When Paint Goes Bad

OK, you have some paint that’s been sitting around for for months, maybe even years. You carefully remove the lid with high hopes of reusing the remaining paint for your next project only to discover the container resembles what is pictured above. Your paint dreams are quickly dashed and you question what caused your paint to go bad. Vintage Soul would like to offer some tips and hints on what makes paint go bad AND how to avoid it.

  • If the paint has separated as shown in the above picture (left) , pitch it. Some darker colors will have a color separation but not a watery look on the top; the paint should be discarded.
  • When the paint looks thick or gritty under the water layer… pitch it! The paint has gone South and is not coming home.
  • Keep the perimeter of the paint container and lid free from paint build-up. Wipe the container edges with a baby wipe and ensure the lids are tightened securely.
  • Dispose of any paint with a rancid odor. If you use it, the odor may get even worse after the paint is applied and dries.
  • Paint will generally separate after 5 years if not stored properly. Proper storage requires that paint lids are tight and the paint container is stored at the recommended temperatures posted on the paint can. Never allow the paint to freeze.
  • Paint cans can rust from the inside out. When this happens, the paint becomes contaminated and is rendered unusable.
  • Purchase paint in the amount needed for your project. Don’t buy a gallon if you only need a quart. The price of the gallon may lure you into thinking it’s a better deal; however, it’s not such a deal when you end up pitching more than half the paint at a later date.


These photos depict actual examples of someone who used old, leftover paint found in a basement to make their own version of chalk paint. Needless to say, the paint had the appearance of all things good until a few weeks/months later.

Mildew on Paint
A good manufacturing practice is to put the manufacturing date on any perishable product sold to the consumer. No retailer wants to discover that someone manufactured a chalk-based paint from old paint found in the shed or garage. The market place is over-saturated with do-it-yourself chalk-paint claims, it is imperative you know you are dealing with a reputable and knowledgeable company with experienced staff in the painting and design industry.

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