Oil paint has been a long time favorite amongst artists for some time now. Just as with any other kind of paint, oil paints technically expire, but their shelf life is much longer than acrylics for example. With proper care, you can expect oil paints to last anywhere between 30-40 years.
For this reason, you shouldn’t have to worry about your oil paint expiring for many years, so long as you store it correctly. This article covers everything you need to know about oil paint’s shelf life, expiration date, and more. So let’s get to it!
Oil Paint Basics
Technically, oil paint does go bad, but this isn’t an issue for most painters because the length of oil paint’s shelf life is so long. In fact, oil paint has one of the longest shelf lives on the market.
Depending on the exact ingredients in the paint and how you store the oil paint, it can last easily as much as 30 to 40 years. To put that in perspective, watercolors typically only last 3 years, whereas acrylic paint only lasts 5 years at most. That’s a big difference among paint types.
My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Oil Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Oil Paints for all my projects.
For special offers and discounts, with my link you can also go to the Arteza website and shop their amazing products.
If your oil paint has been freshly made, you will more likely use up the paint before it expires. More so, storing oil paint properly extends its lifespan even more, further creating a long-lasting painting product.
To elongate the lifespan of your oil paint, make sure to store it correctly. This includes sealing the lid so that it is airtight. Keep it in a dry, cool, and dark place as well. More so, try to keep the paints at a constant temperature and clean the paint tubes to avoid any damage. Another great brand that’s known for having quality and long lasting oil paints is MagicFly. I have used some of their oil tubes, and they were amazing.
I also keep some of my oil paints in these small airtight containers. They’re good for storing all kinds of paint, and are leakproof. Some people like to keep their oil paints in larger storage boxes as well. It really depends on your preference.
How Can You Tell Oil Paint Is Expired?
You can typically only tell that oil paint is expired by looking at the paint itself. Over time, the oil will split away from the pigment. This degrades the paint’s quality. It is up to you to determine when you should replace your oil paint based on your preferences and purposes.
Whenever the paint and oil separate, the paint will begin to harden due to the lack of oil. As a result, it is pretty apparent whenever your oil paint has expired since the paint will be too dry to properly paint with. Still, you might be able to paint with slightly dried oil paint, depending on your skill and job at hand.
Can You Use Old Oil Paints?
The great part about oil paints is that they take a long time to expire. In other words, you will likely be able to use old oil paints. So long as the oil has not completely separated from the paint, the oil paint should be completely safe and effective to use.
Be On The Lookout For Paints With Lead
One thing to be cautious about when using old oil paints is lead. Lead is an incredibly dangerous poison that should not be ingested or inhaled. As a result, you need to be wary about any paints or products that include lead.
Some older oil paint varieties include lead in the base. This is especially true for certain shades of white oil paint. Even modern white oil paint sometimes includes lead. Most modern oil paints that contain lead will be sold in tins and include explicit warnings.
If you find an old oil paint with lead, you might want to toss it in the trash and opt for a more modern version. In the case that you cannot avoid using modern oil paint with lead, read the instructions about how to use the paint safely.
How Do You Revive Old Oil Paint?
If you have an old tube of oil paint that is hardened, you don’t have to toss it out immediately. There are ways that you can soften oil paint, allowing you to revive your old, dried paint. The most common way to revive old oil paint includes using turpentine, which is a paint thinner.
Turpentine is a toxic material, meaning you need to take strict safety precautions to keep yourself safe while restoring your old oil paint.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Well-ventilated working space
The first step to revive your old oil paint is to buy turpentine. I have also used this Weber Odorless Turpenoid, which is a substitute for turpentine, and works great.
Grab Your Paint
Next, grab your old paint, gloves, and a mixing container. Depending on the container your plan to use, you might not need a mixing container. It’s important to mention that if you use a container, you will not be able to eat or drink out of it again once putting turpentine in it.
Now, it is time to apply the turpentine to the dried paint. Simply mix it together so that the paint softens and turns back to its more ideal form. Remember, always wear gloves so you don’t touch any chemicals in the process.
This method also works for old paintbrushes with dried oil paint or paintings that need a bit of fixing. To clean out paintbrushes, put the turpentine in a container and thoroughly clean the brushes. For a painting, apply the turpentine to a rag. Gently pat or rub the soaked rag onto the painting. This will soften the dried paint, allowing you to fix your errors.
Can You Use Oil Paint Straight From The Tube?
Yes. It is completely possible to use oil paint straight from the tube. In fact, some artists prefer this method. To use oil paint straight from the tube, you will need to master one or more techniques specific to painting with oil paint from the tube.
One of the easiest techniques to master includes thin brushing. This technique requires a bit more control over your paintbrush, but it is one of the easier to master if you have never painted with oil paint straight from the tube before.
Another technique for this painting style is called alla prima. Working alla prima means that you apply wet paint on wet paint without letting the bottom layers dry. The name “alla prima” means “at first attempt,” showing that this painting technique is typically done within a single painting session.
Another way to use oil paint straight from the tubes is to use a palette knife. This technique will layer on the paint rather thickly, creating a lot of visual texture on the canvas.
I have this Arteza palette knife set, and it has come in handy so many times. It comes in 8 different sizes, and it’s also stainless steel. If you paint with a palette knife, this set is a must have!
For special offers and discounts, with my link you can also go to the Arteza website and shop their amazing palette knife selection.
If you are looking for paint that lasts a long time, oil paint will be your best bet. With a lifespan as long as 40 years, oil paint takes a long time to expire. Especially if you are diligent in storing it properly, your oil paint should last a long time. Just make sure to follow my recommended tips and you will be good to go!
Don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!