A lot of DIY projects involve paint. Unfortunately, the majority of them don’t use the exact amount of paint that comes in the cans you buy. This leaves you with extra paint that you don’t have anything to do with, and over time you might even build up quite a collection of excess paint cans. Don’t just dump them out or throw them away, though… doing so is illegal in most areas. If you’re not sure what to do with all of the paint you’ve got left over, here are a few things to think about.
Know What You’re Dealing With
The very first thing you should do when getting ready to dispose of the paint you’ve used for a project is to identify the type of paint you have. You should have either oil-based paint or latex paint, and if you aren’t sure then you need to check the label. There are typically more options available to dispose of latex paints than oil-based paints, so taking the time to figure out which type of paint you have is essential to make sure you don’t dispose of your paint in a way that could get you in trouble.
Let It Dry
If you have latex paint to dispose of, you should be able to throw it out once it has dried. If there is only a little bit of paint left in the can, you can accomplish this by simply leaving the lid off of the can for a few days until it dries out. If you have a larger amount of paint, you’ll need to get at least some of it out of the can first. Consider pouring at least some of the paint into a cardboard box that you’ve lined with a plastic bag or otherwise sealed to prevent leaks. You can also apply the paint over cardboard, wood or paper with a brush or roller to create thick coats that you then allow to dry. If you still have unwanted paint, commercial hardening agents are also available that you simply mix into the paint and wait while the paint hardens.
Soak It Up
As latex paints are soluble in water before they dry, you can take advantage of this by diluting the paint with additional water. Once the paint is suitably watery, pour it over absorbent materials such as paper or foam. Allow these to dry and then dispose of the materials that will have the remaining paint soaked into them. If drying seems to be taking a long time, try setting the wet items outside and spreading them out as much as possible. The heat, sunlight and increased surface area will increase evaporation speeds, resulting in a faster overall drying time.
Upcycle the Paint
Before you get rid of your latex or oil-based paint, think about whether you have any upcoming projects that could benefit from it. Using the paint for other projects will help you to use up whatever’s left of the paint and will also save you from having to buy additional paint when those projects come around. It could even be that you have a project planned that you hadn’t originally considered painting at all but that might benefit from a coat of paint. Even if you don’t have any future painting projects coming up, others might; ask any DIYers that you know if they need paint or check online for DIY groups in your area that trade paint and other supplies.
Safe Disposal Services
Knowing where to recycle or otherwise dispose of liquid paint is important, especially if you have oil-based paints that can’t simply be thrown away. Recycling centers, environmental groups and hazardous waste disposals often have paint recycling and disposal services that accept both latex and oil-based paint. If you aren’t sure where to look, check online or ask around at local hardware and paint supply stores to get recommendations.