Some people may wonder if it's at all possible to be mixing leftover paint.

Others are interested in saving a dollar or two by purchasing and then combining mis-tints from there local paint dealer or have acquired a garage sale find of the paint kind.

In all three cases the biggest problem is color and how do you get a tone, hue or shade that you will like.

Below are how to instructions for combining paint. You will also find website links to a couple of on-line tools that will help you create the colors you want using the paint you have on hand.


Environmentally speaking, mixing your leftover paint then using up the paint by applying it to your walls is by far a better idea than throwing the paint out.

Not only will you save money combining paint leftovers will also keep unnessary waste out of the worlds land fills and garbage dumps.


Generally, any paint that has the same solvent or base (alkyd "oil" or water "latex") can usually be combined successfully. A better explanation might be to say that water and oil don't mix, so unless your a chemist don’t try latex bathroom paint with an alkyd ceiling product as your first mixing leftover paint project.

Another issue to consider is should one mix interior and exterior coatings into the same container.

I wouldn't recommend using an interior paint on the outside of your home and some exterior paints tend to have chemicals in them that are designed specifically for resisting exterior environmental conditions and wood burrowing insects.

If your not sure of the type of exterior paint you have it might be best to stick with the rule, “{exterior for exterior}" and “{interior for interior}”.

I myself almost always buy coatings that can be applied to both the inside or outside of a home.

Latex paints and solid wood stains can be combined< successfully but you do take the chance of destroying the hole batch the same goes for alkyd coatings.

When mixing leftover paint with wood stains even when they are manufactured using the same solvent (or base) you may end up with a soupy mess or hideous color tone, hue or shade.

Another thing to consider no matter what kind of coatings your stirring together is that your newly created paint concoction might not stick to your intended surface. Then again, that is one of the chances you will have to take.

With that said, after mixing leftover paint it's always a good idea to do a sample coat first on a throw away piece of drywall before appling it to your walls.


Trying to come up with an exact color when mixing leftover paint can end up being an expensive never ending task. If on the other hand your looking for a generalized tone, hue or shade and it can be made from the colors you have then your color creation project will take a lot less time, effort and money.

Most room painting requires at least two gallons of paint be sure you have enough coating material in relationship to the amount of coats being done. Otherwise you may find it difficult if not impossible to create the same color a second time around.

A good rule of thumb when estimating the amount of paint needed would a gallon of paint will do about 350 to 400 square feet of surface area.

You will also need 25% to 50% less paint for the second coat even so having a little more paint than you need is better than not having enough in the first place.


With your full or partialy filled cans of paint pour the same colors into a clean 5 gallon pail then stir them together completely. Stirring takes a while so you might want to buy yourself a paint stiring tool (around $10.00) that fits on the end of your electric drill.

Also, to insure the paint comes out of your can easyer stir or shake it up before pouring it into the pail.

With your paints stirred dab some of the paint in the can onto the paint tin lid (a 1" circle or so) then dab the same paint onto a piece of hard white cardboard. Open the next can of paint and do the same.

Continue opening each gallon of stirred paint dabbing the lids and your cardboard with the paint colors.

What your trying to do is create a color palate on the cardboard of all the colors that you have and you don’t want to keep opening paint cans to see what color is inside. If you only have two colors that will work just fine for mixing leftover paint.


With your dried (use a hair dryer if needed) dabbed cardboard color palate at your side use this color tools link to find the tones, hues or shades that are the closest to the ones on your homemade color palate.

Colors don’t have to be exact when mixing leftover paint just close. Here is another much larger sample of online colors or color charts if you need it.

Once you find a color that is similar to one of your pallet colors look below (or beside) the color on the chart there you will see a combination of numbers or letters. numbers are very small so you might prefer another online color chart. As an example the color black is #000000, while white is #FFFFFF and gray being #CCCCCC.

Now, write down the numbers or letters from the online tools that coincide with your dabbed color palate color onto your cardboard palate. Be sure to write the number beside the color itself (you don't need the # sign).

Do the same for all of your color palate colors. With your color palate and numbers in hand go to the color mixer on the Color Tools site you will be able to find a general idea as to what color you will get by combining equal amounts of each color together.

To find out what your colors will be type your first color pallet number (or letters) into the color 1 box then type the number of the other color into the color 2 box, with that done, press the combine button. Once you have pressed the button look below the combined box where it will show the combination of the two colors together.

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With the help of the color tools keep trying different combinations until you find something you like. As an example say the color palate you made by dabbing paint on it shows a color close to a medium blue that looks like #99CFFF but you would prefer to paint your walls with a mauve color.

So you play around with the online tool, typing color numbers in untill you find out that you will need to buy a gallon of red one that looks like #CC3333 which will give you #B38199.

Using the online color tool process will not show exact colors when mixing leftover paint but you should get a good idea as to what colors will generally look like when mixed together.

Also, adding black to your mixture, makes a color look deeper as opposed to white which creates a lighter hue.

For those who are a little worried about the colors you end up with start by mixing equal small amounts first, then move up to pouring a gallon or two together. If you keep track (e.g. 1 part blue, 2 equal parts red,) you should always end up with a close match to the same color no mater how much paint your trying to make.

Another thing to keep in mind when buying a color to combine with one you already have is to bring your cardboard color pallet to a dollar or craft store and purchase small containers of craft paints (usually latex).

Try and find paint colors that match as close as possible to the color your thinking of buying then combine the craft paint with an equal amount of the paint you have at home. By doing so, you will be able to see what color your paint mixing creates before attempting it on a larger scale.

If you like the color you end up with you can then buy the same color in a gallon from your local paint store. Your local paint store also has small amounts of color samples along with cheap mis-tints to help with your mixing leftover paint project.


When mixing leftover paint always expect the worst. Not all products combine easily or a paint may end up being to old while another might have been frozen at one time.

Color should also be considerd as it may not turn out the way you want. In most cases when mixing leftover paint you can come up with a color you like but there are no guarantees.

Mixing paint can be very messy, especially if your using a drill with a mixer on the end make sure you protect areas and surfaces from splatters and spills.

Some paint stores sell tints and paints that come in small tubes or containers if you find yourself trying to make a number of different colors you may want to consider buying a container or two.

From mixing leftover paint to the miscellaneous ideas page

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