Plans for Leftover Paint

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What to do with leftover paint can be quite the conundrum. What are the chances you will use it again for another project? Do you have space to store leftover paint in the meantime? How do you dispose of paint you no longer want or need?

Since paint can have a negative impact on the environment, proper storage and disposal are essential. In order to determine what options you have for old paint, it is key that you first know what type of paint it is. You should also familiarize yourself with local laws in your area and what they require be done with excess paint. Since this varies from one location to the next, a little research will be necessary on your part to ensure you are doing the right thing.

Oil based paint does not hold up well to long periods of storage and is thus not always suitable for further use. Since oil based paints are toxic, flammable, and contain harmful components (solvents, pigments, and resins), they have come to be considered Hazardous Household Waste (HHW). Oil based paints can be recognized by such wording on the label but may also be called 'Alkyd.' Further identification of oil based paint comes in the form of instructions that advise cleaning brushes with mineral spirits or turpentine after use. Oil based paints made prior to 1978 may also contain lead. As a result of these factors, oil based paints must be taken to disposal facilities that accept this particular type (HHW) of dangerous waste.

Paints that are water based or latex last much longer and are easier to store. Latex is much less hazardous and is able to be cleaned up with soap and water. Old version of latex paint contained mercury and to this day some varieties still do. Because of this, latex paint cannot be disposed of in its liquid form. You can solidify latex paint by adding shavings to it as well as wood chips, kitty litter, or another type of commercially sold paint solidifier. However, absolutely do NOT put liquid paint out with the trash, try to burn it, or pour it into waterways or storm drains as this will result in contamination that can make its way into the food chain.

Even if you do not think you will use your leftover paint, that does not mean someone else will feel the same. Excess paint can be donated to organizations that might be able to find a use for it, such as summer camps, art teachers, community theatre groups, Girl or Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army, and even 4-H groups. While you decide what type of future you prefer for your excess paint, store it safely by covering the can opening with plastic wrap before replacing the lid. Once you are sure this is secure and that there are no leaks, turn the can upside down. This will allow the paint to move about and create its own seal from within the can. Once that is done, store it in a safe place out of the reach of children and pets where stable temperatures are present.

There are often uses for leftover paint that we may not think of at the time but that could come to you at a later moment of inspiration. The need for touchups aside, extra paint can be used to create colorful picture frames to match your walls or it can be used to restore old furniture. The uses for leftover latex paint are quite endless, be it for you or someone else, so store it safely and properly until the time comes to use it or find it a new home with someone who will.

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April 5, 2014  •  12:14 PM
While it may be true that acrylic paint will last for a while, it is still best to ensure that you purchase as little as possible so as to have as small an amount of leftover paint as possible.

Depending upon your local regulations and waste hauling, you may be required to dispose of acrylic paint in some fashion other than putting it out at the curb. If you need to dispose of paints or other household chemicals one place to start your research is

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