Does Spray Paint Expire? (& Revive Tips)

Some types of paint expire, and some don’t. But, does spray paint expire?

Spray paints do expire — they have an expiration date at the bottom of the container. Spray paints have a best before date, calculated from the date the paint was manufactured.

However, the expiration date inscribed on the bottom of the spray can doesn’t guarantee how long the paint will last. That’s because spray paint shelf life depends on storage conditions, heat, and humidity. 

Also, if stored correctly, the spray paint can outlast the expiration date on the spray can.

Why Does Spray Paint Expire?

Spray paints are made from a mixture of several paint chemicals and pigments. These include colorants, solvents like acetone, xylene, and other paint molecules. The spray also contains preservatives that prevent the paint from going bad or solidifying inside the container.

Not just that, spray paints are designed with a pea made from either metal, plastic, glass, or marble. The pea mixes the paint inside the container, so a mixture of paint particles comes out when the valve is pressed.

These chemicals and compounds are locked together inside a spray container filled with pressurized air. The reaction of compounds to different storage conditions and the varying chemical features makes the spray paint unstable. This is the main reason spray paints don’t last very long.

Unopened Spray Paint Will Expire

Does Unopened Spray Paint Expire

Unopened spray paint will eventually expire because of the spray can’s chemical composition. Spray paints are developed from a blend of several paint chemicals, pigments, solvents, and preservatives, all compressed inside a spray can.

The different features and reactions of these chemical compounds give the spray paint a limited shelf life. While other paints, such as latex or enamel, have a shelf life of 10 years, spray paint expires within 5 years if left unopened.

On average, unopened spray paint will expire in 3 years (36 months). Brands like Ironlak and Krylon have a shelf life of 2-5 years, while Montana spray paint guarantees a shelf life of 10 years (if stored properly). However, the shelf life of spray paint depends on the storage conditions and temperatures. 

You Can Use Expired Spray Paints

Can You Use Expired Spray Paint

You can use expired spray paint, but you must shake the spray container (for 90 seconds) before using it. When shaking, the pea inside the paint container mixes the paint particles properly. 

Also, you must test the spray paint by spraying a dispensable object first. Once sprayed, see how the paint comes out, dries, and how the finish appears. If everything looks good, you can use expired spray paint. 

There are two reasons spray paint expires; the spray container has lost pressure, or the paint has hardened inside the container.

Spray containers are filled with pressurized air (or gas) that dispenses the paint when you press the valve. But, expired spray paint don’t have air pressure, meaning the spray paint won’t come out when you press the valve. This causes the spray paint nozzle to clog. To fix it, open the spray container, pour the paint into a clean bucket, and spray the paint (using a spray gun).

The spray paint can also harden inside the paint container. If the spray paint is hardened, it can’t be mixed (when you shake the container), so you can’t use the spray paint. To fix it, pour the spray out of the container, thin it with mineral spirits, and use it. 

However, not all expired spray paint can be used. For example, graffiti spray paints shouldn’t be used after expiring. 

Opened Spray Paint Shelf Life

How Long Does Spray Paint Last After Being Opened

Once the spray paint is opened, its shelf life is halved. So, if a spray paint lasts three years unopened, the shelf life will be reduced to 1.5 years after it has opened.

On average, an opened spray paint won’t last more than one year, even if you store it properly. This is because the content in the spray container will be explored to dry air, and dry air will cause the paint to solidify over time.

Opened spray paint is more prone to temperature changes and moisture. This will affect the state of the paint inside the container. In addition, it will cause chemical reactions, paint solidification, and separation inside the spray paint container. Unopened spray paint is sealed and won’t be affected by these elements, so it lasts longer.

Once you open a spray paint, the sealer is broken. So, opened spray paint is affected by moisture, heat, humidity, and dry air. However, if you store unopened spray paint in a cool room, seal the cover tightly, and keep it away from direct sunlight, dust, and moisture, the paint will last longer.

How Do You Get Old Spray Paint To Work?

There are two ways to make expired spray paint work: shaking the paint or pouring the paint out of the container and thinning it.

Method 1: Shake The Paint Can

Shake The Paint Can

You must shake spray paints before use. This is because the content inside the spray paint container must be mixed to get an even distribution. Shaking the spray container also helps the old spray paint to work. 

To do this: 

  1. Hold the spray container firmly, and shake it for 2 minutes.
  2. While you shake, the pea inside the spray container will stir the paint particles together and produce an even consistency and color. 
  3. After shaking the can, clean the spray nozzle with a paint thinner (turpentine or mineral spirits). 

The paint thinner will loosen the clogged paint particle in the nozzle, so when you press the valve, the paint will come out nice and smooth. 

Method 2: De-Can And Thin The Spray Paint

De-Can And Thin The Spray Paint

To use expired spray paint, open the spray container, pour out the paint, thin it, and re-use it. This method is advised for old spray paint that has hardened in the container or doesn’t come out when you press or pull the release valve.

To do this method, you’ll need a few tools and supplies:

  • A sharp object or a small drill bit
  • A scissors or cutting material
  • Paint mixer or turning stick
  • A paint bucket
  • Paint thinner
  • A paintbrush
  • A pair of thick gloves

Here is a quick rundown of how to de-can and thin spray paint:

  1. Drill a hole or puncture the top of the spray can
  2. Wait for pressured air to escape
  3. Cut an opening starting from the drilled hole
  4. Pour out the spray paint
  5. Add a paint thinner
  6. Stir for a few minutes with a paint mixer
  7. Test out the paint

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Drill A Hole At The Top of The Paint Can

First, puncture the top of the container. Use a sharp object, such as a nail, or a drill bit. Just drill a small hole at the bottom of the spray container.

2. Wait For Pressured Air To Escape

When you puncture the spray can, some air will come out. You will hear a hissing sound for a few seconds; this is the sound of air coming out of the container. Wait until the hissing sound stops.

3. Cut An Opening In The Can

Once the hissing sound stops, cut an opening at the top of the spray container. You will use this opening to pour the spray paint out of the container. 

To do this, use large scissors. Make a small slice (or cut) at the top of the spray paint (where you drilled the hole earlier). Spray paint will be sharp once cut, so be careful.

4. Pour Out The Paint

Next, pour the spray paint inside the container into a paint bucket. To do this, turn the spray painter upside down, and the paint will slide off.

If the paint is hardened, you can’t use it anymore.

5. Add A Paint Thinner

For thick spray paint, you can use a paint thinner. A paint thinner (or a solvent) is a liquid substance that makes thick paints lighter. 

To thin water-based spray paints, use water. Add a few cups of water over the spray paint you poured out. 

To thin oil-based spray paints, use mineral spirits, turpentine, or white spirits. 

6. Stir The Mixture For A Few Minutes

Once the paint thinner is added to the spray paint, you must stir the mixture. To stir, use a turning stick or a paint mixer. A paint mixer will give better results. 

Stir for 2 minutes, or until the spray paint, and thinner are well mixed.

7. Test The Paint

After stirring, test the mixture paint on cardboard.

To apply the mixed paint, use a paintbrush. Then, if the paint color and flow are consistent and the spray paint dries properly, you can use the mixed paint on your next painting project.

Spray Paint is Expired When:

To know if spray paint has expired, check for the following signs:

  • A swollen or puffed container: If the spray paint has expired, the container will be swollen or puffed.
  • Foul Smell: If the spray paint has a strong foul whiff or rancid odor, the paint has expired or gone bad.
  • Uneven consistency: When the spray paint expires, it will have uneven consistency and color. 
  • Streaky Paint: The paint will appear streaky as some parts appear thicker than others. Also, the color will vary, and some parts will dry faster than others.
  • Clogged Nozzle: Expired spray paint will have a clogged or blocked nozzle. Also, the valve will be very hard when you press it. This is because the paint has hardened underneath. This is more commonly with opened spray paints.

Related Read: Does Spray Paint Freeze?

Does Rust-Oleum Spray Paint Expire?

The shelf life of rust oleum spray paint is 2-5 years from the production date. On average, rust oleum paint expires 3 years after the paint was produced. Rust-oleum spray paint has more paint chemicals, so the paint has a shortened shelf life.

Since the paint is designed to prevent rust and be used on different types of surfaces, it includes other chemicals in its formula, which adds to the slight instability of the paint.

If left unopened and stored well, rust oleum spray paint can last over 3 years. However, once opened, rust oleum spray paint doesn’t last up to a year.

Related Read: How Long Does It Take Spray Paint To Dry?

Final Words

Overall, spray paint expires. But, you can see the spray paint expiration date on the bottom of the spray can. This helps you figure out your time before the paint goes bad.

Also, you can use expired spray paint, but you must test the paint first. 

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