Leftover Paint Lives to Tell Another Tale

Don’t let extra paint go to waste. Instead, try one of these 10 clever ways to put old paint to new use.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, leftover paint is the largest volume material collected by hazardous materials collection sites and costs local governments a lot of money to deal with. The EPA estimates that 10 percent of the house paint purchased each year ends up discarded. There’s got to be a better way. Whether your Athens panting contractor completed your residential painting project or you took the DIY approach, you are bound to have excess.

In a perfect world, you would know exact how much paint you’re going to need for a particular space, buy that precise amount, and use up every last drop. In the real world, you’re often left with extra paint and a dilemma: what to do with it? Should you let it sit in the attic, basement or garage for the next 5 years until it dries up? Take it to your region’s hazardous materials collection area? Well, these are the two most common scenarios.
Here are at 10 uses for leftover paint. How many of your own ideas can you add to this list?

1. Recycle.
Check Earth 911 for a recycling center in your town that accepts leftover paint, which is then mixed together and resold. The recycling center in my town sells most recycled paint in 5 gallon pails for a fraction of the cost of new paint. If you buy your house paint from such a center, you help the cycle continue.

2. Mix New Paint
You could blend your leftover paint to create a unique color. Make sure they are similar in composition: only mix water-based paint with water-based paint, for instance.

3. Get It Retinted.
If you have a good amount of light-colored paint leftover, you can take it to the paint store and have it retinted to another color that you desire for your Athens home.

4. Paint a Floor Cloth.

This project allows you to use several colors that have been used in your Athens home. You start with a length from a roll of painter’s canvas from the art store, fold and glue down a hem, strengthen it with several coats of gesso (canvas primer), add your colors in stripes, highlight with paint pens, top with several coats of urethane and you’ve got your floor cloth. Refresh urethane when it wears off. One bit of trivia: These were once made from old sail cloths.

5. Use for Base Coat.
If the leftover water-based paint is lighter than the top coat you need for a project, you can use your leftover paint as a base coat — especially if the existing wall color is dark. (This won’t work if the leftover paint is a dark color and the new top coat is a lighter color.)

6. Facebook It.

Let your friends and family know you have leftover paint and see if someone needs it for a project.

7. Freecycle It
Likewise, let your community know you have leftover paint by posting it on a site like Freecycle. Here’s how it works: You join a local Freecycle group, then post what you want to get rid of. You’ll often get a series of replies and you respond to the one you like and give instructions on how to pick up the paint. You might indicate that you’ll leave it on the porch or by the side of the house.

9. Make Your Own Artwork
By using colors already in your Athens home (the yellow from the kitchen, for instance, and the green from the window trim), your new artwork will already be color-matched just for you. You can buy paint tints at the art store to make your own colors.

10. Save It for Touch-Ups
This may be an obvious one, but If you have just a bit of paint left in a large paint can, you can transfer it to a tight-sealing glass jar and save it for touch ups later on. Latex paint is good for 10 years if stored properly in a cool dry place.