How To Store Oil Paint Tubes So They Last As Long As Possible!

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If cared for correctly, a tube of oil paint can easily last you for decades with there actually being some reports of unopened tubes of oil paint that have been in storage for over 40 years being opened and working fine. Due to so many artists having a huge range of oil paints in their collection, ensuring that their oil paint tubes are stored correctly can often be well worth it due to the price of all of the paints they own.

With the average price of a tube of oil paint being between $5 and $15 depending on the brand and color, it is not surprising that we see so many people reaching out and asking how to store oil paint tubes correctly. We have lost count of the number of people, especially beginners who store their oil paints in a less than ideal location usually resulting in the bulk of their collection having to be thrown out due to essentially being useless.

Due to so many people asking how they should be storing their oil paints as well as wanting to try and help our readers avoid unnecessary loss of paints to help them save money, we have decided to publish this article. Our hope is that it will be able to help our readers understand exactly what they should be doing when storing their oil paint tubes when not in use to ensure that they will be able to last them for as long as possible.

How Do You Store Oil Paints?

There are a wide range of suitable oil paint tube storage systems on the market that you are able to take advantage of and thankfully, even the budget friendly options tend to perform very well. That said though, depending on exactly what you need, there are a number of excellent intermediate paint storage options on the market that you are able to take advantage of too.

Either of these two options should be enough to provide a single point of storage and transportation for their oil paint tube collection when not in use with both being a solid investment to help protect your oil paint tubes. Both are robust enough to easily be able to take any accidental bumps and knocks without breaking while also offering excellent protection from sunlight too.

The easy access to your oil paints with both storage designs ensures that you can quickly and easily get access to your oil paint tubes when required without having to waste time too. Both options also offer plenty of storage for other oil painting essentials and accessories like your brush collection, cleaning equipment, and plenty of oil medium too. One thing to note with oil paint storage solutions, the cheaper the system, the smaller and easier it is to store in your home for the most part meaning that the budget friendly options tend to be better for the long run for most people.

Can You Keep Oil Paint Tubes In Direct Sunlight?

We would highly recommend against storing your oil paint tubes in direct sunlight when not in use due to the heat being able to cause a number of issues with the paints in a relatively short period of time. These range from causing the color of your oil paints to fade quicker as well as warping the consistency of the oil inside of the tube to a level where it is a nightmare to mix with a medium and get to work with canvas or even paper.

Although rare, in some of the hotter areas, we have seen artists report that these negative effects have been able to take hold and effect their oil paint tubes in a matter of hours while they actually had them our during a painting session. If you do live in an area that is warmer than usual and in direct sunlight then you should factor this into your painting session and do your best to take steps to avoid it.

Thankfully though, it is very easy to keep your oil paint tubes out of direct sunlight to offer them protection from this effect but you should always try to keep your oil paint tubes at a stable temperature in a dry area of your home that is also humid if possible. Although keeping the tubes in direct sunlight does tend to cause the negative effects to occur at a faster pace, simply being stored in an area that is too hot can result in the same problems.

What Temperature Should Oil Paint Be Stored At?

The majority of people tend to recommend that you try to store your oil paint tubes at around 65°F (18°C) with some people seeming to think that this is an exact number. Thankfully, there is actually a considerably amount of wiggle room with this, especially when it comes to the slightly lower temperatures that should not have any negative effect on the oil paint in your tubes that you have in storage.

This makes your storage options much easier and although most of our readers will probably just keep their oil paint tubes in a container in the area of their home where they paint, some others will have to store them in their garage or even their shed. Depending where you live, this will often be fine and should not cause any issues but if you do live in a particularly hot or cold area then storing your oil paint tubes in your home is probably a better option.

We actually know some people who “freeze” their oil paints or at least portions of them in their homes to try and preserve them for as long as possible. Although the oil paint does not technically freeze at standard home freezer temperatures, this is a controversial practise that does have both benefits and negatives. In our opinion, there is no need to store oil paints in the freezer when not in use as keeping them in a budget friendly storage option with their lid on should be enough for most of our readers.

How Long Does Oil Paint Last In The Tube?

The majority of oil paint tubes stored in ideal conditions should be able to last you decades and still be usable with twenty years usually being the recommended shelf life from most brands. That said though, there are countless reports of people who have much older oil paint tubes that still perform well that are older than twenty years too and if you leave the cap on with the tin seal over the opening, oil paint tubes can last considerably longer than this.

If you are wanting to keep your oil paint tubes for as long as possible then you have to keep them in some suitable storage that is in an optimal location with slight humidity and out of direct sunlight. Although this may seem like a faff, it is actually very easy to do and it is likely that there will be plenty of suitable locations in your home that you are able to use.

Please keep in mind that leaving the lid off your oil paint tube when not in storage or having a hold in the tube can drastically reduce this as it allows the oxidisation process of the oil paint in the tube to start. Depending on the conditions, this can easily dry out a tube and make the paint in it essentially useless in a matter of hours in hot locations and a matter of days in most areas.

How Do You Fix A Hole In An Oil Paint Tube?

If you have a tube of oil paint that does have a hole in it then there are a number of ways that you are able to fix it. The most common fix is to try and cover the hole in the tube with something like Scotch tape or Teflon tape with both having similar results. Keep in mind that even with the hole in the tube covered, the oxidisation process can still take place but it is usually at a much slower pace due to the air supply being restricted.

This is one of the reasons that we have seen people store some of their oil paints in freezers or chillers that we touched one earlier in the article. This tends to slow the oxidisation process but other potential downsides of doing this with your oil paints usually out weight it so unless it is a rare, hard to find color, we would usually recommend against it as tape should work well enough.

If it is a cheap, common color then just picking up a new tube of the paint may be the best option too, especially if the damaged tube is half empty so that is something to consider too. With the prices of oil paint coming down over the last few years slightly, this tends to be more budget friendly than some people think too and saves you the potential issue of the tube with the hole in it leaking all over your storage.


That brings our article going over how to store oil paint tubes to an end and we hope that you found it helpful. Although it does tend to be very simple to actually store your oil paint tubes, a surprisingly high number of beginners seem to make mistakes that are easily avoidable so we hope that we have helped you ensure that your paint tubes last for as long as possible!