Why are paint caps made like this?


Well-known member
I was going to post this last month but forgot.
I dropped one my Grumbacher tubes and noticed the top of the lid was now cockeyed when I picked it up. And of course when I gave it a twist to open it the last tabs snapped…

Now for those of you who never examined one of these lids. Instead of being molded in one piece the top of the lid is connected to the threaded collar by only 4 small plastic tabs. These tabs take all the stress if over tightened or in this case dropped and if one or 2 of them snap then the remaining ones will follow when you give the cap a twist.
I’m not sure if its just a grumbacher thing or if other companies do it as well but is there any benefit to making caps this way?
I think all companies have problematic caps. I use a lot of Gamblin and they have leaky/braking issues too. An inventor of a good cap for oil tubes may make millions.
Why? I can’t think of any good reason for the artists. For the MFGs, lower quality usually equals lower cost. Years ago the caps were metal.
I understand cheaper and easier manufacturing. But these lids are basically 2 parts held together with the 4 tabs. That’s gotta be more complicated to make then molding one completely solid lid.
That leads me to wounder if there’s a benefit either for the paint storage or for manufacturing by doing it this way?
I see your point. It is a conundrum. Sparks my interest as I’ve always liked finding design problems and looking for solutions. Perhaps it has something to do with the steps in Mfg? Maybe the threads are cut (rather than part of a casting) and then the top of cap attached? Although that does seem more complicated. Maybe a factor of speed in mfg process?
Windsor and Newton .. 200 ml tubes .. never a problem.
I stopped painting for a long time. I have WN paints that are 20 plus years not opened. And everyone was perfect. One or two I had to put a little paint thinner around the edge of the cap. I was very surprised.
Some asshat probably figured out they could save .000000003 cents on plastic per cap by making them this way, and then sold the idea to the shareholders as "environmentally friendly retooling".
I stopped painting for a long time. I have WN paints that are 20 plus years not opened. And everyone was perfect. One or two I had to put a little paint thinner around the edge of the cap. I was very surprised.
I have a lot of my grandmothers old paints. Mostly 37mm grumbacher, shiva, and w&n. Some are from the 60 and 70s.
A few of them have splits in the lid but the paint in them was still fine after decades. Some others have the threads striped out on either the lid or on the tube itself but they can still be pushed on and off and once again the paint was fine.
I think all the brands were just better made in the past.
I've never had this problem with any of my watercolour tubes but I have with my System3 acrylics - it's really frustrating! If the thread's still attached to the cap I put a bit of cling film over the end and screw the damaged cap back on, it seems to stop them drying out.
In case you faced Daler-rowney Georgian tubes. same problem. i have another oils Polish brand with different cap, same problem.
these cheap are toys.
Liquitex years ago went to a much larger different kind of cap on their lines of acrylics that I found far easier to use and far harder to break. Wish everyone followed suit. But shaving mili-pennies off large plastic runs is the price we pay for lower prices, it seems.
Mr. Fix-It here with a handy tip: Use a wire nut to replace those broken caps. I no longer have oils, but I looked at my acrylic tubes and found the threaded necks come in three different sizes, at least. Here are WN Galeria, Duro and WN Finity...the red thing is a wire nut:


Finity is smallest:



When the cap's broken and you can't fix it, you can find these at any hardware store, probably sell them individually. A much better grip than that little cap. They come in various sizes. The Big Box In The Sky sells them 500 for $20. Share them with your friends.
Thanks so much for this, Zen! That has got to work better than the piece of foil currently covering one of my tubes.