Save Big Money On Paint: If You Don't Care About The Color

Need some paint for your garage, basement or perhaps the bedroom of an unfavored child? Don’t care about the color? Great! Curbly suggests you try buying paint leftover from mistakes in the mixing process at your local hardware store or:

The other great place to look is your local sanitation department. Most cities have specific divisions that deal with paints, since you can’t just toss them in a landfill. In Alameda, CA, it’s a garage full of five-gallon buckets of paint, wall to wall. They’ll just let you take what you want in most cases. They have to dispose of it somehow anyway!

Little whats-his-name will be so happy you saved money, he won’t even notice that his room is tow-zone yellow. —MEGHANN MARCO

Save Tons Of Money on Paint, If The Color Doesn’t Really Matter [Curbly]


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  1. kimdog says:

    Hah… I’ve been doing this for years. Most Lowe’s or Home Depots have a rack of “mistakes” for $5 or $10 bucks a gallon. It’s not that there’s something wrong with them. Usually they are just a bit off from the color swatch of the people who ordered them. My bedroom is currently painted Red Flannel in the Ralph Lauren paint collection. I paid $5 for the gallon of what would usually be about $45 a gallon.

  2. cuyahoga says:

    I worked at a local hardware store and we always ended up with tons of “mistints.” They are usually around $5/gallon which is pretty damn cheap.

  3. mikesfree says:

    I just painted my bathroom today with a $5 gallon of paint and it looks FANTASTIC.

  4. critical_matt says:

    Home Depot recently changed their handling on paint. A recent gallon I purchased had a ‘no refund’ line printed along with the color codes on the tag. So much for buying, returning, and buying…

  5. AcilletaM says:

    Why would I waste a $5 can of paint on the unwanted child’s room? He’ll get nothing and like it.

  6. We bought some of that Home Depot Oops paint, like a buck or two for the tiny cans and we painted an entire bathroom (5×5) with two cans of similar green colors. It’s great stuff.

  7. thrillhouse says:

    Yes, there used to be a rather nice selection of oops paint at Lowes and HD. But niether one accepts returned paint anymore, so you are now limited strictly to ‘mistints’. Selection sucks now.

    Back in the day, we painted 4 rooms that way, including the garage which was a combination of 3 gallons of similar colors. Done for penies on the dollar – those were the days.

  8. Sudonum says:

    Don’t forget your local paint stores as well. My local Sherwin Williams has been selling buckets of primer mixed for a larger builder who cancelled the order. This primer usually sells for double the $6 a gallon its going for now. It is tinted Navajo White, but they will add additional tint to TRY and get any other color you want. I just bought 100 gallons for some houses I’m building and saved $600

  9. spanky says:

    I am so glad I’m not the only one.

    My living room, my main hallway, master bath, and a whole buttload of my furniture are all painted with mistints.

    Actually, the hallway paint is about three different mistints that I re-mixed to get the color right.

    But it’s true they don’t have much selection anymore at the big box home improvement stores. I really miss that.

  10. theora55 says:

    I mixed up several partial cans of paint and came out with a nice green. What I didn’t need went on freecycle.

  11. Dobey says:

    I don’t know if Lowes has changed its policy since I actively worked there (I am on leave since January) but people returned paint all the time, sometimes they would even buy mistints then erase off the identifying marks that we put on them to show they were mistints.

    I am not saying you should abuse a company like that but the nice thing that I learned about retail and companies such as Lowes is that they do want to make you happy whenever you have to return a product. I have seen people buy 5+ gallons on paint and then come back and say I mixed it wrong and the manager overrides the system and gives them their money back. Hell I have had to get a manager just so we could return paint that some woman bought at Home Depot but SWORE she bought it from Lowes and would not leave and was making a scene, so to make the customer happy they processed the return. Generally they give you a gift card if you cant produce a receipt.

    And because of this when I was in the paint department we generally had a larger then we liked supply of mistints. I actually liked some colors and wanted to buy some and take them home and experiment with colors, that is the best way for people to just have fun with painting and hey you can always repaint.

  12. fwdmd says:

    I work at HD, and have no idea if it’s true across the board – but we often take returns on paint.

    There’s quite a few situations where we take the return,and mark it as OOPS. I tell customers – I can’t promise, but bring in the paint, and between the returns dept, me and my bosses – we’ll try and make it right.

    And yeah – oops paint is generally great paint, usually just a bad color match or left behind by customers who “wander away” or an outright mistake by the associate. When the paint desk is covered by someone from a different department – that’s also a case for mistakes.

    At my store, just BTW – we never leave the OOPs the color it was originally – shocker, sometimes customers try and trick us by not buying the paint and coming back to buy it at the markdown :-) Sneaky…

    As the paint grrl, I hate when customers talk to me about – can you make some paint and oops it, so I can get it cheap? I’m mostly honest, so I won’t, but that kind of talk can be misread if some jerk in an orange apron hears it.