How Do I Store My Leftover Paint?

After almost every painting project there is a certain amount of leftover paint and  I’m often asked “how do I store my left over paint”?

It is always a great idea to keep your leftover pots as you will have times when you will want to touch-up areas or colour another room.

The most important thing to consider when storing paint is limiting the air exposure as this will cause it to dry out and become unusable.

To keep your leftover paint from drying out, always cover the can unless you are actively using it. Be careful not to get the rim full of paint, as that can prevent it from sealing properly. Once you have used at least a quarter of the can, there will be a good amount of air inside it, even when closed.

Here’s how to store leftover paint with the least amount of air possible:

How to store leftover paint
  • Take the time to clean paint out of the sealing rim of the can, in order to obtain a tight seal.
  • Use a layer of plastic wrap as a gasket between the can and lid.
  • Store paint cans upside down, so the paint itself creates an airtight seal against the lid.
  • Avoid beating on the lid with a hammer or other instrument when you close the can as such force will deform the sealing rim and air will penetrate it. It is preferable to use a rubber mallet with a light touch, just enough to ensure no air can get in.

A second option, especially when there is not much paint left in the can, is to pour it into a different plastic container. Anything with a lid will do  ie:  tupperware, water bottle, yogurt container etc… just don’t confuse the leftover paint with your leftover dinner and stick it in the microwave!

Use the container that will hold the paint adequately but minimise the amount of air. When you transfer the paint to another container, don’t forget to label the new container. Take some tape and write the type of paint, colour, and codes, so that you can order more in the future if need be. It is also helpful to include on the label what room or exterior area that paint was used in.

How to store leftover paint

Where To Store Leftover Paint

The key to successful paint storage is to keep it in a cool dry place.

For example, a nice dry basement is a good place to store paint.

Don’t have a basement? Find a spot in a closet or under the stairs inside your house. The 2 most important factors when you’re choosing a place to store leftover paint are: low-moisture and temperature-controlled.

You want to avoid places with high moisture such as a damp garden shed, because metal paint cans will quickly form rust around the lid. As soon as you open a paint can with a rusted lid, pieces of rust and debris will fall into the paint and ruin your paint job. (I prefer the newer plastic paint cans since rust isn’t an issue with them.)

If the basement is where you’ll be storing leftover paint, be sure to keep the paint cans off the concrete floor — because moisture will draw up and create rust.