Properly Store Paint

How to Properly Store Paint

Do you want to ensure you properly store your paint so that it’s good later?  Latex or water-based paint can last up to 10 years, and oil or solvent-based can last up to 15 years. Next time you need to do a touch-up you’ll be glad you saved the leftovers. Most of the time the paint store will have the date you bought it on the can.  Remember to write the room you painted in on the can also.  It’s unlikely you’ll remember which wall was which in a few years.


Seal it Up

Seal the paint can properly before you put it away to keep the paint from drying up. Remove dried paint from the lip of the can so that the lid secures properly. Use a rubber mallet to tap the lid down securely. Don’t use a hammer – it can distort the lid, making it more difficult to securely seal the can. If you don’t have a mallet, you can cover the can with a piece of wood and then hammer the lid closed.



Unless you have a temperature controlled garage, don’t store paint here!! Too many people put the paint on a shelf in the garage only to find that the extreme heat and cold from summer to winter have ruined their paint. Store paint in a cool, dark location like a basement, cabinet or closet inside your house. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can ruin paint. Cold weather can cause the paint to separate resulting in uneven coats, less gloss, cracking and peeling sooner. Heat can dry it out. Also, you don’t want to store metal paint cans where there is moisture as it can rust the can. 


Space Savers

If you have cans that are almost empty, transfer the remaining paint into quart cans. Then use some labels and a marker to list the brand, paint name and number, date of purchase, and the room that you painted. Place a small dot of paint with your finger on the top or side of the can to easily identify the color. 

Space Saver - Properly Store Paint

Reopening a Can

Opening a paint can after it’s been sealed for a long time can be difficult. Avoid using a screw

driver to open it if possible. The lid can become warped and it will be difficult to seal it in the future. Use a key that’s especially designed for opening paint cans. Any store that sells paint will usually give them to you.    

 Is my paint still good?

You can test to see if your paint is still good by doing the following:

Latex –

If it smells rancid it’s gone bad. Next check to see if the paint has separated. There will usually be a thin skin on top with a layer of liquid underneath. Remove the skin and using a paint stick, stir the paint. Make sure that the paint isn’t hard on the bottom or the sides. If the paint blends together smoothly and appears to be the original color, then it’s OK to use. You can brush some of the paint onto a disposable surface, if you’re still unsure. If the paint comes out rough and lumpy, you need to dispose of it.

Oil-Based – 

Is not typically as susceptible to going bad as latex, especially if it was properly stored.   Just remove the layer of film across the top and stir it well before painting.

Most paint stores will shake up your old paint cans in their paint shakers for free, and then will tell you if it’s still good or not. If you are about to perform some touch ups on some walls, you will want to make sure the paint is properly shaken and smooth in order to blend in correctly.

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