How to Save/Restore Citadel Paint

How to SaveRestore Citadel Paint

If you have several Citadel paints sitting around that you haven’t touched in years, chances are they are going to be all dried out. You might think that this makes them unusable, but fortunately, that’s not the case. Since Citadel paints are water-based, you can save them and make them usable again!

Citadel paints are acrylic, meaning they are water-based. When they dry out, the process of reviving them is incredibly simple. All you need to do is add a few drops of water or acrylic thinner, stir, and you will be ready to use your paints again! You will need to add the liquid strategically, because if you add too much you can ruin the consistency of your paint. 

You will be able to tell by looking at the paint whether it is revivable or not. If you press a matchstick, or something similar, into the dried paint, it should have a clay or putty consistency. If you can’t press the matchstick in at all, it might just be past the point of saving. 

Are All Old Citadel Paints Revivable?

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Saving old Citadel paints is an easy process as long as they aren’t past the point of no return. Before you can save your old paints, you need to test them to make sure they can be revived. This will save you both time and frustration of trying to figure out why your paint isn’t turning back into liquid.

You can test the dried paint with the help of a matchstick or a similar item. Try to poke into the paint with the matchstick to see what happens. If the paint has a consistency similar to clay or putty, you will be able to save it.

However, if you aren’t able to poke into the paint at all, you won’t have much luck getting the water to mix in. If you can’t get the water to mix in, then you won’t be able to save the paint. In this case, you will be much better off purchasing a replacement instead of trying to revive your old one.

Instead of purchasing a premade set of Citadel paints, we recommend building your own paint set with this build your own assortment bundle. This allows you to choose only the colors you need or want at a great value.

How Do You Save Old Citadel Paints?

There are a couple ways that you can save your old Citadel paints if you have deemed them revivable. You can use water, or you can use an acrylic thinning medium. In addition to water or acrylic thinner, you will also need to make sure you have craft sticks or matchsticks and a palette knife.

Acrylic Thinning Medium

Before you begin, you will want to protect your workspace with a plastic of some kind. This can be a tablecloth or a plastic tarp, whichever you have available. This will keep your area clean and make it easy to clean up.

Open your paint over the plastic to catch any dried paint chips that might fall from the lid. If the paint is revivable, use a palette knife to peel any of the crusty pieces away from the cap and top of the can. This will keep them from falling into the paint when you are mixing and having clumpy paints.

Next, you will start adding the acrylic thinning medium. You need to do this slowly and cautiously. You can always add more liquid, but you can’t take it out once you’ve added it. It is extremely important to add just a few drops at a time to ensure that you don’t add too much.

Add a few drops of thinning medium at a time and stir in between each addition. This will keep you from adding too much liquid at once. You can check the consistency first, then decide if you need to add more.

The process will take a ton of stirring to get to a workable consistency, so make sure you are prepared for this. It is best to stir with a matchstick or craft stick and not your paintbrush because you risk ruining your bristles.

When you are finished, replace the lid of the paint. Make sure you close it as tightly as you can to prevent any oxygen getting in and drying your paint back up. You can use the paint immediately after you finish stirring it.


Using water to revive old Citadel paints is similar to using an acrylic thinning medium. You need to add the water in carefully to avoid adding too much. You can always add more water, but you can’t take the water back out.

It is recommended to start with just four drops of water. Once you add the water, you can stir to see if you need more or not. If you do need more, you can add more water. It is best to add just one or two drops at a time to ensure you aren’t adding too much. Stir after adding each new drop to check the consistency.

Keep adding drops and stirring until you reach the consistency you are looking for. If you notice any small lumps in your paint, squish them while you are stirring. This will allow the water to make its way into the lump and change the consistency.

Final Thoughts

It can be incredibly frustrating to open up an old Citadel paint to find that it is dried up. You might want to just throw the paint away, but this isn’t always necessary. In most cases, you will be able to save your Citadel paint and use it again.

Not all Citadel paints will be revivable, so you will want to check it before you try. If the paint has a clay consistency, you will be able to save it. If the paint is solid or rock hard, you likely won’t be able to save it and you should throw it away.

There are two main ways that you can revive your Citadel paint. You can use acrylic thinning medium or you can use water. Whichever you decide, you will want to add it to the paint slowly and carefully to avoid adding too much and ruining the paint. 

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