How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Spray Paint? (Laws by State & Store)

There are age requirements for lots of things in the United States, most for a good reason, but I was shocked the day I realized that there is an age requirement for buying spray paint within almost every state. As a result, I spent several hours researching spray paint to find out the answers. So, how old do you have to be to buy spray paint?

There is no federal age restriction to purchase spray paint, but most state laws say that you must be 18 years or older to purchase spray paint online or in-store, and you should expect to be asked for ID or ‘carded’ at local hardware stores. Spray paint purchases are restricted to reduce graffiti or to prevent minors from abusing inhalants.

Read on to learn more about why spray paint sales are restricted by age as well as a big table of state-specific and store-specific spray paint rules and regulations.

Do you have to be 18 to buy spray paint?

As is the case with all legal questions, the answer is it depends on exactly where you are talking about.

I personally checked for any laws mentioning spray paints or aerosol paint cans within all fifty states in the US. Based on my research, the vast majority of states, counties, and local governments require you to be 18 years old to purchase spray paint. Some of these places have specific laws in place while others simply follow the status quo on an unofficial basis.

If you plan to purchase spray paint anywhere in the United States, you should expect to be carded (or asked for your ID) at the register to approve the purchase of the paint.

Anecdotally, many people report that their local hardware stores don’t ask for ID or enforce these rules. However, just because someone else says they weren’t carded doesn’t mean that you won’t.

If you are asked for ID at a hardware store and can’t or won’t show a valid ID showing that you are 18, you will likely be refused sale.

how old do you have to be to buy spray paint

Can you buy spray paint under 18 as a minor?

As I mentioned before, there is a difference between legally being able to do something and illegally doing something.

In the vast majority of states and local areas within the United States, you must be 18 years old to purchase spray paint so minors under the age of 18 won’t be allowed to buy spray paint.

With that said, it is extremely possible that minors could walk into a hardware store and purchase spray paint without any issues. If the store doesn’t enforce the rules, then they will never know.

At I’ll Just Fix It Myself, we always say to obey your local laws and don’t risk getting into trouble!

via GIPHY

Why do you have to be 18 to buy spray paint?

Like most restrictions, the age restriction for spray paint is based on some practical reasoning and safety considerations. Basically, most governments and businesses don’t want minors to get ahold of spray paint because they could harm themselves, others, or property with it.

Here are the most often cited reasons for restricting the purchase of spray paint:

  • Spray paint is flammable
  • Spray paint is an inhalant
  • Spray paint is considered a graffiti tool

Spray paint is flammable

Most people realize that spray paint is a flammable substance.

Using spray paint around open flames is a serious safety concern because the propellants mixed into spray paint and other substances are quite flammable. According to OSHA, spray painting releases many flammable materials and combustible vapors into the surrounding air. Sparks or even static discharge could ignite these vapors and create a fire.

As a result, it shouldn’t be a surprise that most people don’t want minors in possession of spray paints.

spray paint is flammable

Spray paint is an inhalant

Although spray paint itself isn’t a drug, per se, but that doesn’t stop people from using it to get high.

According to American Addiction Centers, huffing is a form of substance abuse where a person inhales the fumes from various household items to experience a high that includes euphoria and hallucinations. Unfortunately, this type of substance abuse is extremely dangerous, causing many injuries and deaths each year.

While limiting the sale of spray paint to adults doesn’t stop inhalant abuse completely, it at least makes it more difficult for minors to get ahold of a potentially dangerous substance.

Spray paint is considered a graffiti tool

Although most people might not think of spray paint as an accessory to a crime, that is exactly what it is when it is used to create graffiti.

By definition, graffiti is a type of wall art that is usually created without permission on public or private property. As an art form, graffiti styles are well respected and can commissioned works can be found throughout the United States. As an act of vandalism, graffiti is seen as a blight.

While limiting the sale of spray paint to adults won’t eliminate illegal graffiti completely, it does help prevent minors from getting access to the paint.

spray paint is considered a graffiti tool

Legal age to buy spray paint by state

I mentioned before that the laws regarding spray paint sales are fragmented throughout the United States. In fact, some places have no law on the books at all regarding spray paint.

With that said, the ‘law of the land’ typically says that minors cannot purchase spray paint and that you should be at least 18 years or older to purchase spray paint.

Some states, notably New York have tried to push this restriction further by requiring people to be 21 years or older to purchase spray paint, but those local laws have been ruled unconstitutional and thrown out.

For reference, here is a big table with each state and the age requirement to purchase spray paint based on the laws I found. In some cases, no law was found, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the state still abides by the 18-year-old restriction.

StateAge requirement to buy spray paint
Alabama18
Alaska18
Arizona18
Arkansas18
California18
Colorado18
Connecticut18
Delaware18
Florida18
Georgia18
Hawaii18
Idaho18
Illinois18
Indiana18
Iowa18
Kansas18
Kentucky18
Louisiana18
Maine18
MarylandNo law found – Probably 18
Massachusetts18
Michigan18
Minnesota18
MississippiNo law found – probably 18
Missouri18
Montana18
Nebraska18
Nevada18
New HampshireNo law found – probably 18
New Jersey18
New Mexico18
New York18
North Carolina18
North DakotaNo law found – probably 18
Ohio18
Oklahoma18
Oregon18
Pennsylvania18
Rhode Island18
South Carolina18
South Dakota18
Tennessee18
Texas18
Utah18
Vermont18
Virginia18
Washington18
West Virginia18
Wisconsin18
Wyoming
Legal age to purchase spray paint in each state

How old do you have to be to buy spray paint at Home Depot?

Home Depot typically follows federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the sale of spray paint. As such, you will need to be 18 years old to purchase spray paint at Home Depot, and anecdotal evidence suggests that you should expect to be carded or asked for your ID when attempting to check out with a can of spray paint.

If you try to buy spray paint online at Home Depot, there are no warnings about age restrictions regarding the purchase of spray paint, and the website does not ask you to confirm your age before purchasing for in-store pickup or at-home delivery.

How old do you have to be to buy spray paint at Lowe’s?

Lowe’s follows any federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the sale of spray paint. As such, you will need to be 18 years old to purchase spray paint at Lowe’s, and anecdotal evidence suggests that you should expect to be carded or asked for your ID when attempting to check out with a can of spray paint.

If you try to buy spray paint online at Lowe’s, there are no warnings about age restrictions regarding the purchase of spray paint, and the website does not ask you to confirm your age before purchasing for in-store pickup or at-home delivery.

How old do you have to be to buy spray paint at Walmart?

Walmart follows any federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the sale of spray paint. As such, you will need to be 18 years old to purchase spray paint at Walmart, and anecdotal evidence suggests that you should expect to be carded or asked for your ID when attempting to check out with a can of spray paint.

If you try to buy spray paint online at Walmart, there are no warnings about age restrictions regarding the purchase of spray paint, and the website does not ask you to confirm your age before purchasing for in-store pickup or at-home delivery.

How old do you have to be to buy spray paint at Michaels?

Michaels follows any federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the sale of spray paint. As such, you will need to be 18 years old to purchase spray paint at Michaels, and anecdotal evidence suggests that you should expect to be carded or asked for your ID when attempting to check out with a can of spray paint.

If you try to buy spray paint online at Michaels, there are no warnings about age restrictions regarding the purchase of spray paint, and the website does not ask you to confirm your age before purchasing for in-store pickup or at-home delivery.

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