How to Tell If Paint Is Bad

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Estimated reading time: 2 min

People often store leftover paint in the garage, the basement, or a shed. They may not know when they will need it again, so they put it there and forget about it. When the day comes that they need to touch something up or decide to paint something else, they may not remember how long it has been there. In these cases, it is important to know whether the paint is bad or not. Paint that has gone bad will not adhere properly to the objects that are painted, and it may need to be thrown out. Read on for some tips that let you know that your paint is bad.

The Paint Has Dried Out

Depending on how you stored the paint, it may dry out. This is obvious because the paint will no longer be a liquid. You will open the top and see paint that is hard as a rock. You might consider keeping a chip of this dried paint in case you want to color match it, but there is nothing you can do to make the paint liquid and usable.

Paint dries from exposure to the air, so it is likely that when you put the lid on to store it, it wasn’t sealed. In fact, it can be hard to place the lid on the paint and get an air-tight seal. One idea is to put clear plastic wrap over the top of the paint can and then place the lid over it and tap it with a rubber mallet until it is firmly in place. This can help to prevent the paint from drying out.

The Paint Smells Bad

Another sign that your paint has gone bad is that it smells bad or is moldy. Sometimes when you put paint away, bacteria gets sealed inside. If this is the case, it can cause mold over time. You will probably notice a bad smell coming from the can, and when this happens, you will need to throw it out. You really shouldn’t even try to remove the mold and use other parts of the paint because the entire can has been contaminated. You need to toss it and get another can to work with.

The Paint Is Chunky

People don’t always realize that paint doesn’t do well when it is in a location with an extreme variation of climate. Paint shouldn’t be kept in a place that is too hot and humid, nor should it be kept in a place that is too cold and dry. If you live in one of these climates and store your old paint cans in the garage without climate control, you may find that it goes bad.

When you open the paint, it will have separated, which is normal. You need to stir it to mix the ingredients again and turn it back into creamy paint. However, if you notice chunks in the paint that will not integrate when you stir it, the paint may have gone bad. These chunks can develop when the paint is exposed to constant freezing and thawing or from rust in the paint can. If this is the case, you shouldn’t use the paint.

You can take the paint and strain it to remove the chunks, and if the rest of the paint is okay, you can try using it. It is important to filter the chunks out before you try. While this may work in some conditions, if you are able to, you should consider throwing it out and replacing it. Using paint that has gone bad can leave you with a paint job that won’t last, and you will have to redo it much sooner than you planned. If your paint has been stored in temperatures too hot or cold, it has likely gone bad.

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