How to Save on Paint for Home and Craft Projects

Having a whole house to ourselves, Penelope and I often feel like a couple of kids when the parents are absent. We play fetch with the dogs in the hallways and let slobbery tennis balls bounce off the walls. We push furniture around and rearrange the rooms on impulse. We call every meal or break from work “a party.” We have whatever pets we like and don’t make them live outdoors. We are admittedly a bit rowdy and even play the piano and violin in the middle of the night (our house is a little apart from the neighbors). And instead of “birthdays,” we have “birthday weeks” wherein we take a week long holiday from work, feast on our favorite foods, and watch DVD’s which we order especially.

Not surprisingly, we, with the help of our rambunctious dogs (especially during their puppy teething stages), inflict a noticeable amount of wear and tear on our home and furniture and it is lucky for us that the distressed look is so popular nowadays. Nevertheless, we have a cabinet stocked with paints to keep our lifestyle on the romantic side of shabby and away from woefully distressed. We are constantly painting, decorating, patching, repairing, refinishing, and making things for our house. Over the years, we have developed some economical and efficient habits which we would like to share.


Thrift store chairs purchased for $5-15 each that we painted in our favorite colors

  • For both home or crafts Buy gallon size un-tinted latex/acrylic paint which costs less per ounce than small bottles of craft paint.
  • Mix your own colors by adding colored craft paint to white paint.
  • You can also purchase pigment to mix as much as you need for a project instead of buying a whole gallon of a certain color.
  • Save food containers with lids (such as yogurt and cream cheese tubs) for mixing and storing paint.


    Madoline’s closet bookshelf with rosy-pink wall.

  • Slightly water down paint for more even application (except with oil-based paint). You may end up doing an extra coat, but will use less paint overall. I find thin coats of paint more attractive.
  • Add water to keep leftover paint from drying up and store covered for several weeks. This paint can be used to paint matching decorations or mixed into new colors.
  • Instead of throwing away or donating leftover paint as instructed on the can (they want you to buy more) hammer the lid back down and store in a cool place. If very little paint is left, transfer to smaller container to minimize evaporation.
  • If you don’t want to use masking tape, carefully paint trims, edges, and corners of your walls with a small artist brush.
  • Keep pets and children away from wet paint and be sure to have sufficient ventilation.


Homemade cabinets

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5 thoughts on “How to Save on Paint for Home and Craft Projects”

  1. Another way to save if you aren’t married to a specific color is to check the mismatched/returned paints at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart. All three will take back paint that was obviously not matched correctly and will clearance out those returns to recoup some of their loss. You can typically get a gallon for $5 or less. How they resell the mismatches varies even between locations of the same chain, so you will want to ask at the paint counter when they put out their mismatches for sale. Some will put them out as they get them and others will put everything out once a week, creating a competition with contractors that like to pick through them for their jobs.

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