Is Paint Ruined If It Freezes – No More Wasting Spare Paint!

pexels anete lusina 4792532 Is Paint Ruined If It Freezes - No More Wasting Spare Paint!

Imagine you want to touch up a chair you just painted last season, but as you grab the leftover paint from your garage, you find it completely frozen! While your initial reaction may be that of surprise, it can quickly turn into panic as you remember all the cans of stored paint sitting in your garage.

Don’t worry because it’s normal for water-based paint to freeze when temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but that doesn’t mean it becomes useless. So, what to do when paint freezes?

Frozen paint can be restored and made reusable. All you need to do is place the paint can at room temperature and allow it to thaw naturally. Once the paint has defrosted, stir it vigorously to remove any lumps and carry out a small patch test before applying it to your project.

However, if your paint has frozen and thawed a couple of times, the formulation may be ruined for good. But before you toss away your paint cans, try my tips and tricks to revive your frozen paint and save yourself some bucks.

Is Acrylic Paint Ruined If It Freezes?

The question, ‘Is paint still good if it freezes?’ is common, especially if you live in an area that experiences sub-zero temperatures. 

The answer is yes, but there are limitations to the finish you can achieve with restored paint.

To be clear, you’re not supposed to let your paint freeze. This is why manufacturers mention the ideal temperature for paint storage on the label.

However, it will undoubtedly freeze if you don’t store the paint correctly and leave it in your garage or shed during harsh winters. So, now comes the real question: Can you use the frozen paint for your next DIY project?

While the simple answer is yes, it isn’t generally recommended. 

The best way to determine ‘Is house paint ruined if it freezes?’ is by checking its consistency and quality after it has thawed.

What Happens To Latex Paint When It Freezes?

When latex paint freezes, its formulation is irrevocably altered, affecting the paint’s hue, color, texture, and finish. Sometimes, freezing paint can result in water being separated from the solvent, which changes the consistency of the formula completely. The separation of the chemical compounds can result in the creation of lumps that often render the paint useless.

But you should know that paint that has only just begun to freeze or was frozen for a short period can be salvaged easily compared to paint that has been frozen solid all winter.

Pro Tip: Latex paint can withstand a few freeze/thaw cycles, so don’t be quick to dispose of your frozen paint cans before checking their usability.

Will Wall Paint Freeze In Garage?

Once you’ve wrapped up a DIY painting project, the next thing you do is store any leftover paint in your garage and forget all about it. The only time you reach out for it again is when you need to paint something else.

But what happens if paint freezes during the time it is stashed away in the garage? 

Whether or not your wall paint will freeze depends on the type of paint, where you’re storing it, and the temperature. Let’s have a closer look at each of these factors.

The Type Of Paint

There are two main types of paints: water-based and oil-based. Since the former consists of water, it freezes at the same temperature as its base, 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius.

In contrast, oil-based paints are more resistant to freezing since their formula generally comprises linseed oil- a substance that begins to freeze at -4 Fahrenheit or -20 Celsius.

So, if you’ve stored oil-based paint in your garage, you probably might not need to worry about it freezing unless your area experiences extremely low temperatures in the winter.

However, your water-based paints will freeze in your garage as soon as the temperature drops below 32 Fahrenheit.

Where You Store The Paint

The more exposed your paint cans are to external elements, the more it will affect their formulation. 

For example, your paint cans are more likely to freeze if left on the garage floor. But if you store them higher up where the temperatures are slightly warmer, you can save them from frost.

Paint only freezes when the temperature around the can drops below freezing point. So, if your garage is heated, your paint will be ready to use any time you pick it up. However, you will be left with freezing paint if your garage has no heat.

The Temperature

Water-based paints freeze faster than oil-based paints, but it’s always best to double-check the freezing point of the specific paint you’re planning to store. The reason is that various paint formulations contain different ingredients that can change their ideal storage temperature.

Water-based paints will begin to freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and as the temperature drops further, the rate of freezing will intensify.

Other factors affect the temperature around your paint can, such as:

  • Is the paint can sealed?
  • Is there any insulation around the can?
  • Is it close to your home?

How To Restore Frozen Paint

If you’re wondering, ‘Can you unfreeze acrylic paint?’ the short answer is yes! 

But the real question is, ‘If latex paint freezes, is it ruined?’ Well, that would depend on the condition of the paint once it melts. 

So, before you hastily toss away frozen paint cans, allow them to thaw gradually and then check if the paint is still good after freezing.

Here is a quick guide you can refer to if your paint is frozen.

  1. Place your frozen paint can at room temperature and let it thaw naturally.
  2. This process will take a few hours, but it’s important not to try to speed it up with a hairdryer or heater.
  3. Spread an old towel and some sheets under the can to protect the surface.
  4. When you’re certain the paint has thawed, open the lid and stir the contents around to restore its original consistency.

How To Check If Paint Is Still Good After Freezing

Deciding whether the thawed paint is any good for a beginner who has never had to deal with frozen paint may be challenging. So, how can you tell if the paint has gone bad?

First, you must remember that all paints have an expiry date, so no matter how much you try to revive it past that date, you will only be wasting your time and efforts. This guide about spray paint expiration will help you decide if your stored paint is worth checking or saving.

Now if your paint hasn’t expired but simply froze due to extreme temperature, there’s still hope!

The first trick is to stir the paint after it has defrosted to combine all the chemical compounds that may have separated during the freezing/thawing process. Once everything looks nice and even, check its consistency for any lumps or grains.

If the paint has gone bad, you will notice large clumps, almost like cottage cheese or a stringy texture. That’s a sign your paint is beyond repair and must be discarded.

But if the paint has slight graininess, grab a paintbrush and test it on a scrap of wood or paper. If the finish looks normal, your paint is probably good to use.

Another trick is to compare the paint with another can of paint in the same color. If you see a difference in hue between the two, chances are the paint you just warmed up will not deliver the same color payoff.

Pro Tip: You can take the thawed can of paint to a paint store and have it professionally shaken for the best results.

How To Dispose Of Frozen Paint?

Now that we’ve discussed how to check if your paint is still usable after thawing let’s move on to what you need to do if it is indeed ruined.

It’s important to mention that oil-based paints contain hazardous chemicals that can contaminate soil and water. This is why throwing it as is in the trash is illegal in most states. On the other hand, disposing of latex paint is easier as long as you follow a few guidelines.

It’d be best to acquaint yourself with Universal Waste Laws relating to non-empty aerosol cans before you dispose of the ruined paint.

Here are a few quick steps to safely dispose of your paint.

Latex Paint

  • Remove the lid and pour the paint on a newspaper to let it dry.
  • Place the empty can and lid in the recycling bin.
  • Once the paint has dried completely, toss the newspaper in your trash can.

Pro Tip: Mix cat litter in the paint to speed up its drying process.

Oil-Based Paints

  • Take the can of paint to your county’s hazardous waste facility.
  • You can also check Paint Care to find take-back programs near you. (This recycling program is currently available in ten states and the District of Columbia.)

You should learn more about recycling spray paint cans if you are a DIY enthusiast who loves playing with paints and creating masterpieces.

How Do You Store Paint To Keep It From Freezing?

As I said before, you shouldn’t let your paint cans freeze because that can significantly alter their formulation and affect the performance and finish of the paint. 

While the best option is to store all your paint inside the house where it’s nice and cozy, not everyone has much room to spare to stack paint cans. Therefore, most used and unused paint containers inadvertently end up in the garage. Now the real question is, ‘how to keep paint from freezing in garage?’

The solution isn’t as hard as you think!

Check out these ideas to find one best suited to your situation.

1. Utilize Paint Before Winter Season

Using up all your old paint before winter strikes sounds like common sense, but we, as lazy couch potatoes, tend to delay projects.

Now that you know how frost can ruin your stored paints, use it as motivation to finish painting projects around your home during summer.

This approach has two undeniable benefits. First, you get the best finish from the paint you bought since the formulation is perfect when used fresh from the can.

The other highlight of using your paints before winter is that you don’t need to worry about creating the ideal storage conditions for your paint cans.

2. Store Paint At Room Temperature

As room temperature is ideal for paint storage, the most effective way to prolong the life of unused paint is to place it in a heated room away from freezing temperatures.

If you plan to store the cans in your garage, ensure it’s heated, and the temperature is regularly monitored. 

However, not everyone is willing to spend extra bucks on utility costs just to keep their paint cans warm in the garage. The next tip will maintain your paint’s consistency and help cut back avoidable utility expenses.

3. Build A Heated Paint Box

A heated paint box isn’t as complicated as it may sound and can be made in very little time.

All you need to build one is:

  • Heat tape/ heat light
  • Foam insulation

Use the foam insulation to build a small box around your paint cans but remember to leave enough space to hang your heat lamp/ light. You can also use heat tape to achieve the same effect.

This heated box will maintain an ideal temperature inside to keep your paint cans warm despite freezing temperatures outside.

Pro Tip: Always unclog the nozzle of your spray paints before storing them.


At what temperature does oil-based paint freeze?

Oil-based paints generally comprise linseed oil with a freezing point of -4 Fahrenheit or -20 degrees Celcius. So unless your area experiences extremely cold winters, your stored oil-based paints may never freeze.

Can paint freeze overnight?

Latex paint starts freezing when the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celcius. This means if you experience freezing temperatures during the night, your water-based paint can freeze overnight.

Is spray paint ruined if it freezes?

Spray paints can withstand a few freeze/thaw cycles; therefore, always unfreeze your paint cans and check their performance before using them on a project or tossing them for disposal.


Let’s wrap this up with a simple advice that couldn’t be more obvious: Do not let your paint freeze!

But if your stored paint gives you ‘the cold shoulder’ after winter, you can follow my tips and tricks and restore it to its original glory.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *