How To Get All The Paint Out Of A Tube Of Paint

Whether you paint with oils, acrylics or watercolours, having to leave that last bit of good paint in the tube because you simply can’t get it out, is annoying. Even if paint was cheap, which it isn’t, it always seems very wasteful to me to start a new tube and abandon that last bit of beautiful pigment, forever consigned to sit unused in the paint tube.

Over the years I’ve tried a few different ways to extract every bit of colour I can, and bar cutting the tube in half and scraping out the paint with a palette knife, here are the best solutions I’ve found:

1) Paint Keys

Paint keys work well.
Place the flat tube end in the slot in the key.
Roll up the tube just like a toothpaste tube.

Plastic paint keys work well as you simply place the flat tube end in the slot of the key, then roll up the tube. Exactly the same way as with those keys you can get for toothpaste tubes, or even the ones on some sardine cans. The only down side with these plastic paint keys is that on larger tubes ( 200ml e.t.c ), if you give them too much force they have a tendency to break, so I’d recommend getting metal ones.

2) Paint Saver/Squeezer

Paint saver, tube squeezer.
Roll the barrel over the tube to push the paint to the end.

Paint savers, or tube squeezers are better than paint keys, and get pretty much all the paint out of the main tube part. You simply fit the flattened end of the tube into the slot on the squeezer, and roll the barrel up and over the paint tube with the palm of your hand. The barrel is fixed into the squeezer in a slot either end, and as such doesn’t need downward force. Squeezers don’t get the paint out of the neck end, but push much more paint toward the neck than paint keys. You can fit smaller 37ml tune and larger 200ml tube in these squeezers, although rolling the barrel up a 200ml tube take some effort.

3) Plastic Tube/Pipe

Plumbers plastic waste pipe is simple and cheap.
Put lots of weight on the tube and roll.

The simplest and second cheapest option is to use a piece of plastic plumbing waste pipe. You could use any pipe obviously, as long as it’s large diameter and allows you to get sufficient downward and forward pressure. The larger the diameter of the piece of pipe, within reason, the easier it will be to roll the tube flat.

4) Foot/Boot

Don’t try this method on your expensive shag pile carpet.

The cheapest option, indeed free option, is to simple push the paint up to the neck of the paint tube with your foot. If you have hard soled boots or shoes they will work best, and if you get your technique down and are able to roll your foot from heal to toe, you’ll get as much paint out as any method. Make sure you do this on a hard floor, not a carpeted floor.

5) Tube Wringer

Tube wringer.

Tube wringers look good and work in a way similar to a can opener. Put the tube in the mechanism, close the jaws and turn the screw handle to work the tube through the wringer. I’ve not used one of these personally so can’t recommend it, but I’d say if you’re going to get one get a good one. I would imagine a cheap one would be worse than useless.

And Finally Use A Palette Knife

Getting that final bit of paint out.

Which ever of the methods above you employ to get as much paint out of the paint tube as possible, you’re still going to have some paint left in the neck of the tube. This area of the tube is robust, and it’s impossible to squeeze this area without using some serious force, a vice for example. If you have a vice, then that’s the way to go, but it’s a messy process and in my opinion hardly worth the effort. Much easier to get a narrow nosed palette knife and scoop out the remaining paint when you’re ready to use it.

I hope this information was useful, and happy painting.

Chris

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