How to Keep Paint Moist

by Jeffrey Norman

Painting can both exhaust you with its hassles and excite you with the results. After a solid day's work, you may want to give it a rest and complete the job later. Preserving valuable paint is an important step to take before hanging up your hat. Moisture is the key to a paint's quality -- while wet, the paint is still effective, but its malleable texture is lost once it begins to dry out. Luckily, simple household items can keep your pigment wet and workable.

Items you will need

  • Paint can opener
  • Plastic wrap
  • Small, thin towel
  • Rubber mallet
  • Aluminum foil
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Step 1

Preserve your paint can's lid and its rim where the lid closes. Open the paint can using the appropriate tool. Using makeshift means to get it open may damage the lid, reducing how effectively it can keep air out. Keep both of these clean throughout the painting process. Should paint dry on the rim, the lid will not effectively close; air can then enter the can, which may dry out the paint.

Step 2

Close your paint can immediately after the completion of a paint job. First, cover the can's opening with some plastic wrapping before closing it with the lid; this will make an airtight seal to further support the lid. Place the lid on top of the can, then cover the lid with a small, thin towel. Hammer the lid down with a rubber mallet, which is gentler and less damaging than a standard hammer, but no less effective. The towel will help distribute the impact of your blows so that the paint lid remains intact while closing.

Step 3

Use aluminum foil to help ward off drying. Place a sheet of the foil on the can and trace the outline of the can. Cut away the excess foil around the circle outline, and drop it on the surface of the paint in the can. Breathe in deeply, exhale into the can, and put the lid on top. Your breath's carbon dioxide takes the place of oxygen in the can, preserving the paint's moisture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area. Some paints include VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These are solvents designed to retain paint moisture in the can and hasten the paint's drying time. However, these have been identified as carcinogenic. Signs of danger include dizziness, headache and an erratic heartbeat.

About the Author

Jeffrey Norman has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has been published in such journals as the "Leland Quarterly" and on the blog, An Apple A Day. Norman earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature and creative writing from Stanford University.

Photo Credits

  • Ableimages/Photodisc/Getty Images