Are you going to use a can of dried wall paint sitting in your basement, garage, or somewhere else to paint your living room? However, don’t you know if the paint is can be restored?

Or when you go to the store to buy some paint, the can of paint you chose because of its perfect color may be the one that has been sitting on the shelf of the store too long. And no one knows whether it is already dried. Can you use that paint?

Whether which of these two scenarios is yours, don’t worry.

In this article, we will discuss how to restore dried wall paint. You will learn how to make the old paint usable again and easily do it because the process is also very hassle.

How to restore dried wall paint

How do you know if the paint is still usable?

You should check the manufacturer`s instructions to know how long your paint last. But the available usage time of the paint has no strict rule.

If you keep them properly they can last longer or not keeping them properly causes them to expire sooner. You can figure out whether your paint is available or not depending on a few factors.

Depending on the place where you store it and whether the can is opened or not, and the type of paint you may still be able to use the paint.  

If the paint is still unopened, you can still use the paint. Unopened cans of paint can last for long years if you keep them properly. Unopened latex and water-based acrylic paints can last for over 10 years. And oil-based paints can last up to 15 years.

Can you restore dried Wall paint?

Any paint may turn bad and dry even in the unopened can, even in the store. Are you wondering whether you can restore the dried paint or not, luckily, you are able to fix the old dried wall paint depending on the type of paint you are going to use.

          You can restore it to use for touching up the wood surfaces if the paint you have is old dried oil-based paint.

            When the paint you are going to use is acrylic paint, you can reuse it to paint your craft projects.

            Unfortunately, if you are going to restore dried latex water-based paint, you do not have any chance to fix it in most cases. Because dried latex water-based paints mostly cannot be restored, so you should dispose of them.

Remember, the paint you restored new will have less quality than the new paint, but you can use them for touch-ups and as a base coat if you are going to use multiple coats of paint on the surface.

How to restore dried Wall paint

To restore dried wall paint you will need:

Flow improver (flow aid)
Thinning liquid
Rubbing alcohol

According to the type of paint, you will use one type of liquid to restore dried wall paint.

Steps to follow:

Step 1Add water or any thinning liquid to soften the hardened paint.
Step 2Let the paint and paint thinner set for at least 15 minutes. This may take a longer time.
Step 3To mix paint and solvent, stir or shake them.
Step 4Let the mixture set well if it is hard, you can also add water or solvent.
Step 5Allow them to set.

If you get the desired result after these steps, you can now use the softened paint. or you can repeat the process. 

How to restore dried Oil-based paint

The way of restoring dried wall paints may differ according to their type. The first type of paint I am going to show the way how to soften is dried oil-based paint.

You can use rubbing alcohol, turpentine, or paint thinner to restore the hardened paint. Here`s what we should do.

Step 1:  Put the can of dried paint in a pot of warm water. Leave it in the pot for an hour or more. When you see the paint soften, you can take it from the pot.

Step 2: Pour the old dried oil-based paint into the new can, discarding any lumps that don’t dissolve.

Step 3: Add paint thinner to the paint in the new can and mix them well. The paint, you will get, will seem like heavy cream.

Step 4: Now you can use the paint as usual paint. You can apply it with a roller or paintbrush.

Step 5: Allow the paint to dry and cure.

Thinned oil-based paints take longer to dry than usual and paint that wasn’t thinned, so let your paint dry and cure for extra time before applying the next additional coats.


  • If you don’t have any paint thinner in your home, mineral spirits or naphtha can be used instead of it.
  • Try to work in a well-ventilated area because thinned oil-based paint emits harmful fumes.
  • Oil-based paints are difficult to clean so use a drop cloth or any tarp not to drop the paint on the floor while painting.

How to soften dried Enamel paint

Add water to the paint, and make sure you add enough water.

Let the paint and thinner set for at least 15 minutes apart

You need to shake or stir the paint and water to mix them.

If you need to add some water to the mixture you can add more.

To liquefy dried enamel paint, use paint thinner. Using paint thinner makes the paint get thinner. If the paint is still thick, stir it with a paint stirrer or a clean stick. Stir it until you get almost smooth paint.

Then you may add  ½ ounce of liquid to the water.

Tips: Place the open can of paint on a plastic sheet. This helps the surfaces not stain the paint you are working on.

How to Restore Dried Wall Paint

How to restore dried Acrylic paint

Acrylic paints are fast-drying paints and are mostly used by crafters and DIYers.

If your paint is old dried acrylic paint, you can restore it by using thinning mediums and you can use it for smaller less important painting projects.

Thinning acrylic paint is easy as this type of paint is water soluble. You can use water, or a flow improver to thin your acrylic paint. You can stir the paint and medium together or shake them using an agitator in the paint container.  

How to use water to restore dried acrylic paint

If you are dealing with acrylic paint, water will be your first helper. Acrylic paint will dissolve easily in water. Add a drop or more warm water to your old dried acrylic paint to restore it. Warm water mixes well with paint without thinning it. You can mix them using a toothpick. If you are dealing with more hard-dried acrylic paint you can leave the mixture overnight to soften and mix the next day.

  • Tip: don’t forget to close the can of the paint after you have added water. Leaving the can open will cause the same dried paint.

How to use Flow improver to restore dried acrylic paint

A flow improver also called a flow aid, is a kind of additive specifically formulated for working with acrylic paints. Flow improver is usually used to thin acrylic paints. It may help to change the consistency of the paint without affecting the color or the composition of the finish.

If you are using a flow improver, you do not need to mix the paint with the flow improver directly. Pour a few drops into the water you dip and clean the brushes with it. Using this mixture, the acrylic paint starts to flow smoother and silkier. 

Follow these steps to soften the dried paint.

Step I: Once you open the can check the paint inside. If the paint has any lumps, remove them.

Step II: Add thinner to the paint that is equal to the amount of the paint. Stir them gently with a stir stick.

 Step III: If the paint is still thick, pour more water or thinner until you get the desired consistency.

Step IV: Now, you may use the new softened paint as usual. After finishing applying the first coat, allow the paint to dry fully.

How to restore dried Latex Water-based paint

You do not have any chance to fix the latex water-based paint if you have a can of it.  

You should discard that paint properly according to the regulations of your local place.

But, if the paint is in good condition, but has just separated, you can try mixing it again.

Here is what you should do:

Step 1: Put the paint into a larger container. Then add water equal to the amount of paint.

Step 2:  Stir the mixture continuously. Stop mixing when the paint is dissolved fully.

Step 3: Pour the mixture into the original can of the latex water-based paint and seal the paint tightly.

Step 4: Shake the can continuously for a few minutes. This helps you to distribute the paint evenly.

Step 5: Now your old dried latex water-based paint is ready to reuse as usual paint.

You can apply this paint by using a brush or roller.

How to store leftover paint

You shouldn’t discard the leftover paint, because you may need it after some time for any painting job. So you should know how to keep the leftover paint properly to make it reusable.

First, I highly recommend you buy enough amount of paint for the painting job. Don’t buy too much paint.

Before beginning your painting project, measure the area carefully. To know the measure of the area you should multiply the height by the width of the area (height × width = total square ft.).

One gallon of the paint usually covers approximately 350 to 400 sq ft. If you have any leftover paint, you can use that paint for smaller painting projects in your house or touch-up painting jobs.

You should always store the leftover paint in a cool, dry place that is away from sunlight and where the temperature is above freezing. Before leaving the paint for storage, clean any excess paint on the outside part of the can. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the opening of the paint can and replace the lid, firmly seal it with taps from a rubber mallet. Then you need to store the paint can upside down, this prevents the air to enter the paint container.


  • If you have young children, it is better to keep them away from them or you should use a lockable storage cabinet.
  • If you don’t want to store leftover paint, you may give them to someone or any group who needs to use paint.
  • Don’t open the paint cans using a screwdriver, because this may result in bending the lid and make the paint can harder to close after you will finish the painting job. You can use a paint opener.            

Easy two ways to keep the leftover paint for reusing it later

Methods: Use an original paint can

1: Clean the rim if it needs.

2: Over the opening part of the can, put a layer of plastic wrap.

3: Using a hammer close the lid over the can.

Method 2: Repackage leftover paint

First step: Clean a plastic or glass container that has enough space for holding the paint.

Second step: Check if the container is airtight or can be changed to be airtight.

Third Step: Pour the leftover paint into the container.

Fourth Step: You may use plastic wrap to make an airtight seal over the can.

Whether you are going to use always note the paint color on the container of the paint. keep the paint in a cool and dry location.

Keeping the temperature stable over freezing is important. If the paint freezes, the paint will separate and it will become unusable permanently.


The water can be added more to the paint.

 But I recommend being more careful while thinning the paint. it is always possible to make the paint thinner using water, but you cannot make the paint thick again. The best way to use paint that is too thin is by adding another can of paint.

When you are restoring the dried acrylic paint you should add only a small amount of warm water at a time. This prevents the paint to thin down too much.

To soften up the paint, vegetable oil can be used. Denatured alcohol and acetone also can be used to soften the paint. But you should spot the test beforehand.  

Don’t leave the paint can open when you finished the painting job or when you take a break, this causes the paint to dry. It is also better to close the can after every time you take your paintbrush while painting.

Final verdict

It is annoying to see your leftover or newly bought paint is dried. Fortunately, you can restore the dried paint unless it is completely dry.

Doing a small effort and following the right steps will help you to restore the dried paint. It is easier to restore old paint, so you can do it by yourself. The most important things are using the components in enough amounts for each of them and mixing them.

When you have finished restoring the paint, you can use it. The paint will perform as if it is new.


Can you reactivate dried paint?

It is simple as adding some water. However, if the paint in question is not water-based, then consider adding whatever it was based on. For solvent-based paints obviously adding a little of solvent and shaking it, and stirring it will reactivate the dried paint.

Can you add water to the dried paint?

Yes, you can. But make sure to find out the type of paint you are using first. if you happen to have oil-based paint on hand, then adding water won’t help you.