/ / How to open a paint can | The easy way without a mess

How to open a paint can | The easy way without a mess

A guide on how to open a paint can plus close the lid after, without making a mess. 

Are you trying to figure out the easiest way to open a paint can without making a huge mess? 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 its a tin can of paint or 5-gallon bucket. 

supplies to open a can of paint

Depending on how much paint you need to paint a room or area will depend on if 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, this way, you know exactly how much paint you need.  

Typically you will be using a can of paint, so first, 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. 

flat head screwdriver to open a can of paint

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. 

If you have used a can of paint in the past 24 hours, then 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 make it not seal 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. 

paint tool to open a paint can

If you happen not to 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.

painters tool to open a can of paint

HOW TO OPEN AN OLD CAN OF PAINT THAT IS STUCK

Are you having trouble opening a 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 that 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 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.

use hammer to close paint can

HOW TO OPEN A 5-GALLON BUCKET OF PAINT

Now that you have learned all about opening and closing a gallon can of paint, let me share 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 you are ready to remove the lid, here are some ways to open the paint bucket:

  • Use a paint bucket opener. 

OR

  • 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. 
open a paint bucket

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 of paint open, you can go and paint. If you are painting a room, be sure to see my guide on basic painting tips for a room, this even includes the ceiling!

Happy painting!

Yield: open paint can

How to open a can of paint

different tools you can use to open a paint can

A guide on how to open a paint can without making a mess.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • paint can

Tools

  • screwdriver

Instructions

    1. Place the flat edge of the screwdriver under the lid between the can of paint.
    2. Push down gently on the screwdriver to pry the lid from the can.
    3. Move the screwdriver to another part of the lid, and repeat the process.
    4. Continue doing this around the lid until the lid can be easily lifted off the can with no mess.
    5. Place the lid with the paint side up on a flat surface. Stir your paint and start painting.
how to open a can of paint