The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Sealing a Paint Can

In this case there is $250 worth of my paint in this can that will likely be ruined by next season.

I have brought this to the attention of the yard in question. All yards make mistakes, but if we want things to get better we need to bring it up when they do, but in a non-confrontational way—more yard management tips here.

As I’m sure most of you know, the right way to seal a paint can is to first press the lid down firmly with our hands and then gently and progressively, while working around the can, tap the rim into place with a wood or rubber mallet.

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Edward Scharf

I also discovered you can buy new empty cans and lids. I have gotten them at Lowes and Home Depot. I bet paint stores have them also.
Well worth it if the rim of the original is damaged or filled with dried paint as can happen after being opened and closed a few times.

Terence Thatcher

I have had some success with Bloxygen. It is argon and replaces the oxygen in top of the paint. I have saved both varnish and enamel for several months at a time.

Rob Gill

Tip from my late father for storing oil / epoxy based paints – after sealing the can, store inverted for longer shelf life. Any imperfect seal becomes evident quite soon, and maybe also the volatile solvents rise to the top of the can where they cannot escape, whereas they might escape through micro-pores in the lid seal, even when the liquid can’t?

Anyway, on opening I invariably discover fresh usable paint.

Drew Frye

Yes to proper technique.

But if that has been made impossible by dried paint, distortion, or even screw driver holes in the lid or rim, it can still be sealed using aluminum foil self-adhesive duct tape by Nashua. Solvents and oxygen can permiate plastic tapes, but not even the thinnest layer of metal. Basic chemistry (the difference between metallic bonding vs. covalent bonding and hydrogen bonding). This is why metalized mylar ballons can stay inflated.

I’ve been using this method for 30 years. I haven’t lost any bottom paint … ever … and I always have leftovers I’m using as much as 6 years later. I’ve been using aluminum tape for 20 years. It’s really the only thing I use it for. A standard part of the painting process for me.

David McGinnis

The first captain I went to work for 37 years ago taught me to tap three holes around the perimeter of the gutter with a nail. This allows paint or varnish to easily drain back into the can after pouring into a container. Pressing the lid down firmly with your fingers will then keep a very good seal. You can use a wooden or rubber mallet in addition but be gentle. Also, never work directly out of the can, for a number of reasons. It mucks up the rim/gutter over time and introduces impurities. Always pour into a separate working container.

Thom Unger

A method I’ve always used: take a short 2×4, longer than the width of the can, lay that down on top and hammer on that, rotate, repeat, until the can is well sealed.

Les Hewett

Thanks John for your steady stream of great ideas. I find if you carefully turn the paint can upside down after progressively tapping the rim of the lid closed, this ensures you have a seal inside the can using the paint to ensure you have a wet seal over the joint between lid and can. No scientific evidence either way but seems to work. Cheers.
ps Sorry just noticed similar idea already in the chat!