Acrylic Paint

Do Acrylic Paints Expire? How Long Do They Last?

Do Acrylic Paints Expire

Are you thinking of painting and wondering if the acrylic paint in the storage room is still worth using? Acrylic paints are well-known for their quick drying time, adaptability in several mediums, and being less harmful. However, there is still uncertainty regarding its long-term viability.

Acrylic paints can last 2-5 years; after this, they should be disposed of properly. Generally, the shelf life of acrylic paint depends on the type of acrylic paint you’re using and how long you store it. Acrylic paints with more pigment are made to be more durable than those with less pigment.

This article will assist you if you intend to use old acrylic paints or want to understand the best way to store new ones. It goes over all the significant elements of acrylic paints.

Acrylic Paint Shelf Life

Acrylics are permanent, but they can be damaged by the environment. For example, leaving them open to the elements may make them start to yellow over time. It’s also important to note that temperature changes can affect acrylics.

If your painting is exposed to temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods, it could cause the paint to become brittle and crack (source).

Most premium acrylic paint products stay unopened for six years, while ordinary acrylic paints last about two years.

If you need to guarantee the lifespan of acrylic paint, please consider the following (source):

  • Maintain suitable storage conditions
  • Avoid exposure to air
  • Minimize the possibility of contamination

If you lack to maintain these conditions, the acrylic paint won’t last as long as it is supposed to.

Related Reading: Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Dogs?

Acrylic Paint Shell Life When Unopened

Acrylic paint, if left unopened, can last up to ten years before it degrades. Though it lasts a shorter time than oil-based paints, the period is still reasonably long by any standard, courtesy of the synthetic polymers in its composition.

Acrylic Paint Shell Life After Opening

According to manufacturers, the shelf life of acrylic paint after opening ranges between 5 to 10 years (source). This, however, depends on the quality of the color and maintenance.

Once opened, some problems may arise, which can make things go wrong, such as contamination, emulsion separation, and drying.

Dealing With Contaminated Acrylic

The following are some of the most common ways that acrylic gets contaminated.

1. Contamination

When acrylic paint gets contaminated with bacteria, it might have a rough, frizzy, or rubbery consistency. This is normal with old paintings when the preservatives have expired. However, this can still happen if the acrylic paint is young.

You shouldn’t worry because a palette knife can smooth out the stringy clumps (source). It’s not fair to throw away rubbery or stringy consistency if they are of good quality. Use acrylic medium in combination with the paint to produce a smoother texture.

2. Emulsion Separation

Age and temperature variations are the two factors that cause the pigment to separate from the binder medium and polymer emulsion.

3. Drying

After opening, the paint cannot leave space to prevent air from penetrating. Once it enters, it will cause the paint to dry. The good news is that combining the paint with warm water can restore dried-out acrylic paint (source). To prevent the paint from becoming too thin, add a small amount of water at a time.

Related Reading: Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Leather?

Do Acrylic Paints Go Bad?

Acrylic paints don’t have an expiration date because of their chemical composition. Although they may stop working under specific circumstances, for instance, when exposed to extremely high or low temperatures, acrylic paint can disintegrate and become unsafe even before being opened.

High temperatures can irreversibly destroy the synthetic components used to make these paints. Even in the condition of unopened paint cans, such temperatures have the capability of causing the emulsion to separate. Acrylic paint is prone to freezing, mold growth, and rapid drying.

What Makes Acrylic Paint Last Shorter?

Acrylic paint can go bad in various ways, some of which are coldness, dampness, and hotness, as further explained below.

1. Dampness

When you expose the acrylic paint to moisture, it produces fungi, such as mold, that mix with the paint, making it unsuitable for use. Acrylic paint requires cool and dry storage for it to last long.

2. Coldness

Acrylic paints comprise emulsions containing various chemicals that are thick solutions. They create an emulsion whenever you press the two liquids to mix, despite their inclination to separate naturally. However, prolonged exposure to cold causes the emulsions to split.

3. Hotness

Compared to oily paints, acrylic paints dry faster. This is because they contain chemical compositions, and they dry instantly when you expose them to heat. These chemicals have their advantages and disadvantages.

Acrylic paint solidifies when exposed to high temperatures because it loses the water required to stay liquid. You won’t be able to recycle it either after that. Since the cured paint will have a plastic-like consistency that is impervious to water and impractical to reuse.

How to Maintain Acrylic Paint to Make It Last Longer

Acrylic paint requires a varnish sealer to help it stay longer, but it should always be thoroughly dry before use. Also, use a large base coat brush to apply the first coat of paint, then wait for it to dry before painting the second coat.

If you have some paint left in the can after use, you need to close it tightly to avoid air from coming in. Also, avoid exposure to high temperatures to prevent the paint from hardening. Finally, avoid any place with high humidity to control moisture.

These risks become more apparent the longer you leave your paint unused. Permanently mark the purchase date on the container to prevent forgetting how long you are storing your paint.

How Do You Know When Acrylic Paint Goes Bad?

A lousy odor on acrylic paint is a significant indicator of whether they’ve gone bad. They often emit a nasty, mildew-like odor when they’re past their prime. They may still be usable, but when they smell sour and off, you know they’re on their way out.

Final Thoughts

Preservation is always necessary to guarantee that your acrylic paint lasts as long as possible. The longer the storage duration, the more critical it is to use correct storage procedures.

If you use the paint frequently, avoid exposing it to excessive temperatures because emulsion separation takes little time. Although it is occasionally possible to restore the color to useable condition, it is only sometimes possible. Even when it is, the results may need to be more satisfactory. Finally, choose high-quality professional paints that will provide a better experience and last longer.

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