Using Paint Stored in Freezing Temperatures

Rachael asks: We have a couple of gallons of paint that were stored outside during freezing temperatures. Can we still use the paint?

Don’t use latex paint that was stored in freezing temperatures, since freezing can cause a chemical reaction which may keep the paint from performing well.

Oil-based paint is more tolerant of colder temperatures, but don’t use it if the paint contains clumps or grit.

Remember, when in doubt, throw it out! Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Danny Lipford: Rachael asks, “We have a couple of gallons of paint that were stored outside during freezing temperatures. Can we still use the paint?”

You know, it really depends on what type of paint you’re talking about. If you have some leftover latex paint, well, that can really be problem. Because when it freezes, it has a chemical reaction that causes a separation.

And even though you may stir it, the problem is it may not perform well once you use the paint. Particularly, how well it adheres to the surface that you might be painting—whether it’s cabinets, trims, or walls.

So, that’s one of the things that you have to be careful of. And when you open the can and you’re stirring it, make sure there’s no clumps or grit in the paint.

Now, oil-based, it’s a little bit more tolerant to colder temperatures. But still, when you’re stirring it up, if you see any of that grit, or any type of clumps, you want to discard it.

You’d hate to spend a lot of time doing a nice paint job, only to have the paint let you down.


  1. …Don’t throw out any paint…..take it to a recycling centre or a retailer such as Lowe’s or Home Depot……..thank you.

    I stored paint in a closet when living in hot old Texas….both hot & cold can affect your paint so protect it or donate it to recyclers.

  2. While I’m sure this will not always work, I have reconstituted lumpy/gritty latex paint in a blender. And 20+.years later, this paint is still perfect on the walls! Of course, paints then did not have to be environmentally safe, so they may have had features that would have helped them to more easily emulsify.

  3. I got a 5 gallon pail of paint on a trade and when I opened it up it seemed gritty so I ask the guy I got it from why is this paint sooo gritty? he says I gotta use a drill to stir it up and that it was the paint texture…. I don’t believe him as I think the paint has been froze…. all I know is that he told me it is exterior paint…..

  4. “When in doubt, throw it out” plays directly into the hands of manufacturers and retailers who simply want to sell as much product as possible, i.e. to some degree, it’s a lie! For example, many people may be “in doubt” about oil paint, but should they throw it out? Absolutely NOT! It should of course be USED at a much higher, usually room temperature. Latex paint, however, since it is water based, is damaged by freezing. It cannot be used successfully, after it has been frozen. A better motto would be, “when in doubt, do some research!” Now that we have the internet, it is EASY to ask thousands of people, including manufacturers, any questions we have. Most paint stores will have the correct answers, as well.

  5. Dana P.
    I worked in a Paint Store for 3 1/2 years and worked as a painter in the residential and commercial fields for about 34 years. What I learned and experienced over the many years of painting was that latex paint can usually freeze and thaw three times before it’s ruined. Then it’s solidifies and becomes worthless. I’ve also realized that it doesn’t freeze at 32 degrees but once it gets down into the teens. Although, whenever possible, I put it into a heated area as a precaution.

  6. In regards to oil based paint, I’ve never had it freeze. However, if the lid is not on tight enough the top layer of the paint will thicken and eventually solidify. To fix the issue, you can cut along the edge with a razor knife and pull that top part out of the can. The oil base paint underneath should be fine. Then all you’d have to do is stir the paint and it’s usable once again.


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