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Great Tips For Using Leftover Paint

Great Tips For Using Leftover Paint

By Sherwin-Williams
Photographs courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

As paint users we should properly manage and if necessary dispose of leftover paint. To minimize clutter and avoid spills or unsafe disposal, it is important to consider ways to limit paint waste. Here are some tips for cleaning up after staining or painting your deck.

Always consult your local city or environmental regulatory agency first for guidance on disposal options. Do not pour paint down a drain or into a storm sewer. The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but improper disposal of paint can pollute the environment and may pose a threat to human health and natural resources.

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1. Buy The Right Amount Of Paint

Estimate the amount of paint needed by measuring the area to be painted and calculate the gallons to be used. Review the coverage area set forth on the Product Data Sheet of the product you have purchased.

2. Store Properly

After you finish your project, leftover paint should be sealed and stored in an area that will protect it from damage, freezing and temperatures above 95°F. Make sure that any leftover paint is out of reach of children and pets.

3. Saving For Future Use

Leftover paint can be used for touch up or other creative projects. You can also experiment and mix colors for small projects.

4. Donate

You can donate leftover paint to a friend, neighbor, school or charitable organization in need of paint. You can use social media to offer it to your friends or to find a local person or organization in need of paint. Pass it on!

5. Recycle

PaintCare is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, established by the American Coatings Association to implement state-mandated paint stewardship programs on behalf of paint manufacturers in states that adopt a paint stewardship law. PaintCare is currently running programs in California, Connecticut, and Oregon, and planning programs in Rhode Island, Minnesota, Vermont, and Maine. It is anticipated that more states will adopt paint stewardship programs in the future.

If you live in a different state, you may visit to search for a paint recycling center. Please note that paint recycling facilities may not currently exist in your area.

6. Disposal

a. Latex Paint

If there is not another management option, latex paint can be dried with absorbent material such as cat box filler, shredded newspaper or sawdust. Never throw away leftover liquid paints in your trash. Once it's dry, dispose of the dried out latex paint as solid waste. Please note that the state of California does not permit the treatment of latex paint waste including air drying. Instead, locate a PaintCare location for recycling your leftover paint or a disposal company.

b. Solvent-based Paint

Solvent-based paints are ignitable and present additional hazards to the environment from the solvents. Save solvent-based paints for a household hazardous waste collection program or contact your local/state government environmental protection agency for guidance on reuse or disposal of unwanted solvent-based paint products. States with PaintCare will collect and properly dispose of leftover solvent-based paint.

For more information go to: and

This document is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice or guidance by anyone. Contact your local regulatory agencies or municipalities for proper methods of disposal of paint and paint-related materials.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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