Why Does Paint Come in Metal Cans? [Explained!]

Since paint is a perishable product, it can start to deteriorate quickly if you fail to store it properly. So, it’s a must to follow the right path while storing the leftover paint. In that case, you might get confused because of other options like plastic containers.

But why does paint come in metal cans? Why metal is the most-used material in this case?

Storing paint in metal cans is the best way to keep the paint fresh. Metal cans provide an airtight seal that keeps oxygen out and prevents the paint from drying out or becoming discolored. Metal cans also prevent evaporation, so the paint will not become too thick to use.

Let’s scroll through the whole article to know all you might ask about the paint coming in metal cans.

Is It Better to Store Paint in Metal Or Plastic?

If you want 100% protection of your paint and want a paint can that withstands high temperatures, and that’s easy to recycle as well, metal cans should be your choice. But if you want something easier to carry, more durable to withstand dents and dings, and a cheaper option, plastic cans should be your pick.

However, you shouldn’t pick an option without knowing the full story because both metal and plastic containers have positive and negative insights.

If you’re in a hurry, this table will help you get a brief idea about metal cans vs plastic cans to store paint, we believe.

Comparison FactorsMetal CansPlastic Cans
Made FromTin-Plated SteelHigh-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
RecyclabilityEasier to recycle and deteriorate through a natural processNot as easy as metal
Temperature ToleranceThey can withstand extreme temperaturePlastic cans may melt, distort, or crack in high-temperature
ProtectionMetal cans offer a 100% barrier against air and light from outside Plastic cans don’t ensure 100% barrier
DurabilityLess DurableMore resistant to denting and damage in transport, use, and storage.
Price InsightsMore expensiveLess expensive

Now, let’s have a closer look at the individual pros and cons you can expect from metal and plastic cans for storing paint.

Product Protection

Metal cans offer more protection from sunlight and air. Oxygen can deteriorate paint so it’s crucial to keep the product from the air. And, plastic cans are not completely impervious to air and light so manufacturers use metal cans to prevent product migration.

Cans or containers that cannot prevent the introduction of contaminants and exposure to extreme temperatures (especially freezing) are the enemies of paint. So, no matter which can you use, make sure you seal it properly after each use.

Temperature Tolerance

Hence, again, metal cans win. Metal cans are more heat-resistant compared to plastic. They can retain their strength even under extremely high temperatures whereas plastic containers can melt, distort, or crack pretty easily. However, there is heat-resistant plastic as well. So, if you can find paint in a heat-resistant plastic container, you can go for it.


Most metal cans are easier to recycle than plastic cans. In the United States, the recycling rate of metal cans is 68% whereas the percentage is only 3% when it comes to plastic cans.

Steel and aluminum are two materials that are probably the easiest things to recycle in the world. Also, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint because you’re an eco-conscious person, using metal cans is one of the easiest ways to go green.

Plastic usage is becoming more discouraged because it’s not an eco-friendly element and creates several risks to people and the planet. The recycling process of plastic is more complex because it leads to degradation.

Size Options

Another compelling reason why most manufacturers use metal cans to store paint is metal cans offer a lot of size options. You’ll get a wide range of forms and sizes when it comes to metal cans. No matter if it’s a paint can, aerosol can, metal tuber, or beverage can, metal cans offer a wide range of options than plastic cans.


Metal cans are heavier than plastic, however. For this, plastic cans are easier to carry. And, yes, this is one of the reasons you can say plastic cans are better than metal (if the ease of carrying is your top priority).

Rust and Damage

Here’s another valid reason why some manufacturers prefer using plastic cans to metals for storing paint. Metal cans are prone to rust over time and they are more susceptible to damage during transportation and handling compared to plastic cans.

Although, the exterior of a metal can is rust-resistant, in most cases. Still, the interior tends to impede corrosion in the long run.

Rust contaminates paint, and to prevent this from hap

  • Metal paint cans can be difficult to open and close without damaging the lid.
  • You can stack them much more easily than metal paint cans.
  • Plastic containers are less expensive because they don’t need a liner opening, you will need to line the metal can with material like resin (epoxy) or wax paper. This will create a barrier between the steel and the paint, protecting it from moisture and corrosion.
  • And, plastic cans are easy to handle and transport because there is less chance of dents and dings.
  • Other worth-mentioning factors are:
  •  as metal paint cans do.

So, both metal and plastic containers come with their individual pros and cons, as you can see from the above-mentioned set of information.

If you want to store paint, make sure you calculate the pros and cons along with your needs and requirements and choose one option that’s best suited for you.

Can Metal Paint Cans be Tin Coated?

Tin-coated steel is a type of steel that has been coated with a thin layer of tin. This process gives the steel a number of benefits, including improved corrosion resistance and greater wear resistance. Tin-coated steel is often used in applications where these properties are important, such as in food cans, paint cans, and automotive body panels. The coating also makes the steel more aesthetically pleasing, giving it a shiny silver finish.

Does Paint in Cans Expire?

Paint in cans does expire, but it depends on the type of paint and how it is stored. Water-based paints have a shorter shelf life than oil-based paints, so if you have water-based paint that is more than 10 years old, it is best to discard it. However, oil-based paints can last up to 15 years if they are stored properly. If your paint cans are exposed to extreme temperatures or sunlight, the paint may start to degrade sooner.


There are a few reasons why paints come in metal cans. For one, metal is strong and durable, so it can withstand the weight of the paint and the pressure of being shipped without leaking or bursting.

It’s also non-reactive, so it won’t interact with the paint chemicals and affect their quality or performance. And finally, it’s easy to recycle once you’re done with your project. So next time you pick up a can of paint, take a moment to appreciate all the benefits that come along with that little metal container.

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