How to Store Your Paints

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In a previous article I discussed issues to consider in creating the optimal miniature paint organization system for your specific needs. I mentioned there that the options you have for paint storage factors into your choice of organization system. In this article I’ve collected ideas for a wide variety of paint storage options. You’ll find storage suggestions for walls, desks, and drawers, as well as portable and pack away options.

IMG 2659Storing your paints dragon-hoard style is emotionally satisfying, but not super practical.

Cross-Train

My first tip is to suggest that when you are looking for paint storage options, do not confine your search to miniature paint specific products or miniature hobby vendors. There are a lot of other hobbies and crafts that use small bottles of material and have similar storage needs. Alcohol ink dropper bottles, nail polish jars, and essential oil bottles are often similar size to hobby paints. Spice containers vary in size, but spice racks are another option to consider. Many spice jars are similar in size to craft paint bottles if you have a lot of those in your paint collection. 

Size does matter in this area, so measure the dimensions of the tallest and widest paint containers you wish to store so you can check those against the product dimensions. The difference in height between a Reaper dropper bottle and a Vallejo dropper bottle is only a few millimetres, but there are containers that accommodate the former and not the latter.

IMG 2484Racks, trays, cases – there are a lot of options!

If you look on Amazon or other sites that allow purchasers to create product reviews, I recommend scanning through the reviews. When I was doing product searches I noticed a number of non-hobby marketed products that had reviews from miniature painters assessing how well the product works for miniature paint storage.

If you prefer to shop local and in person, you have options in addition to your local game store (but do support your local good game stores!) You might also want to check out stores that focus on storage/organization, crafts, cooking, or office supplies. In the United States this includes stores like the Container Store, Joann’s, and Michaels. You will likely find fewer options in stores than online, but there is a huge advantage to being able to study an option in person so you can verify whether the form and measurements fit your needs. You can even bring a couple of paint bottles along with you for testing.

Notes and Caveats

Later in this article you will find pictures and links to paint storage product options. In large part I am trying to share ideas more than specific products. Different parts of the world have availability to different options. If you can’t find a specific product, it is my hope that you can use the general name and photo shown here as a jumping off point for finding something similar to meet your needs.

Generally speaking I linked to products with good pictures. I did not research manufacturers or vendors for the most trust-worthy option. I did not check prices or seek to link to the lowest priced version of something. Prices can vary considerably from vendor to vendor, and prices and product offerings change constantly on Amazon and similar markets. I’m sharing links only to give you ideas, not to recommend a specific option. I definitely recommend doing some searches to find the best price you can from a vendor you trust.

Please note that I intend no personal recommendation or endorsement of a product or vendor unless I explicitly state otherwise. I’m sharing a lot of items off Amazon because I found them there. I am not suggesting that Amazon is the best or only vendor option! I am not an Amazon affiliate. There are no sponsors or advertisers for this article. I have not and will not receive any benefit for featuring a product here or for anyone’s purchase of a product featured here.

TLDR: This is more of a look-book. It is not a Consumer Reports style review of the best prices, makers, or sellers.

IMG 0987Sometimes the box paint sets came in can work for storage/organization, but often it’s not a great solution either.

Do It Yourself

If you’re like me and not very handy, but you’re also on a tight budget, there are some fairly simple and inexpensive DIY options. Foam core board is an easy to use and inexpensive material that might allow you to customize some basic boxes/bins/shelves/drawers to work well for miniature paint storage. I’m going to include some video links here to give you some ideas.

Video 1: simple desk rack with very inexpensive supplies.

Video 2: desk rack from foam core. Part 1, part 2, part 3.

Video 3: single slot rack from PVC pipe.

Video 4: cheap cardboard option if you have more time than money.

If you’re a hardcore DIYer with shop tools, a laser cutter, or a 3D printer, I am not qualified to offer you advice. :-> This is an example of a hobby station DIY that is way beyond my abilities, and here is an example of a custom paint shelf. You may find some ideas by looking through the commercially available options listed below. I recommend trying to connect with other DIYers for ideas on message groups and forums with your preferred DIY medium.

Individual or Subset Storage

Whether for desks, walls, drawers, or portable containers, storage options can be divided between those that store paints individually, and those that store paints in larger subsets like an open shelf or divider area. There are of course pros and cons to both! Organizers with individual slots keep things very neat and tidy. They are particularly helpful with portable options where they prevent paints getting jumbled up during storage and transport. Individual slot options often present paint bottles in such a way that you can more clearly see the label and/or the colour of the contents. The downside is that you lose a lot of space to the organizer structure itself. Most slotted storage options also assume that all of your paint containers are the same shape and size. Compare the two shelf units below for an example. You can cram more paints and bottles of different sizes onto the open style shelves on the left, but it’s hard to see the bottles in the back row, and you can’t see the colours of everything quite as easily as with the individual slot shelves on the right.

Shelf comp

 

One Stop Shopping

The online vendor Fantization has a section for paint storage options that includes a number of different desk, wall, and portable systems from a variety of manufacturers. Since the offerings may change over time, I’m going to include a link to that section of the store rather than to individual products.

Etsy offers a plethora of options for miniature paint storage.

Desk Options

Rack paintierI used three of these Paintier racks on my desk for years. There’s a shorter model as well. The shelves have slight indents around the outer rim that hold bottles and tubs of paint securely, but you can also store painters or other hobby items on the inner area of the shelves.Rack amazonWith desktop racks a wider base like that of this Amazon Basics rack adds stability.

 

Rack tier

The Tinctor paint organizer. For anyone curious about the tool holder to the left, some of the slots are small enough to hold a typical miniature painting brush upright, others are not. I have one of these, but I bought it for oil paint brushes. Even those most of those handles are larger in diameter, not all the slots hold them upright, either. If you’re interested in one of these, do a search for ‘silicone brush holder” online

 

Rack spinSearch for cosmetic or makeup organizer to find a lot of variations on spinning rack storage that accommodates bottles of varying sizes.

Wall Options

If you decide to mount wall racks to your walls, I recommend getting the strongest drywall anchors you can. Between the weight of the case and the paints you put on it, you’ll be putting a fair amount of weight on your wall!

Rack vallejoVallejo paint rack

 

Rack azure2The Azure rack. I advise comparing the dimensions and costs of various nail polish rack options as I think you will find some at a lower price than this.

IMG 2427 editThis is a picture of my paint wall. These are eight nail polish racks mounted on the wall. The shelves of mine are narrower than the one in the picture above, but accommodate Reaper and Vallejo bottles, and Citadel and Privateer Press style pots. They also fit 2oz craft bottle style paints, but only on the top shelf. (I could have spaced out the top row of racks from the bottom row to create additional storage for that size of bottle.) The shelves within each unit are too close together to fit them on lower shelves. I’m not sure if this product is the same as the one I bought, but it looks very similar, and there are numerous similar ones for sale.

Drawer Options

If you have drawers in your painting area, drawer organizers are a great way to make keeping paint in drawers more feasible. You could use foam board for a DIY solution if pre-made ones don’t seem like they’ll fit.

Rack drawerThis one is on Etsy. I did not find anything exactly like this on Amazon.

Rack drawer2This option from Stamp n Storage is designed for alcohol inks bottles, which are very similar in size to miniature paint dropper bottles. It fits a few different styles of drawer.

Rack drawer3Most drawer dividers are not designed for individual bottle storage, but breaking bottles up into smaller groups should still help keep your paints well organized. This one offers a lot of customization to both the size of your drawers and the size of the compartments.

 

Rack drawer4This one is a set of trays fitted with dividers. This would allow you to remove an entire tray of paint from your drawer to use on your work surface I suspect the trays are also stackable for a more of an open shelf solution. I believe this specific product is tall enough to accommodate dropper bottles, but recommend that you measure both your drawer and any organizer you purchase to verify that it will fit your bottles.

Rack drawer5The most easily found drawer dividers run from back to front of drawers and are adjustable in length. A search on Amazon should find options in bamboo and other materials. This set is from Walmart.

Portable Options

There are a few purpose made portable paint stations available, as well as more generic craft/hobby options.

Most of the purpose made stations allow you to store a selection of paints, a few tools/brushes, and a few miniatures. I’ve even seen some equipped with lights! If you’re low on space but have a bit of money, it’s worth looking into. I’m including links to some of the options I’m aware of, but these tend to be made by small companies that can come and go. Note that I have no personal experience with any of these products or their vendors, and I am not recommending or endorsing any specific product or vendor. I did pledge on the Studio X Kickstarter, and will share my opinions of the product once I receive it. I recommend that you also try search terms like ‘portable miniature paint’,  ‘portable miniature station’, and ‘portable miniature studio’ to discover other options that might be available. I also recommend that you check Kickstarter updates/comments and do a general search for reviews to gain more information about the vendor and how consumers feel about the products.

Rack portableFrontier Wargaming’s The Paint Case 2.0. Link below.

Frontier Wargaming offers a few different models of portable paint stations, and some accessories for them to customize your station even further.

The Blue Shark Studio store on Etsy also has a few different options.

Troll Manufacturing on Etsy also has a selection of different cases on offer.

Plydolex offers desktop paint racks, and is also accepting pre-orders for a portable paint case.

Warmage is also accepting orders for their portable paint case (German site).

Mini Master Werks is accepting late pledges for its portable paint studio.

There are other more generic hobby/craft options. I’m including some paint carrying cases below, but if you’re interested in something that can accommodate additional supplies, try doing searches on ‘craft tote’ and ‘rolling craft tote’. The term ‘tackle box’ will give you a lot more search result options than just fishing gear.

Rack soft foam
This dropper bottle storage case is designed for alcohol inks. I’ve seen similar products marketed for essential oils, so you should have a few different options if you like this style of case. In this video someone demonstrates using this case as part of a small portable home painting station solution.

Rack case foamHere’s a similar case, but in clear hard plastic dropper bottle storage.

 

Rack caseThis clear plastic briefcase style case is an open compartment. Options with dividers may exist, but be sure to confirm that height matches your tallest bottles! You could probably fit something like this with some of the drawer dividers from the drawer section, or make your own dividers with foam board. 

6 thoughts on “How to Store Your Paints”

  1. I have the first version of the Frontier Wargaming case, and it proved quite useful at ReaperCon. Shipping from Latvia was quite fast, even early on in the pandemic. I wish that the wood was a little thicker, but otherwise, I’m happy with the case. I suggest getting extra paint drawers.

    I also have a couple of the essential oils cases. Those are pretty handy too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! It is always so helpful to hear from people who are using a specific product what they think of it.

      Like

  2. I have several GameCraft miniatures paint racks (similar to the Amazon Basics standing rack). I modified them so I could hang them on an IKEA pegboard system I attached to my wall. I like that the racks store the paint horizontally, so I can store more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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