The Lifespan of Spray Paint: How Long Does Spray Paint Expire?

Does spray paint expire

Should you throw away your old cans of paint because they’re going bad? In this article, I’ll answer the question, “Does spray paint expire?’ and tell you how to know if your can of paint is getting too old.

Also, you got a clear overview of how long is paint good for and the proper way to store them for your DIY projects to create decorative finishes.

Spray Paint Expiry Dates: The Chemistry Behind It

Spray paint is a common item that we often store for a long time because either we forget them or don’t need to use them. So, it’s okay to feel confused to use it when it was kept idle for an extended period.

Like any other aerosol can, spray paints also will eventually expire. Sometimes after one year, sometimes after three years, and sometimes even after five years. The expiration date for a can of spray paint is printed on the can itself. Some cans even have a light that shines when it’s time to dispose of the product.

However, the shelf life of spray paint will vary from one brand to another since various factors need to consider such as how they’re made, storing method, and using the approach.

How Long are Spray Paints in Cans Good for Before They Expire?

Generally, spray paints in cans can last 2-3 years on average right from the manufacturing date. But this can vary from one manufacturing company to another.

For example, some spray paints from the Montana brand can last up to 10 years or more. Some premium quality spray paints may have more than ten years of shelf life. But they’re pretty expensive. Higher quality means a better lifespan.

But the biggest concerning point is the aerosols’ lastingness. Aerosols start to reduce their pressure gradually every time you use them. Thus, as long as aerosols’ pressures exist, the spray paint is less likely to lose its lifespan.

5 Major Causes to Spray Paint Go Bad

Spray paint can go bad for several reasons, making them inappropriate to use.

1. Environmental Factors

The longevity of spray paint depends on several factors. One significant factor is ambient temperature – the hotter it is outside, the faster the paint will dry and crack, making it unusable. Spray paints are also sensitive to humidity because they can shrink when exposed to higher levels of humidity in an environment. The chemical composition of the paint can also affect its shelf life – for example; certain pigments are often mixed with retardants to slow down their drying times.

2. Relative Humidity

One of the biggest enemies of spray paint is the relative humidity. The moisture in the air can cause paint to dry improperly, leaving it sticky and unusable. Spray paint works by drying quickly when exposed to air, but when humidity is high, the surface stays wet longer than it should, which can cause clumping or become “lumpy” over time.

3. Effects of Sunlight

Sunlight can significantly impact spray paint; it can dry out the spray paint, cause it to lose its color, and even cause it to be brittle. This is because sunlight will break down the chemicals in the paint.

4. Loss of Aerosol Pressures

Every time you use the spray paint, some aerosol pressures go out through the tube. So, the more frequently you use the spray paint, the more aerosol pressures will be lost. When there are no aerosol pressures inside the can, the spray paint has a chance to go bad.

5. Chemical Interactions and External Environment

Chemical interactions with other materials, heat, ultraviolet light, or impurities in the pigments can cause chemical reactions that compromise the product. The most common cause is the interaction with another material.

Various external tiny contaminants or particles enter inside the can of the spray paint through the tube while spraying paint. This may alter the product when they get mixed with paint formula.

However, the latest spray paints feature a bounce-back system to protect the formula from external particles and agents (oxygen).

how long does spray paint last

What Happens When Spray Paint Expires?

Depending on the brand, you can still use many spray paints even after expiration.

When you don’t use the product for a single time or 1-2 times and keep it sealed for a long time, its pigment may go to the lower portion of the can.

This may lead to sediment clogging when trying to spray. However, the latest spray paints contain resins and additives to reduce this problem.

You may need to shake the can properly for 2-3 minutes to mix the spray paint formula properly. This will help to even coat on the surface.

Some spray paints may dribble on your hands when trying to disperse them. Also, it may lose its dispensing capacity over time when you’ve not used it for a long time and it expired.

5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Spray Paint for Months

Spray paint has a specific lifespan. But you can use it even after the expiration period when you use and store them correctly.

1. Be Aware Of The Product Label

Make sure you read the product label correctly to learn about its using procedure. It may have unique information, which is uncommon from other brands.

2. Shake Properly

Every time you use it, make sure to shake it at least for a few seconds. Then, shake it more for when it becomes older.

3. Warm Water Solution

Sometimes, you’ll notice the spray paint is coming out too thick. Or, the painting flow isn’t consistent like when it was new.

You can keep the spray container in warm water for a few minutes in such a case. That’ll make the paint thin. So, you’ll achieve a perfect mixture.

4. Keep in A Dry Condition

Keeping the spray paint in a dry condition is a solid rule of thumb and make sure to secure the lid after finishing the painting job.

5. Store in an Ideal Temperature

According to most experts, you should store spray paint less than 30° C (86° F) or more than 5° C (41° F).

Avoid keeping them in extreme weather conditions. Otherwise, their quality will deteriorate over time.

Does Spray Paint Go Bad if Never Opened?

The shelf life of unopened paint can be for more than ten years if you never open them and keep them in a freeze-free condition.

However, it depends on how the particular brand has made the product, what ingredients are used, and how good the container is to protect the formula from external conditions.

How Long Does Leftover Paint Last?

Many people often ask how long is paint good for once opened?

If you have an oil-based one, it will last as long as 3 years as it is stored in a cool and dry place. If you have a water-based one, it should be good for 2 years before any effects from oxidation show up.

The best practice is to use your spray paint within 1 year of opening it up to keep it working properly. The more you delay using it, the less effective it’ll be to use. After a particular time, it’ll dry up.

Best way to use leftover paint

The best way to keep leftover paint-safe is to secure its lid tightly after using it and keep it in a dry, cool place.

Also, it’s essential to keep spray paint containers away from heaters and other heat-producing appliances.

How do You Make Old Paint Usable Again?

If your old paint isn’t coming out through the nozzle, shake it properly for 2-3 minutes to remove the blocking issues.

Keep old spray paint in an upside-down condition and then shake it appropriately. Put some pressure on the nozzle too.

Sometimes, dry paint may block the nozzle from coming out of the paint. You can use a pin to remove the small piece of dry paint from it.

If the spray paint still doesn’t work, you can use a lacquer thinner to clean the nozzle correctly. Make sure to remove the nozzle before cleaning it.

Can You Use Expired Spray Paint?

Expired spray paint is not safe to use. The most common risk is that the paint may not spray properly. It also can damage your car, home, or other property. In addition, expired spray paint can cause nausea, dizziness, and breathing difficulties.

But in most cases, you can use expired spray paints if they can not open for even a single time. However, you should use the spray paint within two years after opening it.

Most of the spray paint has a one-year expiration date. It’s a solid rule of thumb to use it within the expired date. Their potency will fully or proportionally lose after the expiration period.

Check Out Which Spray Paints Last the Longest and Which Fall Short!

A wide range of spray paints are available in the market, and they’re suitable for specific painting projects. Various brands offer high-quality products. So it’s better to learn what they offer. Here are some most popular spray paint brands:

Spray Paint NameLife Span (Year)
Rust-Oleumup to 3
Krylon3 to 4
Ironlakup to 2
Seymour2 to 3
Montanaup to 10
Design Master1 to 2


When choosing a reliable spray paint for metal objects, Rust-Oleum can be an ideal choice for both commercial and application.

This spray paint offers a long-lasting coating with exceptional protection from rust and UV rays. Additionally, it provides impressive coverage while ensuring no abrasion, fading, chipping, or dulling issues.

The shelf life of Rustoleum spray paint is up to 3 years or more if you haven’t opened the container. But if you’ve opened it, aim at finishing the paint within two years or earlier.


Krylon is a decent spray paint you can use for commercial and household DIY projects. It can be used indoors and outdoors to add a new coat of exciting color.

It has the ability to dry quickly, especially acrylic-based spray paints. Achieving a light yet long-lasting film won’t be a hassle when using this spray paint.

The average lifespan of this spray paint is around 3 to 4 years from the manufacturing date. But it may expire early or lately, depending upon how you store it and take care of it.


Ironlak is a popular name to get some really good quality paint at an affordable price. In addition, many painters use it for street art since it offers impressive user control.

Moreover, this type of paint is suitable for using various surfaces for indoor and outdoor purposes. Ironlak spray paints are more eco-friendly as they contain less VOC than other brands. Moreover, it can last up to 2 years right from the manufacturing date.

shelf life of spray paint


Seymour paints are highly rust-resistant and not prone to sag issues. They offer a protective coating to save the surface from rust, weather, oil, gasoline, and destructive chemicals.

Some Seymour paints are needs only one coat to achieve an unbelievable shiny surface. The average lifespan of Seymour Paint is around 2-3 years.


Montana spray paint is ideal for solid quick coverage for graffiti art and murals. They offer vibrant and bright colors while drying up within seconds.

They have excellent durability and are known as winter-proof all-rounder spray. Montana spray paints can last up to 10 years after production. However, their Granit Effect can last only five years. It’s better to store them at 10°-25°C temperature.


CRC spray paints are well known for their superior and professional-grade quality and highly-specialized formulas.

They make various types of paint spray suitable for automotive, industrial, marine, electrical, aviation, and heavy truck.

The minimum shelf life of CRC spray paints is 12 months, and they can be more long-lasting with correct storage.

Design Master

Design master is one of the top choices for artistic painters like professional florists and decorators. They have quick-drying and versatile colors suitable for various surfaces and objects. Their shelf life is approximately 1-2 years.

Tips for Keeping Your Spray Paint Fresh

Spray paints are easy to work on. Keeping the paint fresher for an extended period inside the container will ensure long-term use. Here’re some practical tips to keep spray paint fresh.

  • Make sure you properly tighten the lid after using it every time.
  • A temperature of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for storing paint.
  • No flames, sparks, or direct sunlight should touch the spray paint.
  • Keep spray in a dry location.
  • Shake the paint properly before applying


Do Car Spray Paint Cans Expire?

Yes, car spray cans expire over time like other spray paints, especially due to pressure loss.

How Long does Rustoleum Spray Paint Last?

Rustoleum spray paint can last up to 3 years with the proper storage.

Does Aerosol Spray Expire?

Aerosol spray can last 2 to 3 years from the production date.

What Happens if You Use Old Paint?

Using old paints will lead to cracking and peeling issues, and you may not get a reliable result.

Does Waterproof Spray Expire?

Yes, waterproof spray does expire. The ingredients in the spray will eventually degrade and render the product ineffective.

How Do You Read The Expiration Date on Spray Paint?

The expiration date of spray paint is usually printed on the on the bottom or backside of the container. For example, the date may read “EXP 12/2023” which means the paint is good until December 2023.


In conclusion, spray paint does expire and has a shelf life of three years. If you use your spray paint frequently, then it’s best to buy in bulk and replace the paint every year. If you don’t use your spray paint often, then it would be better to just buy a few cans and replace them when they run out.