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Can I Thaw and Use Frozen Paint?

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    LESLIE: Ronnie in Maryland is on the line and has a question about a paintsicle –  you know, when a gallon of paint freezes and you wonder if you can still use it.

    Welcome, Ronnie. How can we help you?

    RONNIE: Yes. I was wondering if that’s – I have some latex paint. It was out in the garage. I live in that climate in part of Maryland here where things freeze up. I was wondering if the paint was still good when it’s frozen. And if it is frozen, how I find out if it was frozen or not.

    LESLIE: Alright. So is it currently frozen? Do you know? Has it been frozen only once or have you had it like a year or two and it’s probably frozen a couple of times?

    RONNIE: I have no idea how old it is. It was actually – I bought a house and there were just lots of gallons of leftover paint that were in the garage.

    TOM: You not only have frozen paint, you have old paint that could have had a long history to it. And is that old paint usable?  The short answer is a definite maybe.

    I think that if you asked the manufacturers, Leslie, they’d say no. But I think we’ve all used some frozen paint before.

    RONNIE: They’re brand-new cans of paint I opened up. I could see that they’re separated a little bit but the – that’s why I didn’t know if they were actually good or if they were bad. If I mixed them back up they were good or …?

    LESLIE: Well, here’s the deal. I would start by bringing the paint indoors. Let it get to room temperature and then stir it. If it stirs and starts to go creamy, then it’s probably OK. If it still looks lumpy, then I’d say no. The issue is that latex paint has a large quantity of water in it. So, obviously, that’s going to freeze and cause things to separate. And then you might end up with problems with adhesion and peeling and perhaps color not matching.

    RONNIE: That’s why I thought if there was any lumpy stuff that might be in – I could run it through a cheesecloth or something like that.

    LESLIE: No, you wouldn’t want to. If it’s lumpy or cottage-cheesy looking in any kind of way, that just means that all of the additives that cause it to adhere have completely separated and are not sort of going back into the paint itself. So I wouldn’t strain it off, because then it’s just truly not going to stick.

    So if it’s separating like that, chuck it. But if you mix it and it looks creamy and it seems OK, I’d give it a go.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     

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