Introduction: Paint Can Care

About: I work in a hardware store and lumberyard, which gives me all kinds of inspiration and resources. It's also like being a therapist, as I convince people to do things the right way, give them confidence and ins…

Working in the Paint Department of a Hardware store, I felt moved to point out all the do's and dont's of treating your paint can well. You will be appreciated by the store staff when you bring your can back for more, and you will make life easier on yourself when you need to get more of your color, or store your leftover paint.

Step 1: Bringing in Something for Color-Matching Service

Most stores offer color matching services if you bring in a sample of your paint. Please, to keep the paint person from pulling their hair out or having to tell you they can't do something, make sure that:

- Your sample is big enough. Fo my scanner, a least a 1" x 1" sample is ideal. I have done something as small as ½" across, but this was a wing and a prayer. I now consider the sample in this picture as being sufficient in size.

- Your sample must be flat, like so it can sit flat against the scanner. This sample actually looks like it may have some texture that I'd have to deal with.

- Your sample must be a solid, uniform color. If you can see through the paint, the scanner won't read it right. If there' s a few different shades in the sample, the scanner will average out what it sees, possibly in ways that you don't like.

Step 2: Protect Your Label

If you save your label, that makes things a lot easier. Learn to ask your paint person to place clear packing tape over your label. This way you can peel off any paint drips and still be able to read the color name and formula.

Labels can also be heat sensitive, so keep them out of the sun, take a picture of them, or ask for a duplicate label to stash in your records.

Step 3: A Word About Older Colors

When you bring your old can or color name into the store, there may be many reasons why they might have a tricky time with your paint:

- They no longer carry that brand. We used to carry Brand A and Brand B, and switched to Brand A exclusively. They used different tint systems. The store could run a color-match of a sample of your paint, or if you knew for sure that the color was "Wicked Sunshine" by PPG, their database may be able to call this up.

- Your paint came from a different store. You might run into the same problem. Color match may come to the rescue, or if you know the brand and color name, that might work too.

- More importantly, you're in the middle of painting a wall and need more paint. You would be better off getting the paint at the same place to ensure sheen fidelity. One manufacture's Satin may be slightly but noticeable different that another's Satin. And what does "Low Luster" mean? We don't have that in our vocabulary. In this case, it's always best to go with what you started out with.

Step 4: No Screwdrivers!

No Screwdrivers for opening paint cans! Ask for a paint key. They should be free. Using a screwdriver to open the lid messes up the rim for everyone else, making it more difficult to open in the future.

Also, someone might have tried to close this can by pounding on the center of the lid. No, no, no. Take a hammer and gently tap along the perimeter of the rim. Go twice around if needed; the lid should sit flush with the rim when you're done.

Step 5: Clean the Rim of the Can

For gallon sized cans, they sell a plastic pour lip. It snaps into the inner rim of the can, lets you pour paint while making cleanup much easier. I really go for it.

Step 6: If by Some Horror...

Don't do anything. Take it back. Have them shake it. You will never disperse the colorants sufficiently. Wen you give up, and have some of the colorants all over a stir stick, that is an unknown portion that you have removed from the recipe which basically can't be fixed.

Step 7: There You Have It

I hope this has been helpful. If you paint a lot, you can develop a relationship with your paint person. Most of us enjoy learning about new stuff and teaching people how to do stuff. And we haven't even touched on stains and finishes, which is a whole other category. Not everyone is a magician; not all of us can eye-match, which is decidedly as skill, but hopefully we can help keep you out of trouble.