Do you have some old cans of leftover paint in your home and want to know if it is still usable for further touch-ups? Old indoor paint could stay functional for a couple of years if completely sealed and safely stored away.

Painting a house with poor paint can lead to an offensive smell. Poor paint may also leave a rugged texture on the painted wall, which will quickly start to fade.

Paint cans are not labeled with expiry dates, and there are specific steps to know if your old paint is still usable. Keep scrolling to learn more! 

Unopened paint

Properly sealed paint, that is still unopened, is still usable even after several years. You don’t have to make sure if it is fine or not because water-based acrylic paints and unopened latex are known to be usable for up to 10 years.

If you have oil-based paint and alkyd paint cans, they have a lifespan of up to 15 years if unopened. The proportion of semi-solids and liquids define the period to use the paints. The ratio of these elements starts changing as soon as you open the paints, and the adequately sealed unopened paints maintain this proportion.

It is always better to test the paint cans that were left unopened for several years. Use the paint stirrer to mix the contents that were inside the cans for a long time. After stirring up the paint, try it on a piece of the cupboard to see if it is still usable.

  1. Shake well before opening 

If your paint cans were stored in the basement for several years, shaking the container should be the first step. The paint components are separated if the container is not being used due to the long storage time. 

Old Paint

The unopened paint containers can face the conditions of extreme temperature in some cases. So mixing up the paint vigorously for a couple of minutes with a stirrer’s help will help you avoid the deterioration of your unused paint. 

With that vigorous stir, if you find that paint is looking normal, you can use it. But if some visible grainy bits and lumps are not mixing, it implies that paint components are not mixing properly and paint is not usable anymore.

  1. Smell Your Paint

The smell of usable paint doesn’t lie. If you don’t smell the paint’s original smell, it shows that your paint is not usable because of contamination. You cannot use the paint to freshen up the look of your home.

Smelling the paint to know whether it has been contaminated may seem difficult because both unusable and contaminated paint develops the unpleasant smell. In some cases, you cannot even detect the smell of the expired paint.

  1. Thickened skin on the top of the paint

There could be a thickened layer on the top surface of paint, but that layer doesn’t imply your paint is not usable. That layer is easy to remove and you can use some tick or stirrer to gently take out that skin. But you will have to take out that layer with care because that skin can break inside the paint.

The broken layer inside the paint can mix with the rest of the paint, affecting the efficiency of your paint. Take out the skin by keeping it intact so that it doesn’t break and mix with the paint. If you cannot remove the top skin, there is another option of using the paint filter. 

The paint filters will remove the thickened skin effectively without breaking and mixing the skin, removing the lumps.

  1. Rusted paint container 

You may face the condition of rusted paint containers, which can contaminate the paint. But in most cases, the corrosion of the container doesn’t affect the efficiency of paint because it will not be in contact with your paint.

You can avoid corrosion by keeping the paint container in a dry environment where no humidity comes in contact with the container. There are plastic containers available for water-based paints for reducing the chances of corrosion.

If you find the corrosion in direct contact with the paint, you will have to recycle it. But if you don’t find the direct contact between these two elements, it implies that your paint is still useable.

Rusted paint container
  1. Hardened solids inside the paint

The paint’s long-term storage can lead to the separation of solids and liquid inside the paint cans. If the solids are stirring smoothly back into liquid, it indicated that your paint is not spoiled yet, and you can use it.

In some cases, these solids get hardened on the bottom of the paint container and do not mix properly with the liquid. This is a clear indication that the spoiled paint is completely spoiled and not usable anymore. 

There could also be mold and mildew inside the paint container, which is due to the broken seal of the paint can.


The rust, mold, mildew, odd color, and the unpleasant or unusual smell are signs to look for if your paint is still usable. These are the reasons to believe that the quality of stored paint is affected, and you cannot use these containers to freshen up your walls in your homes.

Colorful paint drops

If you are unsure about the quality of the stored paint, you can ask a professional. WeServe is a platform that helps you find the best service providers available in your area. You can discover and request services from highly skilled workers with the help of our mobile app.

Download the App now from Google Store or IOS App Store

Recommended Posts