How to Restore Dried Out Paints

  • By: Richard
  • Time to read: 8 min.

We all know that it’s not a good idea to leave the lid off of paint, but sometimes we forget. How do you fix dried up paints? Is there anything you can do to bring them back from the brink of disaster? The answer is yes! There are actually many ways to restore those dried-out paints and get them back into action again.

Paint Properties

There are many different paints on the market that have their own properties, so it is important to understand how they work and what you can do with them. There are two types of paint: oil-based (resin) and water-based (latex). You need to know which one your dried up paint is before attempting this because if you put an oil-based paint into a latex bottle or vice versa, it will not mix well together and lead to a clumpy texture when trying to restore the product.

  • Acrylic paint properties: Acrylic is water-based and they are not as thick or viscous compared to other types of paints, such as oil-based ones.
  • Water-based paints properties: It is important to note that these paints will have a shorter shelf life than other products due to how fast they cure their coats on surfaces.
  • Oil paints properties: Oil-based paints are very thick in texture, so it is best to use a paint thinner instead of water because you do not want the mixture of these two elements.
  • Latex paints properties: Latex paints are very easy to restore because all you need is warm water or a wet cloth. However, an excess of moisture can lead to the paint breaking down even more and mixing with the liquid.

How to Restore Dried Out Paints and Fix Lumpy

There are actually many ways to restore those dried up paint and get them back into action again. One of the easiest ways is to mix a small amount (less than half) of water in an older container, then let it sit for some time until the paint becomes more fluid. You can also use linseed oil or turpentine that have been around since before oils were invented. Still, you must be careful when using these solvents because they evaporate quickly, leaving your painting very oily. Another way is by adding salt crystals directly into dry paints – this works well if done correctly otherwise, there may be further damage caused to the paintings over time due to oxidation so make sure not to add too much at once

Step 1: Cover Your Workspace

You’ll want to cover your workspace in at least one layer of newspaper or butcher paper. This will help you avoid getting paint on the surface underneath where you are working and protect it from any spills that might occur when restoring dried out paints. In addition, setting up a shop in a garage is always an option for those who have available space and don’t mind doing their work outdoors. I wrote about the Workspace for scale modeling here.

Step 2: Carefully Open The Paint

You’ll want to find the lid of your paint can and use a screwdriver or opener tool to pry it off carefully. Be sure that you do not cut yourself on any edges, as this will only cause more problems later down the road. Then, once you have removed the top from the container, scrape out as much dried-up material as possible with a small spatula (or another similar utensil). You should be able to get most of what is inside into another jar so long as there are no chunks mixed throughout – these might clog up your liquid thinner when trying to blend everything properly. If some pieces remain behind after scraping them all out, don’t worry about it too much.

Step 3: Add Thinning Medium

Once you have emptied the contents of your dried-up paint can, you should mix in an equal amount of thinner medium. You could use water instead if necessary, but it’s not recommended as this will dilute the pigment and cause it to fade or change color once dry. If possible, use a mixer tool (such as a drill with a whisk attached) so that everything is properly blended without any chunks being left behind – be sure that this does not come into contact with anything other than what needs to be thinned out unless you want those parts damaged by whirling metal blades!

Using Warm Water

If you don’t have any thinner medium available, or if the paint seems like it has dried up too much to be salvaged in this way, then your best bet will be to use warm water instead. Add some of this into a plastic container and mix until everything is blended again – however, there will still be chunks left behind no matter how hard you try! These won’t cause problems as long as they remain submerged beneath the liquid surface, so continue stirring them around with a utensil before moving on.

Using Flow Aid (Flow Improver)

If you have some flow aid available to thin out your dried-out paints, this will simplify the process. Just add an equal amount of liquid into the container (again, don’t use too much or dilute it using water) and stir until everything is combined well enough that there are no chunks left insight. This should be able to get rid of most problems without any extra effort on your part!

Step 4: Using Brush Leftovers

If you have some extra paint leftover in your brush after painting, then this can be used to restore dried-out paints as well. Remove the excess product from the bristles of your brush and mix it into a small container with an equal amount of thinner medium or water until everything is fully combined again. Once this happens, use a cloth (or paper towel) to wipe off any remaining excess material before using this on whatever project needs restoration at hand!

Step 5: Stir The Solution

After adding in your thinner medium, you should stir the paint mixture with a spoon or whisk until it has returned to something that looks like its original consistency. Once this is done and there are no chunks left, pour everything back into the original can (or another container if necessary). Then mix again so that every part of your dried-out paint gets evenly covered before making any final decisions about where things will be stored for next time!

Step 6: Replace The Lid

After everything has been mixed and stirred, you should replace the lid on your can of paint along with putting away any utensils that might have become contaminated. Then store it in a place where its contents will not be disturbed for at least 24-hours so that they may properly mix again before use – this is to avoid having chunks come out when applying or thinned layers end up being clumpy instead.

If you follow these steps carefully, there’s no reason why those dried-up paints won’t start working like new again! Just keep in mind that every type of medium requires different considerations during mixing and how long one needs to wait before using after reassembling them back into their original container.

What About Other Kinds Of Paint?

  • Water-based paints are the best to use with any thinner medium since they will be fully diluted once mixed without causing issues.
  • Oils: Oil paints can only work well using a combination of turpentine or mineral spirits and some other form of mild solvent (such as paint thinner), which should help make them even easier to clean up afterward!
  • Acrylics: Acrylics are great for mixing in small amounts of water – however, it’s important not to add too much or else this could cause parts to separate when put back into storage! You may also want to consider adding flow aid to these if you don’t want your paint to end up too thick after mixing.
  • Latex: Latex paints can use a mixture of water and mild detergent to be restored into their full liquid form. However, they might require extra time for stirring to eliminate any clumps that may have formed during storage!

FAQs for Restore Dried Out Paints

Why do Acrylic Paints Dry up Within the Bottles?

The major reason is exposure to air. When you open your acrylic paints and begin painting, there is already more than enough oxygen in the container that will cause a chemical reaction with the paint pigments. This causes them to dry out over time. Another reason why they might have dried up inside of their containers because if you leave water-based paints on their sides after use, it can lead to the pigment settling at the bottom where only clear water remains at the top (which means these are not good anymore).

What’s a Thinning Medium?

Thinning mediums are liquids that have been designed to be used in oil paints. They’re solvent-based, unlike traditional paint thinners made of water and chemicals, which can damage or ruin the integrity of your work over time. Instead, solvents like turpentine are specifically created for use with oils as they act as a lubricant between particles so you don’t get much streaking when applying them on top of one another by mixing – this allows artists to create more vivid paintings without having to layer several coats onto their surfaces until it becomes too dark.

Can Acrylic Paint Expire?

Storing your acrylic paintings in the coolest spot possible and away from sunlight will keep their vibrant colors for quite some time. Acrylic paint, being synthetic-based, can’t expire like organic matter, but it becomes tough to revive if stored incorrectly.

How Long Can You Keep Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used for many projects. Acrylics are made from polymers and water, making them very durable once dry as long as they’re stored out of direct sunlight or extreme temperatures; otherwise, they’ll go bad in weeks!

If acrylic paints are well taken care of, you will not have to worry about declining quality over time. Acrylic paints can be stored for five or more years, which is an impressive lifespan.

How to Tell That an Acrylic Paint Start to Go Bad?

Let’s talk about the one thing you should never do with pesky dry paint. Acrylic paint can be reused as many times as you want, but not if it grows mold.

Water + paint = the perfect breeding ground for mold. If you’ve got an old can of paint lying around, better put it in a cool dark place to prevent decay that leads to troublesome molds.


The ways you can restore dried out paints are plentiful. You need to find the right solution for your needs and environment and take care while handling it all. I hope this article has helped you identify some of these solutions and put them into action in your own home or workspace!

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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