How to save leftover paint for future projects

You’ve renovated and painted, but what do you do with the leftover paint? Save it! Consumer Reports says that if you store it properly, you can reuse it for touch-ups or new projects. Here’s how to keep it fresh, when to throw it away, and how to do it safely.

Creating an airtight seal is key. First, remove all the paint from the channel where the cover locks. A damp cloth wrapped around a flathead screwdriver does the job. Push it into the channel and slide it around the entire box a few times. Then gently hammer the cover.

If you only have a small amount of paint left, it’s best to transfer it to a clean jar with a screw-on lid. Choose a container that is not much larger than the amount of paint you have available to avoid additional exposure to air. CR says to label your paintings by project so you know what they are without having to open the containers.

Store your painting away from direct sunlight, between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures can damage the paint, so avoid putting it where it can freeze or get too hot.

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When it’s time to use that stored paint, try it on a piece of cardboard first. It should be easily applied, uniform in color, smooth and free from visible particles.

CR says if you’re unsure of a can of paint, there are signs to look out for, like a bulging can or swollen lid.

Paint that doesn’t mix well or has a rubbery film on top should probably go away. The rules and regulations for disposing of paint vary by state and municipality, so check your local or public works department’s website before you dispose of it.

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