Can You Store Paint in the Garage? [Easy & Effective Tips]

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Every DIY enthusiast, home renovator, or professional painter knows that a successful project doesn’t end when the brushes are cleaned, and the tarps are put away. It ends when you figure out how to store your leftover paint cans. 

Whether you have a couple of cans or enough paint to re-do your entire house, proper storage ensures they’ll be there when you need to do touchups later. 

In this article, we’ll uncover the best practices to organize and store paint in the garage. 

Let’s get started. 

How To Store Paint In An Unheated Garage

Storing paint in an unheated garage isn’t as straightforward as stacking cans on a shelf. To ensure your paint’s quality and longevity, you need to be aware of how the environment in your garage differs from other areas of your house. We’ll also cover the effects of temperature fluctuations and potential sunlight exposure.

Temperature & Humidity Regulation is critical, so avoid any extreme temperature changes. Benjamin Moore advises you keep their paints in temperatures between 50°F and 80°F (10°C and 27°C) [source]. 

If your garage often feels like the North Pole or the Sahara Desert, you might have problems. 

This article takes you through tips on how to store paint in garages.Pin

Extreme temperatures can cause paint to thicken, freeze, or even separate. But if insulating the entire space is beyond your budget, space heaters are an inexpensive option to raise your garage temperature during the cold winter months

Similarly, paint does best in dry environments, ideally between 40% to 60% humidity. So, if your garage feels like a steam room because it’s next to the laundry or bathroom, it’s time to rethink.

Excess moisture can sneak into the can, ruining the paint. Try to find a well-ventilated corner and steer clear of any water sources.

Limit Exposure to Sunlight: Sunlight isn’t just bad for our skin. Paint hates it too. 

Both direct sun and artificial UV rays can lead to paint degradation, color alterations, and even heat build-ups inside the can. If you have windows or skylights in your garage, make sure your paint cans have a cozy, dark corner or cabinet away from light.

Seal the Deal: To help your leftover paint last as long as possible, make sure it’s sealed tightly. Clean off any excess paint on the can’s rim. Use a rubber mallet to make sure it’s tight.

I like to use silicone paint can lids on all of my paint cans. They’re cheap and help keep the remaining paint fresh for longer.

A homemade way to get similar results is to place plastic wrap under the lid before closing. For small leftovers, transfer to small glass jars to minimize air exposure.

Shur-Line Mess-Free Store & Pour Paint Can Lid (2 Pack)
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Use Elevated Storage: Storing paint cans directly on the garage floor? Rookie move. Elevate them on metal or wooden shelves to protect against cold, moisture, and dirt. 

Avoid storing paint on concrete garage floors or in cardboard boxes. Both can introduce moisture. Try covering your stored paint with a cloth or sheet. It’s like giving them a comfy blanket to protect against dust and dirt.

Routinely Check 

on the paint’s condition and the still has a proper seal. Like checking on sleeping kids, occasionally peek into open paint cans.

Check for damage or rust on the metal cans. Then, stir the paint to make sure it still has a smooth consistency. If the color seems off, or there’s an odd smell, it’s probably time to properly dispose of it.

Remember, a little attention goes a long way in keeping your paint in prime condition, ensuring it’s ready for your next garage project.

How to Store Paint in The Garage: Getting Organized

If you’ve got a rainbow of paint cans piled in your garage, it’s time for some strategic thinking. 

Getting organized doesn’t just make your future DIY projects smoother, but it also keeps your paint vibrant and ready for action.

Organize By Paint Formula: Let’s keep it simple. Separate your paints based on their chemistry: latex, oil-based, acrylic, or enamel. This ensures you’re always grabbing the right can for the job without any unwanted surprises.

Color Code: Next, sort them by colors. Consider slap-on color labels or stickers with the shade name or code. You’ll thank yourself the next time you’re looking for that specific shade of cerulean blue.

Function First: Lastly, consider where you’re painting: interior or exterior, wall or trim, primer or finish. When you’re in the thick of a home makeover, you’ll have the perfect paint within arm’s reach.

Safely store paint in the garage inside my Gladiator storage cabinet Pin

Label Everything:

  1. Think of labels as your paint cans’ personal ID cards.
  2. Don’t just stop at the color.
  3. Write down the purchase date, brand, and where you’ve previously used the paint.

A Sharpie will do the trick, but a label maker gives it a touch of professionalism. I also keep a swatch of the paint color on the lid. It’s often saved me the trouble of opening several cans to find the color I was looking for.

Find Alternative Storage: Maybe your garage is too packed or not ideal for paint storage. No worries, there are some excellent alternatives. 

Climate-controlled storage units or a well-maintained basement could be your paint’s new penthouse.

Climate-controlled storage units regulate both temperature and humidity to keep your paint in tip-top condition. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement and it’s mold-free with good airflow, it might be the perfect spot for your extra paint cans.

Storing Paint Thinner in the Garage

Paint thinner, also known as mineral spirits, white spirit, or turpentine, is often used with oil-based paints. Not only does it thin paints, but it also gives brushes and tools a fresh start post-painting. 

However, paint thinners require the same care when storing latex or oil paints. 

Here are some storage considerations:

Temperature: Paint thinner has similar temperature and humidity requirements as regular paint. It likes a cool and dry room with temperatures hovering between 50°F and 80°F. Extreme temperatures can cause the thinner to evaporate or degrade.

Keep away from heat: Paint thinners are flammable and can ignite with open flames and even sparks or static electricity. That means keeping them far from heaters, furnaces, or specific electrical equipment.

Seal It Tight: Paint thinner will evaporate if left uncovered, so keep it sealed. Go with metal or glass containers with tight-fitting lids. Avoid plastic containers as they can melt or leak.

Your garage may seem like the perfect place to store everything. But storing paint thinner in your garage requires some care to ensure it’s safe.

Is It Safe To Store Paint In The House?

Some homeowners choose to store leftover paint in their homes. However, there are some special considerations to ensure safety. 

Here’s an in-depth look at the factors surrounding paint storage in the house.

Choosing indoor storage over garage paint storage presents its distinct set of advantages. The inside of your home typically maintains consistent temperature and humidity levels. This helps the paint last longer and reduces exposure to elements like direct sunlight and dust. Plus, it also keeps the paint safe from external threats like theft or vandalism.

However, storing paint cans inside the house has some safety concerns. This includes potential fire risks, toxic fumes, and environmental threats. 

The ideal storage area demands a cool and dry corner, away from heat sources and out of reach from children and pets. Keep the paint in its original container, with a clear label and tightly sealed lid.

The repercussions of not storing paint and paint thinner appropriately can be extensive. Potential health problems could manifest as respiratory issues, skin and eye irritations, headaches, nausea, dizziness, allergic reactions, and more. 

Environmental implications of improper storage can range from spills and leaks to larger-scale contaminations and pollution.

Embracing safe disposal and eco-friendly practices can substantially diminish these risks. Consider recycling or donating unused paints, using less toxic product alternatives, using appropriately labeled containers, adhering to local regulations, contacting hazardous waste facilities, and ensuring paints or thinners are not discarded down drains or in regular trash.


Can You Store Leftover Paint in an Uninsulated Garage?

Insulation in a garage is critical to moderate temperatures. It acts as a barrier, keeping the garage’s interiors relatively untouched by external temperature fluctuations. 

This creates the perfect environment for paint storage, minimizing risks like freezing or degradation. 

However, insulation, by itself, isn’t usually enough. 

Challenges like moisture, direct sunlight, dust, pests, or ignition sources can still compromise paint quality. As a result, consider storing paint in a climate-controlled space inside the home.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Paint Storage?

The critical question of whether paint will freeze in an unheated garage hinges on the paint’s specific type and its ingredient composition. 

Each paint variety, be it latex, oil-based, or others, has its unique freezing point. Thus, understanding the specific paint’s properties and checking with the manufacturer’s guidelines becomes crucial when pondering storage in colder climes.

Can You Leave Paint Cans in the Garage Over Winter? 

Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on latex paint, causing the water within to crystallize. This can lead to a lumpy, clotted texture often beyond repair. 

While generally more cold-resistant, oil-based paints can still thicken or harden in freezing conditions. Frequent temperature fluctuations can also negatively affect paint, causing it to expand and contract, possibly leading to issues once applied. 

To combat these winter challenges, regularly monitor the garage’s temperature. If it gets too chilly, relocate the paint indoors. 

If you anticipate freezing conditions, consider storing paint in smaller containers for easier thawing or mixing antifreeze additives into latex paints.

In conclusion, while an unheated garage presents particular challenges, with some attention and care, it can still serve as a suitable storage spot for your paints. The key is proactively managing the environment and monitoring the paint’s condition.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re storing your paint in a garage, indoors, or contemplating the safety of keeping paint thinner nearby, it’s crucial to understand each scenario’s unique requirements and risks. 

Remember, consistency in temperature, proper sealing, and mindful organization can extend the life of your paint and protect your home environment. 

Following these tips when you store paint in the garage will ensure that the leftovers are there for your next painting project.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

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