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Spray paint is a versatile and convenient type of paint that comes in aerosol cans. It is a fast-drying paint used for various applications such as automotive, craft, and home improvement projects. The use of spray paint is so widespread that it can be used for a variety of different projects, from simple touch-ups to colorful street art.

In some cases, spray paint may sit in storage for long periods before being used, so it can be difficult to determine if it can still be used. People often wonder if spray paint has a shelf life and does spray paint expire? In this article, we’ll address the factors that can impact the shelf life of spray paint, and what you can do to ensure that your spray paint remains usable for as long as possible.

How long does spray paint last?

Spray paint can indeed expire. Generally speaking, a can’s “best by” or “manufactured on” date on a spray paint can is not an absolute indication of when the paint will no longer be useful, since the shelf life of spray paint varies depending on the type of paint, preservatives added to the formula, storage conditions, temperature, humidity and the manufacturing date.

The spray paint last after opening generally ranges from 2 to 4 years. Paint may deteriorate after this period and cause clogging, inconsistent color, and reduced spray pressure.

For example, if a can is stored in a garage or basement that experiences extreme temperatures, the heat can cause the paint to degrade before the expiration date. In the same way, if the can is not properly stored or exposed to moisture or humidity, the paint can clog or become too thin, reducing its quality.

For this reason, spray paint should be stored in a cool, dry place, and the can should be checked regularly for any signs of damage or leaks. As a result, paint will last longer and remain usable for a longer period of time. Make sure that the aerosol can has the latest expiration date on the bottom. 

Popular spray paintExpiry date of spray paint from production date
Rust-Oleum spray paint3-4 years
Krylon cans2- 4 years
Montana spray cans10 years
Ironlak spray paint can2 years

Why Does Spray Paint Expire?

man used expired spray paint can on walls

A basic understanding of paint’s composition is necessary to understand why opened spray paint expires. Three main components make up spray paint: solvents, pigments, and resins.

Here it is important to note that unopened or unused spray paint will also become expired. Over time, unopened spray paint components undergo chemical reactions. Furthermore, spray paint components can react with other chemicals in the environment, including humidity and temperature.

Here are the reasons for spray paint to expire for several reasons, including:

  1. Solvents can evaporate faster, making the paint thicker and less fluid. Consequently, spray pressure can be reduced and color can be inconsistent due to clogging of the spray nozzle.
  2. Pigments can separate from paint when exposed to high humidity and extreme temperatures, reducing paint’s quality and shelf life.
  3. The chemical composition of the paint can be broken down by UV light and high temperatures.
  4. Mold, mildew, and other microorganisms can contaminate paint with moisture, which can lead to spoilage.
  5. Some spray paint ingredients, such as solvents, have a limited shelf life and can lose their effectiveness or even become hazardous over time.
  6. Spray paint components can react with other chemicals in the environment, including humidity and temperature.
  7. Old spray paint cans may expire, leading to issues with their effectiveness and the quality of the paint when applied.

Spray paint can lose its effectiveness when it is exposed to these factors, making it less effective or possibly harmful if applied after it has expired. It is therefore critical to check the expiration date of spray paint before using it, and to discard expired cans.

Do paint cans have dates on them?

Spray paints have expiration dates on them. These are the manufacturer’s best estimates of when the paint will lose its potency, but it may still be useful for a while after, if kept in suitable environment. In case of doubt, do not use expired paint.

Did you know:

Expired spray paint can lead to drips and other problems, but we’ve got a solution. See the detailed guide for fixing paint drips.

How to read spray paint expiration date?

expiration date mentioned at the bottom of aerosol can

The way you read the expiration date on a can of spray paint can vary depending on the manufacturer. However, generally it will be indicated as a date or a code. Here are a few examples:

  1. Date format: An expiration date can be written as a month and year, like “EXP 10/21” for October 2021.
  2. Manufacturers sometimes use a lot code, which represents the date of manufacture, using a series of numbers or letters. For example, “R1021” could indicate that the paint was made in October 2021. You can check the manufacturer’s website or product manual for more information about interpreting the code.

how to tell if paint is bad?

opened spray paint expire

When open spray paint expire, there are a few signs to look for:

  1. Inconsistency or color change: Paint that changes color or becomes more viscous may be expired.
  2. Extreme conditions: Paint that has been exposed to extreme temperatures or stored in a damp environment will likely be damaged, even if it hasn’t expired.
  3. Pressure loss: An expired can of spray paint may not release paint as effectively as a fresh can or may come out in an inconsistent pattern.
  4. Unusual odor: Smelly paint has a strong, pungent, sour, or off-smelling odor.
  5. Rust on the can: A rusty can indicates that the paint has been exposed to moisture, which can lead to spoilage.
  6. Expiration date: Spray paint cans are typically marked with an expiration date on the side or bottom, indicating when they were manufactured.

How long does Waterproof & Non-waterproof spray paint last?

People often asked, Does paint expire if not opened?

Unopened latex paint can last for up to 10 years if stored in a cool, dry place and kept tightly sealed.

Latex acrylic paint contains water as its primary solvent and has a shorter shelf life than oil-based paints. When latex paint is opened, it can dry out, thicken, and become less fluid when exposed to air and moisture, making it harder to apply evenly. The paint may separate, resulting in solids settling at the bottom, which can result in inconsistent color.

Additionally, mold and mildew can also grow more readily on water-based spray paints in humid environments. Leaving paint in a damp environment can cause it to release an unpleasant odor and cause its surface to become slimy, indicating that it is spoiling.

In contrast, waterproof spray paints (oil-based) are not significantly affected by moisture and may have a longer shelf life.

Unopened oil-based paint tends to have a longer shelf life, often up to 15 years or more if stored properly.

Unlike water-based paints, oil-based paints dry through chemical reaction rather than evaporation. So moisture will have less impact on paint quality and shelf life. It is also less likely that mold and mildew will grow on oil-based paints.

Can you use expired spray paint?

No, you shouldn’t use expired spray paints. When a spray expires, its ingredients may break down, resulting in a change in its effectiveness, pH and safety. When a spray paint loses potency and efficacy over time, it becomes less effective at fulfilling its intended purpose. So, what happens if you use expired spray?

In some cases, using an expired spray can lead to adverse reactions such as skin irritation, infections or other health problems. Therefore, you should always check the expiration date, and dispose of any sprays that have passed their expiration date before using any spray cans.

What is the ideal temperature to use and store spray paint?

If spray paint is used after its expiration date, it may result in uneven coverage or clogging of the nozzle. In my experience, spray paint past its expiration date can leave mixed results. The paint sometimes worked well, but sometimes it failed to spray evenly or resulted in clumps of paint. In general, if the can has been stored properly and shows no signs of damage, it can still be usable after expiration. In any case, you should always do a small test first. If the paint does not perform as expected, it is better to dispose of it properly and buy a new one.

A can that is exposed to high temperatures may develop pressure inside, which could lead to an explosion or leak inside. If there is too much humidity, rust or corrosion will develop on the can, which will damage the can and affect the quality of the paint.

The ideal temperature and humidity to store spray paint is in a cool, dry place with a temperature between 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit (10-24 degrees Celsius) and a humidity level of less than 50%.

Keep the paint in a dry, well-ventilated place, after closing the lid. Also, it is important to store spray paint away from heat sources, flames, or direct sunlight, as this can also affect the can and the paint. With the right storage and use, spray paint can be extended and used consistently for a longer period of time.

Does Rust-Oleum spray paint expire?

Yes, Rust-Oleum spray paint can expire over time. It is estimated that Rust-Oleum spray paint will last for about three to four years if it is unopened. A date appears on the bottom of the can indicating when it was made.

Paint gradually deteriorates over time when exposed to air, light, and temperature changes. The quality and performance of paint may decrease as it ages, resulting in uneven coverage or color changes.

It is recommended that unopened cans be stored away from heat in a dry and favorable environment. This will enable them to maintain their quality for a longer period of time.

Does Krylon spray paint expire?

Krylon spray paint cans have a shelf life of about three to four years. Paint may begin to degrade after that, resulting in uneven coverage, clogging, or color changes. The lifespan of Krylon spray paint is 2 to 4 years, depending on storage and care.

Can spray cans be recycled?

Spray cans can be recycled, but their contents pose a potential hazard, so they must be handled carefully. Metal cans are usually made of aluminum or steel, and these materials are recyclable. It’s important not to recycle spray cans in the regular recycling bin as they can explode and cause harm to recycling workers. Hazardous waste should be taken to a specialized recycling facility.

Some areas have special collection or drop-off programs for hazardous materials. You can find recycling centers and waste management facilities that can help you dispose of waste properly.

Final thoughts On Does Spray Paint Expire?

In conclusion, spray paint shelf life varies based on several factors, including its type, storage conditions, and preservatives. On average, spray paints last for about 2-4 years before they need to be replaced, but it’s important to inspect them before using them, since they may have faded over time. In case of doubt, buy a new spray paint can to ensure a high-quality finish that will last. In addition to learning does spray paint expire, you will also learned about how to prevent spray paint from expiring.

FAQs On spray paint expiration date

It is typically expected that spray paint will last anywhere from two to five years on metal surfaces.

However, proper preparation, priming, and spray painting in a controlled environment can extend the lifespan of some spray paints, enabling them to last up to 8-12 years or more.

Spray paint on metal can be significantly impacted by factors such as metal type (e.g., steel, aluminum, iron), surface texture, and corrosion and rust. If you want your paint to last, it’s best to clean and prime the metal surface before painting it, and to choose a paint designed specifically for metals.

Yes, spray paint cans can explode in high temperatures, particularly when left in direct sunlight and in hot cars. As a result, the heat can increase the pressure inside the can, which can lead to its explosion or burst.

For example, spray paint may contain solvents or other chemicals that become flammable or toxic at high temperatures. Therefore, storage of spray paint cans should be done in a cool, dry place away from heat or flames in order to avoid explosions. Furthermore, when transporting spray paint, keep it in the trunk or in a cool, shaded area.

Martina Hitchcock-Holapaints writer

Martina Hitchcock

Martina Hitchcock is a versatile author with expertise in different fields. As a paint sprayer expert, she has in-depth knowledge of paint spraying techniques, tools, and equipment. Martina is also an experienced home remodeler who has worked on various projects, including kitchen and bathroom renovations, flooring installations, and room additions. Her knowledge of home improvement and remodeling is extensive, and she enjoys sharing her insights and tips with readers. You can follow her on Facebook.

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