Everyone Should Learn Proper Paint Storage


You can keep the paint colors you choose for your home fresh for a long time for touch ups if you know how to store them properly.

I was just reminded by Shari that it is painting season again, funny she seems to say that every time the weather changes. I think I finally figured out why her house always looks so beautiful.

But anyways, how many times has this happened to you, you go out to the garage or into the basement to grab a can of touch up paint, you open the lid and the paint has skinned over resembling the Le Brea Tar Pits. And when you try to pour out the paint, assuming you were able to jack hammer through the tar, it’s full of all sorts of gunk. I hate when that happens!! One of my pet peeves is when someone has put a can of paint away without putting the lid on properly. My job as the paint guy is to teach homeowners how to store and save there left over paint, as well as how to remove all the gunk and crud from paint.


Let’s start with how to get a perfect paint can seal. It starts when you open a new can of paint. First open the can with the proper tool, those paint keys the paint store gives you are for a reason, those keys are the best way to open a can of paint. I know you are tempted to use a screwdriver, but when you do, you ruin the edge of the lid and it will not set properly into the top of the can.


If you can’t find a paint key, use a five and one tool to gently lift the lid and if it comes down to having no other choice but using a screw driver, work your way around the lid, and gently lift as you go.


After the can has been opened and before you pour, tap little holes around the rim of the can. Using a small finishing nail and a hammer, gently punch a hole every inch or so. These little holes will allow any paint around the rim of the can to drip back into the can.


Always pour from one side of the can, and make sure that you don’t pour the paint over the formula information on the label, this information will be needed if you need to purchase a matching can of paint down the road.

After you pour, tap the bottom of the paint can on the table or work bench to have that last little drop of paint plop into the paint bucket instead of running down the outside of the can.


Here is a general painting tip that I can’t stress enough, always use a plastic paint pail to carry the paint. Don’t work from the paint can, using a plastic paint pail allows you to work with small amounts of paint, carrying a full can of paint around is asking for trouble.

A small paint spill is a lot easier to clean then a whole gallon of paint, been there done that. Another reason is to keep the gallon fresh, replace the lid after pouring out a small amount of paint; this will keep the paint from skimming over in the can.


After pouring the paint from the can to the pail, wipe off the rim with a paper towel to remove any excess paint that hasn’t dripped back into the can.


Place the lid back on and tap the lid secure using a rubber mallet not a hammer, the mallet will not damage the lid. Or, you can use a five in one tool to press the lid down nice and secure.


If you do use a hammer, cushion the blow with a folded over cloth and gently tap working around the lid.

Store the can in a cool area, never store paint where the paint will freeze, freezing will ruin latex paint turning it to the consistency of cottage cheese. Keeping it in a cool space will also keep it from drying out as well.

If the lid has been placed on good and tight, store the paint upside down, this will keep air from getting into the can, causing it to skim over and drying out.


If the paint does skim over, try to remove the dried paint layer using a paint stir stick. To remove any lumps or paint skin, pour the paint through a disposable paint strainer. You can purchase these strainers that look like little funnels with a piece of cheese cloth at the bottom at your local paint or hardware store. Pour the paint into the funnel above an extra can or pail.

When the paint has filtered through, the clean paint will be in the can and the crud will be in the funnel. Let the funnel dry hard and throw away.

Another way to do this step is to purchase a piece of cheesecloth and using a rubber band to hold the cloth in place around a new can, slowly pour from one can into another, let the paint strain through and your paint will strain clean.

One more step, make sure that you record any information about the paint in a home planner. The paint manufacture color number, the formula and the date should be written on the lid and the side of the can using a permanent marker. Also, include the room the paint was used in. This information will come in handy in the future when trying to repaint or touch up.


And finally one last tip, that really is about saving water, when you are done painting, pour the left over paint back into the can, and let the paint in the plastic pail dry. Once it has dried, simply peal the paint film from the bucket. The bucket will be as clean as new and you didn’t waste any water cleaning the pail.

Well there you have it; from now on you should have nice fresh paint, right out of the can!



  1. Dennis says

    I seem to remember a “gas” that can be sprayed into a paint can before closing to stop the paint from skinning over —- anyone know if that is still available and where to get it.

  2. PJ Cirone says

    Thanks for those hot tips on storing paint. Will be a huge help in the future as sometimes I end up with dry pain in can and or rust inside of paint lip (what a mess). One time I was so despite I had to cut and pull up the dried paint to get to the bottom to re-claim some ‘clay, put some in a bowl and added some water and tried to work it into a resemblance of liquid paint then sifted the lumps. Hopefully never again.

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