How Long Does Spray Paint Last? Does Spray Paint Expire


Last updated: February 19, 2024

Find reasons why spray paints go bad and how to extend their lives.

How long does spray paint last? Does Spray Paint Expire

Does spray paint expire? Like other industrial products, spray paints are generally formulated to last longer, even after the container has been opened. That’s why most people believe that such products cannot go bad.

However, this is not true since several factors determine how long spray paint can stay on the shelf, and the expiry date is often indicated on the can. 

So how long does spray paint last? Unlike powder coats and traditional liquid paint, spray paint can last only a few years. But the highest quality brands can be used for up to 10 years which is good if you have recurrent painting projects and work on a tight budget. 

Keep reading to learn more about the durability of spray paints and the conditions necessary to maintain such longevity.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last?

On average, spray paint can last for as little as two years or as long as three years from the date of manufacture if the standard storage conditions are met. However, some unique paint brands are formulated to last as long as ten years. More superior quality paints have a longer lifespan beyond ten years.

Top 5 Reasons Why Spray Paint Go Bad

There are several reasons why spray paint of even the highest quality can go bad, rendering them useless. That should answer the question: can spray paint expire? 

Looking at the following reasons, we will understand how and why spray paint goes bad. 

1. Temperature Variations

One significant factor that affects the longevity of spray paint is temperature. 

If the paint is stored in a hot environment, the high temperatures lead to faster drying and cracking, making it inappropriate to use. 

That means if you live in a hotter climate, you should be keen on better storage conditions for your spray paint. 

But heat is not the only problem that affects your spray paint. These products are also sensitive to colder climates. 

Your spray paint is likely to shrink when exposed to higher humidity levels. In addition, some chemical composition of your spray paint, like pigments, contains retardants that slow the drying process. 

2. Relative Humidity

The relative humidity is known to ruin spray paint, irrespective of brand or quality. The moisture in the air naturally causes the spray paint to dry partially, making it sticky and difficult to use. 

Spray Paint is formulated to dry faster when exposed to air. That’s why it’s easier to use and ideal for most DIY paint jobs compared to standard paints.  

However, when there are high humidity levels, the spray paint surface stays wet much longer, resulting in lumpiness. 

3. Too Much Sunlight

Excessive sunlight is another factor that impacts the longevity of spray paint. It breaks down the chemical compounds in the spray paint resulting in it drying up, losing color, and becoming brittle. 

4. Loss of Aerosol Pressures

With each use of spray paint, the aerosol pressure escapes out through the tube. 

That means the more you use the spray paint, the more you lose aerosol pressure. 

And when aerosol pressures are diminished, the chances of spray paint expiring are higher, no matter the quality.

5. Chemical Interactions and External Environment

When VOCs in spray paints interact with ultraviolet lights, heat, or other substances, a chemical interaction occurs, which may spoil the product. 

However, in this case, the most common cause of spray paint expiry is interaction with other substances.

When tiny external particles and contaminants get inside the spray paint can, they get mixed with the paint formula, thus altering its quality. 

Fortunately, the latest spray paint is formulated with the highest quality ingredients and a bounce-back system that helps protect the paint formula from oxygen and external particles.

What Happens When Spray Paint Expires?

You can still use your spray paint even after it has lived past its sell-by date. It all depends on the brand and product quality since some paints can be usable even after expiry.

When you use the product less frequently and keep the can tightly closed, the pigments may recede and settle at the bottom of the can. The result of this is sediment clogging, making the paint unusable

Most spray paint brands, however, are formulated with additives and resin that help counter this problem. 

When your paint is expired but still usable, consider shaking it at least thrice to mix it evenly and create an even surface coat. 

The only challenge you may experience with expired spray paint is dribbling on your hands when you attempt to spray. 

In addition, the product may not be easy to dispense if you don’t use it for a long time. 

How to Extend the Life of Your Spray Paint to Last Longer

Spray paint has a specific lifespan. But you can use it even after the expiration period when stored correctly. Here are a few tips on how to extend the lifespan of spray paint:

  1. Read and understand product specifications on the label: Ensure you read and understand the spray paint and usage procedure specifications as indicated on the label. That particular spray paint may have different information not found on other similar brands.

  2. Shake the can  Properly before use: This is a basic procedure that applies to many canned liquid products. Before using spray paint, ensure you shake it properly to achieve a uniform formula. Maintain this procedure for as long as you use the spray paint, even after it has stayed on the shelf much longer. 

  3. Use Warm Water Solution: At some point, your spray paint begins to thicken. Other times the flow of pain may be inconsistent, unlike when you first used it when it was still new. Consider using warm water to stop it from solidifying too fast. Put the spray paint can in warm water and allow it to rest for several minutes. The warm water will make the paint thin again. 

  4. Store in A Dry Place:  One rule of thumb you must never ignore when dealing with spray paint is storage in ideal conditions. Always keep your spray paints in a dry place with the lid tightly shut after every use. Experts agree that storing spray paint at an appropriate temperature of  30° C (86° F) and above will help preserve the quality of these products and curb premature deterioration. 

How Long Does Spray Paint Last?

Does Spray Paint Expire if Never Opened?

The shelf life of unopened spray paint can be longer than if it was previously used. Storage conditions also play a crucial role here, meaning spray paint should be stored in a dry place where it can’t be frozen.

In addition, product quality and ingredients are other factors worth considering. The higher the quality, the longer the shelf life. The container should also be good enough to protect the paint from external contaminants.

Can You Use Expired Spray Paint?

Yes. Some spray paints are reusable even after they have passed the expiry date. If you want to use spray paint that has overstayed on the shelf, shake the aerosol thoroughly in an upside-down position for at least two minutes before use. 

Next, spray test the paint on a sample object to see if it’s usable before painting your desired object. 

Perhaps the spray paint is beyond use and may damage what you intended to paint. Or it could be a case of a clogged nozzle, in which case you can blow it out with compressed air to unclog it

If this doesn’t work, your spray paint may have lost a lot of pressure and cannot be used. We recommend cleaning and storing the nozzles for future use instead. 

How Long Does Spray Paint Last Before It Dries?

It all depends on brand quality. Some spray paints can last up to a year or more before it begins to develop an oxygen reaction. 

Others only take a month to experience a breakdown. But once spray paint is used and exposed to external elements, it slowly begins to harden. 

That’s why it must be stored in an airtight container to avoid external contamination. It’s also advisable to keep the spray paint can in a cool dark place with the can kept upside down to prevent the nozzle from clogging. 

And always remember to shake the paint thoroughly before using it to help distribute the formula evenly. 

How Long Does Rustoleum Spray Paint Last

If not opened, Rust-Oleum spray paint can last five years from the date of manufacture. 

To ascertain the date, check out the bottom of the can to determine the shelf life of your Rust-Oleum spray paint.

How Long Does Leftover Paint Last?

Sometimes your spray painting project may require a single or a few paint cans. In such cases, you may be left with excess spray paint that may be used in future projects. 

How long does leftover paint last? The answer depends on the type of spray paint. 

For example, oil-based spray paints can last up to 3 years if stored in good condition. 

On the other hand, water-based paints can last for 24 months before developing signs of oxidation. 

It’s advisable to use up leftover spray paint within a year after opening to prevent it from going to waste. 

The longer it stays on the shelf after opening, the more it’s exposed to the elements, and the more it will become ineffective before eventually drying up. 

7 Best Spray Paints and Their Time to the Expiration Date

Different types of spray paint are suitable for different projects, so it is advisable to do some research to determine the suitability of the paints for given projects.

Below are some of the best spray paints in the market, their unique qualities, and how long they stay on the shelf before expiry. 

1. Rust-Oleum

Rust-Oleum spray paint.  This type of spray paint is ideally used on metal surfaces. As the name implies, it’s rustproof and dries quickly.  

Oil-based paint is excellent for coating metal surfaces and protecting against corrosion and weather elements. 

Rust-Oleum spray paint cans are also designed with a patented trigger that makes them comfortable to use for longer projects. 

If unopened, this particular paint can last at least three years from the production date before it expires. 

2. Krylon

Krylon is ideal for both commercial and DIY domestic use. Like Rust-Oleum, it’s suitable for metal surfaces since it’s rustproof and offers immense weather protection. 

It’s a versatile product that applies to other materials like wood and plastic. An example of such Krylon paint is the ColorMaster brand. 

Krylon can last for 3 to 5 years before it goes bad, especially if it stays unopened from the date of manufacture.

3. Ironlak

Another paint brand that’s popular with street artists is Ironlak. It’s best known for having bright colors, versatility, and affordability. 

Ironlak can be used on various surfaces and indoor and outdoor painting projects. 

It’s one of the most eco-friendly products on the market since it contains fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Ironlak can maintain its original quality from the date of production up to two years. 

4. Seymour

Seymour spray paints protect surfaces against rust and are not susceptible to sag issues. This brand is great for protective coating and has the highest quality ingredients. 

You can achieve an excellent shiny paint finish with just a single coat of Seymour spray paint, and its estimated life span is 24-36 months under proper storage conditions.

5. Montana

This particular spray paint is a favorite with street artists since it’s ideal for graffiti and mural artworks thanks to its high-pressure paint application. 

The acrylic-based Gold and lacquer-based Black lines allow users to choose the ideal shade for their unique needs. 

Montana can stay on the shelf for as long as ten years if stored in appropriate conditions free from contamination. 

6. CRC

CRC spray paints are popular for being professional-grade quality products containing highly specialized formulas. 

You can CRC spray paints on any project, be it automotive, aviation, electrical, industrial, marine, or heavy truck. 

According to the manufacturer, CRC spray paints can be used for up to one year or more if stored properly.

7. Design Master

Design Master is typically used by professional painters, florists, and decor artists, hence the name. With a minimum lifespan of 12 months, Design Master is a fast-drying spray paint and versatile making it suitable for any surface and object.

Best Ways to Make Old Paint Usable Again

The best reusable paints are water-based paints, especially those containing little to no polymer.  Only such paints that dry when the water evaporates can be reconstituted. 

Examples of such paints include gouache, which can be soaked in tepid water to make it dissolve and be usable again.

Otherwise, polymer paints, including oil-based paints, cannot be reconstituted once the ingredients have been exposed to air, causing oxidation and rendering the paint unusable.

FAQS: How Long is Spray Paint Good For?

How Long Should Spray Paint Last?

Good spray paint should last at least a year. The best quality paints can be usable until after five years since it was first produced. A previously opened spray paint can stay in the same condition for about a year before it goes bad. 

How Long Does Spray Paint Last Outside?

Spray paint can last for up to three years on exterior surfaces. Since such surfaces are susceptible to weather elements, only high-quality paints can last longer. To ensure durability, spray painting should be done on a well-sanded and primed surface, and a final sealer should be applied on top. This way, your paint can last outside for up to four years.

How Long is Rustoleum Spray Paint Good For?

Rust-Oleum spray paint can last for two years and a maximum of five years, depending on crucial factors like climate and storing it well. 

How Long Does Spray Paint Last After Opening?

With proper storage conditions and an ideal climate, an opened spray paint can last up to a year. It’s good to ensure the container is tightly shut to keep out contaminants and prolong the product’s lifespan.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Plastic?

For most spray paints, the time it takes to dry on plastic surfaces is between 30-60 minutes. A few factors, such as application thickness and climate, also determine how fast the spray paint dries, so these should be considered.

Summary – How Long Does Spray Paint Last

How long does spray paint last is a question best answered by examining different types of spray paints, their unique qualities, and the conditions necessary to maintain their shelf life. 

However, from this guide, we can conclude that most spray paints generally last at least six months to three years or more.

On your part, you can keep an eye on the expiration date indicated on the bottom of the can. This way, you’ll make a point of using any leftover paint before the expiry deadline elapses. 

Otherwise, with best storage practices, your spray paint can last several months, giving you adequate time to organize and complete your painting projects. 

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