Learn How to Store Paint Properly During the Winter

Posted December 2, 2016 by RB Painting

You have painted and fixed up, inside and out. You won’t be using paint or brushes much during the winter, so you just walk away and leave the remaining materials in the shed or detached garage, where it will be easy to find in the spring. That’s not a problem, right? Maybe not, but it would be a safe bet that painting professionals and those who have experience painting their own homes will take the time to store their leftover paint inside.

You may be in for a surprise in March or April when you open paint cans left in an unheated shed or garage through the winter. People use latex paint for many purposes, particularly because it is water-based and easy to clean from brushes and hands. But if it is left outside with no temperature control, it will freeze. Even oil-based paints can freeze in winter, though at a lower temperature than water-based paint. You could cost yourself quite a bit of money if you have to throw old paint away when spring rolls around again.

Paint Consistency

If allowed to freeze, paint consistency will change. If you thaw it, it will often have clumps or be “stringy” and not suitable for a smooth surface. The simple solution is, of course, to find a place where you can store the paint cans to keep them from getting too cold. If you have a basement that holds a steady temperature, put the paint there. If you have a heated garage, that can be an ideal location. If neither of these options will work for you, you can also put the cans of paint in your attic. The temperature will generally stay several degrees warmer than the outside air.

However, you don’t want to store your paint in a place that gets too warm. Keep in mind, paint manufacturers put a temperature range on their directions for a reason. Quality paints perform better when they are moderately cool—but not cold. They also perform better in moderate temperatures—but not too warm. Use these guidelines for storing paint as well.

You should also take care to seal the paint cans well. You may even want to put a layer of plastic wrap around the can to make it even more airtight. A rubber mallet is best for tapping the lids closed, though some of the “old timers” used a smooth piece of wood and a hammer to get the same results. Some people even take the time to put the cans in a plastic tub to prevent any chance of leaking.

Paint Gone Bad

Sometimes, even the best paints are no longer suitable for use if they sit around too long. This happens when all the liquid evaporates away, leaving only the glue-like solids. If you open a can and have a solid mass, you should buy new paint. If the paint smells very, very bad, or if there is evidence of mold, you should also make a trip to the paint store. Take a bit of extra time to properly store your paint and make it last.