I mentioned in my post on upgrading a kitchen island with paint that I like to buy “oops” paints to save on costs. Since I also recently bought a five-gallon bucket of colored exterior house paint for fifty dollars, I thought I’d pass on some tips on buying cheap house paint exactly the color you want without sacrificing quality.
Buy Miss-Tint Paints
Every hardware or paint store that I know of sells “miss-tint” or “oops” paints. These are quarts, gallons, or five-gallon buckets of house paint that someone bought and then didn’t like the color of. So the paint gets set aside in some corner until someone like me comes in and asks for “oops” paints. I think I do this every time I go into a hardware store. Just checking out what colors they have, you know. In case I need a fuchsia colored door one day.
These miss-tinted house paints are usually very cheap. And also high quality. People that can afford to buy a whole new gallon of paint are also the kind of people who can afford to buy good paint. Which is another plus for shopping for oops paints.
Buy Used Paints
I don’t know if they have a Habitat Re-Store where you are, but in my town there are several home improvement recycle-type warehouses, including Habitat Re-Store, a few thrift stores, and Pakit Liquidators (appropriate name) that sell almost-full cans of house paint.
These are my second favorite places to buy paint. The quality can be all over the place, but they let you open the cans, stir the paint around and see for yourself if the paint is any good. Sometimes you can tell the paint has been sitting around for ten years. That’s the stuff you don’t buy, ok? But then there are cans of paint that look freshly mixed. I’m tempted to buy these paints no matter what color they are because they cost $1 a quart. You never know when you might need a chartreuse table…
Now I’ve discovered a new reason to buy these quarts of paint. That’s so you can mix your own house paint color to get exactly the color you want.
Mix Your Own House Paint Color and Save a Bundle
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The five-gallon bucket of paint I mentioned above was very light grey. We’ve been wanting to paint our house grey, so I bought the paint thinking it was exactly the color we wanted. Unfortunately, when I painted a swatch on a wall, the paint turned out to be almost white. Fortunately, the paint turned out to be almost white—which means I had a whole lot of leeway for mixing in other colors to get the greenish-grey that I wanted.
I’m not afraid of mixing colors. I was trained as an artist, so I know what direction I need to go (ish) to get the paint color I want.
This is where Habitat Re-Store came in really handy.
First I bought a quart of dark blue/black paint, mixed it in, and painted a swatch on my garage wall. It was too blue. Then I bought a quart of olive green (which has a lot of yellow), mixed it into my five gallon bucket, painted a swatch of it next to the previous swatch of color and noticed that it hadn’t changed much. Off I went for more green colored paint until I finally got it the tone and color I wanted.
My final cost? Fifty five dollars for five+ gallons of perfect green-grey paint!
I must stress here that when you’re mixing house paints, you have to mix like with like. Mix exterior with exterior paint; interior with interior paint. Mix satin with satin, flat with flat.
And as for picking colors…
I realize not everyone has a trained eye for color, so the paint box above is a little flash program (designed by :torweg and by permission from Pelikan) that you can use to see what colors you need to add in to get the final color you want. Play with it a lot before you spend any money on paint. It’ll save you a ton in the end.
By the way, you MUST visit Pelikan’s website. If you think this little interactive paint mixing tool is cool, check out all their articles such as those on making your own paints and dyes out of veggies.
And here’s a friend’s related article on oops paints. Great minds think alike!