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10 Uses For Leftover Paint

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.

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

1. 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.

2. 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 house.

3. Paint a Floor Cloth
This project allows you to use several colors that have been used in your house. 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.

4. Use It for a 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.)

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

6. 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.

7. Paint Small Projects
You can experiment with painting flower pots or a mailbox with your leftovers. One idea is to mix sand with the paint for a textured look. This is purely experimental, so proceed with caution. But have some fun and get creative!

8. Make Your Own Artwork
By using colors already in your house (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. The paintings you see here were made from blank canvases from the art store that got texture from thick gesso and then top coated. You can buy paint tints at the art store to make your own colors.

9. Store It for Future Use
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.
Leftover paint can be useful for touch-ups and repainting when the time comes. Free up storage space and transfer paint from large cans to small airtight containers. Don't forget to label each container; note the color and the room where the paint was used, plus the manufacturer's identification number.

10. Recycle
Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Call a local paint contractor; many will be happy to take the cans off your hands. Some charities may accept paint donations too, especially those that help the elderly with home renovations. Check Earth 911 for a paint recycling center that accepts leftover paint, which is then mixed together and resold. Recycling centers often sell 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.

If all these strategies fail, make sure to dispose of the paint safely.


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