How To Open A Paint Can? Here’s A Reliable Guide

While there is a standard way of opening a paint can, there’s actually no right or wrong way to do it. You might not know it, but there are probably some tools in your toolbox that can help you do it. The problem with this process is actually not on how to open the paint can, but how to open it without making a mess.


The number one enemy of paint is air. If exposed to it over a period of time, it will dry. That’s why paint cans are sealed tightly. Removing the lid might be complicated. If done wrongly, you will end up damaging the lid or spilling paint all over the place. It’s more difficult to do this when the paint is already used as the paint left on the rim acts like a glue that sticks the lid even more tightly in its place. However, you can definitely avoid working with used paint. After all, you can hardly expect to finish painting a whole room in just one day.

Luckily, there are steps you can follow to easily open new paint cans and measures you can take to make it easier for you to open used paint cans. Let this guide help you.

Before we begin, try to look for one of these things in your toolbox. If you don’t have any, you can easily buy one of them from the nearest hardware shop.

Flathead Screwdriver

paint can opening tool

Flathead Screwdriver

The flathead screwdriver is one of the most common tools you can find in a tool box. It has a flat-bladed end, which is usually used to loosen or tighten screws.

However, its tip is also perfect in fitting into slots that require removing. Thus, it’s often used in jobs other than tightening screws. You can also use it in scraping, prying, nudging, and holding.

In this case, you’re going to use it in opening the paint can. The tip of the flathead screwdriver could easily nudge the lid of the paint can.

Needlenose Pliers

tool for opening a paint can

Needlenose Pliers

Needlenose pliers are usually used for holding, cutting, bending, repositioning, and snipping things. Its long nose top makes it easy to control.

With the right amount of force, you can use this to reach the small lining of the lid and pull open the paint can.

Flat Paint Scraper

paint can opener tool

Flat Paint Scraper

A paint scraper is what you use to remove any paint from the walls and tiles. The tools flat edge makes it perfect for nudging the lid out of the paint can. You can purchase this tool from any paint store.

5-in-1 Paint Tool

The 5-in-1 paint tool can be found in any paint store. In fact, it often comes with a paint can. If it’s not included, you can always buy one yourself. This tool has more than six uses:

  • Its edge which is straight and sharp can be used to scrape any loose material from any high spots.
  • The edge can also function as your glazier knife.
  • The tip can be used in cleaning and widening cracks, which you do before patching them.
  • The curved surface can squeegee any excess paint from the roller.
  • The side which has a square end that is specifically designed to open paint cans without causing any damage.
  • The handle function as a hammer, which you can use to close the paint can.

In opening paint cans, we’ll only use the side and the handle.

4 Methods

There are several ways to open a paint can. Depending on your chosen tool, you can follow any of these tutorials.

Method 1 - Using a Flathead Screwdriver

  1. Wedge the flat edge of the screwdriver under the edge of your paint can’s lid.
  2. Once the screwdriver is in its place, carefully push down the handle. The force you exert will eliminate the air-tight seal.
  3. Move to another part of the paint can’s lid and wedge the edge of the tool.
  4. Then, gently apply force in nudging the lid.
  5. Repeat the process until the lid is completely disconnected from the can.


Make sure that the screwdriver does not come in contact with the paint. You can use this process in new and used paint cans. The screwdriver will not damage, disfigure, or bend the lid in any way.

Method 2 - Using Needlenose Pliers

  1. Pinch the paint’s lid with your pliers.
  2. Hold them at a low angle from the lid.
  3. Gently lever downwards. While doing so, keep your grip on the pliers to prevent any jaws opening.
  4. Slowly work your way around the lid, levering up the rim little by little.
  5. When the lid pops, remove it with your hands.


Needle pliers are perfect tools for lids that are completely stuck, like those of use paints. However, you can also you use it in opening new ones.

Method 3 - Using Flat Paint Scraper

  1. Place the scraper’s flat tip securely on the lid’s edge.
  2. Then, use a slight force to push the lid upwards.
  3. Do the same to other parts of the lid. You’ll notice that it will slowly pop from the paint can.


The flat paint scraper is a good tool for opening new paint cans. However, it might break when handling tougher cases like used paint.

Method 4 - Using 5-in-1 Paint Tool

  1. Position the flat side of the 5-in-1 paint tool between the lid’s lip and the can’s rim.
  2. Break the lid’s seal by levering the tool’s handle downwards.
  3. While it’s in position, rotate the can.
  4. Slowly drive the paint can’s lid open.
  5. Once the tool has around the can lid’s circumference, lift the lid off.


The 5-in-1 tool probably gives the cleanest result. After all, it’s specifically designed to perform this process.

Helpful Tips

To make things easier for you in the future, it’s best that you apply appropriate paint storing techniques.

  • Once you’ve lifted the lid off the paint can, place it inside a plastic bag to avoid leaving traces of paint on the floor.
  • In resealing the paint can, use a hammer or the handle of the 5-in-1 tool. Place the lid on its original place. Then, place a rag over the lid. Gently hammer around it to keep it in its place. Make sure that the seal is tight.
  • If you don’t want to deal with stuck paint, wipe them off before you close the paint can again. You can do this with any petroleum jelly.
  • You can pour any leftover paint in a small container to minimize the amount of air in contact with the paint. Screw the lid tightly.


As you can see, opening a paint can isn’t that hard. With the right tools, you can achieve it with ease. Ask readers if they find this helpful. If you’re having other kinds of trouble with regards opening new or used paint can, you can comment them below and we can try to solve them together.

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