How to Make Old Paint Usable Again

Are you still having those old paints stacked in your garage or store? Well, it’s high time you visit your garage and rethink how those paint can be reused again. How to Make Old Paint Usable Again

For most of us, those paints are usually leftover after a painting project, and to some extent, we have felt like they are nothing but litter within the household. 

As much as that paint looks expired and dead, something meaningful can come out of it and bring back life at little or no cost at all. See Also: Spray Paints for Plastic.

Details: How to Make Old Paint Usable Again

Step 1: Cleaning the Can and the Lid

There are several steps that you will need to involve on that old paint to make it useful again.

Before you can start cleaning the rim and the lid, you need to first lay old newspapers or drop cloth to avoid any spillage that may occur in the process.

Once done, place the paint on the laid material and remove any form of dirt or dust that may have accumulated on the can.

You can use a screwdriver or a flat-blade to remove any dried paint and rust from around the rim. 

See Also: Spray Paint for Rims

Step 2: Lid Opening

Once you are set, use the flat-blade or any other legible item to open the lid.

Without shaking, gently lift the lid from one point and do the same on the other side and do the same until the lid is fully open.

Step 3: Stirring the Paint

By now, you already have a glimpse of your paint and at least have an idea of its condition.

If good, with a slight layer or without mold smell, there are chances it is okay and you can process to stirring it gently to get rid of the slight layer.

If you find mildew and molds too, the paint is dead. See Also: Stain for Redwood Fence.

Step 4: Vigorous Mixing Of Paint

After confirming the paint is okay, you are advised to subject it to a more vigorous mixing that will go a long way towards making it usable.

In this case, you can subject the paint to a variable speed drill. Initially, set the drill at a low speed and gradually increase its speed as you go about stirring.

Don’t forget to ensure the drill circulates around the perimeter and also touches on the bottom of the can for proper mixing.

Once done, you will only need to run the drill for about 10-15 minutes and the paint is ready. You can then proceed to test your paint.

Step 5: Testing the Paint on a Board

In this step, consistency is our priority. You need a clipboard to do a test and some application material (a paint or a roller).

At this point, if the paint runs smoothly, congratulations! You have conquered and the old paint is good for reuse. 

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How Do You Tell If Paint Is Reusable

Most paint can last for years and still be reused but that doesn’t mean it cannot get worse.

For your paint to get bad, it entirely depends on a number of issues. These factors include the type of paint, location, weather conditions, and storage conditions too (open or sealed).

Some paints go bad and develop molds and foul smell and reusing them can be problematic

a. Properly Sealed Paints

If you are fond of covering your paints, there is a high probability that that paint could still be reused.

However, that is not possible for all the paints and especially those that are packaged with plastic cans. Their lids are not tight enough and could let air in and make the paint go bad.

The only challenge with sealed paints is a separation which is likely to occur but that doesn’t mean you cannot reuse it.

All you need is to use a painted rod and stir it thoroughly. If you find your paint has developed lumps, it is evident that the paint has gone bad and no longer reusable.

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b. Open and exposed Paint

If you leave your paint open, you expose them to a lot of factors that may render them useless.

However, this depends on some circumstances like temperature levels (direct sun or ice) and also the kind of paint.

No paint is strong enough to withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50°F and temperatures above 72° F and still be reusable.

Such temperatures completely alter the chemical composition of any paint whether oil or water-based and the best you can do is throw them away.

If your paint was sealed but got exposed to air, there are chances that you can reuse it.

By chance, you may find this paint has formed a layer that can always be removed by thoroughly stirring and bring it back to life.

In some instances, you may find the whole paint has dried, it is as good as dead and hard to reuse it again. 

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How to Differentiate Good and Bad Paint

If you can’t distinguish between a good and a bad paint, here is a very simple way to tell the difference.

First, you can open the can and smell it. If the paint is bad, it will have a very staunch smell. This is a clear indication that that paint should be thrown away.

Secondly, try to stir the paint with a stirrer. If the paint is good, it will stir gently and the paint will liquefy and you can try it out by painting on a board to the teat on its consistency.

To some extent, the spoilt paints may develop molds and mildew which is a clear indication that the paint is bad and beyond repair.

Caution: In some instances, the paint may have some lumps and some clever bunch may try to use a filter mechanism to get off the lumps and reuse the paint.

Once the paint has developed the lumps, it’s done, it’s dead and there is nothing you can do about it. 

See Also: Paint Stripper for Metal


In the whole process of how to make old paint usable again, the most critical process is the vigorous mixing. It carries the cream of the whole process.

Some retailers offer this mixing to their clients at no cost which is a better option as compared to DIY and also guarantees you quality. Running the above process offers an option for most DIY.

NB: This process does not have any effect on the altercation of the color of your old paint.

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