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When you embark on a Denver home painting project, it can be tricky to gauge exactly how much paint you’ll need. As a result, you may end up with paint leftover in the can. Instead of tossing out that extra paint, you’d likely rather save it for a potential future painting project. In this case, you may be wondering: When does paint expire?

Paint does indeed have an expiration date. But, with proper storage, you could very well use the leftover paint for touch ups or a painting project down the line. Let’s learn more about the expiration dates of interior paint and how to store leftover paint from your Denver home painting project. 

Signs That Your Leftover Paint is Unusable

The exact time frame for how long leftover paint lasts can vary. But, some signs indicate there are signs that indicate whether or not stored paint is still good for use. By checking for these signs, you can quickly figure out whether or not to use that can of paint that you’ve been storing. 

Puffed Up Can

Before you open up a leftover can of paint, take a good, hard look at it. If the can looks like it’s bulging, or if the lid has puffed outward, it’s time to toss it. That puffed or bulging look indicated that bacteria are feeding on the paint and emitting gas. This causes the can to inflate. 


Simply taking a smell of your leftover paint can quickly tell you whether or not it’s expired. Expired paint sometimes smells rancid. This is due to mold growth in the can. As paint sits, especially if it’s improperly stored, bacteria can start to affect it and cause mold to develop. Once mold has grown in the paint, it can’t be used and should be disposed of. 


The texture of leftover paint can also indicate whether or not it’s okay to use. Lumps in the leftover paint could be a sign that the paint has expired. Changes in temperature cause these lumps and will make it difficult for you to get a smooth layer of paint. 

That said, lumps don’t always mean that it’s the end of the road for your can of paint in Denver. If there are very few lumps in a gallon can of paint, you can pour the paint through a paint strainer. You can find a paint strainer at most hardware stores. But, if you try to mix your paint after straining it and it won’t remain uniform, even after mixing for ten to fifteen minutes, the paint is too far gone.

Test It

When in doubt, you can simply test the paint on a scrap of cardboard. This test can tell you whether or not the paint can still be applied smoothly, the color is consistent all the way through, and the texture is smooth. If your paint test yields less-than-desirable results, you’ll be better off purchasing a new can. 

What About Sealed Cans of Paint?

Sealed cans of paint can, predictably, last longer than opened cans of paint. Unopened solvent-based oil paints, for example, may last for as long as 15 years or more, so long as you store them away from extreme temperatures. An unopened can of water-based acrylic or latex paint may last for up to a decade. 

How To Store Paint Properly

To make leftover paint last for as long as possible, proper storage is crucial. Here are our top tips for paint storage to boost your chances of being able to use the leftover paint in the future:

  1. Label the can. 

By writing information about the paint straight on the can, you’ll be able to remember what it can be used for if you ever need it down the line. Plus, if you want to repurchase the paint, you’ll be able to check its name. Label the can with the name of the paint, the number of the paint, and the type of surface that you used it for.  

  1. Create a tight seal. 

A tight seal on your leftover paint can help keep moisture and dust particles from reaching the paint. Wipe away any residual paint before sealing it, and use a plastic bag underneath the lid to create an even tighter seal. If you don’t have much paint leftover, consider transferring it to a smaller container so that it’s packed more tightly. 

  1. Store it in a dry, cool place. 

Keep the paint away from temperature extremes and humidity. These factors could quickly separate the paint or prompt mold to develop.

Contact Brush Strokes Painting – The best painting contractor Denver.