If you are finished with a painting project and have some leftover paint, it could be a good idea to keep it in case you need some later. There are many great uses for leftover paint, such as touching up scuffed walls or furniture, repainting an accent piece to match what you have already painted, and more! But keeping leftover paint can be challenging: it can be difficult to know how to store the paint, how to get the paint ready to use again, and how to know if the paint is still fresh enough to be used again. Below are all the essential steps for proper paint storage!

1. Decide whether you should keep it in the original paint can or move it to another container.

If the paint can is almost completely full, you can simply keep it in the paint can and reseal it (which we’ll discuss in the next step.) However, if the paint can is less than halfway full, it may be a good idea to move the paint into an airtight plastic or glass container. This is helpful for several reasons.

First, the smaller air pocket inside the storage container will make the paint last longer. Additionally, the smaller container will be easier to store. Finally, if the new container is clear, you’ll be able to see exactly what color paint you have leftover without opening the container!

There are many great options for paint storage containers, such as a Tupperware container, empty plastic ice cream bin, or even glass mason jars typically used for preserving foods or storing jam. These are all perfect for use in storing your leftover paint, and you likely have them laying around your house!

Pro Tip: if you are moving the paint to a smaller container, make sure you pick one that the paint will fill up completely without too much empty space at the top. This will really maximize the shelf life of your paint!

2. Reseal the paint can completely.

If you have decided to leave the paint in its original can, it’s essential to make sure the can is resealed properly. First, clean the edge of the paint can and the lid with a clean, dry cloth. This will help get a tight seal on the paint can.

Next, take a piece of plastic wrap about twice the length of the circumference of the paint can and set it loosely on top of the open container of paint. Set the lid on top of the plastic wrap.

Finally, take a rubber mallet or hammer and lightly tap the edges of the lid to secure the lid in place.
Pro Tip: You’ll know the lid is on correctly when it is completely flat, not slanted to one side or bumpy along the edges.

3. Store the paint in a cool, dry, and dark location.

Paint does best when it is not exposed to direct light. Keep your paint in a dark area, like a closet or basement. You also want to make sure the paint won’t be too hot or cold! Your paint should be stored between 60 to 80 degrees fahrenheit.

Pro Tip: If you are keeping leftover paint in your garage, make sure to move the paint indoors during the winter months, so it doesn’t freeze, and summer months, to avoid scorching your leftover paint.

4. Keep the paint until it’s time for your next project.

You never know when that leftover paint could come in handy. Maybe the wall you painted a few months ago needs a quick touch-up, or you liked the color so much that you want to paint a piece of furniture the same color! The good news is, if you have properly stored your paint, you can reuse it for any number of new DIY projects without having to buy new paint.

How Can I Tell If My Paint is Still Good?

You should easily be able to tell if the paint is still viable for use on your next project. Generally speaking, leftover paint has a shelf life of around two years, or slightly longer if you’ve stored it properly.

When you’re ready to use the paint, open the container and stir it with a paint stick. It should quickly reconstitute (i.e., not have any differences in consistency once you’ve given it a good stir). The paint should be smooth and not have any bumps in it. Additionally, the paint shouldn’t have an unpleasant odor.

If the paint still has a layer of clear film on top, or if there are bits of hard or jelly-like pieces of paint, it’s probably no longer safe to use. You want to make sure the paint hasn’t gone bad, or it could leave your wall with streaks or inconsistent coloration. And if your paint has a rotten-egg like smell, you definitely don’t want to use it! That unpleasant smell could linger on your walls long after the paint has dried.

As long as your paint doesn’t have any of these issues, you are free to use it again!

How Should I Dispose of Paint?

If you reopened your paint and decided it is no longer good, it’s important to dispose of it safely. For oil-based paints, leave the paint container open to allow the paint to dry out. You can speed up this process by adding strips of paper to the paint. Once it’s dry, you can throw out the whole container, or pry out the dried paint and throw it away if you want to reuse the container.

To dispose of latex paint, open the paint container and add clay-based cat litter. Wait for it to dry into clumps, and then throw it away.

With these tips on how to store and reuse your leftover paint, you should be ready to conquer your next DIY project! Whether you’re repainting your walls, giving new life to wooden furniture, or completing any other type of project, properly storing your paint will make your project a breeze.

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