Insulating and heating my garage sounds like a pain. What are the consequences of simply allowing water-based latex paint to freeze in the winter? Is it ruined forever or does it just need tons of extra mixing in the spring?

  • 4
    Frozen paint is very hard to brush or roll !!!!!!! Sep 21, 2012 at 9:41
  • I just let my old paint dry in the can, thus avoiding all problems of freezing. Yes, some will complain it is still difficult to roll on, but freezing is no issue at all. :)
    – user558
    Sep 21, 2012 at 19:42
  • Would it be cheaper just to buy new paint when you need it? If your paint does freeze and needs to be disposed of, leave the lid off to let it dry out. Then you can throw it in the trash and it's no longer considered hazardous waste.
    – user48272
    Jan 24, 2016 at 1:39

8 Answers 8


I have an idea for you. Instead of insulating and heating the entire garage to save a few gallons of paint, perhaps you could build a small insulated paint locker. Build a box or cabinet large enough to store all your paints. Insulate the inside with some 2 inch rigid foam or R-11 blanket insulation and put some foam weather stripping around the insulated door or cover to make it fairly air tight. You could then install a low wattage light bulb as a source of heat. Honeywell makes an inexpensive plug=in/plug outlet feed thermostat that would work fantastic in this application. I use one for running three 40 watt clamp-on light fixtures in the engine compartment of my boat. The thermostat can be set to turn on the lights when the temp lowers to 35 to 40F and turn off at 40 to 50F. You set it to keep the locker above freezing. I wish I was good at drawing pics with the puter, but a good design would be to mount your lights and thermostat at the very bottom of the locker with a venting or wire shelf just above, so the heat rises in the locker and the bulbs are protected from getting bumped by paint cans. I'm sure you could build the whole project for under $100. The bonus is that something like this would be very cheap to run all winter.

  • I'm thinking that heat tape installed on the floor of the locker would be more durable than the light bulb.
    – BMitch
    Sep 21, 2012 at 12:58
  • I'm considering this, but it's definitely not easier than just letting the paint freeze. Perhaps I'll call the number on the bucket. Sep 21, 2012 at 13:09
  • 1
    @BMitch, since not setting the garage on fire is of even higher importance than preserving the paint, I like the idea of something with lower power density than a light bulb. Can you recommend a kind of heat tape? Sep 21, 2012 at 13:11
  • @ArgentoSapiens, Whichever kind has the best reviews :) (I don't have personal experience, and we tend to shy away from brand recommendations.) The vendors do recommend using a foil tape to avoid direct contact with plastic piping, so you may want to install it in the locker floor using a heat transfer plate to avoid melting the foam insulation.
    – BMitch
    Sep 21, 2012 at 13:25
  • 2
    I think you might have a problem getting enough heat tape into a small locker. The type of tape used on pipes is bulky and doesn't do a good job heating air. It could be a possibility. I still think a keyless fixture installed in an isolated compartment on the bottom would be safe and secure. a 25 or 40 watt rough service bulb would be plenty. Just an idea, I'm open to suggestions. Sep 21, 2012 at 21:44

Latex paint is composed of a mixture of components that when frozen can cause the solids to expand and separate from the mixture. Effects of using damaged latex paint can result in degraded performance such as un-even coat, less gloss, cracking and peeling of paint much sooner when exposed to the environments (sun light), and etc.

It is not recommended to expose latex paint to extreme temperatures. You probably can get away with it once. If it's frozen, thaw (expose to room temperature) and once thawed, stir the paint. If the paint is smooth, you should be okay; however, if the paint is lumpy (the solids have separated from the mixture because it was damaged by being frozen) then you have a bad mixture.

Some mixtures may include propylene glycol, which is used to protect the paint from freezing temperature and damaging the mixture.

  • 1
    This answer is helpful, but seems over simplistic. If solids fall out of suspension, it's a matter of adequate mixing to reconstitute. If it's still lumpy, isn't it just a matter of better mixing? I suspect, but don't know, the truth lies deeper. Something like paint is composed in part of complex organic molecules which are irreparably broken when frozen. No amount of mixing will reunite the broken pieces, resulting in the degraded performance mentioned. Anyone have such specific information?
    – bcworkz
    Sep 21, 2012 at 19:59
  • 4
    Only anecdotal: after freezing, the latex seems to recombine into granules that are no longer blendable. I used a blender-on-a-stick for 5 min once, to see if it would remix. No go. (Would appreciate you not mentioning this to my wife)
    – HerrBag
    Mar 7, 2013 at 21:37
  • Paint doesn't just dry, it cures: polymerizes, meaning the can is full of short molecules which "join hands" and become very long molecules. But only at a very specific time, i.e. not in the can, and minutes after painting something. This process is fragile. Jan 25, 2016 at 17:12

I had 5 gallons of paint freeze and no amount of mixing would get the lumps out! I mixed it for over an hour, no difference... ruined!


I accidentally froze a 5 gallon bucket of paint. I didn't want to throw it away, so I thawed it out and used a paint mixer on my drill to blend it. It was still lumpy, so I used an old screen and strained all the lumps out of it. I used it to paint my son's living room. By the way it looks just like the paint that was not frozen. I lost some paint in the straining process, but salvaged most of the frozen paint and used all the remaining paint. It was well worth the try, since that brand of paint is about 32 bucks a gallon.


For a latex paint (water soluble) I added water and actually used a hand blender for 3-4 minutes, the result was an even, smooth paint. The paint was completely granulated before.

Whether or not it stays on the wood will be determined in a couple of years...

EDIT: The paint had frozen completely at least twice!

  • 1
    Hi, it's been almost 3 years, how about an update? :D
    – taber
    Feb 26, 2017 at 13:58

the easiest way to store paint in the winter is in an old refrigerator in the workshop, has insulation, etc just leave the unit as is and install a incandescent light bulb of about 40w connected to an old wall thermostat in the bottom. When the temperature inside the unit drops below what you have set it to the light comes on. If you are really worried, use two bulbs when/if one fails another there for backup da da, and during the rest of the year, keep you beer in it!! :-)


I have 2 cans of rustoluem oil based paint that froze over the winter (and by froze they got down below -20 for nearly a month.. I mixed them with paint thinner for over an hour, they are NO GOOD ! Do Not Let your Paint FREEZE !!! If you do, can throw it in the trash !!!


I never use latex paint because it freezes and is no good after that, so I use an oil based paint inside and out. It only takes a few minutes longer to dry when u use a fan.

  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question, and belongs as a comment rather than an answer.
    – Doresoom
    Nov 13, 2014 at 15:36

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.