I'm painting up a project, where I don't have the space to place all the pieces in the open and paint them all at once. So it's

  • prime a piece (wait X hours)
  • lightly sand it
  • spackle/fill spots
  • topcoat one (wait)
  • topcoat two (wait)
  • install it
  • repeat

This procedure could easily take a couple of weeks. I'm using primarily short (4"/6") rollers and paint brushes for the project. I'm using water borne paint and primer, which cleans up with soap and water.

My questions revolve around the concept of how do you manage the paint?

One way is to open paint can, stir it carefully, dip brush into can, and continue. The would get messy and would risk contaminating the paint. I gotta believe moving to a smaller easily sealable container would be MUCH easier. Problem is, what kind of container works best here?

Every time I've used an old jar with screw on top as a paint storage container, it takes about three or four times before the lid is permanently sealed to the container because of dried paint.

Perhaps an old canning style jar would work?

Canning Jar

Perhaps the new style inexpensive Tupperware containers? I'm not exactly sure what these are called. They appear to be vacuum formed containers that look like Tupperware stuff, but its the kind of thing you'd use four times then recycle. Besides Tupperware, I think Rubbermaid and other manufacturers have their own versions of these...

Plastic Containers

The thought is you'd use these two or three times, toss out as required.

What do you guys do?

Additionally, how do you pour from a large paint can into a smaller container without making a total mess?

  • The trick is to not work out of storage containers, and to keep them clean by dipping paint with a cup or pouring with a spout.
    – isherwood
    Sep 29, 2016 at 21:10

3 Answers 3


I generally pour my paint into a smaller paint pail, like this:

paint pail

and then brush from there. They make liners for those pails, although I find they clean up relatively easy (most have a non-stick coating of sorts). They make pour spouts to making pouring easier, as well:

pour spout

Depending on the size of the pieces and how many you can paint at once, I may just dip the brush right in the paint bucket, though. Get fairly high quality brushes, and be mindful of dirt and dust, and contamination isn't usually a big concern. When I'm done, I pour the remaining paint back into the big paint can.

As for storage, put the brushes, roller covers, and paint tray liners in a plastic zip-top bag(s), and put the bag(s) in the fridge. It will keep the brushes in good enough shape overnight, or over a few nights. You could give them a quick rinse before using. You'll probably want to wash them out after a couple of days, and definitely when switching colors / after priming.

Note that linked products are examples only, and do not represent any endorsement.

  • I thought the op was asking about how to save brushes.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 30, 2016 at 1:38
  • @EdBeal I mention that at the end - put them in zip-top bags in the fridge. Works well enough for latex paint :)
    – mmathis
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:17

It depends on the kind of paint you are using. If an oil base a glass jar with a seal is best but the brush needs to be in thinner or mineral spirits. I have some very expensive brushes that have lasted for quite a few different applications over months with this method the brushes stay soft and don't clump the Bristles together like cleaning and letting them dry out (no mater how much you clean them). If the paint is water based I have had some luck with plastic containers after cleaning the brushes and putting a block on top of them so they stay under water. Both cases depend on the brush not being exposed to air, under water or solvent. When I need to use the brush again I shake any excess liquid from the brush and start painting again.


I know the professionals would cringe at this, but as a homeowner with big-box-store-quality brushes working entirely with latex paint, I'm a big believer in plastic wrap. When I'm not going to be working for more than a couple of hours, I wrap the still-wet brush, using something like normal kitchen Glad Wrap. I make sure I've squeezed the air out of the packet, and I wrap it well. Then I take a length of the same plastic and gently lay it atop the top of the paint in the can, carefully pressing it down onto the surface and forcing the trapped air out the sides. Thus there is no air in contact with paint either on the brush or in the can. Latex paint will stay wet this way for days, as long as you don't unwrap the brush or slosh the can.

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