How to save money on buying paint


room that was just painted
Painting is a project homeowners often undertake themselves. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Painting a room in your house is a common project that many people take on to give part of their home a new look. The cost of the job can add up, though, particularly when it comes to buying the paint itself. It’s sometimes shocking how much a thin layer of color on your walls can cost. High-quality paint can easily run well above $30 per gallon. And with several gallons sometimes needed to paint a single room, the paint cost alone can top $100.

Fortunately, you don’t have to blow your budget to buy paint. Here are some strategies to buy cheap paint:

— Be flexible on paint color.

— Check your local hardware stores.

— Visit your local recycling center.

— Check local groups on Facebook, Craigslist or Freecycle.

— Use a paint calculator.

— Buy paint before a three-day weekend.

— Purchase high-quality paint.

— Buy paint in bulk.

— Paint a single accent wall.

— Add a coat of primer.

— Paint a thick layer.

— Cover your brushes and rollers with plastic bags.

Read on for strategies to buy cheap paint and some of the cheapest places to buy paint.

[See: 10 Home Renovations Under $5,000.]

Be Flexible on Paint Color

If you must have a particular paint color in your room, you’ve tied yourself to a narrow selection of paint. That means it’s much harder to find a bargain. If you want to buy cheap paint, be open to a wide range of colors and shades.

Check Your Local Hardware Stores

You’re looking for paint sales, of course, but also be sure to ask about abandoned paint mixes or mistakes. Hardware stores often have mixed paints left or returned by customers. This leaves the hardware store with paint it can’t easily sell, so it’ll often discount it heavily to get rid of it. If you’re flexible in terms of color, this can save you a ton of money on paint.

Visit Your Local Recycling Center

People often purchase more paint than they need and will sometimes bring multiple gallons of paint to be recycled when the job is done. Again, if you’re flexible in terms of color, you can sometimes get enough paint for your project for free. Don’t worry about not having enough paint for your job. If the paint you’re buying has data that properly identifies the color, your hardware store can mix up more for you.

Check Local Groups on Facebook, Craigslist or Freecycle

If people have a lot of leftover paint for a project, they’ll sometimes either sell it for a pittance on a local Facebook or Craigslist group or list it on Freecycle to be given away. Pay attention to those groups in the months and weeks leading up to a potential paint job, and you may wind up with plenty of paint for very little cost.

[Read: 7 Bathroom Remodel Ideas on a Budget]

Use a Paint Calculator

If you’re considering buying paint, be sure you know exactly how much you need, so you don’t wind up with a bunch of extra paint that you’re taking to recycling or hoping to get a dollar or two out of on trade groups. Your hardware store or preferred paint brand will typically have a paint calculator on their websites that guides you through the process.

Buy Paint Before a Three-Day Weekend

Paint commonly goes on sale from paint stores and hardware stores in the week or two prior to a three-day weekend, as that’s when people often buy paint for projects over that long weekend. Even if you’re not necessarily planning to paint over a long weekend, this is still a great time to buy cheap paint.

Purchase High-Quality Paint

If you do end up buying paint from a paint store or hardware store and have a wide selection to choose from, buy the higher quality paint. It’s likely to require fewer coats to get the job done and will hold a vibrant color for longer, meaning you can get away with buying less paint now, and you can wait longer until that room needs to be repainted.

Buy Paint in Bulk

Consider painting more than just the wall or room you’re initially looking at, particularly if you have other areas that will soon need painting. If you’re willing to paint them the same color, you can save money on paint by buying in bulk and purchasing a 5 gallon bucket instead of a couple of gallon buckets, or a gallon instead of a quart.

Another good way to spend less on paint is to consider combining projects with a friend, family member or neighbor. Perhaps you’ll both want to use the same shade of paint, and thus buying a large bucket and splitting the cost is cheaper than buying multiple small containers of paint for yourself.

Paint a Single Accent Wall

Rather than painting multiple rooms, so you can buy in bulk, consider painting a single accent wall and buying a smaller amount. If an accent wall can create the new effect you want in a room, you can invest in a smaller quantity of paint.

Add a Coat of Primer

Primer is cheaper than most paints and will usually save you a coat or two of paint, particularly if you’re painting on a new surface or radically changing color. Buy a can or bucket of primer and use it as the first layer, and you may only have to add one or two layers of paint on top.

[See: 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2019.]

Paint a Thick Layer

Apply a thick layer of paint and let it thoroughly dry before assessing whether another layer is needed. A thin layer is more likely to need additional coats of paint on top, adding to your work and likely using more paint over the long-run. When you’re painting, go slowly, use a light touch, and refill your roller and brush frequently.

Cover Your Brushes and Rollers With Plastic Bags

The only time to clean paint brushes and paint rollers is if your painting task is finished or you’re changing colors. If you’re taking a break to let a layer dry, cover your rollers and brushes with plastic grocery bags rather than cleaning them. This will keep you from washing paint down the drain, and as long as you’re back at the job as soon as the paint on the wall dries, they’ll work just fine. However, when you are done with the job, clean your painting supplies thoroughly, as you’ll be able to reuse most of them for your next home painting task.

Painting your home doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive if you plan ahead a little and exercise flexibility with colors. Paint smarter, not richer, and you’ll keep money in your pocket while still having a gorgeous room in your house.

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