How to Fix Lumpy Acrylic Paint? - Housekeepingbay

How to Fix Lumpy Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic Paint Saving Tips

Acrylic paint is a water-soluble kind of paint which means it is an ideal fast-drying paint for crafts. However, after prolonged storage especially, you may notice that it will not come out of the tube that easy as it used to when it was just purchased.

If your acrylic paint separated and turned lumpy, or you suspect you have old acrylic paint, you may wonder whether it is still possible to bring it back to life or not.

So today we will share several handy tricks with you about how to fix dry acrylic paint and deal with other quality issues.

How to Save Clumpy Paint?

If you make use of this kind of paint often enough, you have already faced this issue perhaps: you unscrew the cap, press the tube to squeeze some paint out of it, but nothing happens, or the paint comes out extremely slowly and you can see that it has dried.

Such an effect is even more noticeable in acrylics that are kept in cans with the wide mouth. Why does it happen and how to soften hardened acrylic paint?

Clumps can be found in the dried acrylic paint. Other “symptoms” of drying include stiffness, thick texture, and certain complications with squeezing the paint out of the tube.

Fortunately, there is a way how to rehydrate acrylic paint. Since such paint is usually water-based acrylic, we can simply mix in some water and stir it with a palette knife until the desired texture is back. However, this can be done only if acrylics can still be extracted out of the tank, a tube, or a can.

It is necessary to be attentive when doing so in order not to mess up and not to turn our paint into an excessively watery substance. When being too liquid and diluted, acrylics will have worse color and cover abilities.

Also, when mixing acrylics and too much water, we will most likely end up with the pigment that will lift off the canvas after drying which is also not good.

If the acrylics turned stone-hard already, we would not recommend even trying to revive it with water. Instead, better go for a clear base meant for acrylics: this will be a more effective way of bringing the paint back to life.

Other Malfunctions And Ways Of Fixing Them

Drying, however, is not the only problem that artists and craftsmen face when working with acrylics. This paint is indeed one of the most easy-to-use with the least difficult maintenance requirements, but still, even such a durable and unpretentious substance can sometimes mischief.

And everyone should learn what to do to be able to go back to painting as soon as you can.

Other Malfunctions And Ways Of Fixing Them

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Acrylic paint is not drying slow enough

Acrylic paint drying time is usually quite fast, significantly faster compared to the oil paints, for instance, which need several days to get completely dry. Acrylics, on the contrary, will be dry to the touch in two or three hours already (of course, it all hangs upon how thick the paint layer is).

However, sometimes it can happen that your paint dries too rapidly even for such a quick-drying pigment! What shall we do if it gets hard on the palette without even letting us get it onto the canvas?

  • Try to exclude any drafts in the room you’re working in. Turn off the fan and conditioner, shut the windows. The excessive amount of air and too many airflows can contribute to the paint quicker drying time.
  • If you are painting outdoors, it is better to go back into your house or apartment, especially if the weather is windy or hot.
  • Keep a pulverizer with water close. Mist down both the canvas and the palette now and then to keep them moist longer.
  • As a variant, add some retarder to the acrylics but be careful not to mix in too much, otherwise, the paint might literally never dry.
Acrylic paint is not drying slow enough

Credits: rudchneko, via

Paint separated in the can

Another frequent issue is when acrylics separate when being in the can or a tube. When you use such paint, it will come out as an oily substance and the thick paste-like pigment. Is it bad, you may wonder? How to save such acrylic paint?

In most cases, such separation is not your fault: perhaps, the paint was of low quality, or the manufacturer made a mistake when producing it. Whatever it was, reviving it will not be complicated: simply mix the pigment and the binder (that oily liquid) back together. Or, if you just unsealed the can and saw the content separated, try to return it back to the store it was bought.

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Bad quality of the paint

If you are a beginning artist or a craftsman, it makes sense to opt for the cheaper paint. However, you will most likely face certain problems connected with the pigment quality.

1. The poor cover ability

Acrylic colors are divided into two groups: opaque and transparent. If you noticed that your paint has inadequate coverage, there is a way how to make acrylic paint opaque again. All you need is to mix in some titanium white: it will enhance the paint cover ability.
But generally, to avoid such a scenario, always check the paint label before buying it: it must say whether the paint is opaque or transparent.

2. Your paint changed the shade after drying

Yes, this can also happen. Cheaper acrylics often tend to get darker after drying which, let’s agree, can significantly ruin the painting. Besides, finding proper color matching becomes more complicated in this situation.

So either shift for the more pricey paints or figure out how much darker the cheap brands become after the paint dries. Eventually, you can simply mix the colors in way lighter shades!

Bad quality of the paint

Credits: DAPA images, via

How Long Do Acrylic Paints Last?

Acrylic paints are one of the most durable ones: when being stored correctly, the tubes or cans will easily stay usable for ten years if unopened, and sometimes even longer!

The opened paint will last between two and five years which is also long enough.

And even if the sealed tank with such paint is kept beyond that term, its content will most likely be fine to use anyway.

To ensure that your paints will last longer, keep them properly:

  • Stock acrylics in the hermetic tanks since oxidation leads to their drying.
  • Avoid leaving them in the wet or damp locations to protect the paint from mild.
  • Make sure that the temperature is 65-75 F in the room where the paint is stored.

Like that, your acrylics will stay even and usable to their longest.

How Long Do Acrylic Paints Last

Credits: Syda Productions, via

Can Acrylic Paint Go Bad?

However, even this paint can turn bad because of improper storage conditions. Mold and dryness are the most frequent results of such a mistreat.

Does acrylic paint expire? Well, yes, sooner or later, it will become useless even if stored correctly. Especially if mold managed to frow inside of the can or a tube.

This is why we’d recommend learning the major signs of spoilage to be able to tell when the paint is not usable anymore:

  • If your acrylic paint smells bad, it’s definitely spoiled. Sour and aged odor is usually the result of excess moisture, and it shows that the paint must be discarded.
  • Any traces of mold also tell that acrylics have become useless and are better to be tossed away.

Now you learned the basic issues that one can face when working with acrylics, and you are also informed about how to revive dried acrylic paint. With this information, we hope it will be simpler for you to keep the paint usable longer and enjoy using it!

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