You've got the right color paint, a clean brush and an afternoon of free time, so the only thing between your woodwork and a fresh coat of paint is the paint lid. The best way to get it off is to use a painter's three-in-one tool, but you can also remove it with a screwdriver. Some professional painters take the extra time to puncture holes in the lid well to prevent drips while they're working.

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Put the Can in Position

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The paint level in a new can of paint is less than 1/2 inch below the lid well, so tipping or jostling the can while you're opening it can easily cause a spill. Set the can on a stable, level surface before opening it, and make sure you can position your body over it comfortably. It's best to place the can on the ground; never try to open a can that's sitting on a surface higher than your waist. If you follow these guidelines, you probably won't spill any paint, but in case you do, it's prudent to put plastic or newspaper under the can.

Open the Lid Slowly

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The three-in-one tool that most paint stores supply for free is the ideal tool to use to open the can, but you can also open it with a flat-head screwdriver. Start by hooking the tip under the lid and levering the handle down to crack the seal. This is the most difficult part of the procedure. Once you've broken the seal, you can move the tool around the rim of the can in 2- to 3-inch increments, and by the time you reach the opposite side of the can, the lid should be free. Lift it off with both hands and set it flat on the ground in a safe place. Some painters like to put it in a plastic bag for protection.

Make Drainage Holes

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credit: Pohian Khouw

Whether you plan to paint directly from the can or pour the paint into a pot, it's an excellent idea to punch holes in the rim well to allow paint to drain back into the can. This prevents paint from dripping down the outside of the can and falling on the floor. Some care is required when making these holes, because the can may tip when you put too much weight on it; keep the can on a flat surface, keep the lid off and quickly punch the holes in the rim well using a 16d nail and a hammer. Make a minimum of four evenly spaced holes for efficient draining.

Opening an Old Paint Can

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Opening an old can of paint with a slightly deformed lid that's welded to the can by dried paint is a challenge. A pair of needle-nose pliers comes in handy in this situation. Grip the edge of the rim and bend it upwards and pull a little. The lid probably won't come off the first time you do this, but as you work your way around the rim, eventually, you'll be able to crack the seal. After that, the lid should come off with a bit more pulling.