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Paint Storage & Disposal

Cans of different colour paint

Storing your leftover paint ensures you’ve always got some of the colours you’ve used around the house available for touch-ups or new projects. We’ll show you how to properly store your paint, so you’ve got it ready when you need it. We’ll also give you tips and tricks on paint disposal, so you can safely get rid of unused or dried up paint and free up some storage space in your home.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Seal your Paint Can

    Person sealing paint can

    One of the most important parts of paint storage is making sure your lid is tight and secure. Make sure to clean any paint from around or inside the rim of the paint can, and then tap the lid closed with a rubber mallet. Don’t use a normal hammer, as you can easily warp or bend the lid and cause it to not fit tightly. If you don’t have a mallet, you can lay a flat piece of wood across the top of your can and use a regular hammer to tap the wood. This will ensure that you don’t damage the lid.    

  2. Step 2 Use Smaller Cans for Leftover Paint

    Person writing on lid of paint can

    If you’ve got a small amount of paint that you want to save, consider transferring it to a small, clean quart can. Just pour the remaining paint in and seal the lid like we showed you in step 1. Make sure to mark down the name, brand and colour of the paint so you can identify it easily when you go to use it again. 

  3. Step 3 Check if Paint is Still Good

    Cans of different colour paint

    Latex or water-based paint has a typical shelf life of ten years or so. Oil-based paint can last up to fifteen years when stored properly. For latex paint, check to see if there is a thin layer of liquid on top of the surface of the paint. If so, or if the paint smells bad, it’s likely bad and it’s probably best to dispose of it. For oil-based paint, a thin layer of liquid isn’t a bad thing. If you’ve stored the paint properly, you should just be able to skim that layer off and use the paint normally.    

  4. Step 4 Store Paint in a Proper Location

    Garage paint storage

    When deciding how to store paint, keep in mind that it must be stored in a cool, dry place. Keep paint cans off the ground (especially concrete) to avoid rusting. Closets or basement storage areas are ideal. Ensure all cans are airtight and consider dropping a couple of marbles into the paint before sealing it to make mixing it easier when you’d like to use it again.    

  5. Step 5 Recycle or Dispose of Paint

    Can of white white with a brush

    Because paint is considered household hazardous waste, make sure to check with your local municipality to ensure you’re disposing of your paint properly and in the correct location. Paint recycling is also an option: you can donate leftover paint to a local charity or shelter.    

What You Need for This Project

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