How to Keep Paint Roller Tray From Drying Out

Think of your unpleasant scenarios as an expert or wannabe DIY painter. I bet you there’s a flaky or dried-up paint roller and tray on that list. Not only is it annoying, but it’s also a waste of paint and cash. So how do you avoid this headache?

To keep a paint roller tray from drying out, you can wrap your paint roller or tray in a kitchen garbage bag. Better still, if you’re using acrylic paint, you can place the tray in the fridge.

In this article, we cover the details of how wrapping and refrigerating trays can keep them dry. Read on for more.

How Long Does it Take for Paint Rollers to Dry?

paint roller sleeve in tray

The paint thickens as the solvent evaporates into the air, and the paint gradually dries up until it becomes flaky. Do all paints dry at the same rate?

Generally, it takes two hours for the paint to dry on a paint roller. However, different types dry at different rates. Oil-based paint dries up within six to eight hours, while water-based or latex paints dry within one hour. 

This means latex paints in paint roller trays will quickly dry up instead of oil-based paint. 

How to Keep Paint Roller Tray From Drying Out: A Step-By-Step Guide 

As a DIY painter, there are probably a lot of thoughts and questions on how to get things done without making a mess. 

How do you save a paint roller for the next day, a few days, or even more than a week? First of all, it’s easier than ever to keep your paint roller and tray from drying out.

Jump into the next section to see how it’s done. 

What to Do with Your Paint Roller Between Coats to Keep It from Drying Out

How do you maintain your paint rollers during a coat? Start with these steps:

Step 1: Coat the paint roller or brush with paint 

Sometimes, a paint job takes much longer than expected, especially when busy with other home activities. Before you take a break, coat your paint roller by rolling it once through the paint tray. Note that this step works best for very short intervals. 

Step 2: Cover the paint roller in a polythene bag 

This is a messy step since you need to cover the paint roller with nylon. Remember your main focus is to prevent moisture from evaporating off the roller or brush. 

Dip the paint roller in paint and pass a polythene bag between the roller and handle. Then, wrap it around the roller or brush until it’s airtight. 

Step 3: Temporarily store the paint roller and tray 

Dip the nylon-wrapped paint roller into the paint try. Now, cover both items with nylon wrapping to prevent the paint from drying out. Furthermore, place another cover, preferably a tarp, over them. 

Wait for the first coat to dry, unwrap the paint roller, and try to apply the next coat.  

How to Save a Paint Roller for the Next Day 

It is impossible to finish a large-scale DIY home project in just one day. Most times, you may need to reuse the paint the next day. So, how do you save your paint roller for the next day? 

Step 1: Dip the paint roller in a thick paint 

Here’s your target in this step: you want to prevent drying out the roller by using a thick paint coat. 

Step 2: Cover the paint roller with aluminum foil 

Aluminum traps moisture and prevents evaporation in most home projects. It’s why it’s a standard tool in baking or roasting food. 

Cover the paint roller with a 12-inch wide aluminum foil. It’s better to place the roller in a diagonal position on the aluminum foil; it lets you cover more parts of the roller.

Step 3: Wrap the foil around the paint roller 

Wrap the foil around the spongy part of the roller. Keep wrapping until it is airtight. Now, store the roller and reuse it again. 

Hold on! Where to store the paint roller and tray is another dilemma for most new DIY painters. 

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Where to Store Paint Rollers During or After Painting

where to store paint rollers during or after painting

Covering a paint roller in nylon is not enough to keep it fresh for longer hours. So, what do you do when you need to use it again the next day? 

You can start by storing paint rollers in the fridge. Yes, your fridge can help keep that paint roller fresh for quite a long time. 

Wrap the paint roller in aluminum foil or nylon, and place it in the fridge. Ensure that the nylon covering is airtight. The refrigerator helps to trap-in moisture and prevent it from drying out. 

Note that the freezer is not a storage option for preserving a paint roller and tray. It freezes the roller and destroys the paint residue on it. 

How Long Will a Paint Roller Last in the Fridge?

What if you can’t get back to your painting project right away? 

Fortunately, a paint roller will last quite a while in the fridge and stays fresh for up to four days. 

Furthermore, do not use the roller immediately after removing it from the refrigerator. Wait for two hours before use. 

Do You Wet a Paint Roller Before Use?

Yes, it helps if you wet the roller before reusing it. A dried-up paint roller will destroy your previous paint coat. Also, a wet paint roller soaks up more paint than a dry one. Here’s an important: do not wet your paint roller with water when working with oil-based paints

Remember, use only water when dealing with latex or water-based paints. Likewise, use mineral spirits or oil solvents to wet paint rollers during oil paint tasks. 

How to Wet and Prepare a Paint Roller Before Use 

Different types of paint require distinct preparation. Consider the following steps:

Oil-based Paints 

  1. Dip the dried-up paint roller in mineral spirit or other oil-based solvents;
  2. Pat down the roller using a paper towel or rag to remove excess liquid;
  3. Dispose of the oil-soaked paper towel or rag to avoid a fire outbreak;

Water-based Paint 

  1. Immerse the paint roller in a water container;
  2. Ensure it’s completely covered with water;
  3. Remove and remove excess moisture with a rag or paper towel;

Remember: The paint roller won’t absorb more paint if it’s saturated with water. 

Best Way to Clean a Paint Roller and Tray 

Using water or solvent-based solutions is one of the best ways of cleaning paint rollers and trays. 

Step 1: Gather the right materials for cleaning 

You will need a paint thinner, cleaning running water, an empty jar, and a plastic container for this step. 

Step 2: Prepare for cleaning 

Drain the remaining paint into the original plastic container. This is not only cost-effective, but it’s also an environmentally-friendly solution. Firmly close the paint container. For future reference, mark it with a dollop of paint. Also, add a tag to show the room where you used the paint.

Step 3: Dip the paint roller and tray into a compatible solution 

First, disassemble the paint roller, tray, or paintbrush and dip it into a water or solvent-based solution. Always use oil-based solvents to clean paint brushes or rollers used in oil painting. Likewise, you must use water to clean tools used in water or latex-based painting. 

Step 4: Clean the paint roller or brush 

Gently squeeze the roller into the solution to remove all paint residues. To remove oil paint residue from paint rollers, fill up a container with paint thinners like mineral spirits or acetone. 

Dip the roller or paintbrush into the solvent until the solvent takes on the paint color. Remove it and wash with liquid detergent under running water. This will break down the thinner and remove all remaining paint residue on the brush or roller. 

Step 5: Clean the paint tray 

Follow this step to avoid the stress of scraping off dried or clumped paint off your paint tray. Soak the paint tray in a suitable solvent and wait for a while. Let the solvent soften the dried paint and wash it away under running water. Repeat the process until it’s free of all residue. 

Voila! Your paint tools are ready for use again. 

Can I Put a Paint Roller and Tray in the Dryer? 

You would think putting a roller in the dryer would be a much more efficient way to dry it. However, it’s a major no-no.

Do not wash your paint roller in the dryer. The high heat from the dryer can destroy your paint roller, thereby making it unfit for painting. Most paint rollers contain plastic and cardboard. What’s more, you might even start a fire. 

So, always use a towel or old rag to remove moisture from paint rollers. Furthermore, place the roller in direct sunlight to remove all moisture and to get it ready for the next task. 


Why is it important to keep the paint roller tray from drying out? You get to save cost, remove the hassle of hiring a professional painter, and avoid a shoddy painting task. So, have fun while you create a masterpiece in your DIY painting.