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“What Is The Best Way To Store Paint?”- The Complete Guide

If you enjoy doing home improvements, then chances are that painting is one of the tasks on your to-do list.  Even if you’re good at measuring and estimating the amount of paint you need, you will always manage to have leftover paint.

Imagine having to throw away expensive leftover paint every time you’re finished with a project.

Sometimes you may find yourself saving so much paint that most of it ends up spoiled, especially if you’re unaware of the proper methods of storing paint.

If you like unique paint colors that require special color mixes, storing paint securely is an essential skill to acquire. But what is the best way to keep paint so that it lasts longer? Let’s find out.

So You’ve Finished A Painting Project…

The first step when finishing up a DIY paint project is to clean up the area of interest. This includes clearing up protective tarps and drop cloths. You may need to remove and wrap them carefully, especially if the paint drops are still wet.

If you lined your walls with painter’s tape, then this is the perfect time to remove the linings. To avoid messing up your new coat of paint, carefully remove the tape at a 45° angle from the wall.

The next step is to clean your tools, including paint brushes, rollers, and roller covers. You will need warm soapy water to first soak them in to remove excess paint. Be sure to clean these as soon as you complete painting so that the paint doesn’t dry on your tools. After soaking your painting equipment, rinse the tools in clean water until the water runs clear.

best way to store paint

Types Of Paints For Interior Rooms

Different paint brands name their paints differently, but generally, there are two types of paint: water-based and solvent-based. Both types of paint cater to different rooms. 

Solvent-based paints, also known as alkyd paint, last longer than their water-based/latex counterpart.

Alkyd paints are harder to scratch, give off a cleaner finish, and are easier to wipe clean. These paints work best in commonly used rooms like the kitchen, living rooms, and kids’ rooms. This paint also requires a coat of primer to help adhere to the wall better.

On the other hand, water-based paint may not last as long, but dry very quickly. These paints contain less of a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) than solvent-based paints, making them safer for the environment. These best serve less-used rooms.

Proper Disposal Of Paint Cans

Paint cans can be bulky, and you don’t have to save every can of paint you have left over, especially if you have limited storage space. If you are sure you’re done with a paint job and want to dispose of paint cans with some paint leftover, then you should know how to dispose of it properly.

Most places have laws regulating how to get rid of paint, because some paints are considered hazardous waste. 

If you have a Household Waste Recycling Center (HWRC) near you, then you could take your paint cans for recycling, but you may need to wait until the paint is fully dry before visiting the place. It’s best to contact them first to find out whether they have special conditions for recycling.

Instead of wasting leftover paint, you could donate it to local charities with a high paint demand like shelters or religious institutions. If these aren’t viable options for you, you can completely dry out the paint and toss it out with regular trash.

How To Dry Out Leftover Paint

Drying paint in the can take a few days because of its viscosity. If you find yourself with too much paint left over, then use cat litter, sawdust, or even soil to help soak up the liquid and allow the paint to soak up the liquid faster. Use a 1:1 ratio for the color and absorbent material to be safe.

You’ll then need to place the paint can without the lid in a well-ventilated area so that it dries up. 

Have kids or pets? Prevent unwanted accidents by placing the cans somewhere they can’t reach. Before throwing your paint out, you can use a sharp tool to pierce the center of the drying paint to ensure it’s completely dried through.

best way to store paint

Proper Paint Storage

If you have bought more paint than you need and have extra paint on your hands, you can choose to store it for future use properly. 

First, if you have unopened cans with receipts still intact, you could try returning them to the store and getting a refund. It’s important to note that companies have terms and conditions of how you should return products.

If a return is impossible, unopened paint cans can last up to 10 years if stored correctly. Used paint can stay fresh for about two years before spoiling. 

Paint cans should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from extreme temperatures (too cold or hot), humidity, and exposure to sunlight.

Storing Partially Used Paint

To make storing paint easier, you need to gauge how much of it you’ll require and then learn how to open the cans properly so that they can close back up properly when the time to store comes. 

Most people prefer using a screwdriver to open up paint cans. A screwdriver is convenient, but it messes up the integrity of the lid, which means it won’t seal tight, which significantly reduces its shelf life; invest in a good can opener.

The next step is to find out the best way to store the paint while maintaining its freshness for longer.

If you’re using the original cans, make sure to wipe any paint residue on the rim so that the paint doesn’t glue itself shut when you place the lid. Next, place at least two layers of cling film on the can before replacing the cover.

You should seal the lid tightly to prevent air and moisture from spoiling the paint. You can use a small rubber mallet to create an airtight seal, and place the can upside down.

If you want to maintain an organized storage space, label the cans by color and by the area you used the paint. This will help you pick the right paint color when retouching the area in the future.

Transferring Leftover Paint To Different Jars

If you opened the paint can incorrectly and can’t close it back up, we have the solution. Leftover paint cans take up too much space. 

To save some space and to get organized, invest in big-sized mason jars. These close tightly and are transparent so you can see the color inside.

Use a funnel to cleanly transfer residual paint from the can to a mason jar. If you’re not looking to dirty your funnel, make a makeshift one from a water bottle, and you’re good to go. 

Use a plastic seal to close off the can before placing the lid. You can also choose to label the mason jars and store the paints in a closed cabinet together with other chemical solvents away from children’s reach.

best way to store paint

Increasing Your Paint’s Shelf-Life

How long the paint lasts depends on how carefully you use it. Instead of painting directly from the can itself, transfer enough paint to a paint cup so that leftover paint remains untainted. Ensure that you close the lid each time you pour, so that the paint doesn’t begin hardening.

After transferring the paint, wipe the rim immediately so it doesn’t harden, leaving the edges of the paint dirty when you store it.

You can also prevent spillover by placing painter’s tape around the rim to catch the spills. You can create a makeshift funnel by placing clear tape to create a V-shape on the can’s opening.

If you must dip into the can instead of using a paint cup or tray, apply painter’s tape across the can’s diameter to wipe the brush on instead of doing it on the can’s lip. 

This will prevent excess paint build-up on the rim, preventing the lid from sealing the can tightly during storage.

How To Identify Spoiled Paint

Did you know that paint can spoil? Time isn’t the only reason paint goes bad; how you store paint and the type you use will determine its durability. 

So how can you tell whether paint has gone bad or not?

The Paint Looks Chunky: 

If you open your paint can and notice a chunky consistency, then there’s a high possibility that your paint has gone bad. Lumpy paint could mean that you stored your point in freezing weather, solidifying it before it began heating up again. 

If you stir the paint and the consistency goes back to normal, you can still reuse it.

Foul Smell: 

Sometimes, you can store leftover paint for such a long time that it becomes contaminated with bacteria. If your paint smells different, it’s most likely spoiled.

Dried Out Paint: 

If your paint has completely dried out, then it means that the lid wasn’t sealed correctly. Unfortunately, you can’t fix dried-out paint.

Now That You Know The Best Way To Store Paint, It’s Easy To Preserve Your Colors

Painting an entire room can require a lot of paint, which translates to an expensive endeavor. Storing leftover paint will help you when you need to do a few touch-ups around your house without having to buy more. 

There’s no use in keeping paint if it’s just going to go bad, which is why knowing the best way to store paint is so important. By taking advantage of the steps we have provided, you’ll save yourself both money and the hassle of replacing your paint stash.

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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