Watching Paint Dry

The rules for disposing of latex paint around here require that it be “dried with sawdust”, whatever that means. Over the years we’ve accumulated quite a lot of latex paint, in addition to a rich stockpile that Came With The House™, and I simply don’t have that much sawdust.

Since they don’t seem to object to dried latex paint, I made a drying tub by stapling aluminum flashing around a stand that used to hold a water heater off the basement floor, lined it with heavy plastic, and started pouring latex paint into it:

Paint drying tub

Paint drying tub

After a year of intermittently dumping paint, that solid latex cookie must be two inches thick and I suppose it’s time to toss the first batch.

For what it’s worth, I discovered that storing paint cans upside down doesn’t guarantee that the paint remains fresh. This can had a solid latex cookie against the lid, with plenty of corrosion to go around:

Paint can stored upside-down - interior

Paint can stored upside-down – interior

The coagulated paint above the latex cookie was as horrible as you might expect.

Memo to Self: just throw it out, OK?



  1. #1 by Mick on 2014-11-08 - 08:04

    It’s kind of interesting, storing paint….I think that the upsidedown trick is aimed at oil based paints and varnishes…as they’ll develop a skin and then the remainder will be good. Seems as long as the liner in the cans that hold latex paint remains intact, the paint stays good. I used to work at a paint store, and brought home way too much mistinted paint (free). 15-20 years later, some is good, and some is not. If it came in an all plastic can? It’s almost guaranteed to be good.

    • #2 by Ed on 2014-11-08 - 08:19

      brought home way too much mistinted paint (free)

      My father was way ahead of the power curve on that: he never met a (pastel) color he didn’t like. One of his buddies was the town painter, so …

      My folks owned a restaurant and he didn’t have a lot of spare time, so when a room needed attention, he’d extract a can from the basement stash and paint one wall. Next time, it’d be another wall, maybe in a different room, certainly in a different color. Whatever was in the can was enough to get the job done and, mostly, it worked pretty well.

  2. #3 by rkward on 2014-11-08 - 10:33

    I remember years ago seeing an episode of Dirty Jobs where a paint recycling operation was sorting, and mixing various paints that folks had brought in. Not sure if they gave it away or sold for minimal cost. Seems like a good idea though. I suppose they all eventually get to an unusable state like yours.

  3. #4 by captnmike on 2014-11-08 - 10:46

    I use an old pie pan & put some aluminum foil as a liner, then pour the paint or whatever in it and let it dry, not as much surface area as your setup and takes a bit of time to dry, but then I suspect that I don’t have as much old paint as you have

  4. #5 by Bob Gould on 2014-11-08 - 11:19

    It almost certainly won’t be as interesting with latex, but have you heard of ?

    • #6 by rkward on 2014-11-08 - 11:39

      Not that I’ll be wearing any jewelry, but Fordite is pretty cool looking. Leave it to the artistic crowd to find this and do something neat with it. Even the name is very creative.

    • #7 by Ed on 2014-11-08 - 16:43

      Aye, a section through my latex cookie won’t be at all interesting…

  5. #8 by Red County Pete on 2014-11-08 - 11:36

    At least one town in the SF bay area did the remix program with the result being a sort of beige. The disposal/recycle program also included household chemicals–came in handy when we moved.

    We try to get paint in 5 gallon plastic buckets, and these last a fairly long time in storage. The Behr plastic-bodied cans with metal lids are OK so long as the lids don’t get damaged. The latex paint will loosely stick to the plastic, but can be peeled off and tossed when dry. I haven’t had much luck with metal cans/lids and latex paints due to corrosion.

    • #9 by Ed on 2014-11-08 - 16:46

      a sort of beige

      IIRC, Ubuntu brown was supposed to be the integral of skin tone over all humans.

      5 gallon plastic buckets

      When we were repainting the inside of this place, we bought primer and hallway white in those buckets, one of which may be lurking under a pile o’ stuff in the storage room.

      • #10 by eriklscott on 2014-11-10 - 10:53

        human skin basically comes a small range of hues and a lot of different saturations:

        (Cinematographers, evidently, call this color “porange”, as in “pinkish-orange”. This sort of explains why so many mass-market movies now are color graded in “orange and teal”.)

        So what is storing paint upside down supposed to actually do?

        • #11 by Ed on 2014-11-10 - 14:57

          a lot of different saturations

          As the man says, “People are strange.”

          storing paint upside down

          In theory, air leaks only around the lid rim, so putting liquid paint against that joint prevents it from drying out. That may work well for, oh, half as long as that paint’s been on the shelf…