Here is a question I should have actually researched before I gave it a try. Unfortunately, I did all of my researching AFTER, and it was too late to change anything since we used up all of our leftover house paint. I did learn quite a lot and decided to share it with you in today’s post!
Long story short, I wanted to paint my walls a very light gray. I found some leftover gray paint in the garage and wanted to make it lighter. Thus, the experimenting began. Let me tell you, it did not end well.
What happened? I found some leftover white paint in the garage and began mixing.
After thoroughly mixing it up, I painted the whole area I wanted to paint (wall connecting kitchen and dining area, and the perpendicular wall dividing dining area from living room area) one time. I let it dry.
Once I gave it some time to dry, I noticed that there were some spots of lighter and darker gray all over the walls! Of course, being the optimistic person I am, I allowed myself to think that the only reason that was happening was because it was only the first layer, and obviously another layer was needed.
I must give myself some credit here because the second time, the paint was much better. But there were STILL some spots in darker gray that drove me completely insane!
Lesson learned. I now try to stay as far as possible from mixing paints. For the rest of the walls, we took the paint we mixed to Home Depot and got the same exact tint of paint by Behr, professionally tinted.
But how do you use up your leftover house paint? Is it even possible?
1. Use same types of paint to mix together.
Meaning that you mix interior paint with interior paint, exterior with exterior paint.
Make sure that if you are using an oil-based paint, the paint you are mixing it with is also oil-based. Everyone who has finished an elementary school science class knows that water does not mix with oil; so do not mix water-based or latex paint with oil-based paint!!
2. Mix well (Especially if you absolutely must mix different sheens).
Yes, it is okay to mix different sheens (flat, eggshell, semi-gloss etc.), although mixing same sheens is best. But make sure to mix them REALLY well! Otherwise, the paint will not blend well and can look blotchy.
Also, before mixing ANY paint, mix each, separate paint thoroughly! When paint stands too long, the pigments tend to separate in the paint. So when you mix it with another paint, you are not getting the full set of pigments from the leftover paint.
3. Mix enough paint for the whole project.
I think here is where we went wrong. We were using a small container for a large area and ran out of the paint a few times, so we tried to re-make the paint again. Which seemed easy, but we had to face the consequences later, when the paint dried out. It is better to have leftover paint in the end than to run out of paint and then try to match the tint, which is nearly impossible to do.
Also, don’t forget to leave some paint for touch-ups later on.
4. Darker colors are much harder to lighten than light colors are to darken.
When you are trying to lighten a color, add that color little by little to a white base color until you achieve the desired look. If you try to add white to the dark color, you will need A LOT of white to achieve a lighter result.
I faced this problem when mixing colors for our laundry room cabinets. I tried to make the dark blue color we had lighter and used up almost half a gallon of white paint to make a very small amount of the blue paint lighter. So I ended up with much more paint than I needed. If I simply added some of the blue to the white paint, I would have much faster results.
5. When testing, let the paint dry before deciding on a final color.
Test on a small patch of the wall first to see if that is the color you want. The color may slight change as it dries, so wait until it dries completely before you make your final decision.
6. If you are trying to darken a color, avoid using black.
If you do have to use a black, add a very small amount. Black paint often leaves the paint color looking muddy. Instead of using black, use a brown or gray paint, or even a complementary shade off of the color wheel (which leads to my next point: the color wheel).
7. Use a color wheel when mixing paint.
Oana from Art For Your Walls does a really good job explaining this concept in detail on her blog page.
8. Once you are happy with your final color, paint some of it onto a card or stick.
You can then take that card or stick to Lowe’s or Home Depot (or any other paint store that does color matching), and they can match that color and recreate more of it in case you ever need more or end up running out half way through the project.
That is actually what we ended up doing. We dipped a wooden mixing stick into the paint we created and took it to Home Depot. They were able to get the same exact color recreated on their computer and we were able to paint the rest of the house with professionally mixed paint.
Mixing paint colors can be a great way to use up all that leftover house paint you have sitting around in the garage and also a good way to save some money on buying paint (it can get PRICY!) but don’t get your hopes too high when doing it. Many factors can actually result in a bad paint including too old of paint, or simply a bad combination of products.
Also, it may be difficult to get the exact color you have in mind. In fact, it may be next to impossible. But if you are willing to play around with it and willing to face some bad results, then go for it! And who knows, maybe you might even love the color you create even more than the one you had in mind! I know I did!