How to Open Stubborn Paint Tubes

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It has happened to every painter at some point……You wake up to a gorgeous day – the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, no chores or obligations to worry about, inspiration is running high, and there was just enough cereal left in the box for you to pour yourself one last bowl of Cheerios – the stars have aligned so you could paint today. The morning is going so smoothly that you decide to channel your inner Bob Ross and paint the happiest trees mankind has ever seen. So you sit down and start to lay out your paints on your palette…Yellow Ochre……Burnt Umber….Sage Green….ok, so the tube of Sage green isn’t opening – no biggie – just a little dried paint stuck under the cap, how tough can it be? So you try a little harder…::come on!….::. And now you’re really putting some muscle in it…::what the heck? Did my paint morph into super glue since the last time I used it?::. After 5 minutes of struggling (and the beginnings of a blister), you are now channeling your inner Andre Agassi and slamming the paint tube on the desk hoping the cap will magically pop off….:: ugh! Forget it!:: So you decide to move on to opening some Mars Black……and whaddaya know….STUCK!!!  :::AGGGHHH!::  You think, “There has to be a better way!” And luckily there is!  ;-)

I found out very shortly after becoming a serious painter that a frequently occurring problem was the lids of the paint tubes becoming stuck because of excess paint that had accumulated around the rim and under the lid.  It can be frustrating (and painful) to try and remove these lids without a little help.

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Common types of paint tube lids. Note: the pop top lids such as the black one on the right usually don’t get stuck. If you find that type of lid is truly stuck, then you are most likely the victim of a glue prank.

By now you can probably guess what the three items below have in common:

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A rubber glove

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A pair of pliers

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A jar opener

….you guessed it! – All of these common household items can be used to open your stubborn paint tubes!  I have tried them all, however the pliers are my favorite. Actually, I keep a pair of pliers in my drawer where I store all of my paint – it has just become a necessary painting tool for me. When I had just begun painting, I used to keep a rubber jar opener similar to this in my paint drawer, but it got lost and I replaced it with the pliers.

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It basically does the exact same job as a rubber glove ( in regards to paint tubes) – It provides extra grip/traction.

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Opening the tube with a rubber glove

Every method is fairly self explanatory…at least I hope….  ;-)

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Opening the tube with a pair of pliers

Opening the tube with a jar opener

Opening the tube with a jar opener

And I know these methods may be common sense for some of you, but I am spreading the word for anyone who is about to do what I used to do when I couldn’t get the paint tube open – I’ve cut the paint tube completely open to be able to use it once….::GASP::…and it gets worse….I have also thrown a few tubes of paint in the garbage just because I couldn’t get them open ::GASSPPP:: (before I knew about the magical abilities of pliers, rubber gloves, and jar openers….).  So before anyone makes the same mistake, please try these methods and save yourself some frustration and money!

So to conclude, if this post can save even one small tube of paint from a sad and lonely trip to the garbage, then it will be worth it! ;-)

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The face of abandoned paint….don’t let this happen to yours!

If anyone has any other cool methods to open their stubborn tubes of paint, feel free to leave a comment and share! We would all love to hear about it!

Happy Painting!

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4 Responses to How to Open Stubborn Paint Tubes

  1. Karen says:

    Brandy, I just love your posts…well written, entertaining and filled with good information. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you! It is a lot of work, but I really enjoy it!

  3. AvaB says:

    Pliers worked – thanks a ton!

  4. Nela says:

    I came here hoping to find a solution to my urgent problem, but unfortunately the pliers don’t help in my case… I’ve been using this method for years, so much so that the cap had worn down and now I can’t grasp it firmly with pliers. I hope I’ll find another way because I’d hate to have to cut the tube on the other end and have it dry :(

    Maybe I could pour it into an empty plastic eyedropper bottle, I hope that wouldn’t let air through.

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