You finished your project and you have a bit of paint left. What should you do? If you properly store your leftover paint it’ll be available for touch-ups. It might also come in handy for small projects. Water-based paint has a shelf life of approximately ten years while oil-based paint can last up to fifteen years, so you have lots of time to find a use for those leftovers! If not properly stored, your paint won’t be usable when you return to it and it can become hazardous for your household. The following are some tips for correctly storing leftover paint.


  • Use a paint can opener to avoid bending the lid and making it hard to close later.
  • When finished painting, clean any paint from around or inside the rim of the paint can.
  • Put the lid on and tap it closed with a rubber mallet.
  • Don’t use a regular hammer as you can easily warp or bend the lid impairing the seal.
  • If you don’t have a rubber mallet, lay a flat piece of wood across the top of your can and use a regular hammer to tap the wood.
  • Store the can in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and where the temperature stays above freezing.
  • Keep paint cans off the ground (especially concrete) to avoid rusting.
  • Store paint cans away from sources of spark or flame.
  • Consider dropping a couple of marbles into the paint before sealing it to make remixing it easier.
  • If there is very little paint left in the can, consider transferring it to a small, clean quart can or a large glass jar.
  • Label the container with the name, brand, date of purchase, mixture number and the room that you painted.
  • Place a small dollop of paint on the lid or side of the can to make colour identification easy.


When you are ready to reuse latex paint:

Check to see if there is a thin layer of liquid on the surface of the paint or if the paint smells bad. These signs indicate that the paint is unusable. If all looks and smells good, try stirring the paint. If it blends together smoothly and appears to be the original colour, then the paint is usable. If you’re still unsure, brush some of the paint onto a piece of newspaper. If the paint comes out rough and lumpy, dispose of it.


When you are ready to reuse oil-based paint:

Oil-based paint isn’t as susceptible to going bad. Remove the layer of film across the top and stir it well before painting.

Finished your project and still have a partial can of paint? Don’t toss it! Properly stored, your leftover paint may come in handy down the road.

Looking for advice on a painting project? Call Calgary’s independent paint and blinds store West Hillhurst Paint + Design at (403) 270-9696 or email at kyle@westhillhurstpaint.com. Our knowledgeable professional design associates provide high-quality paint, a wide selection of blinds and advice for home projects. We offer excellent service and a variety of products to match any budget. Call for a consultation today!

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