Does Spray Paint Freeze? How Cold Affects Paint Quality

A person wearing long sleeves and a white glove for spray painting.

Storing spray paint is a topic loaded with questions among DIYers and painters.

We always recommend a dry spot away from direct sunlight for keeping spray paint cans, but all too often folks forget to properly store their paints and leave them out in a cold garage. 

But what if you keep it there for too long? What if winter hits and the room temperature drops too low?

Does spray paint freeze? Yes, spray paint can freeze. This happens when the surrounding temperature falls below the freezing point of the paint’s vehicle, which is 32℉ for water-based spray paints and 20℉ for oil-based spray paints. Any temperatures below 50℉ will cause paint to thicken and be increasingly difficult to use.

In the following, we’ll not just be looking into whether or not spray paint freezes, but we’ll also learn what happens when it’s exposed to cold temperatures.

Will the spray can explode? Can you defrost the paint and reuse it? Keep reading to find out.

The Effects of Cold Temperatures on Spray Paint

If you keep spray paint somewhere where the ambient temperature is cold, multiple aspects of the paint will change including its physical state and viscosity.

The colder the temperature surrounding the spray paint, the heavier, thicker, lumpier, harder, and less sticky it’ll get.

The questions below will help you get a better idea of the effects of cold temperatures on spray paint. 

Can Spray Paint Freeze?

Yes, spray paint can freeze if it reaches a temperature below the freezing point of the vehicle. This is because the paint’s vehicle is the reason why paint freezes, not the paint itself.

You see, spray paint is either water-based or oil-based. Water based means that the paint particles are carried in water as a vehicle, whereas oil based means that the paint particles are carried in oil as a vehicle.

The purpose of a vehicle is to enable the application of paint particles.

Now, when the temperature around the spray paint drops, the particles of the vehicle slow down their motion.

When the temperature is less than the vehicle’s freezing temperature, the particles of the vehicle will stop, causing the paint as a whole to freeze. 

What Happens if Spray Paint Freezes?

If spray paint freezes, it becomes a hard lump that’s impossible to pass through the aerosol applicator.

This means you can’t use spray paint while it’s frozen because it simply won’t come out of the can.

Will Frozen Spray Paint Explode?

Frozen spray paint will explode only if you load the can with more paint than it’s intended to hold.

When paint freezes inside a spray paint can, its volume increases about 10% more than its normal volume.

Spray paint cans are built with extra room inside to accommodate such an increase in volume in case the paint freezes.

This is why a can of spray paint won’t explode if the paint inside of it freezes — the manufacturer already anticipates it!

However, if you add more paint to the can than it’s supposed to hold, the extra room won’t be enough to make up for the increase in volume, and the can will explode upon freezing.

What Temperature Does Spray Paint Freeze?

This depends on the vehicle of the spray paint. Water-based spray paints freeze at a temperature below 32℉, while oil-based spray paints freeze at temperatures below 20℉.

What Temperature Is Too Cold for Spray Paint?

A can of spray paint spraying against a black background.

Just because spray paint won’t freeze until the temperature is below 32 and 20℉, it doesn’t mean that any temperature above 32 degrees is good for application.

Before it freezes, spray paint will get heavier and thicker as the temperature drops. This makes it a hassle to apply and will most likely require a thinner.

If the temperature keeps decreasing, the paint will become lumpy and less viscous. This means it won’t come out easily or evenly and won’t stick properly to the work surface.

Generally speaking, any temperature above 50℉ and less than 85℉ should be problem free when it comes to storage and application.

Can Spray Paint Still Be Used After Freezing?

Yes, you can use spray paint after freezing, but you need to let it heat up again. You can easily do this by putting the frozen spray paint cans in a warm room.

Don’t forget to shake the cans every hour or so to check how far the paint has thawed.

Can You Spray Paint in Cold Weather?

You can spray paint in cold weather under two conditions:

  • You keep the spray paint warm enough so it stays a smooth liquid.
  • You keep the work area warm to prevent spraying onto cold surfaces that can cause lumping, adhering, and drying issues.

Ideal Storage Conditions for Spray Paint

To properly store spray paint cans, you need to provide the following conditions:

  • A dark, dry spot away from direct light.
  • A temperature range between 50℉ to 85℉.

A dedicated cabinet in your garage is an excellent place to keep spray paint cans. Be sure you keep it locked if there are children around.

If the storage temperature accidentally drops below 32℉ for water-based paint and 20℉ for oil-based paints, don’t worry.

Just leave the cans in a warm room for a few hours until the spray paint thaws once again. 

Related Questions:

Does Spray Paint Dry in the Cold?

Spray painting in cold weather should be avoided as low temperatures result in various issues such as:

  • The paint will take a significantly longer time to dry.
  • The paint will freeze on the top without drying all the way through.
  • The paint won’t stick properly to the work surface.

Can Spray Paint Be Stored Outside?

You can store spray paint outside as long as it’s somewhere away from direct sunlight and the surrounding temperature is more than 50℉ but below 85℉.


So, does spray paint freeze? The answer is yes.

The freezing temperature of the spray paint depends on the vehicle. It’ll freeze below 32℉ if it’s water-based paint and below 20℉ if it’s oil-based paint.

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!