shelf life of varnish

xgpcerSeptember 25, 2005

i have some cans of minwax polyurethane varnish, pigmented stain and wood sealant that were opened in 2001, resealed and stored in my basement ....are they still good????...never seen shelf life info on has a date stamped in ink on this a shelf life date???

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most likely it is not a liquid anymore.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 7:03PM
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actually, it still looks good....but after that much time i thought that some of the components may have agglomerated and might cause problems like old gasoline....not worth using if quality is suspect and no votes of confidence from the forum..

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 8:24PM
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I would think the stain would be OK, as long as it mixes thoroughly with no clumps. Try it on some scrap first. As for the poly, I would be a little more suspect. Stir it up and try it on some scrap. See if it goes on smooth, if it dries completely or stays tacky for a long time, how does it look when it is dry, etc.

On some other woodworking forums I visit, most recommend keeping opened cans of finish no more than a year so I would probably advise getting rid of it rather than taking a chance on ruining a project.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 8:24AM
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that agrees with what the minwax folks are sayinq except a little more specific...they said shelf life was indefinite if not opened but limited if opened depending on how much ais space was in the can...a closer look at the varnish showed some precipitated material swirling around...i'm getting rid of the stuff...thanks for the input

    Bookmark   September 27, 2005 at 10:17AM
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You are right than some components can evporate. The most volitile are the driers -- if they are diminished or gone the paint/varnish will not dry. Try a bit on scrap wood and leave overnight to see. You can add 'Japan Drier' to it which is available at most paint stores -- call first.

Most importantly keep old paint cans well sealed and STORED UPSIDE DOWN!! The soldered bottom of the can cannot let anything escape where the top is not a perfect seal and chemicals will evaporate. Pass the word, millions of gallons of paint per year can be preserved by storing upside down. The paint companies should have big arrows and an explanation on the lables but then they would sell much less paint!! PASS THE WORD!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 5:35AM
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If the varnish smells "sour" upon opening, it has acidified and should be discarded.
As to the above suggestion, if the can is sealed well enough not to leak upon inversion, it is sealed more than well enough to keep the paint.
There's also a product called "Bloxygen" which one dispenses into partially-used cans of paint, oil and varnish to preserve the remainders.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 7:24PM
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