Does Spray Paint Expire? (How To Determine Shelf Life)

Spray paints offers a more even coverage than using paint brushes, and many of us have a few spray cans of spray paint stashed away for DIY projects. 

However, if you've had your paint spray for a while, you might be worried about whether it's still usable, and the last thing you want to do is ruin your work with dodgy paint. 

The real question is, does spray paints expire or how long does spray paint takes to expire? In this guide, we'll give you a clear answer on long is spray paint last, so you know if it’s safe to use.    

Spray paint won’t last forever, and does spray paint expire. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go and check your cupboards immediately, but you do need to be conscious that after a certain period of time, the spray paints won’t work. 

This is because they are aerosol cans, and it relies on a certain amount of pressure to function. The change in aerosol pressure as the paint is released through the nozzle is what transforms it from a liquid to a fine spray. 

Over time, the high pressure paint application releases so the most spray paints can no longer be released as an aerosol, and the seemingly dead spray paint becomes pretty useless.  

On average, an unopened spray paints good for 3-4 years (shelf life) from production date. The shelf life of paint does vary depending on the type and brand of paint, but if you've had the shelf life of paint under 3 years, you should be fine. 

How long does Rust Oleum spray paint lasts? Rust Oleum spray paint expire or have shelf life of 5-10 years form production date, and Krylon spray paint last or have shelf life of 2-5 years. An unopened can of latex or acrylic paint or acrylic based paint lasts up to ten years.

How long is spray paint good for? Glow in the dark spray paint good for longer than regular spray paint, and you should expect 3-5 years before it expires (and up to 10 years before it stops glowing). Some Montana Spray paints have shelf life of 10 years

Essentially, every manufacturer and product is slightly different, but there should be an expiry date printed on the bottom of the unopened paint can, which tells you the date it should be used before.  

If your spray paint can is opened, the pressure will release more quickly, and it won't last as long. In fact, the spray paint will expire twice as fast once it's opened, so if it had 18 months left until it expired, it would drop to 9 months once opened. That's why it's really important to store your spray paint properly to maximize the life span.  

Just because your rustoleum spray paint expire date doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work. Some spray paints can be used for 6-12 months after that point, but it isn’t guaranteed. It’s best to use it before the printed expiry date, but do make sure you test it before you decide to throw it away.  

How to Unclog a Clogged Spray Paint Can?

All of us who have ever used spraying paint know this issue! You take a can, shake it intending to paint a wall or any object, but when you press the pulverizer – nothing happens.

Does Spray Paint Expire

How To Know If Spray Paint Is Bad?

The main way to tell if your spray paint is bad is to check the expiry date. If you're way past, there isn't much hope, but you might be ok if it's within the last 6 months. The easiest way to tell if the spray paint is still usable is to test it and see if there's enough pressure.

If the spray paints isn't coming out as it should, it won't give you an even coverage, and you're going to struggle to use it. Some spray paints will also start to smell like ammonia once they’ve expired. This is due to the chemical compounds or chemical reactions involved, but this tends to be much less noticeable with unopened spray paint because it’s contained within an compressed air tight can.  

If your spray paint has passed the expiry date, then you may still be able to use it, but the loss of pressure will make it more challenging. This could mean that it doesn't stick to the surface properly, or it could mean that it doesn't come out of the nozzle at all.

Also, if the paint seems thicker and doesn't flow well after prolonged storage, try setting the can in some warm water for a few minutes to help paint thin the liquid, allowing it to mix better. 

In some cases, you can still use the spray paint past the expiration date given on the can. Shake the aerosol spray paint can upside down for a few minutes to improve the flow and test it somewhere to make sure it's working properly. If it is, then you've got lucky, but try to use it as quickly as possible.  

Oil-based composition works well for coating metal surfaces and preserving them from weathering and corrosion.

spray paint cans

Storing Spray Paint To Make It Last Longer 

The chemical composition of the paint can and the moisture in it are affected by the relative humidity, making the paint inside the can sticky and unusable. To get the most from your spray paint, you need to store it correctly.

Make sure to stir decanted paint to release all gas and propellent that may be still in the paint before using or storing paint. Here are some tips to maximize the lifespan of the spray paints:  

  • Keep The Lid On  
    If possible, try not to open the spray paint at all until you’re going to use it. An opened can will deteriorate more quickly, and the paint will expire faster. If you have to open it, then make sure you keep the lid and seal it as tightly as possible once you’re finished with it.  
  • Keep It Upright  
    Keep the spray paint can upright to stop the paint from traveling up the nozzle. If the paint dries there, it can disrupt the flow and make the can unusable.  
  • Store It In An Ambient Temperature 
    Ideally, you want to store your spray paint in a room that's 41-86 degrees Fahrenheit (or 5-30 degrees Celsius). Keeping the spray paints away from hot and cold temperatures will minimize any impact on the paint and help it keep for longer.  The best place to store it is on an open shelf or out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources like stoves or heaters. No flames, sparks, or direct sunlight should touch the paint.
  • Many people store their spray paint in a garage or shed, but it's worth checking how hot or cold it gets in there to stop any unnecessary damage to the paint.  
  • Check The Instructions 
    Every spray paint is slightly different, and the manufacturers will include storage instructions. Make sure you read and follow them to maximize the lifespan of your spray paint.  

Ways To Properly Dispose Of Unused Or Expired Spray Paints 

Aerosols can be damaging to the environment, and spray paint cans expire are considered hazardous.

This is primarily because aerosols cause damage to the ozone layer around the planet, so different countries have rules and restrictions to use expired spray paint, store spray paint, and disposed expired spray paint. There are usually two different options for spray paint disposal depending on whether the spray cans are full or empty. 

If you think the can is empty, then you should hold down the clogged nozzle to get rid of leftover spray paint there. Once you're sure the paint is completely used up, then you can put it with the rest of your recyclables. They should not be pierced, crushed, or flattened during this process.  

Can You Use Expired Spray Paint?  No, The most common risk is that the paint may not spray properly. The can's major drawback is usually the aerosols, which can lose pressure, and the expiration date printed on them are typically based on how long the aerosol lasts in the can rather than the paint.

If your spray container is full or half full, then it's considered hazardous waste. You should first try to empty it, but if you can't, then you'll need to check the local area's recycling plan. This can usually be found on a local government website and often involves going to a hazardous waste collection site. These are typically free, and some local businesses will take car a few cans of spray paint off your hands for you.  

Remember, some non-water-based spray paints can be hazardous, so you should handle them with care, wear gloves, and use them in a well-ventilated space.   

Frequently Asked Spray Paint Expiration Questions 

Does spray have an expiration date on the can? 

Yes, spray paint usually has an expiration date printed on the bottom of the can.  

What’s the smell of paint when it's expired? 

Expired paint usually smells like ammonia or rotten eggs. If you can smell this, it probably means that your spray paint has expired and needs to be replaced. Read about how to get rid of the paint smell here.

Does spray paint adhere to the surface when it's expired? 

Spray paint can stick to surfaces even after expiration but it usually won’t stick as evenly to the surface that you are painting. This will make the paint look thinner, and may even mean you have to fix the uneven parts with fresh spray paint 


Spray paint is a quick and effective way to get a nice even coat of paint with spray paint gun, and lots of people have a few old spray paint cans kicking around.

Allow time for excess pressure to escape before cutting the can open and decanting the paint into a sealable jar, or directly into the spray gun jug.

 It isn't always easy to tell if they're still in good condition, but hopefully, this guide has helped explain how to know if your spray paint has expired and how to maximize the product's lifespan.