Can Paint be Stored Outside in the Winter?

Storing paint can be complicated. Wintertime is even more complicated as cold weather can ruin your paint. So where should you store your paint cans over the winter months?

It turns out most of those interested in a solution for this problem has insufficient storage space. This creates a wide range of problems, including safety issues.

Many types of paint are flammable and storing it next to a heat source in the winter can be just as bad as storing it outside.

Why not store paint outside in the winter?

Storing paint outside in the winter exposes it to freezing. This leads to paint clumps, paint that loses adhesion, and very slow curing times. Other types of paint harden instead of freezing, this still prevents proper curing.

There are a few main problems with storing paint outside in the winter. Many people open the can of paint outside to only realize the effect cold temperatures have had on it once they can’t apply it or once it cures badly.

Paint might freeze outside in the winter (below 32 degrees)

The biggest problem with paint stored outside in the winter is its exposure to freezing. Paint freezes below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and this makes it lose applicability and curability. The ease of application and drying times suffer the most.

Another problem with frozen paint is the incapacity to mix it properly. This leads to uneven pigmentation on the walls.

Typical frozen paint problems

  • Poor applicability
  • Long curing times
  • Poor mixing capacity

Frozen paint shows clumps

Clumps in paint are often caused by improper storage. A paint can left outside in the winter can show paint clumps. This is paint that may never be mixed properly again. Latex paint is known to bind and show clomps when left outside in the winter.

Paint clumps can sometimes be mixed back into the paint. However, some paint clumps might be too small to mix back which may clog your sprayer’s nozzle.

Common problems caused by paint clumps

  • Uneven pigmentation
  • Clogged paint sprayer nozzle
  • Uneven application

Frozen paint might lose adhesion

Adhesion or the capacity of paint to bind to the wall is lost whenever paint is exposed to extreme temperatures.

Benjamin Moore recommends storing paint at temperatures of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and a maximum of 80 degrees in the summer.

Sherwin Williams recommends storing paint at temperatures above freezing and below 95 degrees in the summer.

Paint stored outside of this range is paint you cannot use or paint that doesn’t deliver perfect results.

Paint might freeze in the garage or the shed

While you can store paint in a shed, you need to cover it up properly or store it in a sealed plastic box to avoid freezing temperatures. Sheds don’t have a heat source and their inner temperature easily gets below the freezing temperature in the winter.

Storing paint in an unheated garage isn’t recommended if the temperature in the garage drops under 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Heated garages are a good alternative as well as storing paint inside of the house.

Paint stored in cold weather cures slowly or doesn’t cure at all

One of the surprises of freezing paint is poor curing or paint that doesn’t cure at all. Clumps, poor adhesion, and lesser impact of curing adhesives make paint cure slowly once stored outside in the winter.

This means paint might drip as it doesn’t dry or that it may need to be removed as it loses its drying capacity.

Latex paint hardens and cannot be used in the winter

Latex paint is one of the types of paint that suffers the most when it comes to outdoor wintertime storage. Latex paint hardens when stored outside.

This means you cannot mix it and you cannot apply it properly with any tools such as a paint sprayer, a paint roller, or a brush.

Latex paint that freezes in the winter may need to be discarded.

At what temperature does paint freeze?

Paint freezes at normal 32 degrees Fahrenheit freezing temperatures. It becomes hard below this temperature. Paint also has an upper-temperature limit of 80-95 degrees Fahrenheit. It becomes runny above this temperature.

What temperature should I store paint in the winter?

You should aim to store paint at room temperature in the winter. This is a range between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Paint stored outside of this range may become stiff or runny.

Applicability, curing time, and pigmentation suffer the most whenever paint isn’t stored within these limits.

Better places to store paint in the winter

Storing paint in the winter may be complicated in apartments. Those living in houses might still find suitable places which protect paint from extremely low temperatures.

Store paint in the basement – while not as warm as the house, basements are still not known for suffering freezing temperatures which makes them a good place for paint storage.

Store paint in the attic – some attics aren’t insulated and they might get colder than the house. Still, they might not get as cold as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Store paint in cupboards – empty cupboards around the house are some of the ideal places to store paint in a cool dry place that’s not going to freeze.

Store paint in the laundry room – laundry rooms may be the only place where paint can safely be stored without taking up space in the house and without freezing in the winter.

Summary

Paint cannot be stored outside in the winter as it risks going bad. Paint exposed to freezing temperatures starts to harden and it might need to be discarded even if you manage to mix it back to a liquid state.

Paint should be stored indoors, preferably at room temperature, in the winter. Some of the ideal places to store paint over the colder months of the year include basements, cupboards, and the laundry room.

Sources

Sherwin Williams – How to Recycle or Dispose of Paint

Benjamin Moore – 6 Things to Know about Storing Leftover Paint and Shelf Life