Why Do I Need to Keep Leftover Paint and How Long Should I Keep it?

Why Do I Need to Keep Leftover Paint and How Long Should I Keep it?

You’ve finally finished working on a massive project that’s been days or even weeks in the making. It’s been a lot of effort, but it was all worth it, and all that remains to be done now is to clean up. Unfortunately, while that’s easy enough for things such as ladders and paint brushes, you now have a bunch of excess paint cans. However, you can’t just throw away excess paint – and actually, you shouldn’t want to, anyway.

Leftover paint may seem like trash, but stored properly, it can be a cost-saving treasure trove.

Why You Can’t Throw Out Paint

If you’re wondering why you can’t just throw out paint, think about why it’s necessary to always ensure that you paint in a well-ventilated area. Paints contain chemicals and emit fumes, which can build up over time in the cans. Throwing away paint cans can thus create a significant safety risk. 

How to Dispose of Paint Properly

While there are special paint disposal areas where they can be treated safely so as to ensure their chemical nature or hazardous fumes don’t harm others, they are often too much of a hassle to bother with for everyday use.

Instead of simply chucking the paint in your trash can, therefore, you’ll want to Google around for paint disposal sites near you and see where the closest one is. Most sites offer a standard collection center, while others offer events where you can donate leftover paint.

In fact, donating the paint to a needy and worthwhile cause may be one of the best choices you can make. You get rid of some unwanted paint cans that are taking up space in your garage, and a school club or program in need can get the paint supplies they need.

How Long Does Paint Last?

Of course, that is contingent upon the paint still being good in the first place.

There is no single timeline for how long paint cans will last, but you can tell a lot by the type of paint in question. For example, latex and acrylic paints that are water-based can last for up to 10 years in an unopened paint can. Similarly, alkyd as well as oil-based paints can last even longer, topping out at around 15 years. Once you pop the can, the countdown to inevitable spoilage has begun, but even so, as long as you close the lid again and store them in good condition, you should still be able to get several months or years of usage out of them. 

That said, that’s contingent upon the paint being stored in good condition, meaning:

  • It is kept away from extreme heat or cold
  • The cans are covered in some way 
  • The paint consistency has not gone excessively watery or chunky
  • The paint does not smell rancid
  • The paint does not contain a thick layer of skin

Try a test brush of paint on a surface to see if it has maintained its integrity before using leftover paint.

Thankfully, however, leftover paint can often be salvaged and used for years to come.

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