Different paint colors

Proper Paint Storage

In Exterior Painting, General Information, Homeowner Tips, Interior Painting by Lindsey MuellerLeave a Comment

What happens to your paint cans after your project is finished? Everybody seems to have a stash of paint cans somewhere in their home. Is there a particular way you should store it, so that it will be good to go, should you need a touch-up or repaint? Sound Painting Solutions answers below.


Stay Organized

The most important thing to remember is to label all of your paint cans. If you don’t know what room the paint was used in, then there is no point to holding on to the paint! This especially holds true if you have many similar colors in your home that can easily be confused. To keep everything organized and ready to go, label your paint can with the name of the color as well as the room it was used in.

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In places with extreme heat or cold, special precautions should be taken to ensure the life of your paint in storage. Paint that is stored in overly hot or cold temperatures may change its consistency, rendering it unusable. The product should be stored in a cool, dry place where the temperature stays above freezing.

Take care not to damage the paint lid when opening or closing the can to maintain the airtight seal. Cans should be opened with a paint can opener (rather than a screwdriver, key, etc.) to avoid damaging the lid for future use. To close the can, simply tap on it with a rubber mallet until it is fully closed and sealed. More effective ways to ensure an airtight seal are to put plastic wrap beneath the lid or even store the can upside down so that the paint can create its own seal.

Using the Paint

The paint may have a layer, or skin, at the top when you open. For this reason, do not shake the paint before opening the can. Discard the “skin” prior to mixing and using the paint. If the paint has been mixed beforehand, you may have to run it through a strainer. And how do you know if paint has just gone bad? It may be moldy, or have a strange smell due to bacterial contamination. Keep in mind that paint does have a very long shelf-life – at least five years – when stored properly and free from extreme temperatures.

Paint Disposal

Eventually, you may have to get rid of your paint if you no longer need it, or it has become too old. Check with your local municipality for specifics on how to dispose of paint materials. Here in Seattle, latex paints and stains can be discarded as normal as long as the paint has completely hardened. If there is less than one inch of paint in the can, simply allow the paint to dry and harden completely before discarding the can. If the paint does not dry, or you have a larger amount of it, mix it with a paint hardener or cat litter until it does dry. However, if your paint is oil-based (alkyd), it is considered a hazardous material and must be brought to a hazardous waste collection facility.


Any more questions about paint or scheduling a painting project in the Seattle area? Contact Sound Painting Solutions at info@soundpaintingsolutions.com or (206) 258-6676.

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