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Be detailed when labeling unused paint

Most of us pile our leftover paint into unmarked graves in our basements once the walls have dried and the brushes have been cleaned and the pictures put back in their places.

When we need to do a little touch-up later on, it’s virtually impossible to remember the difference between Smoke Embers and Whispering Spring. It’s even harder when most of the labels are covered with paint.

After moving seven times in 14 years, I have a few lessons I’ve learned.

If you have to dig around your attic or basement looking for the right color for a touch-up, the job takes longer and might not get done at all. An easier solution is to keep an easily accessible record of each room’s “vital statistics”: paint color, brand name and finish.

Write the paint name and product number on painter’s tape and putting it on the back of each room’s light-switch plate. You also can dip a paint stick halfway into the paint and write the color, number and type on the other end of the stick. Tie all the swatch sticks together with string.

Annie Elliott of Bossy Color in Washington recommends storing unused paint in Mason jars. “Putting leftover paint in an air-tight jar will not only make it last longer, it will also take up less space,” Elliott said.

The amount of paint that fits in a jar will be all you need for normal touch-ups.

Elliott recommends labeling the jars with the manufacturer’s name, as well as color number, name and finish, as well as the room and date.

Colors also can be stored in a Word or Excel document on your computer. No matter which method you choose, be sure to do it as soon as the paint is dry. Don’t forget to make note of the ceiling and trim colors, brands and finishes, too.

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