Why Pros Will Have Two Empty Buckets On Hand When Tackling A Paint Job

According to Angi, interior painting is the #1 most popular home remodeling project, and rightfully so. It's one of the cheaper renovations that makes a big impact on any home, but on the flip side, it's also one of the messiest. If you've ever painted a room yourself or hired a professional, you may have noticed an empty 5-gallon bucket (or two) is included in the painting process, and the reason why may be quite surprising. Hint: It's not for water. It's to mix paint.

When you purchase a can of new paint at the store, the color is freshly mixed and stirred to the right consistency. On the way home, the colors start to sit and separate due to a process called float. This is another reason why professionals and DIYers alike shake their paint cans before getting started. Now, professionals have found an even better way to thoroughly mix paint to solve this inevitable separation. It involves pouring it back and forth between two empty buckets.

Why not stir?

Still have that wooden stick from the paint store meant for stirring paint? Go ahead and toss it in the trash. If you want to thoroughly mix your paint together to form its true color, you'll be better off with the two-empty-bucket method, which solves separation through a method called boxing. That's because emptying out the can completely wakes up the pigments by meshing everything together, including the solids that have formed at the bottom of the paint tin from sitting.

Start with two empty 5-gallon buckets sitting side by side. Open the lid to the paint can and pour it entirely into one of the buckets. When all the paint is in one bucket, pour the mixture into the other. Continue pouring the paint back and forth until you see the color start to solidify. Thoroughly mixed paint contains no swirls or clumps and has a smooth, rich appearance. When used properly, the two-bucket method ensures the paint looks even when dry while avoiding any spottiness.

Reusing paint and choosing more than one color

This method can be used for freshly bought paint or any cans you still have at home that have been previously opened. The key is making sure older paint has not expired. To see if your paint is no good, you will need to observe the smell and texture of each can. Expired paint has a foul smell and will look congealed or clotted, which typically forms five years after opening. If this smell and consistency are what you're noticing in your opened cans, discard them and purchase fresh paint. 

When it comes to using more than one paint hue for your project, you're going to need to clean the buckets in between colors.  Start by pouring any unused paint back into its original can. Then, fill the buckets with a mixture of warm water and soap and let them soak for a few minutes. Fresh paint may wash out quickly, but if it's stubborn and not coming off, you may need to use a little bit of rubbing alcohol with a rag to wipe it. Then, rinse your buckets with more water before drying them with a rag and refilling them with the new paint color.