Does Oil Paint Expire?

After using oil paints, you’ll likely have paint leftover. So, you may be wondering whether oil paint expires. Should you throw it away or keep it?

Certain types of paint can expire, particularly if they are not stored properly. Expired paint will be unusable as it will have dried out and even begun to grow mold.

Oil paint is one of the most long-lasting types of paint that you can buy. As long as it’s stored in the right conditions, you can keep it for many years before it expires.

How Long Can Oil Paint Last?

Oil paint can last for 15 to 30 years as long as it’s stored properly. This is far longer than most other types of paint.

The reason why oil paint lasts so long is that it contains many synthetic oils. While these oils sometimes make oil paint difficult to work with, they also help preserve the paint.

Oil paint that has been used can still last many years before it expires.

How to Store Oil Paint

Oil paint’s longevity depends on its storage conditions.

Storing oil paint correctly will prevent it from drying out. This shouldn’t be a problem if the paint tin is unopened. If it has been opened, ensure the lid is sealed.

To maintain oil paint’s longevity, you must keep it in a cool, dry place. Not subject to any drastic changes in temperature.

How to Tell If Oil Paint Has Expired

There are a few signs to tell if oil paint has expired.

As oil paint ages, sometimes the pigment splits from the oil base, creating a chunky texture. If your paint is in a can, you can try stirring it. If the paint separates again after mixing it, it’s likely expired.

Can You Save Expired Oil Paint

If you notice your oil paint starting to separate, you can still salvage it by mixing it with a paint thinner. Paint thinner helps soften paint and brings the pigment back together with the oil.

Even if you can salvage oil paint with thinner, the question is whether you should. If the paint has a foul smell or is challenging to work with, you are better off throwing it away.

Some oil paints, particularly older varieties, even have toxic chemicals such as lead. Most modern paint containing lead has a warning label, but older paints may not. If you are not sure whether your paint contains lead, it is best to dispose of it.


Oil paint can last a long time before it expires as long as you store it correctly.

All paint has an expiration date, and when your oil paint dries out or separates, it’s expired. You can salvage separated oil paint by adding paint thinner.

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