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5 Tricks for Tackling Leftover Paint Cans

If you’re like me, your home projects never end and you have buckets of mostly empty painot cans accumulating in various corners of your home. So how can you manage this clutter and what do you do with all this leftover paint? Here are some easy ideas for the most obsessive organizers among us (guilty!).


  1. Pick the right spot. Yes, it’s out of sight/out of mind to store your excess paint in the corner of a shed or garage. But if that place gets too hot, humid, cold with the changing seasons, you’ll be disappointed when you try to use that 3 year old bucket for touch ups and find that it has completely separated, with a bulging solid mass of color taking up most of the space and a thick oil slick on top. There is no salvaging this. Best to find an out of the way spot with at least some climate control. My fave recommendations: under the basement stairs or lined up in a utility closet.

  2. Don’t stack! Stacking the paint cans almost guarantees that you will never easily find what you want, and you are more likely to put off any touch ups. Depending on your space, use hanging wall shelves or a utility shelf system. I like to organize by floor of the house, with a space reserved for outdoor stain and paint. That way if you use one shade of white in the upstairs guest room and a different shade in the downstairs den, you won’t get them confused. Also, LABEL THE CAN with what you used it for (I.e. “mud room trim”). Trust me on this one!

  3. Size matters. Be practical. If you bought too much paint and you know You won’t use the color anywhere else, do you really need to save half a gallon just for touch ups? Unless it’s plain white/neutral or primer, I recommend purchasing empty pint cans and saving just that much for touch ups. Bonus, you won’t have a messy paint can that’s hard to properly seal after the lip has accumulated drips from pouring paint into a tray. make sure to label properly. If possible, transfer the store label to the lid or take a picture and store on or near the can in case you ever need more.

  4. Sometimes hoarding makes sense.If you’re doing a project and basically use the entire gallon with not enough to save, that’s good, right? less to store... Sure, but what happens when you need to do touch ups. Nothing worse than going to the store, getting the exact right finish and color, and finding out that’s it dries just a shade lighter/darker/shinier than the rest of your wall. So if it use the whole gallon, the next time I’m out I go to the exact store and buy a pint to store. Don’t go to a Lowe’s in the next town over just because you’ll be in the area. Theoretically, they should all provide identical paint colors, but I have found that the paint tinting machines are sometimes calibrated slightly differently, and The paint I buy in one location may not be an exact match. Very frustrating if you’ve just patched and painted over a hole in the middle of the wall...

  5. Get creative! Sometimes we have extra paint and we can get a little funky! I had extra white paint and this purple paint I bought for accents in our partially finished basement workshop/crafting space. I decided that since it’s a creative space basically for my daughter and I, that I could do some fun paint treatments. I used them to do a geometric block wall and an ombré wall.


What are some other fun things you can do with leftover paint?



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