How to store paint in between coats

How to store paint in between coats so it doesn’t dry up – it’s easier than you might think.

I’m going to imagine you’ve been there too – you’ve painted a wall, left it to dry, only to discover that your paint and paint brushes have dried too – oops!

Bringing brushes and paint back from the dried-up-dead is an impossible task; just like the last Pringle in the tub, once they’re gone, they’re gone.


photo: Robert Ruggiero

To prevent this from happening, there are some very easy solutions; keep reading to find out more.

Read more: how to store paint at home (and where I went wrong)

To store paint in between coats you’re going to need a plastic bag (a carrier bag or small bin bag will do) and some cellophane.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find these at the back of that draw you hate opening, otherwise, you might need a trip to the supermarket. Sorry in advance!

How to store paint in between coats, a step-by-step guide:

Step One

Put the paint tray inside the plastic bag or bin bag.

Step Two

Pour the paint into the paint section on the tray, but on top of the plastic bag (the bag will act as a paint tray cover).

Step Three

Paint your wall as you would normally.

Step Four

Grab the bag by the handles and turn it inside out and tie the handles together; the paint should be tied up inside which means it won’t be able to dry out.

Tip: You can tie your roller and brushes up with the paint or you can wrap them in cellophane.

If you tie it tightly enough, this should keep the paint wet for a good couple of hours AND you don’t have to clean the paint tray when you’re done either!

how to store paint in between coats

Can I leave paint in the tray for two hours?

If paint is left out in the open on a paint tray, it will begin to dry up and go lumpy; these lumps will then transfer onto the wall once you begin to paint again.

To store paint in the tray, cover it in aluminium foil, or cellophane, or use the plastic bag trick I mentioned earlier.

Read more: how to stop Frog Tape peeling off paint: a hack you won’t have heard of before

Can you leave paint in a paint tray overnight?

If you want to leave the paint, brushes and rollers longer than a couple of hours, then you can wrap everything individually with cellophane.

As long as it’s air-tight, this will preserve your paint, brushes and rollers for up to 48 hours.

It’s useful if you don’t have time to clean your tools as soon as you finish painting.

How do you keep paint between coats?

Keep paint in the paint tin or can between coats with the lid on, if it’s for a couple of hours then the lid can be placed more loosely, but overnight then the lid should be airtight.

If you don’t fancy prising off lids every couple of hours, you can use cellophane or aluminium foil to cover the paint tin and the paint tray.

How long can a paint roller sit between coats?

As long as the paint roller is wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag, tin foil or cellophane then it should be able to sit overnight.

What is the longest you can wait between coats of paint?

This is a tricky question to answer as it depends on lots of factors, like how dusty and dirty is the environment you’re painting in and how long does the paint take to dry.

For best results, you should follow the paint manufacturer’s guidance on this, but if you’re painting in clean and dry conditions, I don’t see why leaving it a week would be an issue.

What happens if you paint a second coat of paint too soon?

Painting a second coat too soon will result in the paint peeling, streaks and an uneven finish. Always follow the instructions on the tin and take into consideration the climate you are painting in. During the winter for example, paint will take longer to dry.

How to store varnish brushes between coats:

If you’re going to be painting the second coat within a couple of hours then wrapping the varnish brush in plastic wrap should stop it drying out.

If you’re leaving it longer than a couple of hours then soak the brush in white spirit and cover it in plastic wrap. Once you’re ready to use it again, wash it in warm soapy water and shake it to remove the water – then it should be ready for the next coat.

Tip: combing your brush with a wide toothcomb can help bring it back to life.

How to store oil paint brushes overnight:

To store oil paint brushes overnight, wrap the brush in cellophane or a plastic bag; make sure it’s airtight – you can use masking tape around the handle for precaution.

How to store gloss paint brushes overnight:

Just as you would store other paintbrushes overnight, cellophane or a plastic bag is the best way to store a gloss paintbrush.

how to keep a paintbrush wet overnight?

To keep a paintbrush wet overnight you want to make sure it’s sealed in something airtight; as I’ve mentioned, cellophane is great for this, as well as a plastic bag.

Can you use a paint roller two days in a row?

You can use a paint roller two days in a row. To store it overnight, remove the excess paint and wash it in warm soapy water or cover it in cellophane so it doesn’t dry out.

To summarise storing paint between coats:

  • Cover your paint tray and wrap up the paint in a plastic bag or plastic wrap.
  • Replace the lid on the paint can or cover with cellophane.
  • Wrap brushes and rollers tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Wrap brushes and rollers tightly in aluminium foil.
  • Don’t leave paint out longer than 24-hours.

Read more: everything I’d buy from H&M home UK

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