Reuse/recycle paint
July 24, 2008 12:06 AM   Subscribe

We've got a fair number of cans of house paint left over from various projects. Is there some agency or organization that will take the paint and use it (as opposed to disposing of it in a landfill)?

We live in the Seattle area. It's almost all latex paint. Recycling would be OK, too, but we'd really like is to see it used for something. There's no more than a gallon of any one color (a couple dozen cans all told).
posted by richg to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
When I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, I believe they said the interior paint was usually a taupe color because they mixed together a bunch of different leftover colors from contractors or wherever they could get it. I checked out their website for Seattle-area chapters, and it looks like they all source their materials donations through Second Use, so I'd give them a call first.

If they aren't passing on paint to Habitat, I'd bet that they know someone else who could use it.
posted by kyleg at 12:34 AM on July 24, 2008

I see this kind of stuff on freecycle all the time, so that's certainly an option.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 12:38 AM on July 24, 2008

DO NOT GIVE THIS PAINT TO HABITAT. For the love of god, we don't need it. I don't know of any Habitat that doesn't have 50-100 gallons of paint left at a site for us by some "good samaritan."

Old paint is a hazardous material. Hell, so is new paint. There are two good options here:
1. Open the lids and let it dry. Dry paint isn't hazardous, and can be thrown away without worry.
2. Buy a kiddie pool. Dump in a can of paint. Let it dry. Dump in another can of paint, let it dry. Rinse/repeat until it's gone. THen peel up the edges, roll up the paint tube, and put in in the trash. Again, not a hazardous material.

NEVER EVER EVER put liquid paint in the trash. The good Karma fairy will come along and whack the crap out of you later in life. No seriously. I like my groundwater---don't throw away liquid paint (or dump it down the drain.)
posted by TomMelee at 5:04 AM on July 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

King County Solid Waste requests that King County residents who cannot use up latex paint, dry it out and then place it in the garbage with the lid off.
posted by ptm at 5:40 AM on July 24, 2008

Perhaps a high school theater department would be able to use it for painting sets?
posted by kitty teeth at 6:03 AM on July 24, 2008

I shouldn't have been so vocal.

Basically, everyone has used paint. Some of it's nice. Some of it is really nice. Most of it sucks, and 90% of it is unusable because it's gotten too hot or cold or it's old or otherwise just gross.

If freecycle/craigslist can't get rid of it, then nobody wants it. Paint ceases to have any value once you buy it, it becomes a liability. It's nice that you want to make use of it but it's not a rare commodity. Pretty much any group willing to use old paint has old paint. In bulk.
posted by TomMelee at 6:24 AM on July 24, 2008

If you aren't willing to wait for it to dry, I believe Home Depot and Lowe's sell a chemical that can be mixed into a can of paint, and will harden it, rendering it eco-safe(r).
posted by ASoze at 6:45 AM on July 24, 2008

I like kitty teeth's suggestion - call your local high school and see if the drama department wants it.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:52 AM on July 24, 2008

About the smartest thing you can do with it is keep it at your house so that when something gouges a wall or bookcase or whatever you have exactly the same color paint to patch with. Even different batches of the same color from the paint store can have noticeably different colors. In a room or object taking direct sunlight, all bets are off.

If you aren't willing to wait for it to dry, I believe Home Depot and Lowe's sell a chemical that can be mixed into a can of paint, and will harden it, rendering it eco-safe(r).

Cat litter or oil-dry.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:18 AM on July 24, 2008

Our community has an annual "clean out your garage" day where residents can bring all of their old paint and other caustic, not-for-the-landfill waste and have it hauled-off for proper disposal.
You might call a local recycler and ask if they know of any such programs in your area.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on July 24, 2008

About donating paint to local theatres, the more vibrant the color is, the more likely they are to want it. Calling ahead is important, certainly.

A friend and I, back in the summer-stock day, spent hours digging through the paint at the recycling center and found that most people pick the most mundane pastels to slather all over their living rooms. A Superman blue or a real barn red were wonderful finds, because you can mix them into all kinds of other hues.

Sawdust also works really well for mixing into paint to expedite the drying-out-a-bucket process.
posted by lauranesson at 8:50 AM on July 24, 2008

If you can sort it into blue-ish, reddish, yellow-ish, and combine into full gallons, it will find a home on freecycle. I just gave away 2 gals of what ended up as light green latex paint.
posted by theora55 at 11:26 AM on July 24, 2008

In some California communities, paint is collected, blended and used to cover graffiti. Might want to see if there's something similar locally.
posted by sageleaf at 12:00 PM on July 24, 2008

I remember a radio report about an employee at a Sunset Scavenger Recycling Center in San Francisco who saves paint, and ships it to hospitals and schools in developing counties. I'm not sure if it's feasible for you to get your paint to SF. . .
posted by paulg at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2008

I thought I'd post a final resolution to this query. I finally found out that Habitat for Humanity in Seattle will take paint, so long as it's in good condition and less than two years old. They then use it on the houses they are building.
posted by richg at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2008

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