How to Soften Hardened Paint

How to Soften Hardened Paint (3 Simple Steps)

STOP for a moment and picture yourself so enthusiastic about your next craft. You’ve set the stand-up easel; you have the paintbrushes, palette, and other necessities handy.

And as you’re about to commence with that cheesy smile hanging around your cheek, you discovered that your paint has dried into a hard lump.

If this describes you, you don’t have to throw the bottle or tube away and head for the store to get a new one because this page will fill you in with everything you need to know about how to soften hardened paint – even if it has gone dry like the Atacama Desert.

Read Also: Learn How to Thin Acrylic Paint

How to Soften Hardened Paint

How to Soften Hardened Paint

Let me guess: you’re probably wondering if you can still use dried out paint. Well, you are damn right, you can.

You can revive hardened paint back to its original consistency without having to do much.

Besides, every artist encounters it every now and then, either in the middle of a craft or from the get-go, so you’re not alone.

Sometimes paints will dry out or separate in the can or tube. This dysfunction doesn’t necessarily imply that it has gone bad where it’s no longer of any use. Temperature changes can alter the consistency of the paint.

So long as you can still squeeze out paint from the tube or fetch from the can even if it’s lumpy, it’s still usable.

Therefore, you don’t have to run into a panic mood or helter-skelter. Try softening the hardened paint with this quick technique.

Tools Needed To Soften Hardened Paint

  • Paint
  • Water or paint solvent
  • Paintbrush

Below is the step by step guide:

Step 1

If it’s a hardened acrylic or water-based paint on the palette, fetch a considerable amount of water with your paintbrush and touch it up with the medium. Mix until you regain its normal consistency.

However, if it’s an oil-based paint, substitute water for rubbing alcohol, turpentine, or paint thinner –whichever you want.

Remember, this quick fix only works on a relatively small amount of paint on the palette. If you want to soften the whole medium in the bottle or can, the story is quite different.

You would have to cover the medium with the thinner and wait.

Step 2

Allow the medium and thinning liquid to have a little chit-chat for at least 15 minutes.

NOTE: It’s not the precise timer. Thicker paint may take longer, so there is a need to exercise a little patience while the thinner sits on it.

Step 3

Stir or shake the paint with the thinning medium, mixing them. Then use your paintbrush to check for consistency on a condemn board or canvas.

Suppose the paint seems pretty okay and went on smoothly; congratulations! You’ve just completed the procedure.

However, if the paint’s consistency isn’t ideal enough, allow the mixture to sit longer, adding little water or solvent as needed. Then try the test again and again–repeat as necessary.

I’m pretty sure you’ll land at the ideal consistency the third time. Remember third time is a charm.

Read Also: Learn How to Thin Latex Paint

Expert Tip

Many artists complain their paint goes dry even when sealed. Frankly, you didn’t close the lid properly; you thought you did. As a result, it must have been exposed to evaporation.

Well, you help prevent drying between uses by adding a piece of plastic wrap under the lid of the paint container.

WARNING! If you’re making use of solvents, remember to do the operation in a well-ventilated area.

This is because exposure to prolong doses of solvents vapors and mists has diverse effects on human health. It causes a narcotic effect, fatigue, dizziness, and intoxication.

Higher doses may even lead to unconsciousness and death, so be warned!

Can I Soften Dried Paintbrush?

How to Make Hardened Paint Soft

I’m not surprised you asked that answer. Most people who experience hardened paint often are also familiar with hardened paintbrushes, so I’m glad you brought that up.

To begin with, you don’t have to discard your expensive paintbrushes because you can still save them. A good soak in brush cleaner can restore the bristles to an almost-new condition.

Here is a quick disclaimer for Solvents to consider before we begin:

  • For water-based paints: Use water.
  • For oil-based paints: Use mineral spirits or paint thinner.
  • For shellacs, Use denatured alcohol.
  • For varnishes, Use mineral spirits.
  • For removing a water-based glue, Use water as well.

First and foremost, you want as little paint as possible still hanging on the bristle for an easy cleanup job. Therefore, detach excess paint from the brush by scrubbing it along with an old rag or paper towel.

Pour a little solvent into a container, depending on the brush size. It can be a condemned Tupperware or glass jar. Then dip the tool inside.

Start swirling and moving the brush back and forth in the solvent until the paints are off.

Rinse any solvent remnant off by running your paintbrush under clean water. Then finish it off it a paper towel or old rag.

Reshape the bristles with your hands or pack and let it dry horizontally on a flat surface.

Read Also: How to Thin Oil Based Paint For Spray Gun

How do you soften hard paint?

How to Make Hard Paint Soft Again

  • Add water to cover the hardened acrylic, or water-based paint.
  • Allow the paint and thinning liquid to set for at least 15 minutes.
  • Stir or shake the paint and water, or solvent, to mix them.
  • Allow the mixture to set longer if it is still hard, adding water or solvent as needed.

How do you fix thick paint?

Add one part turpentine or mineral spirits for every three parts of paint. Stir with a stick you’ll never use for anything else. Brush the paint onto a test surface and inspect the results. Add more thinner if the paint is still too thick.

How can I reuse dry wall paint?

What softens dried paint?
Apply hot water and a small amount of dish soap to paint that’s dried on carpeting. Allow the solution to soak in for a few minutes, as this will help soften up the paint. Next, use a scraper or knife to pick away at the paint, adding more solution if needed.

How do you soften a hardened paint brush?

Cleaning Hardened Paintbrush with Vinegar

  • Place the paintbrush in a disposable aluminum baking pan.
  • Heat vinegar up in a pot on the stove to almost boiling.
  • Pour the hot vinegar over the paintbrush in the pan.
  • Allow the brush to soak for 10 minutes or longer.
  • Use a brush comb or wire brush to remove the softened paint.

How do you soften hard oil paint?

Apply turpentine as necessary. For a painting or a large space, put on gloves and apply turpentine to a rag. Place this rag on the surface and let it soak in for a few minutes. Use more as necessary until the paint softens.

How do you soften hard oil paint

Can you add water to paint to make it go further?

Tip. Go slowly and be careful when adding water because this is only a one-way process: You can always add more water to paint to further thin it out but you cannot thicken the paint again. The best way to save paint that is too thin is to add it to a second can of paint.

Can I add water to thin paint?

Pour the paint into the bucket. Add ½ cup (118 milliliters) of water for every gallon of paint. If it flows freely through the funnel, you know the paint is thinned enough. If the paint is too thick, add an additional ⅛ cup of water (30 milliliters) per gallon (3.8 liters) of water and mix.

Why is my paint really thick?

Thanks to its easy clean-up and short drying time, latex paint has a leg up over oil-based paint for easy weekend projects. But the water-based product also has a downside: It tends to thicken when stored without an airtight seal, at below-freezing temperatures, or for an extended period of time.

Can you soften hardened latex paint?

You can thin the paint with FLOETROL. You can use up to 1/4 of the volume of the paint to bring it back to a good spreadable consistency. I had about 1-1/2″ of silly putty in the bottom of a 5 yr old gallon of latex paint.

Does vinegar remove paint?

Yes, vinegar dissolves both water-based paint and oil-based paint from wooden and metal surfaces. It’s a natural paint remover, making it one of the best ways to remove paint.


I hope this guide has answered your initial question on How to soften hardened paint?

So when next you’re faced with some hardened paint mishap, you now know what to do. You only need a paint solvent in your painting arsenal to rectify the situation immediately and get back to your craft.

Always remember to apply safety precautions even when using solvents.

Lastly, if you encounter any problem along the reviving section, do not hesitate to fire your queries via the comment section below. We won’t hesitate to reply.

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