Paints and primers: signs they are no longer usable
House paints and primers have a shelf-life of about five years, when properly sealed and stored. These materials will go bad faster if can lids are not properly sealed, or if they have been exposed to freezing temperatures. Avoid storing paint and primer in a garage, outdoor shed or area that is exposed to freezing temperatures. Damp storage areas may also cause metal can rust, which may also shorten the life of stored materials.
Signs that paint or primer is no longer useable and should be discarded:
- When material has frozen.
- A foul odor upon opening the can. Paint and primer that has a foul odor has spoiled and is unusable.
- Solid material in the bottom of the can that is difficult or impossible to dissolve by stirring.
- The presence of numerous rice-like particles in the paint.
The technical term for this condition is paint that has “gone to seed”.
- A rusted can resulting in rust in the paint or primer. Material coming out of a rusted can is often contaminated. It may be possible to remove rust by straining, but my advice is to purchase new paint or primer.
Paint and primer stored longer than five years should be taken to your local paint store for an evaluation.
If you are not sure whether a can of stored paint or primer is still usable, take it to your paint dealer.
NOTE: For paint and primer disposal instructions, contact your local Solid Waste Authority.
Detailed information about interior house painting surface preparation can be found in the book:
The Homeowner's Guide to Surface Preparation for Interior House Painting.
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