues that you might encounter:

The Paint Becomes Chunky Or Lumpy

Paint can get thick, lumpy, or even dry out if left partially exposed or from sitting too long. This will happen a lot if the can is improperly opened or exposed for contamination during the opening.

Freezing weather also wreaks havoc on poorly sealed paints before being stored inside freezing temperatures, making them chunky.


Emulsions in the paint can separate when stored for extended periods, and this is identical to how the water in a flask of salad dressing will eventually separate from the oil.

Luckily, if you keep it sealed tightly or store it in a dark place, it will prevent your paint from getting separated.

Paints Start To Smell Bad

Sometimes, the smell of paint can become unpleasant and aged if it is exposed to excess moisture. But if there’s a foul or rancid scent, then chances are that bacteria has contaminated the contents of your can. So throw them away with toxic waste disposal ordinances in mind.

Related Read: How Long Does It Take For Chalk Paint To Expire?


If you’ve ever noticed mold on a jar of paint, then it is time to replace the old one. If you have lighter colors and see what looks like spores in your paints, be sure to get free of them as soon as possible.

Mold has a higher tendency to grow in lighter shades than darker ones, but it can still happen with dark hues. So be sure to do an odor test before purchasing new supplies.

Related Read: How Long Does Water-Based Paint Last?

Can You Use Old Acrylic Paint?

You can use old acrylic paint as long as the colors are still in good condition. There are easy ways to tell if your paint is still good. 

Follow these steps for testing old paint:

Enclosed Paint

Paints that have been unsealed maintain their ratio of liquids and semi-solids, meaning they’re still suitable for use after a long time.

However, it’s essential to test out an old can of paint before you start painting. If it has been sitting for a while, the ingredients may have separated, and you will need to shake up the contents thoroughly with a paint stirrer. 

Stir for at least five minutes, then take some cardboard outside and try painting on that instead. If it looks normal and goes on smoothly without any lumps or grainy bits in there, you can go ahead with that paint.

Related Read: Is Acrylic Paint Washable?

Unopened Paint

If you need to use old paint, there may still be some hope. Old paints can’t always be used because the chemicals change when exposed to air for too long, which in turn changes their texture. 

When opening your paint container, make sure you first remove the thick layer on top before stirring it up. Once this is done, test out a little bit on cardboard if everything seems okay or not. If so, go ahead and start painting; but don’t forget about any cracks or holes in surfaces beforehand.

Paint Caught Weather

If you’ve been storing paint in a way that isn’t ideal for the changing seasons, then there’s a chance it won’t be usable. Paint doesn’t fare well when exposed to extreme temperatures, even if it was sealed and protected before being stored.

Therefore, to see whether or not your old can of paint is still good, just try the above-mentioned paint test. Be sure that smooth paint is acceptable to use, but if it’s lumpy and grainy, you might need to purchase a new can.

Related Read: Is Latex Paint Still Usable After a While?

How To Revive Old Acrylic Paint?

To restore old acrylic paint, you need to add a solvent or thinning medium to the paint. A thinning medium is a gel-like material that’s mixed with pigments to make them more fluid.

When you find yourself in the necessity of a quick fix for your paint, it’s essential to keep these items on hand, drink stirrers or craft sticks for mixing, a sheet for workspace, a palette knife. Now, here are the steps you require to follow:

1. Cautiously Open the Acrylic Paint Container

Cautiously Open the Acrylic Paint Container

There is going to be a bit of fallout involved with opening up that old paint container. If you expect the procedure to go smoothly, cover your table in advance to avoid any spots or marks during the course.

When you open the paint, be sure to think about whether or not this specific bottle is repairable. If it is, then utilize a palette knife and delicately peel away any of the crumbly bits around the cap and bottleneck area before replacing your lid. So that they don’t drop back into the container and help assure precise closure while restoring the cover.

2. Now, Add The Thinning Medium

Add The Thinning Medium

Continue with caution. It is simple to add on extra thinning mediums; however, you can’t take any of them out once they are in there.

You only require to add tiny drops of thinning medium at the time, then mix it with the drink straws or with craft sticks. Make assured that your stick isn’t sharp to keep your bottle safe and sound.

3. Stir Properly

Stir Properly

Add just a dash of it more after the thinning medium has been thoroughly combined and mixed in. Continue stirring until your paint reaches that perfect consistency for working with it.

For some of you, your paintbrush is a simple medium for mixing. But it’s not advised to use this technique; doing so could cause the brush bristles to drop off in the paint and ruin everything. 

Related Read: Does Oil Paint Expire?

4. Test The Acrylic Paint

Test The Acrylic Paint

After stirring, test the acrylic paint by applying it to a transparent surface. If you don’t see any lumps or impurities after being involved, then your paint has been revived.

However, you might need to continue stirring if there are still visible lumps in your finished product and add more solvent for better results.

Now, place the lid back on your bottle tightly, and scrape off any paint that is dried up. Using a wet cloth to dry it down will also help if you have some time before putting it away. Ensure there’s no paint left under the lid when you put it in place, so this doesn’t get stuck. 

Related Read:How Long Does Polyurethane Paint Last?

Related Read: Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Walls?

Can Unopened Acrylic Paint Go Bad/Expire?

A can of paint that has been unopened for years will last, and sometimes even longer. Unused acrylic paints are good for up to 15 years. 

Acrylic paint doesn’t expire, but it can degrade and become unusable for a variety of reasons. 

For instance, the environment you store your paints in could affect their quality after they’re opened. Besides, extreme heat or cold will affect how long acrylics last before becoming useless.

It’s hard to predict how long it will take, but acrylic paint can last decades if left untouched and appropriately stored. As long as the container is secured tight and has a perfect environment, it might be safe for years.

Related Read:Can You Re-Use Paint Primer?

Final Words

Acrylic paint is made with synthetic polymers that don’t break down, which never expire in ideal conditions.

However, if you have an old container of acrylic paint and want to ensure it is still in working condition, test the product before using it to avoid ruining the surfaces.

One way to try this is by pouring a small amount into another jar and adding water. If there are bubbles after you shake it up for five minutes, then the chances are that the product has gone bad and must be disposed of correctly as soon as possible.

We hope we’ve helped answer any questions or concerns you might have about how long acrylic paint lasts.

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