This is How to Open a Paint Can the Right Way Like a Pro

Hands opening tin of paint with screwdriver
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to open a paint can might seem like a really simple operation and in reality it's not that difficult. But, you really need to get it right otherwise you can bend the lid out of shape or push up the lid lip. If this happens it gets harder to open the lid when you go to use it again.

If you bend the lid out of shape you will struggle to get a tight seal and this means that the paint will be exposed to air and dry out. This will make it harder to work with, which will make painting a wall a far more difficult task and there’s a good chance the finish will suffer. This is especially true if using an oil-based paint.

Then there is always the risk that a paint can unintentionally be knocked over and spill across the floor if the lid isn't on properly. Trust me, it's happened a few times. This leaves an unwanted clean up job and the expense of purchasing a new tin of paint.

Here we look at a few of the options to make sure that you open the lid of your paint the right way.   

How To Open a Paint Can With a Screwdriver

A screwdriver is the popular choice for opening a tin of paint. You will need a flat head screwdriver. A standard 5mm head will be fine for the job, but if you have a larger head use this.

Place the screwdriver under the lip of the lid and gently push down to raise up the lid a little. Try not to bend the lip of the lid, stop and move if it starts bending. Now move the screwdriver a quarter of the way around the tin and repeat. Repeat this process until the lid of the paint tin can be lifted off by hand.   

Open a Paint Can With a Multi Tool Or Paint Can Opener

What else can you use to open a lid if you don't have a screwdriver? Here's a few options that work just as well if not better in some cases.

Painter's multi tool
A painters multi tool is an odd-looking piece of kit, but it does have a long scraper edge, along with a few other edges, that are perfect for opening a paint lid. Use the same method as the screwdriver. Place a long edge under the lid and apply gentle pressure and repeat until the lid comes off.

Paint can opener
This is a specialist tool made for opening tins of paint. A paint can opener is a one piece tool typically made from metal and boasts an edge similar to a flat edge screwdriver but is usually slightly bigger. It works in the same manner as a screwdriver but is a little more subtle and takes a lid off with more ease. 

How to Clean and Close a Paint Can 

Ideally you want to transfer your paint to a paint kettle when painting. But first you will need to ask yourself how much paint do I need? Calculating the amount you need makes sure that you don’t have to do too much transferring which helps keep your paint clean and debris free. 

A paint kettle will also stop you pushing paint into the recess at the top of the can which will go hard. It will then create flakes every time you open the lid which can easily drop into the paint and be transferred onto a wall or woodwork.

If you are going to paint straight from the tin you need to clean the lid and recess to keep your paint in prime condition. When you have finished painting get a cloth and twist into a point and run round the tin recess to remove as much paint as possible. Repeat a few times if needed. Now clean the lid with a cloth or kitchen roll. When both are clean, put the lid back on.

When putting the lid back on you don't want to damage the seal to ensure that the paint stays in top top condition. Place a cloth over the lid and can use a rubber hammer to gently tap the lid back into place. Alternatively, push one side in with your hand and go around a quarter of the can and press again and repeat until fully closed.  

With your painting finished and your paint can closed, you need to know how to clean paint brushes to make sure they are ready along with your paint for the next project. 

Tin of white paint on white background with yellow scraper on tin edge

If your can of paint needs cleaning, cover the paint with cling film and use a scraper to remove dry paint. Throw the cling film away when finished (Image credit: Future/Steve Jenkins)
Steve Jenkins

Steve is Homebuilding & Renovating's DIY content editor, and has been a writer and editor for two decades. He is an avid DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating homes. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has strong all-round building skills, having previously worked in the industry for 10 years.