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multiple coloured tins of paint

How to store paint

Most of us think that storing paint is easy. Put the lid back on the can and pop it away – simple! However, if you do this you may find that when you come to use the paint again, it may have gone bad.

Sadly, tons and tons of paint gets unnecessarily thrown away every year. It is wasteful of both the product and the money you spent on it – paint isn’t cheap! If stored correctly, paint can usually last at least 5 years once opened.

Storing your paint incorrectly could cause a lot of issues down the line should you need to use it again. The last thing you want is to not have any spare paint when you need it and so purchase more which could potentially come out a slightly different shade. You may end up painting the whole room again!

What is the best way to store leftover paint?

There are 4 main things you need to tackle when it comes to storing your paint correctly.

  1. Repackage it
  2. Seal it tightly
  3. Label it
  4. Keep it away from extreme temperatures

1) Repackage it

Paint being decanted into another bucket

A simple and very effective way to store your paint correctly is to repackage it. Paint will always store better if it is in a fuller container in contact with less air. This will mean decanting the paint into a smaller container which can be done quickly and easily.

Not only is it better for the paint, but having a smaller, less bulky item to store is also very beneficial.

A lot of people like to use glass jars to store their paint as they’re easy to get a hold of and come in a variety of sizes. You can also see which paint you need quickly and easily. You can, of course, use almost any type of container so long as it is clean and dry you can create an airtight seal.

2) Seal it

Closed paint tins

This may seem like a very straight forward thing to do, but can easily be done incorrectly and so wasting your time and money.

If you have a small amount of paint to store you may have repackaged your paint into a glass jar or other type of receptacle. If this is the case, make sure both the inside and outside of the rim is clean, as well as the inside rim of the lid and close it up tightly.

You may have purchased several cans of paint and decanted them all into one larger container. This is a great idea to make sure the paint has the same consistent color across the entire space being cleaned. In this case, you may end up having enough paint left to fill an original smaller tin back up again.

If this is the case you will want to do a few things:

Do not use a screwdriver to open the tin.

Opening a paint tin

This is because you can easily dent or warp the lid or can which can then cause air-sealing problems. We recommend that you instead use a specific paint tin opener so that there will be no damage left behind.

Keep the recessed groove clean.

Another problem you may come across is that the rim inside the paint tin becomes full of paint. You will want this recess to be as clean as possible before re-applying the lid. This can be a bit tricky (and messy) to do but will be worth it.

This is because when it comes to re-opening the lid, you will find that the paint in this recess will have dried out and become flaky, which can easily fall into your paint and contaminate it will lumps. You can, of course, remove these contaminants, but if you have a lot fall in it can be very time consuming and frustrating.

You could either simply wipe the paint out of the recess, or you could opt to use a paint can pouring spout.

Cover the paint tin with plastic wrap.

A very common thing to do just before replacing the lid is to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the tin. This just ensures a tight seal and is also helpful in case there is any paint reaming in the recess so it can be caught before falling in.

Don’t hammer the lid on.

Use a rubber mallet to close the lid

Finally, once you are ready to close the tin up, use a rubber mallet to close the lid. Using a hammer (or other hard tools) can cause dents and warp the lid causing issues with the air-tight seal. If you do not have access to a rubber mallet, you can instead place a piece of wood over the lid and hammer it into place that way.

3) Label it

The best way to know what paint is in your container is to label it. It is the most simple and effective way to make sure you’re going to apply the correct paint! We recommend writing both the name of the color and what room it was used in.

In some cases, you may have used multiple colors in one room. Some may even be of a very similar shade. For this, you may want to make a small note as to where on the wall this color is. You could even go one step further and print out a small picture and tape it to the container!

4) Keep away from extremes

storing paint

 

This is one that can potentially be a little bit more difficult. It is recommended to keep your paint away from any extreme fluctuations in temperature, direct sunlight and off concrete floors. Because of this, storing paint in sheds or garages isn’t actually the best place for it.

A space such as a utility room or basement is a good place to store it if you have space.

Has my paint gone bad?

If you didn’t store your paint properly beforehand, you may be wondering if it is still okay to use.

Do not shake or disturb the can before opening it. There could be contaminants inside the lid or rim that can be mixed into otherwise good paint. Once you have carefully opened the lid, firstly have a little smell. If it smells like anything other than paint, throw it out.

If it smells okay, the next step is to look for a skin. This will usually form on paint that has been stored for over a year, or if the seal wasn’t completely air-tight. If you have a skin, carefully remove with a stick or other implement. If you find that the skin is very thin and keeps breaking into small bits you will instead be better off straining the paint.

Straining your paint is a messy and time-consuming job, but it will save you time and money as you won’t need to keep picking bits off your wall!

Person stirring paint with a stick

After this, give the paint a really good mix. If you see any splitting or bumps, you will most likely need to throw it out.

We recommend that you then brush some of the paint onto a testing surface. If it is rough, bumpy or doesn’t spread well, it will again need throwing out.


We hope you found this post helpful. If you have any further tips or advice, please feel free to share them below. We love hearing from you!

Owatrol Team
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