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How to open a paint can + VIDEO (easiest + cleanest way)

Trying to figure out how to open & close a paint can without making a huge mess? Have no fear, we are sharing a step-by-step guide AND a how to video to get you started the right way on your painting project!

Okay, so you are so excited to makeover your first room. You made a design plan. You went to the hardware store and bought supplies. You have your brushes and rollers and drop cloths. You are ready to get started!

But… how do you open a can of paint?

You don’t have to be a professional painter to open a paint lid in an easy and clean way. And you don’t need any fancy tools.

What tool do you need to open a paint can?

There’s no pop top. You don’t need a can opener. It might not be immediately obvious how to get inside the can and to the beautiful new paint. 

To open a can of paint, all you need is a flathead screwdriver. No, you do not need a special can opener tool!

Save your money at the paint store and just reach for your trusty flat head – a screwdriver is the best paint can opener. 

Will my screwdriver get paint on it?

No, the end of your screwdriver should never touch wet paint. If your screwdriver is touching wet paint, you would have to be sticking it inches into the can, which wouldn’t even be possible until after you open the lid. Lift the lid carefully and you shouldn’t get paint on anything.

how to open a paint can - the easy way

How to open a paint can

What you are going to do is place the flat head screw driver in between the lid and the can itself and gently pry upward to separate the two. Work your way around the can until the whole thing can easily be lifted off. 

Place the lid paint-side up and get painting! 

how to open a paint can - the easy way
Yield: 1 opened can of paint

How to open a paint can(the easiest + cleanest way)

Active Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 1 minute
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $0-10

Ready to paint a wall but don't know how to get into the can? Here is the easiest way to open a can of paint!


  • Can of paint


  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Hammer


  1. Hold the screwdriver so the flat head is parallel to the top of the can how to open a paint can - the easy way
  2. Place the flat end in between the lid of the can and the body of the paint can how to open a paint can - the easy way
  3. Gently press up to unseal the lid how to open a paint can - the easy way
  4. Repeat around the can of paint several times until the whole thing is loose how to open a paint can - the easy way
  5. Remove the lid and set paint-side-up. I suggest setting on a tarp or newspaper, just in case you smudge paint. how to open a paint can - the easy way
  6. To close the can - place the lid back on top, paint side down. Gently hammer around the edge until it has re-sealed. how to open a paint can - the easy way


You should not get paint on your hand or screwdriver.

If you get paint on the side of the can while pouring it out to use, be sure to wipe it off before closing, to avoid making a mess.

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Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Does this work on new and used cans of paint?

Yes! This same method works over and over again until all of the paint is used up. However, if the can is glued shut with crusty old paint, you might need a little extra muscle to pry the lid.

Does this method work on cans of wood stain?

Yes it does! See our complete guide to opening a can of wood stain!

Here’s how to open a Behr paint can with the Simple Pour Lid!

How to open an old can of paint that is stuck

Having trouble? Here are some tips to help to open stubborn cans of paint:

  • Place the tip of a knife between the can and the lid. Slice the dried paint, all of the way around. 
  • You can use a hammer to tap the end of the screw driver to apply more force towards opening the can. 
  • Use a knife or the flat head screwdriver to scrape off any dried paint that might be holding the lid on. 

How to open a can of Behr paint

Behr paint cans have new twist off spots for their easy pour spout, and they have plastic lids. See my full tutorial + video on how to open a Behr paint can here!

how to open a paint can - the easy way

How to open a can of paint without a screwdriver

No flat head screwdriver? You should probably invest in one! Regardless, here are some other tools you can use in the exact same way:

how to open a paint can - the easy way

How to close a can of paint

Be sure that you close your can tightly when you are done to best save your leftover paint.

Before closing, wipe off any excess paint, especially in the lip between the can and where the lid will sit. This helps to prevent it getting “glued” closed with dried paint. 

Make sure that you get an air tight seal to keep the paint from drying out over time.

Place the lid back on the can and hammer around the edges to re-seal. Don’t have a hammer?

I’ve been known to use the back end of a paint brush. Anything you can “hammer” with can serve as your hammer. 

How do I remove the metal clips on my paint can lid?

Sometimes new cans of paint come with metal clips holding the lid to the can. This has happened to me when I had paint shipped to my house.

To get them off, stick the tip of your screwdriver under the clip and press to pop it right off, then open the can like normal!

How to store a wet paint brush

If you want to keep using a paint brush later, and don’t want to wash it now, you can store it! Place it in a plastic bag and seal it up. Place the whole bag in the refrigerator. It will be ready when you are ready to start back at your DIY project.

Enjoy this post? Check out my article on the best way to save money on house paint, too! We love sharing home improvement projects and hope that this tip helped you today!

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