Paint Maintenance = Saving $

I know paint is fairly cheap, but the more I save, the more I can spend on models, so every once in a while I go through my paint and give it a tune up.

I never buy paint, well almost never.

Most of my paint has come to me from buying old figures from Craigslist, flea markets or from others that are getting out of the hobby or kids that have "grown out" of it.

In these lots are most often some nice bits, some tools and brushes and most always some old paint.

I have so much "old paint " that I rarely need to buy any "new paint", the nice thing about these paints are that even dried up funky paint pots can be revived with a few drops of water and some mixing.

Here is what I do.

1. shake it.
If it moves around its in pretty good shape if not it needs some work.

2. add agitator.
Every paint should have something in it to help mix it up, just like in a spraypaint can, I use little bits of metal sprue.

3. add water.
if it is getting thick , add a few drops of water.

4. take inventory.
if you have three bottles of the same paint, keep one at your workstation.

5. Storage.
store extra paint in a box in the dark, and at the work station upside down, so you can see the paint color while working.

This one did not pass the shake test, a color that I don't use much that needs some water added and a good mix.

I work in the sink, with a glass with a stir stick for the really dry stuff.

I set the tap so it has a slow annoying drip, and catch a few as needed in the paint pot, less is more here, as it is much more simple to add another drop that to remove one. I guess you could use an eye dropper, but I don't have one and most everyone has a sink.

In this amazing action photo you can see the water drop falling from the faucet which is set on "annoying drip mode".

Cutters and old metal sprue bits to make drop in agitators.

Here are my workstation paints, with all the doubles in storage and the washes and metallics seperated, it is simple to find the right color with less fumbling, and upside down you can see the color through the clear bottom of the pot.

I am surprised by how even the most dried out paint is able to come back to being usable, if you can mash it around with a mixing stick just add a few drops of water and it will come back to life.



  1. Great thoughts on being a thrifty painter! I too have many old paints. I still have a couple pots of Polly S paint and some really old GW paint I used to use in High School... and I graduated in 1992!

  2. Lol, sell it on ebay, it's probably antique by now :P
    Thanks for this as my local gaming store is a stall... (poor excuse, we have to play in the library :P ) that sells mostly second hand stuff (and even a discount on the newstuff) so i might venture into buying some of the 50p paints that are all dried up and test this out!

  3. I like the idea of the agitator. GW should take that idea to the bank. Do you run into any issues storing you paint pots upside down?

  4. CPR for your dying paints... nice tip on bringing them back to life.

    I too like the agitator idea.

  5. The agitator is great I just keep shaking until I hear it clicking around in there, as far as problems upside down, none yet, when you first grab a paint, you need to shake it up real good as all the pigment has settled on the lid, but when I paint I pull the few pots that i will use and set them upright near the model.

  6. Brilliant idea about the agitator... Gonna have to dig out a load of metal sprues and dump them in to my vallejo / tamiya colours :)

  7. Don't use metal chunks as agitators! Metal oxidizes, it will eventually effect your colors.

    Use small stones or glass beads.

  8. i didnt have tiny parts to put into the paint so i improvised. I have a large amount of tiny computerscrews that i probably never use. they are excellent to shake the paint with.
    the screws are the ones that keep a casing closed (not the really tiny ones.)
    using the same sort of object in all paints makes it a little bit easyer to compare thickness with each other..

  9. I have some GW paints that are over 20 years old and I have never had to do anything to them. The older jars are so much better than the new ones.

    For agitators, I went out and bought a jar of BB's and I just drop 3 into each jar. Also, when I have to add water to the newer paints, a straw works great. Just dip it in a glass of water and put your finger over the end then let it go into the paint. You can easily control how much water you put in by how deep you dip the straw.

  10. It's a little pricier, but I have found "air brush medium" to be an excellent paint rejuvenator.

  11. It's a little pricier, but I have found "air brush medium" to be an excellent paint rejuvenator.

  12. If you live in hard water area or use a water softener, you shouldn't really use tap water as eventually the impurities in the water will contaminate the paint, and could affect the colour.

    You can buy bottles of de-ionised water for irons and car batteries very cheaply, a £1/$1 bottle will last you for years!! The bottles usually have a nice dispenser cap to make it easy to get it into your paints too, mine is controllable to the drop which is handy. Available from car accessory shops and most supermarkets. Keep the lid on when not in use to stop it evaporating/getting impure, and to prevent calamity if you knock it over.

    If you were a real purist (SWIDT?) you could use de-ionised water in your brush cleaning pot too, but that's probably taking it a bit far :-)


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