How do You Store Paint in Your Garage?

There’s one guarantee after you finish a painting project: leftover paint.

Most people think you can throw it on a shelf in your garage, but there’s more to properly storing paint than that. 

Do you know how to properly store paint?

Read on to find out. 

What Is The Right Temperature For Paint Storage?

The ideal temperature range for storing paint is usually between 50°F and 80°F (10°C and 27°C), with humidity levels between 40% and 60%. Anything outside this range can cause the paint to deteriorate or become unusable.

For example, extreme heat can cause the solvents in paint to evaporate, making the paint thicker and harder to apply. Alternatively, high temperatures can dry out the paint, form hard skin on the surface, or even develop mold. 

On the other end of the spectrum, freezing temperatures can break down paint’s composition, making it difficult to use. 

Paint cans in front of a garage

High humidity during storage can affect paint as well. Moisture in the air can penetrate the paint container can cause the paint to thicken, separate, or become lumpy. 

This is in addition to causing metal paint cans to rust, compromising the can’s integrity.

When you’re ready to use the paint, it’s important to let it come to room temperature before opening the can. This can help prevent any issues that may have occurred due to improper storage. 

Is it OK to Store Paint In The Garage?

Most garages lack insulation, so storing paint in your garage is off-limits if you live somewhere with extreme temperatures or humidity.  

Ideally, you should choose a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

Interior closets or storage rooms are your best option. Laundry rooms, while tempting, may have higher humidity if not vented correctly, so you’ll want to avoid them. 

If your garage’s climate is suitable for storing your paint, you still need to pick the right spot.  

Metal cans should ideally not be stored on an open concrete floor. They will inevitably attract some moisture and begin to rust.  

Place your paint cans on a shelf or other raised surface to help prevent them from getting wet or damp. If you have a spare cabinet, this is the best option to keep your paint cool and dry. 

It’s worth noting that different types of paint may have different storage requirements, so it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Finally, if you have small children or pets, keep paint stored safely out of reach to prevent accidental spills or ingestion.

How to Store Paint

If you do choose to store paint in your garage, there are a few steps you can take to help ensure that it stays in good condition. 

Even if you have a perfectly climate-controlled garage storage solution, it’s meaningless unless you store your paint in the proper containers. 

I use Shure-Line silicone paint can lids to store my unused paint. The silicone lids come in pint and gallon sizes, providing an airtight seal.

Best of all, they have an integrated spout to make pouring simple and clean. 

Shur-Line Mess-Free Store & Pour Paint Can Lid (2 Pack)
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Another option is to stretch a piece of cling wrap or some plastic membrane over the paint can. This will help create and maintain an airtight seal between the lid and the can. 

Before sealing your paint cans back up, clean away any excess paint lodged in the rim. Most people think the leftover paint acts like a seal, but it does the opposite. The surplus paint actually causes parts of the lid to improperly seal against the rest of the can.  

A clean lid also means easier setup the next time you want to use that paint. 

Picture the moment you finally get the paint-sealed lid peeled away. Flakes of old dried paint go hurling through the air and straight into the wet paint. Now you’re forced to spend time fishing out dried paint before you start your project.  

Of course, avoid using a rusty or damaged paint can. Rust will commonly flake off and mixes with the paint. 

Rust will also spread quickly, especially in humid garages. So it won’t be long before the rust chews a hole through the can wall, allowing air in or paint out.  

How Long Can Old Paint Be Stored?

The shelf life of unused paint can vary depending on several factors: 

  • The type of paint.
  • How it is stored.
  • The quality of the paint.

Typically, most types of paint can last for several years if stored properly.

Latex or water-based paint can usually last up to 10 years if the paint can is unopened. Once the can has been opened, the paint may dry out and thicken, making it more difficult to use. 

Oil-based paint, on the other hand, can last for up to 15 years if stored properly. Like latex paint, oil-based paint can also thicken over time, but it can be thinned with mineral spirits or paint thinner.

Even though unused paint can last for several years, it may not be usable, even if the can has not been opened. 

The quality of the paint can deteriorate over time, and the pigments may settle or separate, making it difficult or impossible to mix the paint properly.

If you’re not sure whether unused paint is still usable, there is a simple test you can perform. 

Stir the paint thoroughly and apply a small amount to a test surface. 

If the paint goes on smoothly and dries evenly, it’s probably still usable. If the paint is lumpy, doesn’t spread well, or doesn’t dry properly, it may be time to dispose of it and purchase fresh paint.

Wrapping It Up

Paint can be stored for several years if they are stored at the correct temperature, in a dry area, and in an airtight container. 

However, it’s not recommended to store paint in your garage. 

Most garages are too hot and cold for paint storage, leading to your paint going bad sooner than expected. 

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