Try This: Mixing Paint Colors at Home

Keep paint waste at a minimum by mixing your own colors.

| May/June 2007

  • The tools and materials you will need for color-it-yourself paints.
    Susan Wasinger
  • 1. Measure paint.
    Susan Wasinger
  • 2. Stir in pigment.
    Susan Wasinger
  • 3. Record the pigment-to-paint formula on an index card and paint the card with the designated tint.
    Susan Wasinger

Who doesn’t have a shelf groaning with cans of half-used, unwanted paint? It’s a space crisis at home and an environmental crisis at the landfill. The trouble is, paint stores won’t mix anything smaller than a quart, so if you don’t need it all, or the color doesn’t work once you get it home, you’re stuck with the unused portion.

Here’s an easy way to use liquid pigments to mix your own paint colors, in whatever quantity you need, to keep paint waste to a minimum. It’s also a great way to choose a color for your room by mixing up a range of options and painting swatches on the wall. In addition, consider “tweaking” colors you already have on your shelf by mixing in a few drops of pigment to color them more to your liking.

Tools and Materials

Paint: 1 gallon of white, low-VOC interior latex

Paper cups or recycled yogurt containers: These will be used for mixing your small paint samples. Choose containers that are large enough to comfortably hold 2 ounces of paint and accommodate a small paintbrush.

Measuring devices: To make paint samples, 2 ounces of paint is perfect; use a 1/4 -cup measuring cup to scoop up paint. Use one- or two-cup measures for pints and quarts. Dipping paint from the can is tidier than pouring.

3-by-5-inch index cards: These will be your custom paint swatches. Brush on a sample of paint and then write the color formula for future reference (e.g., 1 part red, 3 parts yellow).

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