Think All of That Old Paint is a Goner? Think Again!
Preserve the Life of Your Leftover Paint
Do you have a collection of paint cans gathering dust in the garage? Chances are they have been there for several years and you may not even remember which paint colors go with what rooms. Collections are awesome when they provide pleasure and even monetary benefits. But a jumbled assortment of splattered cans usually just brings you down.
The first task is to determine if the paint is still good. Chances are, if it hasn’t been subjected to freezing temps it will be. Latex paint has a 10-year shelf life and solvent-based paint can last up to 15 years. Test your paint by stirring and brushing it onto newspaper or cardboard, whatever is handy. If it is lump free is should be good.
Now do your inventory. Keep at least enough paint for touch-ups. To save shelf space and protect the remaining paint from air, transfer it into smaller airtight containers, cover with a piece of plastic wrap (this helps ensure a tight seal) and put on the lid. A mallet works better than a hammer to seal the lid as hammers can dent the rim. To further protect the lid try placing a towel or shop rag over the lid to absorb the impact. Label the container with the name of the color, what room it is for, the brand, and the color formula from the original label in case you want to match it exactly in the future. Store in a cool, dry area and up off of the floor to prevent the bottom from rusting.
If you’re like a lot of people, you may have moved a time or two, and in the ensuing confusion, brought along paint you no longer need. Once you have sorted through the colors, don’t toss your unwanted paint. It’s considered a household hazardous waste material and must be disposed of in a specific manner.
If you end up with a fair amount of unwanted leftover paint, consider donating it. Your favorite community theatre group or church may be in need, or check out www.Paint.Earth911.org for a recycling center near you. If you’re only left with the dregs, here is the scoop on what to do.
Latex Paint Disposal
- Pour unused paint into an absorbent material (cat litter, shredded newspaper, sawdust)
- Allow it to dry completely
- Dispose of dried material in your regular trash container
Solvent-Based Paint Disposal
- DO NOT pour paint down household drains, on the ground, or into storm drains. Paint can contaminate drinking water and waterways
- Contact local/state government Environmental Protection Agency for Household Waste Collection Days, or for the address of collection sites to drop off unwanted paint
Whether you’re keeping the paint or getting rid of it, taking the necessary steps to get organized and store it properly will serve you greatly over time. Disposing of paint properly will serve everyone for many years to come.