Alongside accepting other household hazardous products, we also accept latex paint at our collection centers. While not the hazard of oil-based paints, latex paint still cannot typically be thrown in the trash or dumped down the drain. While the best option is to reuse this paint (or give it away), are there situations where that isn’t possible? Is latex paint damaged when frozen, or even destroyed? Let’s look at what happens to this paint when frozen, how you can prevent it, and what to do with useless latex paint.
What Happens to Latex Paint When Frozen?
Just like with oil-based paints, latex paint is an emulsion of solids and liquids. In these paints, the liquid is water. While oil won’t freeze at standard New England temperatures in your unheated garage, shed, or basement, water certainly will. This can cause the emulsion to break, knocking the solids out of the solution. The results? Paint will change consistency, becoming lumpy or stringy, sometimes resembling cottage cheese. Note that some paints can survive this process once, especially in a short freeze.
Steps to Avoid Freezing Latex Paint at Home
After latex paint is damaged by freezing, it very well might be unsalvageable. Before a freeze or after discovering one frozen can take these steps to avoid more damaged cans.
- Store paint in heated spaces. Any temperature above 32 degrees works, so well-insulated and minimally heated spaces work just fine.
- Check on paint during freezing temps. If your storage place does drop below freezing, check on the paint and think about moving and unthawing it.
- Slowly thaw frozen latex paint. If you do find your paint has frozen, unthaw it as soon as possible. Take it to a heated space and check on it.
Always check latex paint that has been frozen – it still might be good. Test on scrap wood and check for inconsistencies.
Disposing of Latex Paint at Home & Beyond
Once latex paint has been damaged, or if you’re not reusing or giving away working paint, it’s time to think of paint disposal options. Unlike oil-based paints, latex paint can be disposed of at home, drying small quantities out before disposing of them in the trash. Learn more in our Latex Paint factsheet.
Otherwise, you can come to one of NEDT’s Household Hazardous Products Collection Centers for paint disposal. Paints and stains contain high BTU values used by industrial furnaces to produce electricity and as fuel in industrial processes such as cement kilns. Not only is this greener than throwing it in the trash bound for landfill, but you can also bring in other household hazardous waste to us. Want to learn more or use our pick-up service instead? Contact NEDT today!