How to: Salvage the Contents of a Rusty Paint Can

How to: Salvage the Contents of a Rusty Paint Can

Don't you HATE rusty paint cans? Especially when they're almost full of perfectly good paint or polyurethane? I was confronted by such a thing last week. If the can would have been almost empty, I could see (maybe) disposing of it and buying new, but this can, as you can see, was nearly full. To salvage the contents, here's what I did:    

created at: 04/13/2010

First I stuck painter's tape into the inside of the rim.

created at: 04/13/2010

Then I poured the poly into a new can I picked up at my local hardware store. 

created at: 04/13/2010

More Hints!

created at: 04/13/2010

  • To help prevent rusting of the new can, stick painter's tape onto the rim and draw your brush out along that edge.
  • If rust flakes off and into the paint/poly, you can actually strain it using an old pair of nylons or cotton cloth as you pour it onto your new rust-free can.

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TonyUK on Dec 16, 2016:

This is useful to know! Also, I've been able to use the pump tube that some shampoo bottles have. Then the paint can be siphoned directly out into another container without the risk of disturbing any more rust flakes or dried out paint around the lid parameter.

AmyInNH on Aug 19, 2014:

Don't holes punched in the channel prevent an airtight seal for later storage of remaining paint?

Val on Jun 08, 2012:

After opening a new can of paint, etc. but BEFORE starting to paint, hammer a small nail through the bottom of the of the channel that the lid fits into  to punch holes at 3-4 points around its circumference.  Whether you use a plastic "pouring lip" or not the holes will allow paint that gets into that channel to drain backinto the can.

msistersm on Apr 27, 2012:

The little rubber "lips" do not prevent the rust from developing. They do clean the paint out of the channel so the next time you open the can you won't have to worry about difficult stuck lids. But if you let the can sit for touch ups or it sits around for a year or so, you will still experience rust on the edges. I don't know why paint manufacturers don't utilize more plastic cans as this would seem to make more sense (unless they don't want us saving paint  and want us to rebuy a gallon for small touch ups

Jason on Jan 16, 2012:

Better yet, pour it into a plastic paint container or other plastic container, like a cleaned peanut butter jar.  They sell empty plastic paint containers at most stores that sell paint. I hope the nylon filter material will catch all the rust particles since the paint I need to transfer is white ceiling paint.

linda em on Aug 15, 2011:

thanks   i will try these hints!

DIY Maven on Apr 14, 2010:

Katie--I've seen those but haven't tried one. They seemed kind of gimmicky to me, but I'm glad to hear they really work!

Katie | RunawayOctober on Apr 14, 2010:

They also make these little... lips that you can snap onto the edge of your paint cans that are super handy. The will usually have them on the paint counter, or near it, for about $.99. They're great for keeping paint out of the crack around the lid, wiping off your brush, and stopping all those messy drips. I almost can't paint without one and they're reusable to boot.

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