If you have just finished painting around your house it’s normal to have extra paint leftover.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have left over paint.  It is perfect to keep for any minor touch ups that you may need to make.  Perfect to cover scratches or small areas that may have scuff marks or scratches.

cans of left over paint from painting a house

How Can You Tell If The Paint is Past Its Prime

Proper storage of any leftover paint is key to salvaging it for a while. You may end up finding out the hard way when you open up that paint can and find that it’s no longer good. Here’s a few tips on how you can tell that the paint is past it’s prime and not reusable for repainting or even touch up paint jobs.

How Long Does Paint Last

Open up a can of paint that has been sitting in your basement for a year or two or three, let’s just say a long while.  You will see a thick rubber-like film on the top of the paint that is one sure sign that it may be past it’s re-usuable state.  You will also notice an odour that eminates from the paint, almost like bad smelling feet.

If the paint can lid is bulging that is another sure tell sign that the paint is no longer good for re – painting or touch ups.  When paint sits for a long time and not properly resealed particles in the air, dust and other organisms can enter through the gap and form gases that create pressure inside the paint can causing it bulge or the lid to pop.

If you’ve tried to stir or re-mix the paint by shaking it for a few minutes and it doesn’t bind and blend together well, you will know you should not re-use that paint. If it is still good you should be able to see it all come together with no separation in the paint.

If you have none of the above noted paint problems than before you touch up any paint on the walls or start repainting with it, just try a test or sample on a piece of cardboard.

If the paint and colour blend well after applying with a paint brush or paint roller and the surface turns out smooth without any small particles or bead like balls that can show when paint is old, if that doesn’t come through on your trial test cardboard than you’re in the clear and can go ahead and paint or repaint.

Sometimes because the area you are touching up or repainting was first painted a few years ago, when you try and touch it up with the leftover paint you may see a difference in the colour.

This happens because years of natural light and or artificial light as well as just the everyday life as a family and homeowner, it may have faded compared to the fresh paint you are applying.  We suggest you try a small area first, wait until it completely dries out.  If you notice the paint colours being different than you should repaint the entire wall or area.  If the leftover paint is not enough then head to your local paint store for a whole new gallon.

How To Save Leftover Paint

Store any leftover paint from that painting project by ensuring it preserves it’s quality.  Put it into an airtight container.  This will ensure that no air or bacterial pollutants can creep their way in.  If there is a large amount of paint leftover say like a half gallon, then we suggest you leave it in it’s original paint can.

If you only have a quarter of the gallon of paint left over,  then you can definitely pour it into a clean glass jar and ensure a tight sealed lid.  Paint is stored best at room temperature, therefore do not leave any paint outside in the garage or shed for storage especially in our cold Canadian winters where temperatures go down to -30’s.

To help you remember when you painted using that paint you can easily mark it with a permanent marker.  Write on the paint gallon, the day, month and year and which room it was used in.

If you are not going to save the leftover paint or you have found it to be un-usable after pulling it out of storage, then don’t just throw it out with the garbage or pour it down our city drains.  That is actually against the law to pour paint down the drains of our city streets.  Instead properly dispose of it by visiting your local city or municipality like our “City of Ottawa” on how to dispose hazardous waste materials.

See the List of Dates and Locations in Ottawa to dispose of hazardous waste and special items.


For All Your House Painting Questions Contact PG Paint & Design Ottawa House Painters