No matter the size of a paint job, somehow there's always some paint left over. If you want to keep this paint for touch-ups or a future project, you need to store it smartly to prevent it from curdling or drying out.
The good news is that if you store paint under the right conditions, it should be as good as new when you next need it.
What container to use
To prolong the life of paint, store it in an airtight container. Screw-top jars and bottles, either plastic or glass, are perfect for keeping paint fresh. Avoid containers with metal lids because these are susceptible to rust, which can affect the consistency of the paint.
To prevent as much air contamination as possible during storage, use a jar or bottle that you can fill up to the brim. The bigger the gap between the lid and the paint in the container, the more likely the paint is to dry out.
If you don't have another container, place a layer of tin foil or plastic wrap over the top of the paint in the can, so that it touches the paint, to prevent air contamination. Always close the lid properly and gently. Beating the lid of the can closed can warp the metal, creating a gap in the rim where air can get in.
Steps for storing paint
Prepare the container you've chosen for the paint by washing and drying it thoroughly. Fill the container with paint, and then clean the rim and inside of the lid – where the container seals – to ensure that no residue prevents it from sealing tightly and securely.
Useful tip: If you plan to use the paint straight from the new container next time, throw a few marbles into the bottom to help the paint mix well when it's stirred.
Finally, seal the container tightly and label it with the paint brand, colour name and sheen, and the name of the room or surface that was painted with it.
Ideal temperature for storing paint
Ideally, leftover paint should be stored at a temperature between 15.5 and 26.5 degrees Celsius.
Storing paint in an environment that's either too hot or too cold can alter the consistency of the paint. Excessive heat quickly dries paint out, giving it a rubbery texture and a thick skin on top.
Exposure to extreme cold can cause water-based paints to freeze. Freezing can permanently damage the emulsion in the paint, causing it to become stringy or lumpy when it thaws. Note that oil-based paint freezes at a much lower temperature than water-based paint.
Where to store paint
People commonly store leftover paint in garages or sheds. However, environments like these often aren't insulated, with the result that the paint is exposed to extreme temperatures (and significant temperature fluctuations).
The best place to store your leftover paint is in a cool basement, an underground cellar, a cupboard in your home or a storage unit.
XtraSpace offers secure self-storage units, ideal for storing both paint and painting gear, including brushes, rollers, paint trays and ladders. For more information, contact us or browse our list of branches.