Is Paint Combustible? Detailed Guide

Learn how hazardous paint can be in terms of fire danger

If you have a stock of paint that is kept in your home, you probably have already asked yourself many times whether or not this paint is combustible. Or is it more correct to say flammable?

See, these two terms are what people often make mistakes with, so if you are bothered with the question “Is paint a combustible material?”, this article is exactly what you need.

When you read it, you will learn the difference between the terms “combustible” and “flammable” (yes, they are distinct!), and also, we will tell you more about what paints are considered flammable or combustible liquids.

In addition, you will learn more about such terms as flashpoint, and we will provide you with a chart where you can check out the flammability classification of the liquids.

With all this in mind, it will be easier for you to figure out whether or not a certain type of paint is dangerous to be kept indoors, or not.

Is Paint Flammable Or Combustible?

You might have heard that paint is a combustible substance.

And also, you could hear people saying that paint is flammable. Both terms are adequate and can be used, but is there any difference between them?

In addition, you definitely wonder what types of paint can be considered flammable, and what paints should be called combustible.

This is a good question and the answer isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. See, there are many different types of paint out there first of all.

Some forms of paint are highly flammable or combustible, such as spray paints, which particularly fire hazardous when in aerosol form.

Whereas a water-based paint, for example (such as acrylic paint), can even be flame-retardant! All thanks to the water content of the paint.

This is why we suggest you first find out what the terms “flammable” and “combustible” mean, and then learn more about different types of paint and their potential hazardousness.

See, combustible liquids and flammable liquids are defined based on their flash point temperature which is the temperature at which a substance will burn.

  • combustible liquids in construction must have a flashpoint at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but it cannot exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • flammable liquids in construction must have a flashpoint below 140 degrees Fahrenheit but also must not have a vapor pressure that exceeds 40 lbs. per square inch when the substance is at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, these are the old standards that are very different from the general industry standard. The latter one states the following:

  • a combustible liquid must have a flashpoint of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
  • a liquid that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit is categorized as a flammable liquid.

Now you might feel a bit puzzled, so we suggest you check out the following comparative chart. It will help you to make the information clearer and more structured for sure!

Flammability Classification

Flammable liquid

< 199.4 degrees °F (93 C)

Combustible liquid

> 199.4 degrees °F (93 C)

These are the most up-to-date standards and you should follow them when trying to define whether your particular liquid is combustible or flammable.

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What Is Flammable Paint?

When you buy paint for your home painting projects, you want it to be not only good-looking, but also as safe as possible in terms of storage in case you have some leftovers.

Regarding this, you may start wondering what paint or paints can be considered flammable.

As you surely know, paint is made from different ingredients, and some paints contain different solvents that help to dissolve these ingredients.

As a result, solvent-based and oil-based paints provide good texture and nice color. But also, they are flammable paints!

So you need to keep in mind that flammable paints include alkyd, lacquer, and enamel paints that are solvent- or oil-based.

Paints that are water-based are generally not flammable. There are the most common types of water-based paints:

  1. latex paints
  2. acrylic paints

Both of these are regarded as non-flammable.

Nevertheless, always read the label on the paint can attentively because the substance may contain additional components, and those can be fire-hazardous!

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What Is Considered Combustible Paint?

Some types of pain can be combustible which means that it is able to catch fire at higher heat levels (typically higher than 199 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius).

The most common example of such paint is spray paint. Spray paints are oil-based mostly. And when this paint is in the form of liquid, it is flammable. But when it dries up, the flammable solvent evaporates.

It means that dried spray paint is no longer flammable. However, even in a dried form, it still remains highly combustible!

A dried layer of spray paint is able to easily burn down if it gets in contact to fire or other flammable substances!

Like this, now you understand somewhat better what the distinction between combustible paint and flammable paint is.

It can help you to define how accurately you should store your paint depending on what category – combustible or flammable – it belongs to.

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Is Spray Paint Flammable?

Yes, spray paint that, as you all know, is stored in spray cans is highly flammable and it can become a real fire hazard if stored improperly!

The propellants that are used in spray paints tend to be substances like propane or butane gas. These gasses are highly flammable, as you all know for sure.

This is why it is mandatory to use and store spray paint correctly and carefully, following all the possible precautious measures.

This means that, in particular, damaged spray paint can is very dangerous!

Not only can the fumes from the damaged spray paint can ignite, but there is a strong possibility of flashback which will then cause the can to explode!

Basically, you can think of it as a sort of paint grenade.

This is why always make sure that all spray paints you have at home are stored carefully and kept away from children, as they might accidentally damage the can.

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Can Latex Paint Be a Fire Hazard?

If you have ever used latex paints before, you surely remember that when latex-based paint dries, it tends to give a sort of rubbery feel to the finished paint. And it is usually not at all flammable!

This is because most types of latex paint do not contain any flammable solvents and thus there is no vapor that could become combustible and cause fire or explosion.

However, even despite the safety of latex paints, you still don’t want to allow young children get to these paints unsupervised!

There is usually no danger in storing these paints in any safe place in your home, but we would recommend you find a place that is hard to reach for children anyway.

Like this, you can be confident and sure that your latex paints won’t burn or explode.

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Can Acrylic Paint Be Considered Fire Hazardous?

Acrylic paint is one of the most widely and frequently used types of paint out there today! It dries fast, it comes in a wide variety of colors, it is easy to apply…It has plenty of advantages in fact!

This is why folks often buy several cans to stock them in case they need to refresh a door or the window frames.

Acrylic paints are also water based, as you probably know, which means that they are not likely to catch fire or explode.

Which, in its turn, makes acrylics more or less safe in terms of possible fire hazard.

However, it does not mean that you can store acrylic pain anywhere in your home and treat it carelessly!

When you buy acrylic paint, always make sure to read the package instructions very carefully.

See, some water-based paints also include other solvents that might be not so “friendly”. So if you see the words like “oil”, “epoxy”, “varnish”, “petroleum distillates” or a combustion warning on the box, you should treat the paint as flammable. Even if it is acrylic.

Except for this nuance, acrylic paint can basically be stored anywhere in your home.

Just make sure that your children can’t easily reach it. Like this, you will prevent the issue of accidentally swallowing paint, etc.

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Does Paint Burn At All?

People ask this question quite often, especially after they learn more about different types of paint and after they realize that some paints can catch fire and others can’t.

So technically speaking, no, paints can’t burn. See, the liquid in the paint cannot start burning because it is the mixture of paint fumes and the air that burns.

The heat from the fire raises the temperature of the liquid, which then leads to evaporation. In its turn, evaporation releases more vapor that continues to fuel the fire.

The most flammable liquids, such as gasoline, can give off enough vapor at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It means that they care able to catch fire very easily!

Both flammable and combustible liquids are able to easily give off the amount of vapor at room temperature that is enough for them to easily ignite.

Especially if they are in the presence of the right heat source, which creates a serious fire hazard.

However, there is one thing we want you to note: liquids can often become a more serious danger than flammable solids.

It happens because they can easily flow in many directions thus even small amounts of liquids that are highly flammable can coat a large area effortlessly.

This is something that a solid simply cannot do.

The vapor escapes from the container in which the liquid is stored and settles in the space and eventually if it reaches high enough concentrations and a heat source is found, it can ignite and then travel all the way back to the container with the liquid in it.

Thus, it is vital to store flammable or combustible paint in a way that minimizes this risk and ensures the safety of both you and those around you.

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Are Paint Fumes Dangerous?

Now that you know that quite many paints are considered flammable or combustious, you may start wondering whether paint fumes are also dangerous. Well, this concern is quite grounded, we have to say!

See, assuming that the base of the paint is flammable or combustible, then the paint fumes are all that is flammable.

Simply because the liquid paint cannot burn, it is the vapor of the paint that burns. And since the words “vapor” and “fumes” are interchangeable, you now understand that paint fumes can also present quite a danger as a potential fire hazard.

This is why we warn you that flammable paint must always be stored properly! This includes the following steps and precautions:

  • make certain that the containers it is kept in are properly sealed
  • keep the paint away from children
  • check the containers for any cracks, leaks, etc.
  • keep paint away from the sources of heat
  • ensure the paint cans are stored in a stable position and they won’t fall down

Remember that, when any breaks or leaks occur in your paint containers, it significantly increases the level of fire risk that the substance present.

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So now you know what the difference is between the words combustible and flammable, as well as what paints are considered flammable, and what paints are referred to as combustible.

You also learned what temperature at combustible and flammable paints catch fire. With that, you will now be able to easier define what type of paint you have at home, and how exactly it should be stored safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Are all paints flammable?

No, not all paints are flammable. Some of them can catch fire at other, higher temperatures which makes them combustible.

⭐Is water-based paint flammable?

No. Water-based paints have water in them and therefore they are neither flammable nor combustible.

⭐Is it ok to store paint in direct sunlight?

You’d better hide it in a shady and dark place. The paint should not be heated.

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