You have finished your painting project and you have a fair bit of paint leftover. If your color was a special mix, it will come in handy if you ever need to touch up or repaint an area. How are you going to store the paint so it has not dried out the next time you want to use it?
SEAL IT WELL
If you don’t have a tight seal on your paint can, the paint will dry up. Before putting the lid on, clean paint out of the sealing rim and off the sides. Stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the can. Position the lid, and gently tap all the way around with a rubber mallet. Don’t bash it with a hammer as this will distort the lid and you’ll never get it to fit. Check to make sure the lid fits tightly.
CHOOSE A COOL LOCATION
Extreme heat or cold will ruin paint. Choose a cool, dry location such as a basement. Any moisture will rust the paint cans.
If you have cans that are less than half full, particularly if they are large containers, transfer the contents to quart cans or large screw top jars. This will save you a lot of storage space. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the threads inside the jar lids to make for easier opening. Full containers don’t dry out as quickly.
This is the most important thing to do. Don’t imagine for one second you will remember which room you painted Sahara Sand and which was Desert Storm. The number of times I am convinced I will remember and I never do.
Mark the brand, date of purchase, the room painted, name of the color and the formula for that color. You will not be able to reorder the color without the recipe. The formula will be on a label on your paint can. I suggest writing it elsewhere or taking a photo in case the label fades. It always makes me laugh when I see a suggestion to put a small blob of paint on the can to identify the color. I have never been neat enough to ever need to do this. It is obvious from the dribbles down the can!
Water based paint typically has a shelf life of about ten years. Solvent or oil-based paint can last up to fifteen years. This is assuming the cans are full and properly sealed.If latex paint smells bad, it has gone off. If it separates, you can remove the top skin with a paint stick and see what the paint is like underneath. Don’t try and mix the thick skin in with the paint. It will just make it lumpy. If the paint blends together smoothly when you stir it, and the color looks as you remembered it, it is probably OK. If it is rough with bits in, it has had its day.
With oil-based paint, just remove the layer of film and stir.
USE A KEY
When you reopen a can, use a special paint key that won’t damage the lid. The lid will come off much easier if you used the plastic wrap.