How to Stop White Paint From Turning Yellow

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Oil-based alkyd paints are extremely durable and you can scrub them frequently without affecting their color. Unfortunately, some of the chemicals in them can cause the paint to yellow over time. This yellowing is often subtle, but it's problematic with white paints -- which can experience a drastic color change as a result of this yellowing.

To stop your paint from changing colors, you can use a latex paint instead of an alkyd one. If you use alkyd paint, make sure it will get plenty of sunlight, and avoid using ammonia around the paint. Environmental factors can also play a role in keeping your white paint looking bright.


The surest way to avoid the yellowing caused by alkyd paints is simply to not use them. Most latex paint does not yellow, so using it instead solves the yellowing paint problem easily.

Shed Some Light

Light, both natural sunlight and artificial light, significantly slows the yellowing process of alkyd paint and can even reverse it. To prevent yellowing, use alkyd paint only in rooms that receive copious amounts of light. Frequently closed pocket doors, cupboard interiors and other surfaces that spend most of their time in the dark should not be painted with alkyd paint.

Choose Locations Carefully

Because of its superior water and mildew resistance, alkyd paint is often used in kitchens and bathrooms. If you use it there, make sure the white paint is not directly next to white tiles, countertops or cabinets. These materials are made to stay white, and include anti-yellowing chemicals and colorfast components. As a result, they will stay bright white, which will accentuate even a slight yellowing of the white paint on the wall.

Avoid Ammonia

Ammonia speeds the yellowing process of alkyd paints, so don't use it to clean in rooms where the paint has been applied.

If your renovation project includes more than a fresh coat of paint, make sure ammonia-based cleaners and stains are not used after the paint has been applied. Latex paints release ammonia as they dry, so apply latex paints before alkyd paints if you're using more than one type of paint. Let the latex paint dry for at least 24 hours, and be sure the ammonia has completely evaporated before applying alkyd paint.


If you must use alkyd paint in an area where you know ammonia will be present, test the paint first to see how pronounced the yellowing will be: Suspend a painted piece of wood from a jar lid and fill the bottom of the jar with ammonia. Seal the jar and wait a few days. Compare the paint chip in the jar to a paint chip that was not exposed to ammonia to see how much yellowing you can expect. If it is severe, try another brand of paint.

Control Environmental Factors

Moisture, cigarette smoke and excessive cooking grease can all yellow any paint. Make sure leaks are fixed and resolve excessive moisture problems prior to painting. Install proper kitchen ventilation to curtail grease buildup, and don't smoke indoors. All of these measures can slow or even prevent yellowing of white paint in some instances.


Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.

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