A guide on how to open a paint can plus close the lid after, without making a mess.
Painting a room can be a fun process with some careful preparation.
First, you move all the furniture and set up drop cloths to prevent splatters. Then, you run the painter’s tape until you start seeing blue stripes everytime you close your eyes.
Finally, you’re all ready to paint. Or so you think.
You wrestle with the can or bucket of paint but the lid won’t budge. Your efforts left dents all around the rim and finally, there’s a pop.
Then, you feel the cold, wet splatters of paint all over your hands.
As frustrating as it is, the work is ready to begin.
But it doesn’t have to be so messy.
Are you trying to find the easiest way to open a paint can without spilling paint everywhere?
Stop searching because this guide will give you the steps on how to open and close a can of paint without making a mess, whether it’s a tin can of paint or 5-gallon bucket.
The amount of paint you need for a room or area will determine whether you get a gallon(s) of paint or a 5-gallon bucket. Before going to the paint store or hardware store, measure the size of your room or area and find the square footage.
In most cases, you will be using a can of paint, so let’s discuss how to open a paint can.
HOW DO YOU OPEN A CAN OF PAINT?
To open a can of paint, all you need is a flat head screwdriver and a flat surface. A screwdriver is the easiest and best way to open a can of paint.
Place the flat edge of the screwdriver under the lid between the can of paint. Once the screwdriver is in place, push down gently on the screwdriver to pry the lid from the can.
This will force the lid to pop slightly, releasing the seal. Move the screwdriver to another part of the lid, and repeat the process.
Continue doing this around the lid until the lid can be easily lifted off the can with no mess.
Place the lid with the paint side up on a flat surface. Stir your paint and start painting.
DOES THE SCREWDRIVER GET PAINT ON IT?
No, the screwdriver should never come in contact with wet paint.
But if you have used a can of paint in the past 24 hours, be careful. There may be a chance that there is still some wet paint on the can rim or exterior from your prior use.
If you do get some paint on the tip of your screwdriver, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe it off.
WILL THIS WORK ON NEW AND USED CANS OF PAINT?
Yes, this same method works with old and new cans of paint. I use this technique over and over again until the can of paint is empty. Plus, it shouldn’t bend or damage the lid in any way to prevent it from sealing when you’re finished.
However, if the can is glued shut with paint, you will need a little extra muscle to pry the lid off.
HOW DO YOU OPEN A PAINT CAN WITHOUT A SCREWDRIVER?
What if you don’t have a screwdriver handy – can you open a paint can with something else? Yes, you can.
If you don’t have a flat head screwdriver lying around, you can use something else to open the lid as long as it has a flat side.
- Putty knife (painter’s tool)
- Butter knife
- Metal key
I like to use a painter’s tool to open my cans because I am usually using the tool already to patch nail holes or dents in the wall.
HOW TO OPEN AN OLD CAN OF PAINT THAT IS STUCK
Are you having trouble opening an old paint can? Here are some tips to help you open that stubborn can of paint that is stuck.
- Use a razor knife to slice the dried paint between the can and lid.
- Use a hammer to tap the end of the screwdriver to apply more force.
- Try using a screwdriver with a wider tip (1/2″ +).
- Soak the can in warm water (not hot) for 10 minutes; then, remove the lid with a screwdriver. Remember, the lid is sealed so no water will get into the paint.
- You could even try letting the can sit in direct sunlight for 10 minutes to soften the dried paint around the lid.
If these tips don’t work, you can always try some needle-nosed pliers but these will bend the lid of the can.
To use the pliers, pinch the lid at an angle then roll the pliers downward to lift the lid. Make sure that you keep a tight grip on the pliers to prevent it from opening and releasing the lid. Keep working your way around the lid until it completely pops off.
HOW DO I CLOSE THE LID?
Before closing the lid, wipe off any excess paint, especially in the lip of the can where the lid will be. This helps to prevent the lid from getting “glued” close when the paint dries.
You want to make sure you close the can tightly to prevent the paint from drying out over time.
Place the lid back on top of the can (you can also place a towel on top of the can); then, hammer around the edges to re-seal the lid. If you don’t have a hammer handy, use the handle of a paintbrush or screwdriver, anything that can be used as a hammer will do the trick.
SIDE NOTE: I use a towel for two reasons. First, it prevents the hammer from denting the lid (a rubber mallet is best if you have one). And secondly, there could still be some paint on the can and this prevents the paint from getting on the hammer.
HOW TO OPEN A 5-GALLON BUCKET OF PAINT
Now that you know how to open and close a gallon can of paint, let me show you how to open a 5-gallon bucket of paint.
Place the bucket on a flat surface before opening; then, pull the tab at the bottom of the lid out and unwrap it from around the lid. Now that you are ready to remove the lid, here are some ways to open the paint bucket:
- Use a paint bucket opener.
- With one knee on the lid, use your hands to pull the lid toward you to release the seal (this is how I usually open a bucket). Just make sure you do not tip the bucket, or you will have paint everywhere.
To close the paint bucket, wipe the rim of the bucket clean with a rag, then place the lid back onto the bucket and press down onto the lid until you hear a click.
Now that you have your can or bucket of paint open, you can finally get started with no mess!
If you are painting a room, be sure to see my guide on basic painting tips for a room; this even includes the ceiling!