Can You Store Paint in the Garage?

by Charlie
Can You Store Paint in the Garage

No matter what your home improvement project is, chances are you’ll have paint left over. Now you could give the leftover paint away but what if you need to repaint someday? In the meantime, you need to find somewhere out of the way to store the paint. 

The garage sounds like the perfect place but is it actually a good option? After all, almost all garages are not temperature controlled. Garages are often hotter than the exterior. Though they may be slightly warmer than outside in winter they can still get quite cold.

Can you store paint in the garage? You should not store paint in the garage as it can make the paint unusable and ruin your garage floor. This is particularly a problem in areas that experience extreme temperatures.

Why Can’t You Store Paint in the Garage?

The problem with storing paint in the garage is that it can be exposed to extreme heat and cold. Extreme temperatures in either direction can damage the paint and even create hazards. Additionally, the paint cans can be bad for your garage floor.

Unless your garage is temperature controlled it is a bad idea to store paint there. Depending on where you live and the season, your garage will get extremely hot or cold. Leftover paint in the can does not handle these extremes very well.

Once the paint has been applied it handles these changes better. Painted surfaces do wear over time due to temperature and other natural factors but not as badly as liquid paint does.

Not to mention that paint aside, the metal cans have a chance to mess up your floors. If you live in a humid area, the paint cans have the potential to rust. This can leave marks on your garage floor. If your paint is stored on a shelf this isn’t an issue although the temperature still is.

What Do Freezing Temperatures Do to Paint?

Freezing temperatures can freeze water-based and oil-based paint. When the paint thaws it may not be the same consistency as before the freeze. Sometimes you can revive the paint but in many cases it becomes unusable.

Water-based paint will freeze at roughly the same temperature as water. Oil-based paints on the other hand have a lower freezing point but it is still possible. 

If this happens you can try to restore the paint by shaking or stirring it. If this returns the paint to how it was before you can still use it. If it remains clumpy or otherwise off, you are out of luck.

What Do High Temperatures Do to Paint?

High temperatures can ruin water-based paint by evaporating the water. Oil-based paint can combust in extremely hot temperatures. Additionally, sealed paint cans can explode if the pressure overcomes the seal.

It does take some time and extremely high temperatures for these effects to happen, but it isn’t worth chancing it. A few days of moderate to high heat should be alright but don’t store paint in a hot garage for the long term.

It is possible to rehydrate water-based paints but the paint may be irreparably damaged. The color may not be as vibrant, and the application may be more difficult.

Where’s the Best Place to Store Paint?

Instead of the garage, store your leftover paint in a dry area that maintains a cool temperature. A basement is usually a good choice. Alternatively, store leftover paint in closets or similar areas.

The actual location doesn’t matter so much as whether or not it’s regularly cool and dry. If you can only find a location in your house that is one of those two, look for one that is cool. Be sure to keep the can out of direct sunlight as well.

As long as the paint is properly sealed it will be fine. Although this seems simple there are a few things you should do to ensure a good seal.

The best way to seal a paint can is to place some plastic wrap between the lid and the lip. This will help form an airtight seal that will prevent any moisture from entering or exiting the can. To ensure the seal is as good as it can be make sure to clean the lid area beforehand.

To properly close the lid you should use a rubber mallet to tap it down. A rubber mallet will help prevent you from damaging the lid and ruining the seal. A hammer runs the risk of denting the lid.

What Else Can You Do with Leftover Paint?

If you don’t want to store your leftover paint you can give it away to your local charity. If it is latex paint you can dry it and throw it away. If it is oil-based paint you must find a paint disposal dropoff.

Giving the paint away is the best option as others will be able to make use of the paint. That said, charities or community centers may turn it away if they have no need for the paint. If this is the case you need to safely dispose of it.

As mentioned above, latex paint is fairly simple to dispose of. Mixing the paint with cat litter will help it dry quickly. Once this is done you can simply toss it in the garbage.

Oil-based paint on the other hand is considered a hazardous material. This makes disposal a little harder as it must be done in specific ways. Luckily, many paint stores will take leftover cans of paint for disposal.

If this is not an option you can alternatively find drop-off centers for hazardous materials.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that the garage is not a suitable location for long-term paint storage. If you have already stored some paint in your garage make sure you transfer it to a more suitable location. 

It is important to properly store your paint so that when an accident occurs you won’t have to worry about finding or remembering the exact shade of paint you used.

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