I've found it often depends on the paint.
I had some PPG paint decompose, become totally useless in
maybe 10 years.
I have some Lucite interior paint from 20+ years ago that
Haven't done too badly with a can of Behr exterior.
If you have smaller containers, might consider transferring
to full smaller containers, waste a little.
Could also consider introducing an inert gas into the can
instead of air. Got a helium (or somesuch) tank lying
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
My experiment hasn't stood the test of time yet, but about 2 years ago I had
about 1/2 gallon of latex flat wall left from painting our living room. I
decided to try something - I cut a circle of plastic drop cloth the size of
the paint can (used the lid as a template). I cleaned the rim and exposed
inside of the can best I could, then gently placed the plastic on top of the
I hadn't thought about it until reading this post so I just checked it and
it was still good. Plastic was still floating on the paint, hadn't sunk to
the bottom, and paint seemed pretty good. Of course you have to be careful
and remember not to shake or tip the can until you remove the plastic. I'll
probably leave it until next winter and the do some touchup work when we
move the furniture again to decorate for the holidays. I'll see how the
paint has really held up at that point.
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