How Long Does Spray Paint Last? Shelf Life & Durability

A can of spray paint shooting out waves of bright, bold colors.

Many people have yet to realize the benefits of using spray paint for their paint jobs. There’s probably no easier or quicker way to paint than with spray paint.

Still, some people may be apprehensive about the durability of spray paint.

How long does spray paint last? How long spray paint lasts depends on the surface to which it’s applied, but it will often last for several years. Wood, metal, and concrete are surfaces that have good paint adhesion. However, some surfaces, such as plastic, require preparation in advance so that spray paint will adhere permanently.

You probably still have many unanswered questions. Luckily for you, this article delves deeply into the factors that affect spray paint’s shelf life, as well as its durability on various surfaces.

We also provide you with tips on how to achieve good paint adhesion, how to store the paint, and how to dispose of it, so be sure to stick around!

What Is the Shelf Life of Spray Paint?

The rule of thumb is that unopened spray paint cans have a shelf life of two to three years from the production date. Once opened, their shelf life is usually cut in half.

However, some premium quality brands have spray paints with shelf lives ranging from 10 to 20 years.

If stored poorly, spray paint may not last up to a year. On the other hand, if stored properly, spray paint may last beyond the expiration date printed on the can.

Do Spray Paints Go Bad?

Storage conditions, heat, and humidity all have an impact on how long spray paint lasts, whether it’s opened or not.

As a result, spray paints can go bad if exposed to extreme temperatures and stored in unfavorable conditions.

When spray paint goes bad, it may clog up and change color.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Metal?

Spray paint on metal usually lasts about five years before you notice any flaws or changes in the paint.

Depending on how frequently and thoroughly the metal surface is cleaned, the spray paint can last as little as three years or as long as 10 years.

That said, if you spray paint bare metal without primer, the paint may lose its finish and start to chip within a few weeks.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on a Car?

High-quality automotive spray paint can last between 10 and 15 years on a car if applied properly. Cleaning and waxing your car regularly will help your spray paint job last as long as possible.

Just keep in mind that long-term exposure to the elements, sunlight, and acidic substances can cause the car paint to age faster or damage it.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Plastic?

Conventional spray paints will only last a few minutes on plastic. In a matter of minutes, the paint will most likely chip, bubble, peel, or flake off.

Spray paint requires rough ridges or a binder to adhere to a surface, which the glossy surface of plastic lacks.

You can use a plastic primer to provide a layer for the spray paint to adhere to.

However, there are spray paints that are specifically designed to fuse with plastic surfaces (like this one), resulting in super-strong, long-lasting paint adhesion.

Krylon 12 oz K02727007 White Fusion All-In-One...
  • 5X Stronger Adhesion and superior durability
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How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Wood?

Spray paint on wood lasts about three years on average, but it can last anywhere from six months to five years.

Pre-paint preparation is incredibly crucial to the durability of spray paint on wood.

You can also extend the life of spray paint by using oil-based spray paint, which can protect the wood from heat, moisture, and UV rays.

You should also finish the paint job with an outdoor spray paint coat that can withstand heavy use and exposure to the elements.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Concrete?

Spray paint on concrete lasts three to five years, but it can last longer if the concrete isn’t exposed to the elements or walked on frequently.

High-traffic areas may not last as long, which is why most spray paint brands recommend applying a new layer every three to five years, depending on use.

To seal the spray paint and ensure that it lasts, apply a finishing coat of clear enamel. Just keep in mind that the enamel will give the concrete a glossy finish.

How Long Does Spray Paint Last Outside?

If applied properly, spray paint can typically last outside three to four years.

Outdoor furniture or accessories are constantly exposed to the elements. As a result, it’s critical to prepare, use high-quality outdoor spray paint, and seal to ensure the paint lasts.

Tips To Achieve Good Spray Paint Adhesion

Proper surface preparation is required for good spray paint adhesion. Depending on the surface, you may need to sand, degrease, and apply a primer.


Paint doesn’t adhere to slick, glossy, or previously painted surfaces well.

That’s why you should lightly sand the surface using sandpaper (this brand is excellent) or a metal brush to create small, rough ridges for the paint to adhere to.

Fandeli | Multi-Purpose Sanding Paper | Assorted...
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Sanding also removes any loose paint and rust spots, which reduce paint adhesion.

Keep in mind that sanding isn’t always necessary, but it does ensure that your paint adheres well and comes out silky smooth.


Clean any surface that will be painted with a degreaser to remove all traces of contaminants such as oil, grease, and wax.

Applying Primer

Before spray painting, you should apply a layer of a high-quality primer to surfaces like unfinished wood and bare metal. The primer will fill in any small holes and smooth out the surface for the paint coat.

You should also apply primer if you’re going to drastically change the surface’s color.

Applying Rust Inhibitor

You should treat surfaces prone to rusting with a good rust inhibitor. This substance will penetrate the surface’s pores and reduce its corrosion rate.

BOESHIELD T-9 Rust & Corrosion...
  • Boeshield Is Great For Use In Marine, Bicycles, Automotive, Tools, Rv'S, And Aviation
  • Loosens Rusty And Corroded Parts And Is Safe On Paints, Any Metal Surfaces, Plastics, And Vinyl


Paint doesn’t adhere well to wet surfaces. That’s also why you should avoid painting in humid conditions.

So, after you’ve finished preparing the surface, let it dry completely before painting it.

How To Store Spray Paint Correctly

Spray paint cans should be stored between 41°F and 77°F. If the temperature is too high or too low, the paint may lose its color and become unstable.

They should also be kept in a dark, dry, and cool place away from direct sunlight. The garage is a good option if the temperature doesn’t fluctuate dramatically throughout the year.

Before you put a spray paint can away, you should thoroughly clean the can’s nozzle to prevent dry paint from clogging it. Put the nozzle back on and seal the cap well over the can.

You can store the spray paint upside down so that the paint doesn’t clog the valve stem if it thickens.

Most importantly, always make sure to read and follow the safety data sheet, technical data sheet, and label instructions for paint type.

How To Dispose of Spray Paint

Before you can dispose of a spray paint can, it must be completely empty. Half-empty cans of spray paint are potentially ignitable, corrosive, reactive, and toxic.

You start by laying a piece of cardboard or several sheets of newspaper on the ground, preferably outside. Point the nozzle at your workspace and spray the remaining contents until no paint comes out.

Shake the can and spray again. If nothing comes out and the can doesn’t make a hissing noise when you press the nozzle, it’s empty.

You can also safely and properly empty a spray paint can using an Aerosolv aerosol recycling system.

Justrite Aerosolv Standard System for Recycling...
  • The Aerosolv system safely converts spent aerosol cans from solid hazardous waste to a non-hazardous...
  • A non-sparking pin punctures the can, and the residual liquids flow into the collection drum

Once you’re sure that the can is completely empty, you can dispose of the empty can in your regular trash.

Buying only what you need is one way to avoid wasting spray paint. You won’t have to dispose of old, half-empty cans this way.

Related Questions:

How Do You Repressurize a Spray Paint Can?

You can repressurize a spray paint can using an air compressor. The compressor should have at least the same PSI as the spray can.

Remove the nozzle, attach the air compressor to the valve stem, and release a few short bursts of compressed air.

That said, unless you have a reusable pressure container, you shouldn’t repressurize the spray paint can yourself.

Most spray paints are stored in aerosol cans, which contain butane or another volatile hydrocarbon. These propellants are what provide the can with vapor pressure and propulsive pressure.

Neither we nor our homes are equipped to safely repressurize these cans. It’s always better to just buy another can.

How To Unclog Spray Can Valve?

First, you have to make sure that the nozzle isn’t clogged. Remove the nozzle from the can and run it under hot water. Then, with a clean rag, wipe away the softened paint.

If the warm water doesn’t remove the paint, you can soak the nozzle in paint thinner overnight. Just make sure you wear protective gloves before you handle the thinner.

In case the entire valve system is clogged, fill the spray can cap halfway with acetone (nail polish remover) and store the can upside down overnight.

If this method doesn’t work, you can use compressed air to force the clogged paint out of the valve.

In the future, to make sure that the spray can doesn’t get clogged, turn the can upside down and squirt it to clear any paint from the dip tube and nozzle when you’re finished painting.


Spray paint adheres to and lasts for a long time on a variety of surfaces. Even unsuitable surfaces can be prepared for the paint to adhere to them.

So, regardless of your paint job, you’re now equipped with the know-how to properly use, store, and dispose of spray paint cans.

Last update on 2024-05-28 at 03:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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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!