Quick tip: Extend the shelf life of Tamiya paints

Tamiya's acrylic paints are usually my first choice when it comes to painting a model. Not only do they airbrush well, but their jars are good quality as well. Have you noticed how Tamiya jars are different from other acrylics in a jar? Their lids are different, and these lids require slightly different treatment. But don't worry, with one simple change in  how you handle the lids, you 1) will improve the jar's seal, 2) will clean the lid less often (if ever), 3) won't spend a penny, 4) will extend the life of your Tamiya (and other brands with similar lids) paint.

The simple solution

What is the simple secret to extending the shelf life of Tamiya paint? The key is: don't turn the lid upside-down when you remove it and set it on your work bench. While this tip is simple in execution, it takes a little bit of explaining.

Like many modelers, I started modeling as a kid. Back then, the default choice of paint was Testor's enamels in a jar. Whenever I opened a jar of enamel, I would turn the lid over and place it on my workbench. Why did I do that? I have no idea. I was never taught that habit. I probably did this to prevent paint from dripping onto my workbench. When I got back into the hobby and discovered different brands of paints, habit took over and I kept automatically turner over the paint caps whenever I removed them. Turning the lid over may work fine for lids with paper inserts. But with Tamiya's lids, turning them over gets paint into the wrong places and prevent the lid from making a proper seal.

How Tamya's lids are different

Tamiya's lids have a plastic insert (aka liner). This insert appears similar to the Polyseal cone liners seen on other types of screw caps. Alclad II lacquers have the cone liners, and I'm sure other paints do as well. This tip should work with all of them. Plastic inserts are far superior to the cheap paper inserts used by Testors. Both the Tamiya insert and the cone liners seem to work by the same principle. The insert forms a seal on the inside and the top of the bottle's neck.

Below: On the right is a Tamiya cap and liner. The left shows the liner by itself attached to the bottle. The liner can easily be removed by prying it out.

These liners are also the reason why Tamiya's lids should not be turned upside down when you remove them. The image below shows why.

Please excuse my crude drawing. I have no drawing skills so I created the image with a vector drawing program. What you see is a cross-section of a Tamiya cap and insert, both of which are represented in black.

On the left, I have drawn the correct way to set the cap down. Note how gravity (arrows) draws the paint (red) away from the sides of the lid. The paint will probably drip onto your workbench, so set it on a paper towel. On the right, I have drawn the cap turned over. Note how gravity draws the paint down into the part of the liner that forms the seal with bottle. This is exactly where the paint should not go. Getting paint where the seal forms will interfere with the seal and cause the paint to dry out.

There you have it. By not turning over your lined paint cap, you keep the paint from accumulating on the parts that make an air-tight seal. I figured this out more than a year ago. At first, I thought my idea was too simple to make a difference. But over the past year or so I have re-trained myself to not turn the cap over; not even for an instant. Since then, the lip on the bottle has remained clean and the paint does not accumulate and dry out. As a result, I have not had a single jar of paint become stuck with dried paint. Plus, I never have to wipe out the inside of the lid.



I like the tip Chris! Like you I just always turned them over like I always have since the dawn of time. Guess this gives me a new perspective on how to handle the lids.


Thanks Chris! That makes a

Thanks Chris! That makes a tremendous amount of sense. Hopefully now I will have fewer jars that can only be opened after immersion in hot water, application of pliers, etc. (: