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To prevent unused paint from forming a skin, trace the paint can lid onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the top of the lid, not the side that the paint is on. Cut out the waxed paper and place it directly onto the paint.
When you use the paint again, simply shake up the can and you're good to go. Do not try to remove the waxed paper, it only causes a mess. (Learned that the hard way.) Just ignore the paper. If paint is still left over, place new waxed paper onto the paint.
Works like a charm on latex paint. I have not had occasion to try this with oil based paint.
Putting a partially filled balloon into paint cans that have been partially used or emptied will keep the air out of the can and prevent the paint from forming a skin or harding in the can.
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Here are questions related to Storing Paint Cans.
After I finish painting, what is the proper way to close up a paint can to preserve it to be used again? I've heard many different ways to save paint. One is to put some in a glass jar. One way is to cover the paint can with plastic then put on the cover tightly. Another way is to cover can tightly then turn can upside down so no air gets into the can. What do you suggest?
Upside down, in a cool place where it can't freeze, and where it won't hurt anything if a can leaks a little. Full cans keep better. Heat accelerates deterioration, so try not to store it in direct sunlight, in a hot attic/garage, or next to something warm like a water heater or furnace.
By Chris T. 12/04/2009
Here is a tip from Ron Hazelton's House Calls program. He puts his left over paint in old used water bottles. He has several sizes and uses a funnel to get the paint into the bottle, he steadies the bottle by putting it in a packaging type roll. If you have duct or packaginig tape. Lay them on their side and put the bottle inside of the hole. Now that depends on what size your bottle is. That way if you have to touch up anything, just pour out what you need and reseal the bottle. When that bottle gets low, just transfer the paint into a smaller bottle till just about all the paint is gone. Plus it saves space storing left over paint.
By Dianna M. 10/02/2009
From tips, I have read and recently started using.
1. Use cereal wax paper cut in shape of the can lid or just a little bigger, place over the top of the paint to prevent film build up and dust and dried paint from falling when you open the paint after having stored it for awhile.
2. Wipe clean the lid and the tracks where the lids fits.
3. Place a sheet of Saran Wrap over can and place the lid on it this helps with sealing it and preventing paint that may dry on the lid from falling into the paint when opening.
4. Taking a rubber mallet or a piece of block of wood over the lid and hammer lightly taping on the edges of the lid to seal the can. Do not use a hammer directly on the lid as it will dent the lid and damage the sealing of it.
5. Wrap the cans in shrink wrap tightly. You can group the cans of the same paint for that same room in shrink wrap as well to make it easier to find all the like paints when its time to reuse them. Shrink wrap is stronger than Saran, but Saran is better than nothing. If using Saran run some clear tape over it to add to the sealing to prevent air from entering; saran wrap comes off easily after time.
6. Store in an area without variable temp/heat changes they are best if they are stored on lower shelving due to the fact heat rises. Dark and dry area preferred.
One area if you have the space can be in the house under the bathroom sink or kitchen sink in the far back of the cabinet. Use child locks if you have small kids.
This is an idea (#5) I have yet to try but sounds sane enough to work.
I have seen many items shipped over the years using shrink wrap and have seen paint on skids wrapped with cardboard (for stacking) and shrink wrapped to keep upright and from spillage. That is how this idea come to me. Enjoy!
By kathleen williams 09/09/2009
Make sure the lid is on very well/tight then put the can in a plastic bag. Tie it so air will not get in, good luck.