Paint can last longer than you think; up to 10 years for latex, 15 for alkyd. Regardless of what type of paint you’re using and what you’re using it for, make sure you’re doing what you can to make your paint last.
Is this paint okay to use?
With latex or alkyd, test old paint before using it by stirring it for several minutes.
If the paint mixes well and any lumps disappear, it’s probably okay to use.
Try brushing it onto newspaper and check for lumps. If there are none, feel free to use the paint.
Make drip holes in paint cans
When you first open the can, use a nail or a nail set along with a hammer to punch six or seven holes into the groove in the top of the can into which the lid seats.
The holes allow any paint that collects in the groove to drain back into the can.
Besides preventing the messy squirt of paint, the can will seal better and you won’t get a buildup of dried paint that can drop into the can.
Keep latex paints from freezing
Repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles will ruin latex paint.
Store paint in a dry place where temperatures stay above freezing, such as a basement.
Don’t store paints in sunlight or near a heat source.
Clear spray nozzles
When using a can of spray paint, hold it upside down upon completion of your paint session and press the button or trigger until no more paint sprays from the nozzle.
This cleans out the nozzle so that it won’t be clogged the next time you go to use the spray can.
Get the last drops
It’s frustrating. There is no paint coming out of the spray can, but you can still feel paint sloshing around inside.
The paint pickup tube may be on the side opposite the direction you are spraying.
Twist the nozzle half a turn and try again.
Preserve leftover paint
To avoid getting rust and paint flakes in your paint, you can pour the paint into a plastic bottle or a glass jar with a screw lid.
But don’t let any paint get on the threads of the lid or you won’t be able to reopen the container. I
f you do get paint on the threads, rubbing a little petroleum jelly on them will keep the lid from sticking.
Here’s another clever way to keep leftover paint fresh: pour the paint into a resealable plastic food-storage bag.
Squeeze the air out before you seal the bag; then put the bag into the original paint can and tap the lid closed.
Ready, set, blow
Even when you thoroughly seal a can of alkyd paint, there is enough oxygen sealed inside to form a skin.
Try this old painter’s trick. Just before you put the lid in place, take a deep breath and blow into the can.
The carbon dioxide you exhale often displaces enough oxygen to prevent the skin.
Skim off congealed paint
On opening a previously used can of alkyd paint, you might find a skin on the paint surface. This is no problem.
Just cut around the perimeter of the skin with a knife, and then lift the skin from the can and discard.
Thoroughly stir the paint and you’re ready to start brushing. You may need to thin the paint slightly to ease application. Follow instructions on the paint can label for thinning.