What To Do About Chunky or Clumpy Paint


Did you get a great deal on some paint at the hardware store? Maybe you picked some up at a garage sale? No matter what the reason, we all have come across chunk or lumpy paint. What can you do about it?

The answer has three parts. If it is brand new paint, there are bound to be some lumps. Just stir it with a stir stick, and it should settle out. If it is an older preponed can of paint, you can attempt to screen the lumps and chunks out of it.  If the paint is lumpy because of contamination or exposure to freezing and thawing, then the best suggestion is to throw it away. 

In this article, we cover all three of these scenarios. We will cover the best ways to screen out your paint. We will give you some tips on how to keep your paint from becoming lumpy.   We will also give you ideas on how to dispose of your paint. Read on to find out more.

I Just Bought New Paint, and It Is Lumpy

This is usually very easy to deal with. Give the paint a few good stirs and those chunks should go away. This is normal for paint that has been closed and sitting. If the chunks are hard and appear dry, then check the can for damage. Check the outside of the can for any signs that it had already been opened.  You may have to return it to the store.

Why Does Paint Get Lumpy?

Paint can get lumpy from sitting too long. Paint will get lumpy and dry out if it is left partially open. Exposure to air will cause the paint to dry naturally. This will cause lumps and chunks. Paint can also become chunky because of contamination.

This happens a lot if the can was improperly opened. This can also happen if contaminants get into the paint while the can is open. Freezing and thawing can break your paint down no matter how new it is. If you have lumps and chunks in your paint, all is not lost!

I Got a Great Deal on Some Used Paint

This happens quite often. Anytime you have paint that has been opened, check the cans to make sure that the lids have been closed correctly. When you get the paint open each can and check its consistency. Try stirring it with a paint stick and check the color. If there are lumps and chunks, then attempt to remove them using the methods discussed below. If you succeed, then follow our tips for sealing and storing paint. Seal them back up and store them till you need them.

Does Paint Have a Shelf life?

The paint will not last forever. Most water-based and acrylic paints that would be used in the home can last 10 years. That is the suggested shelf life from most manufacturers. If the paint can is opened, used, and stored correctly, it can last a lot longer. Usage and storage also factor into how long your paint will last.

Tips for Restoring Paint

Here are the best tips for restoring paint to usable condition. This process is called screening. It removes the lumps and chunks from the paint and allows you to use it again.

  • Open your paint can.
  • Use a metal scraper to pry the lid off.
  • Put on your gloves and
  • Get some sheers
  • Find a piece of screen
  • Cut a piece of the screen just large enough to cover the can mouth
  • Trim enough off, so the screen fits inside the can.
  • Place the screen in the can and slowly press down
  • The lumps will be pressed to the bottom of the can
  • Stir the paint and use it

This method will work when removing larger chunks and lumps from the paint. Leave the screen in the can as it has compressed the lumps and chunks to the bottom of the can For smaller particles, you can attempt to use a finer piece of screen.

If the chunks and lumps are at the top of the can, you can try using a small cup to skim the debris off the top of the paint. This process can be repeated until there is nothing left to use.

How to Avoid Paint Getting Lumpy

The best way to avoid lumpy or chunky paint is to practice good procedures for opening using and sealing a can of paint.  This will minimize dirt and other contaminants from getting in your paint. It can really make a difference. This will also help keep your paint usable if you have some leftover after a project.

How to Properly Open a Can of Paint

When opening the paint, use a screwdriver or other flat tool to open the can. Start in one place and slowly work your way around the perimeter of the can. Remove the lid and put it somewhere that it will not get dirty.

A helpful tip is to take a nail or a pick and go around the inner rim of the can punch a small hole about every inch or so. This will let paint drain back in the can.

Using Your Paint

When painting always pour from one side of the can.  Use a clean stir stick to stir the paint before using it. This helps break up the pigments that can cause lumps and chunks in new paint cans. Clean off any paint from the outside of the can. Don’t paint directly out of the can. Never pour the paint back into the can. This can contaminate the good paint.

How to Properly Seal a Paint Can

When you are done painting place the lid firmly on the can. Use a rubber mallet if you can to gently but firmly tap the lid in place. Try not to use a hammer as this can cause damage to the can and lid. If you need to use a hammer, then use light and close taps to seal the can. Once you are done, store the can upside down. This should prevent air from getting in and causing skim to build up drying the paint out. If you follow these steps, you can guard against lumps and chunks.

Storing Your Paint

Storing your paint is an important thing. Temperature can have a lot to do with the breakdown of paint. Try to keep it stored in an area that maintains a constant temperature. Freezing and thawing paint can also cause lumps and chunks. If this happens, you will need to throw the paint away. There is nothing that can be done to save this.

Can My Paint Be Saved?

In most cases, paint can be saved. If all the paint in a can has not dried out, you have a good chance to save it. There are times when you cannot save the paint in the can. If rust and fine sediments have caused the lumps and chunks, it is probably best to throw it away. The pigment in this paint has probably been damaged.

Where Can I Dispose of Paint?

If you need to throw your paint away, try to find a recycling place for it. If you are unable to locate one, then you may discard it in your trash. Before doing so, make sure that all of the paint is dry. If it is not, then mix in some cat litter or paper strips and allow it to dry. Once it has dried then throw it away.

Recent Content