Are Paints Flammable Or Combustible? The Ultimate Guide

Are Paints Flammable or Combustible

If your paint is either of these should it be stored in a certain place? We have addressed each of these queries in our guide below. It isn’t simply a matter of yes or no because different types of paint possess different properties.

Certain varieties of paint are both flammable and combustible, especially those that come in the form of an aerosol. Oil-based paints are flammable and should therefore be kept at a distance from flammable materials.

Other types of paint such as those that are formulated with water aren’t going to be flammable. 

Below we have discussed the differences between each of these terms and how they can apply to particular types of paint. 

Do flammable and combustible mean the same thing?

First, it is important to identify the differences between both terms. Often these terms are used interchangeably to describe the same thing but they do differ slightly.

Combustible materials/ liquids tend to burn at a temperature that exceeds working temperatures. Flammable materials/liquids can catch fire pretty easily and they will then burn at a normal working temperature. 

OSHA standards refer to temperature as the flashpoint. The flashpoint is essentially the lowest temperature at which a substance or liquid can evaporate and forms an ignitable vapor in the air that will flash after being exposed to a flame.

Simply put, the flashpoint is an indication of how flammable or combustible the substance or liquid is. 

It is worth noting that OSHA has two different definitions of these terms. The first is applied to general industry, whilst the second specifically applies to the construction industry.

If you are discussing how combustible a liquid in construction is, the answer will be very different from the combustibility of a liquid in general industry.

For example, the flashpoint of a liquid in the construction industry should not exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in general industry, the flashpoint must be 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. 

In regards to flammability, in construction, a liquid must not have a flashpoint that exceeds 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Whilst the flashpoint of a liquid in general industry should remain below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Understanding the differences between the definition of each term and how they apply to the different industries can seem rather daunting.

You may also be confused as to why there are two separate definitions rather than one that applies to both. Essentially, the regulations of both were established by different people.

The standards for construction were decided by the Construction Safety Act, whilst those for the general industry were determined by consensus. 

OSHA divides flammable liquids and substances into four different categories. It is also important to mention that the classification of the flashpoint and flammability can change according to their standards.

This can make it more challenging to understand but simply put, OSHA currently states that a flammable liquid has a flashpoint that is below 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit. A non-flammable liquid has a flashpoint that is above 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Paint is generally defined as a pigmented liquid or a solid mastic composition that is used to enhance the color of a surface. There are many different products that are categorized as paint, and as such, it is not possible to categorize them under the same umbrella.

Whilst some paints are combustible, others are flammable. You will also discover some paints which are flame retardant (non-flammable). 

The formulation of the paint is going to influence how combustible or flammable the paint is. Those that contain alcohol are going to be much more flammable than those that are formulated with water.

This doesn’t mean that you should not apply caution when using or storing water-based paints. Although the majority tend to be flame retardant, they may still be instances where this is not the case. 

Is spray paint flammable or combustible?

Spray paint is flammable as it contains gas propellants such as butane or propane which are both very flammable.

As the vapors from this paint enter the air they can be explosive. Also, any items that have been spray painted can ignite as the highly flammable ingredients mix with the air. For this reason, you must be very important when handling and storing flame paint.

If the can of your spray paint is damaged in any way, it becomes increasingly dangerous. Also, if you have children in your home make sure that you store the spray paint somewhere where it will not be within their reach. 

Is latex paint flammable or combustible?

Most latex paints are not flammable as they tend to be water-based. They also do not contain any solvents or vapor that can combust if they are exposed to the air. For this reason, you can be slightly more lenient in regards to storage.

Of course, you must always make sure that this paint is stored somewhere where your children cannot access it, but you aren’t going to be faced with the fear of it exploding or catching fire. 

Is acrylic paint flammable or combustible?

Spray paint

Similar to latex paint, the majority of acrylic paints are water-based. Therefore they aren’t going to be flammable. It is worth noting that some acrylic paints contain flammable solvents that may combust when they are released into the air.

Some acrylic paints may also contain oil which can be rather hazardous. You must make sure that you check the packaging of your ingredients to clarify whether it has been made using any flammable solvents.

If it does not, you can store it anywhere in your home without having to worry about it burning. Again, the paint should be stored out of the way of children. 

Will paint burn?

Generally, paint itself will not burn as it is a liquid. The fumes of the paint as they mix with the air are what cause the burning. Should a fire ignite, the heat is going to cause the temperature of the liquid to increase. As more vapor is released, the more intense the fire will become. 

The most flammable liquids and household items include gas and aerosol cans. Gas will release vapor at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, gas is going to catch fire extremely quickly and easily. 

When stored at room temperature, any flammable or combustible liquids can give off enough vapor, that when mixed with a burnable mixture in the air they can ignite very easily. As a result, a fire can break out almost instantly. 

Although flammable solids can be dangerous, the risks associated with flammable liquids can be more severe. This is because a liquid can run in multiple directions rather than remain in one place. 

If your paint is stored in a poorly ventilated area, there are dangers of flashback. Should the can in which the paint is stored, release any vapor into the air, if it comes into contact with a source of heat there is a risk that it may ignite.

After doing so, this vapor can then travel back to the paint can where the liquid is stored. 

It is extremely important to be cautious when storing flammable or combustible paint. You should try and store any used paint inside a cabinet or bin where it does not present any risks to those in the surrounding environment.

Ensure that the cabinet or bin is properly ventilated and away from the area where it is going to be used. Furthermore, it is also important to make sure that your paint is not stored near any chemicals or a possible heat source. 

Are paint fumes flammable or combustible?

As we have previously discussed, liquid paint cannot burn but the flames can. Vapor and flame are terms that are used interchangeably to describe the same thing.

Storing your paint properly will ensure that any risks and hazards are avoided. A damaged or broken paint container presents a greater danger to you and others around you. 

What are the dangers and hazards of flammable/combustible products?

The most obvious danger of flammable and combustible products is of course a fire or an explosion.

However, they can have an impact on your health too. If you are exposed to the vapor there is a risk that you are going to breathe it in and possibly ingest it. Aside from this, there is also a risk of the vapor irritating your eyes and skin following contact. 

Before using your paint, you must make sure that you thoroughly read the packaging and follow the instructions. Doing so will ensure that risks concerning poisoning and chemical burns are avoided. 

It is also important to make sure that you dispose of your paint correctly once you have finished using it. Do not discard it in your household waste bin or pour it down your drain as this may result in a blockage.

If you have a very small amount of paint leftover in the can pour it onto a piece of card or paper and allow it to dry until it is hard. You can then throw the can away with your household recycling. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there isn’t a single definitive answer as to whether paint is flammable or combustible. It will vary depending on the formulation of the paint. Some will be more hazardous than others.

If you are uncertain about whether or not your paint is flammable or combustible it is important to apply caution to your usage. Also, make sure that you store it properly as doing so will ensure that potential dangers are minimized.

You can also check the packaging for details regarding these factors beforehand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is paint flammable after it dries?

Generally, once the paint dries it is no longer flammable. When certain varieties of paint dry, they may not be flammable but there is a risk of them combusting as the solvent evaporates. 

Is paint thinner flammable when dry?

When paint thinner dries it essentially evaporates and because of this, it isn’t going to be flammable. This is because it is hard to burn something that basically isn’t there. 

Are paint cans a fire hazard?

Paint, oil based paint especially, can heat to a very high temperature if it is stored in a hot environment such as an attic. There is a similar risk if the paint is stored near a furnace or a heater and you should also avoid storing the paint in direct sunlight.

Although water based paints aren’t as flammable, you should still store them in cool but not freezing areas.