You’re in the middle of painting your living room when you realize you’re out of paint.
You head to the store and find the perfect color, but it’s only available in a can that’s been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. Can you use it?
Consider another scenario – You have a can of dried-up wall paint sitting in your garage; you want to use that for a project but don’t know if it’s still good to restore it.
Well, Fear not!
You may be able to revive the old dried paints for reuse, depending on the type of paint you have.
- If it’s an old dried oil-based paint you want to use for touch-ups of the wood panels or other surfaces, you can fix it for reuse.
- If it’s a dried acrylic paint you want to use for your craft project, there is still the chance to get it revived.
- But you are not lucky enough if it’s a dried latex water-based paint that you want to use. It can’t be rehydrated and fixed, so you should dispose of it and buy a new one.
Keep in mind that – most likely, the new softened-up paint will be of lesser quality than the original one, but it can still be used for touch-ups or as a base coat if you are ready to apply more than one coat.
How to Soften Dried Oil-Based Paint?
Oil-based paints are generally applied to coat walls, wood panels, or metal surfaces that need a glossy finish.
If you need to restore dried oil paint, here’s how you should proceed…
Step 1. Place the can of old dried paint in a pot of warm water for about an hour until you see the paint starting to soften.
Step 2. Pour the softened paint into a new empty can, discarding any lumps that don’t dissolve.
Step 3. Add a paint thinner to the new can of paint and stir well. The resulting paint should have the consistency of heavy cream.
Step 4. Add some more solvent to thin the rehydrated paint if required, then use the paint as usual, applying it with a brush or roller.
Thinned oil-based paint takes longer to dry than unthinned paint, so allow extra time to cure before adding a second coat.
Tips and warnings:
- If you don’t have any paint thinner on hand, you can use mineral spirits or naphtha.
- A thinned oil-based paint gives off harmful fumes, so work in a well-ventilated area and use a face mask along with gloves.
- Use a drop cloth or a tarp to protect the floor when working with oil-based paints, as they can be challenging to clean up afterward.
Dried Acrylic Paint – How to Make It Usable Again?
Hobbyists and crafters generally use acrylic paints for their everyday projects. Its also sometimes used on interior and exterior walls and other surfaces for decoration, depending on the final look desired.
If you have some leftover solidified acrylic paint in an old can, you can rehydrate it using thinning mediums such as water and Flow Improver to make it usable. Although this paint is unsuitable for larger projects, it works well for smaller projects that do not demand top-quality paint.
To liquefy the dried paint, follow these simple steps…
Step 1. Open the can and check the paint inside. If it has any lumps, discard them. If it looks like solidified paint gel, that’s fine to use.
Step 2. Add an equal amount of water or a thinner medium to the paint can and stir gently with a stir stick.
Step 3. If the paint is still too thick, add more thinning medium until you achieve the desired consistency.
Step 4. Once done, use the paint as normal using a paintbrush, and enjoy your project.
TIP: The paint and medium can also be stirred together or shaken using an agitator in the paint container. Check if you have one in your toolbox.
Latex Water-Based Paint – How to Fix or Get Rid of It?
Unfortunately, if you have an old can of dried latex water-based paint, there is no way to revive it. You will need to discard it correctly according to your local regulations.
However, if the paint is in good condition but has just separated, you can try to mix it again. Maybe a bit of stirring or shaking can help make the paint usable.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1. Pour the paint into a large container and add an equal amount of water.
Step 2. Stir the mixture vigorously with a paint stirrer until the paint is completely dissolved.
Step 3. Pour the mixture back into the original can and seal it tightly.
Step 4. Shake the can vigorously for a few minutes to distribute the paint evenly.
Step 5. If it looks fine, use the paint, as usual, applying it with a brush or roller.
Remember, if the above process does not work smoothly or you are unsatisfied with the results, it’s best not to use these water-based chalk or latex paints for your projects. It may not work well or stick properly to the surface, which would be a waste of time and money.
The bottom line
Using the knowledge you have gained above, you can hopefully try to restore various types of dried-out solidified paints.
For painting surfaces such as your kitchen walls, it is recommended to use the restored oil-based enamel as a base coat and apply a top coat of paint. This will give a good surface for the new paint to adhere to while providing extra protection to the old layer.
Additionally, you can use the revived oil-based and acrylic paint for smaller craft projects or touch-ups. It offers a good color match and better durability, ensuring the paint doesn’t easily chip off.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.