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How to Filter Latex Paint

Angela Baird

Latex paint has forms a film or crust over the top after it sitting for a while. It isn't safe to assume there will be no film just because your paint is new and unopened.

Sometimes, a stir stick removes film on paint.

If the paint appears lumpy when stirred and the lumps do not disappear with more stirring or the addition of water, strain it through a paint strainer before use or your finish is flawed. Paint strainers or filters resemble cone-style coffee filters. If you don't want to hold it, purchase a filter stand that supports the filter over a catch container as you strain the paint.

  1. Spread newspapers over the work surface. They catch any drips or splatters, protecting the working surface.

  2. Remove the lid of the paint can using a flat-head screwdriver by carefully prying up the lid. Look at the paint’s surface for a film or crust. Remove any crust with your hands and discard. If there is a film, you may be able to gently swirl it around a stir stick and lift it out of the paint. Discard the stick.

  3. Stir the paint. If it is too thick, add water up to an ounce at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Watch for lumps as you stir.

  4. Unfold your paint strainer/filter so that it forms a cup.

  5. Hold it the paint can over a receptacle, such as another paint can or a clean pail. It is easier to have a helper hold the filter while you pour the paint.

  6. Pour the paint through the filter, going slowly so that it does not overflow. If the paint begins to filter too slowly or back up in the strainer, dispose of that strainer and use a fresh one.

  7. Tip

    Always strain paint before use that has been stored after being opened.


    Wear a respirator to protect yourself from any fumes. Wear latex gloves for easy clean up.

Check out this related video from Homesteady on Youtube.