How to Strain Paint

Learn how to strain paint, why you should, and what could happen if you don’t. Plus, easy ways to strain paint using stuff you may already have!

Learn how to strain paint, why you should, and what could happen if you don't. Plus, easy ways to strain paint using stuff you may already have!

How to Strain Paint

It’s important to strain paint to remove debris before brushing, rolling, or spraying. Learn three easy ways to strain paint, including a few ideas using stuff that you may already have on hand.

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Table of Contents

What Does it Mean to Strain Paint?

Straining paint means removing debris like dust and dirt; and lumps, chunks, and clumps of dried paint. The paint is poured through a filter or strainer into a clean container. The strainer collects the debris. The paint in the clean container is smooth, debris-free, and ready to be brushed, rolled, or sprayed.

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Why Should You Strain Paint?

Have you ever needed to touch-up on a paint project? It never fails. When you reopen the paint can, dried paint chunks fall from the lid and rim into the paint. 

Paint can lid covered with dried paint and rust

Those chunks will end up in your brush or roller. Then those paint chunks are transferred to whatever project you’re painting. A lumpy, bumpy paint job doesn’t look professional.

Related: Best Way to Clean Paint Brushes

Or worse yet, those dried paint chunks can clog your paint sprayer. Then you’ll have to stop, clean your sprayer, and start again.

Related: 7 Ways to Prevent Orange Peel Texture When Using a Paint Sprayer

Taking the extra time to strain your paint will make your project look more professional. And avoid the hassle of stopping to clean your sprayer.

Paint can with debris that needs to be strained
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Should You Strain New Paint?

I have read that brand-new paint should be strained. I thought it was a ridiculous waste of time. It’s new paint. How could it have any debris in it?

As an experiment, I decided to try straining a can of new paint. After I strained the new paint, I found clumps at the bottom of the strainer. Now I’m a believer.

So yes, new paint should be strained too.

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What Can I Strain Paint Through?

  • Stockings, Panty Hose, Tights, etc.
  • Wire Mesh (Window Screen)
  • Cone Filter (also called a Paint Strainer or Paint Sieve)
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Paint Strainer Comparison Chart

StockingsWire MeshCone Filter
CostInexpensive or FreeInexpensive or FreeAbout 20¢/filter
Additional Equipment NoNoYes, Strainer Holder
Can Be ReusedYes, with Latex PaintsYes, with Latex and OilNo
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How to Strain Paint with Stockings

Supplies

  • Stockings/Panty Hose/Tights
  • Drop Cloth
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Clean Container

Step 1. Prepare the Area

Place a drop cloth on your worksurface to protect the surrounding area from any drips or spills.


Step 2. Prepare the Stockings

Stretch the stockings around the opening of the container. 

💡 TIP: You can use new or used stockings. The dollar store is a great place to buy inexpensive stockings. If the stockings are used, make sure they don’t have any holes or runs.

Stretching stockings over a container to use as a paint strainer

Make a fist and gently push the pantyhose down into the container. Be careful not to tear the material.

Pushing stockings into to container that will be used to strain paint

Step 3. Pour the Paint

Open the paint container and stir the paint. Then, slowly pour the paint into the stockings.

Don’t overfill the stockings and allow some time for the paint to drain into the container.

Remove the stockings. If you strained a water-based paint like latex paint, you can rinse the stockings and reuse them again.

Pouring paint into a container covered with stockings used to strain paint

How to Strain Paint with Wire Mesh

Supplies

  • Wire Mesh (Window Screen)
  • Drop Cloth
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Clean Container

Step 1. Prepare the Area

Place a drop cloth on your worksurface to protect the surrounding area from any drips or spills.


Step 2. Prepare the Wire Mesh

Position the wire mesh or window screen over a clean container or bucket. Then, gently press down in the middle of the screen.

💡 TIP: Fiberglass screen also works but it should be attached to the container so that it doesn’t fall into the container while pouring the paint.

Pushing wire mesh into to container that will be used to strain paint

Step 3. Pour the Paint

Open the paint container and stir the paint. Then, slowly pour the paint into the screen.

Don’t overfill the screen and allow some time for the paint to drain into the container.

Remove the screen, and clean it so that it can be reused. Use water for latex paints and use mineral spirits for oil-based paints.

Pouring paint into a container covered with wire mesh window screen used to strain paint

How to Strain Paint with a Cone Filter

Supplies

Step 1. Prepare the Area

Place a drop cloth on your worksurface to protect the surrounding area from any drips or spills.


Step 2. Prepare the Strainer Holder

Position the strainer holder over a clean container or bucket. Then, place a clean cone filter (also known as a paint sieve) in the holder.


Step 3. Pour the Paint

Open the paint container and stir the paint. Then, slowly pour the paint into the filter. 

Don’t overfill the filter and allow the paint to drain into the container.

Straining paint through a cone filter into a container

Final Thoughts

It’s important to strain paint to remove debris before brushing, rolling, and spraying. It’s easy ways to do with stockings, wire mesh or a cone filter.

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One Comment

  1. Long time ago, I learned that getting paint on the edge of the can where the lid is supposed to go makes a mess. It is hard to clean, waste of paint and when not completely clean makes a source of hard, dry paint. Go to the dollar store and purchase a small ladler that will easily fit through the opening of the can. Then use this ladle to transfer the paint from your can into the strainer. Use your brush to clean the excess paint that remains on the ladle and transfer it to whatever you are going to pain where you don’t want to spray.
    When you are painting with a brush, it helps to attach a piece of wire stretched across the top of the can that you can slide the loaded brush against to remove the excess and, thus, prevent drips. When the can gets past 3/4 full, there is enough paint can wall above the paint surface so you can touch the side of the can to leave the excess amount of paint that you may have picked up without having to worry about excess dripping off or getting the top of the can messy!

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