You may have dozens of bottles or tubes of acrylic paint just lying around that may not be properly stored. In this article we will go over everything you need to know to store you acrylic paints.
So, how do you store acrylic paint? Well, not only is sealing them from air or moisture important, but they must remain between 65° and 75° all year round.
Acrylic paint should be stored in an airtight container, such as a plastic carry container, mason jars, or even those jewelry bead boxes. Because acrylic paint is water based, it needs to be away from wet or damp locations.
I personally keep mine in my walk in closet along with all my painting materials, or in my garage if the temperature is between the 65 °– 75°. Some artists have a designated area to paint and store all their materials, like a spare room or studio. I also highly recommend buying a portable thermostat to easily monitor the humidity and temperature in the room like this one from Amazon. I have one of these both in my closet and garage.
Some artists like to store their paint bottles in these portable plastic containers. I like this options if it has a lid, that way you can seal it and make sure no moisture gets in. I have some paints stored this way, and some in mason jars. In another one of my articles, I talk about how to store acrylic paint in glass jars.
If your acrylic paints are properly stored, most can last over 10+ years. Some paints do expire, so always make sure to check the manufacture’s label.
Where to Store Your Acrylic Paints
In my opinion, it’s best to keep your paints stored in a studio or room where you can monitor the temperature. I also keep my acrylic paints in the garage without any issues. Some paints can go down to 50 ° without problems, but the above mentioned temperature is always best.
So, if you’re looking to store your acrylic bottles in containers, then I recommend the plastic storage bins with lids. That way when they’re sealed, no moisture can get it and ruin your paints.
If you want to store larger amounts of paint, then mason jars may be for you. Not only are they neat, but you can see the actual color without even opening the bottle.
I have dozens of mason jars filled with paint and they do tend to last a while. Mason jars have a universal use, so the lids ensure your paints will remain airtight and sealed. You can also use them to store your paintbrushes and other art supplies.
Not only can you store your paints in mason jars, but a neat project is to paint the jar with the paint inside to give it that extra touch. Some people only paint the top of the lid, while others like myself paint the whole jar. It makes a really cool project on the side. Glitter is even involved!
What Temperature Should Acrylic Paint Be Stored at?
Acrylic paints are water based paints, so that means they dry much faster than oil paints. Being water based, acrylic paints are extra sensitive to extreme temperatures. Too much cold and the water and other components of the paints will freeze. On the other hand, with excessive heat the paint will dry out and become unusable.
Like I mentioned above, it is always recommended to keep your acrylic paints in a location that remains between 65° and 75° all year round. When the temperatures vary 10° or more outside of this range, there is a chance that the natural separation of the emulsion occurs. That is the mixing of two materials that normally wouldn’t mix.
Acrylic Paints and Moisture
When using acrylic paints, you would generally want some moisture in the air to help keep the paints from drying out quickly, or getting lumpy on your palette. However, in the case of paint storage, moisture can be your worst enemy. In the past I accidentally left a set in a hot car and they got completely ruined. They weren’t even worth re-hydrating them.
Acrylic paints need to be kept at a consistent average temperature. Too much fluctuation and they will separate and get ruined. Unfortunately, that recommended temperature range is also an optimal temperature range for many things to grow, including mold and mildew.
To prevent mildew and mold from growing on paints in storage, you need to reduce that amount of moisture in the air around the paints. Here are some tips of places where you should NOT store paint.
- Near running water like in a bathroom or kitchen. This can also damage acrylic paintings hung in your bathroom.
- In an area where clothes are washed or dried.
- Next to exposed wood or concrete, since these both can retain moisture.
- In a utility closet with furnace or air conditioner where there is excess airflow and water in the air.
- Near a door to the outside where contaminates are present.
How Long Can You Store Acrylic Paint?
Acrylic paint can be stored for over 10+ years if done properly. In one of my articles I talk about if acrylic paint expires, and how long it can be stored. I personally go through paints pretty quickly. Sometimes my tubes don’t even last 2 months, so I don’t worry that much about mold or them drying out, however for people that don’t paint that frequently storing them is a bigger dilemma.
A major consideration to keep in mind is the length of time you expect the paint to be stored. When acrylic paint is used up quickly, it is less likely that the temperature or moisture levels will affect the lifespan of it. The longer you store your paints, the higher the risk of developing mold, or even drying.
If possible try to plan ahead and keep in mind the amount of time you plan on storing your paints and plan your repository accordingly.
Containers for Acrylic Paint Storage
I myself prefer mason jars, or the plastic container boxes with the lids. I feel they keep the moisture out and my paints are safe in there. Some people also prefer to store the actual tubes and bottles in storage cubes, and as long as they’re in a good temperature setting, it’s totally fine.
Original Bottle Container
Acrylic paint come packaged in some pretty durable plastic containers. Student quality paints generally ship in plastic tubes. Artist or professional quality acrylic paints usually come in more robust canisters or metal tubes. The metal tubes like the ones I have, tend to get colder if below the recommended temperature.
With any container you decide on, the most important thing to look for when storing your acrylic paints are that the lid closes and seals, and that the container doesn’t have any holes or cracks.
Since acrylic paints are made water based, exposure to the air is a huge problem. Paint can dry out or grow mold and mildew. Both of these problems are basically non-existent when the paint is sealed in an air tight container.
Short term storage of paints in original tubes or bottles will most likely be the ideal way to store your paints. With my paint tubes, I will keep them in the original tube but in a plastic storage box. For the paints that I have more of and use less, I will put those in mason jars.
If you want to store them in mason jars, it makes more sense to have more of the paint that you plan to store in there. Usually the colors I go through fast are white and black, along with others, but I always seem to be restocking black. Those colors and other custom mixed colors I usually prefer to store in mason jars.
If those jars happen to be ones that I painted the outside of, I keep them and use them as household decor.
Other Containers for Acrylic Paint Storage
- Condiment squeeze bottles, click here for the bottles I recommend
- Tupperware (medium storage)
- Used butter/soup/sour cream containers (short term storage)
- Coffee tin (short term storage)
- Any bowl/container with saran wrap or press n’ seal (very short storage)
If you want to get creative and have a unique storage space for your acrylic paints, here are some neat ideas:
If you love craft paints and have quite a bit, this wall storage shelves idea is super cool..
This carry box is convenient if you plan on traveling with your paints.
If you have an extra makeup box, this idea is pretty unique.
I hope this article answered all your questions on how to store acrylic paint. Don’t forget to check out all my other articles for everything you need to paint with acrylics. My Recommended Products page has all my top picks.