It seems like as hard as I try, I always overestimate how much paint I’ll need. Sometimes there’s just a little bit left at the bottom of the paint can; sometimes it’s considerably more.

I know you’re not supposed to toss out wet paint because it can be hazardous, but what can you do with it?

If you’re wondering the same thing, check out these five options for your leftover paint.

Store It

stored paint in mason jars

Image: GoodbyeHouseHelloHome

After you spend an entire weekend transforming a room with a new coat of paint, a scratch or smudge can be very frustrating. It’s a good idea to save a little bit of extra paint for the occasional touch-up. But who has space for mostly empty paint gallons?

Goodbye, House! Hello, Home! has a great trick for storing your paint and making it look clean and organized – mason jars! You can use mason jars or other airtight containers to store your paint in.

It’s a good idea to print out some labels too, so you can write the paint color, the brand, where you used it and the date. No one wants expired paint or to play the “Is the wall eggshell or cream?” game.

leftover paint in a cabinet


But where should you actually store it? A common place, at least in my family, is the garage, but according to, that may not be the best location.

They suggest that paint be stored in a cool, dark location that doesn’t have extreme temperatures. Try a shelf in the basement or, if you don’t have a basement, a cabinet or closet in the house. You want to keep it someplace cool and dark because extreme heat can dry out the paint and extreme cold can make latex paint separate.

Make Chalkboard Paint

chalkboard paint


If you’re looking for something a little more creative to do with your leftover paint, turn it into chalkboard paint! All you’ll need is some plaster, leftover paint and a little bit of water.

For every three tablespoons of paint, mix two tablespoons of plaster and one tablespoon water. Then, mix and paint!

Chalkboard paint is extremely versatile. You can use it to paint the glass on a picture frame, making a cute and decorative chalkboard, on the inside of your cabinet door to keep track of what you’re out of, or paint a whole wall! Walls that you’re allowed to write on are a favorite for everyone!

Take It to a Disposal Center

5 Things to Do with Your Leftover Paint - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

If you’re trying to get rid of oil-based paint, then you’ll have to take it to a recycling center because it’s considered hazardous waste. Latex paint can be disposed of at home, but if you have a lot of leftover paint and don’t want to deal with the hassle, you should take that to a disposal location. If latex paint is not disposed of properly, it can become hazardous.

Not sure of where to drop-off your paint? has a handy drop-off locator that helps you find the closest drop-off location near you and tells you how much paint and what other items they accept.

They may not technically be disposal centers, but you could even donate your paint to local schools, churches, theaters or community centers. Places like that often need paint for projects and have rather limited budgets. You could help the environment and your neighborhood in one easy step!

Add a Pop of Color

This is a great trick, especially if you’re using a vibrant color. Instead of tossing out the extra paint, use it to add some visual interest to otherwise boring spaces.

painted cabinets



Like in the back of your cabinet or bookshelf.


painted stairs



On your steps.


painted table legs



On table and chair legs.


painted rug



To paint a rug.



painted dresser



Or even to add contrast to an old piece of furniture.

The possibilities are endless! And by using a color found in another room in your home, you’re tying in the color and style, making your home feel more cohesive and designed.

Dispose of It Yourself

5 Things to Do with Your Leftover Paint - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Earlier, I mentioned that latex paint can be disposed of at home, there’s just a bit of a process.

The DIY way is to add equal parts cat litter to the leftover paint, stir it up and let it sit for about an hour. This dries up the paint and you can just toss it in the trash with the lid off.

There are also paint hardeners you can buy if you don’t want to use the cat litter method.

If there’s just a small amount of paint left in the tin, you can actually set that aside with the lid off and let it dry out on it’s own.

Again, this is only for latex paint. Oil-based paints should always be disposed of at a recycling center.

Now that you know what to do with that leftover paint, to see what you need to do to get ready to paint with this checklist! If you are looking to purchase a home, take a look at the do’s and don’ts of home decorating so you can make the most of your new space!