How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last?

how long does acrylic paint last

Does acrylic paint have an expiration date? on average, acrylic paint can last up to 15 years before it needs to be thrown away. However, if we have to contextualize the question, then there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how long acrylic paint lasts. A lot of times, you can easily figure out when it’s time to thrash a can of acrylic paint.

On the other hand, this estimation is dependent on the type of acrylic paint you’re using. Is the paint alkyd and oil-based or latex and water-based? Again, how and where you store the paint also matters. Each of these determines the longevity of the paint.

Typically, alkyd and oil-based paint comes with a high level of sheen, unlike water-based paint that features a lower sheen coat. But water-based paint lasts longer on surfaces than oil-based acrylic paint.

Let’s find out other things:

If your paint can is intact and unopened….

It depends on whether the paint is the slow-drying Alkyd. Alkyd and water-based acrylic paint in an unopened can with a proper storage system can last up to 15 years. However, for latex and oil-based paint in the same condition and with excellent storage, you can use it after 10 years.

The idea is that unopened paint comes can maintain its liquid and semi-solid ratio for a long time. This makes it usable after many years. Even if the paint has separated, you can still use it after stirring for some 5 minutes. 

What if the paint can has been opened?

This is a bit tricky. But the thing about acrylic paint is that it dries out pretty quickly. So, if the can is opened and left uncovered for a long time, the paint may not be usable again. This is because once exposed to atmospheric air for a long period, paint tends to lose its chemical composition and make-up ratios.

However, if properly stored after opening, your paint may still last for up to 2 years. Even at that, you’ll still need to test for effectiveness and usability. Simply open the can, remove the thick layer on top of the content, stir the paint and drop on a piece of cardboard. Old paint is not usable sometimes.

But what if the paint’s exposed to extreme weather…?

Acrylic paint that has its can opened and is exposed to the elements for a long time is like salt that lost its savors. It’ll be time to get rid of it from your garage and thrash it in a bin. It won’t last a day. Extreme cold or heat is harmful to the effectiveness of any paint, whether acrylic or not. In any case, take a paint test to see if it produces a grainy texture.

acrylic paint for extreme weather

Final Thoughts

Overall, whether unopened, opened or exposed to the elements, you will need to test your acrylic paint on a piece of cloth or cardboard. It runs smoothly on the surface, it means you’re good to go. Otherwise, if it produces lumps after stirring, then you have to throw it away and on your way to the paint store.

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