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How to Get Rid of Leftover Paint

5 Things to Do With Leftover Paint

We're excited to present a post from guest writer, eco lifestyle expert, and all-around awesome guy Danny Seo. Today, he's here to offer some smart tips on how to use up the leftover housepaint you may be hoarding!


Of all the homes I've renovated, redecorated, and organized, if there is one thing that I see hoarded over and over again are cans of old paint. Stashed away in the hall closet, covered in dust in the garage, or hidden behind boxes in the basement, old paint is something we feel we have no choice but to hoard because we really have absolutely no idea what to do with it. In most communities, it's actually illegal to toss cans of paint in the household trash. And those rare collection days where you can drop it off with your household hazardous trash? Oversleep or miss it and you could face months (if not another year) of holding onto gallons of leftover primer.

Here are my top 5 ideas on what to do with leftover paint:

  1. Stop overbuying. If you go into a paint store and guess-timate how much paint you need, most of us overbuy on purpose because we'd rather be safe than sorry when tackling the weekend paint job. The trick is to buy as close as possible to the exact amount you need. To do that, use an online paint calculator at Lowes.com that calculates the measurements of the room and tells you exactly how much paint — both primer and regular paint — down to the quart you'll need.
  2. Save touch-up paint. Leftover paint should be saved for touch-ups when you need to repair dings and scratches on the wall. Leaving paint in their existing cans can be a recipe for disaster, since mold can grow inside and paint can easily go bad. Instead, repurpose air tight food containers for paint. Pour leftover paint inside the container, seal it closed with a tight fitting lid, and mark the outside in Sharpie pen what room it corresponds with. If you still have leftover paint, try this next tip . . .
  3. Let it dry out. Leave cans of leftover unwanted paint open to air dry out. This can take a few days to a few weeks depending on the humidity and temperature it is outside. Leave them somewhere where children or wild animals can't get into them, like on a shelf in the garage. Once they are dry, the paint should pop out in a hard disc that can be safely tossed into the trash. The paint can itself can be added to your curbside recycling bin.
  4. Make chalkboard paint. If you have lots of random cans of latex paint in a variety of colors, mix them all together in a large, clean bucket to make one uniform color. Add a few tablespoons of powdered grout (from the tile section at the home improvement store) and mix well. Voilà! Instant chalkboard paint.
  5. Try FreeCycle. The Craiglist for free stuff connects people with unwanted stuff with people who need it. This is a last resort, but sometimes posting a notice that you have a few gallons of good quality leftover paint could attract someone to come claim it and use it. Offer to throw in some paint brushes, rollers, and a leftover tray or two, and you might incentivize it enough for someone to click reply and get your old paint stash.

Source: Flickr Users LOLren and Ben Demey

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Vovo-AiAi Vovo-AiAi 4 years
Muito boas ideias!  
Elka-Karl Elka-Karl 4 years
 @everythingin3s Great advice, thanks for telling us about this new resource!
everythingin3s everythingin3s 4 years
Danny, Check out www.recyclereuserepaint.com  The Paint Exchange.  My good friend, Katharine Brown, started a company that recycles old paint.  I just bought 3 gallons from her to re-do a bathroom and a bedroom!  Unfortunately, The Paint Exchange will only recycle paint locally (in the state of Massachusetts), but for all you readers who want to learn how to properly dispose of paint (without harming the environment) check out their site.
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