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Mar 062013
Paint Swatches

Giving your home a splash of color with paint has always been touted by home-decorating experts as one of the least expensive ways to make a big impact on the look of your home. And it’s true that you do get a lot of impact for your dollar. But have you seen the cost of paint lately?

It isn’t at all unusual these days to pay $30 to $40 for one gallon of latex paint. You might find cheaper paint at discount stores, but at the cost of quality. (Do you really want to spend the weekend moving furniture to the middle of the room, masking off woodwork and dragging stepladders around for a sub-par result?)

It is possible, however, to save money on paint without sacrificing quality. Here are some tips:

Paint just one wall. If your walls are in good shape and you just want to give your room a fresh look, consider painting an accent wall. You’ll use less paint. This is also a good way to live with a color for a while to see if you really like it before investing in several gallons.

You don’t always need a dramatic color to have a dramatic impact. Dark or bright colors typically require several coats of paint to cover completely, so you may end up buying more paint. If you opt for softer paint colors or neutrals, you’ll probably use less, which means you’ll spend less.

Buy on sale, and use a coupon. Wait until you see a sale on paint, then use your coupon. Strike when the price is right. Where can you get paint coupons? Sometimes they’ll arrive by mail or in the Sunday paper, but one of the best ways is to sign up for home improvement stores’ email newsletters and follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Watch for free or discounted paint samples. It isn’t likely that you’ll paint an entire room with samples, but they can be great for smaller projects like an accent wall in a bathroom or laundry room. We’ve seen hardware stores offer weekly coupons for free quarts of paint. But here’s a tip: Unless you have a very small project, don’t rush home and start painting. There can be subtle color differences from can to can, even if the number or color on the label matches exactly. When you’re buying several small cans of paint, you’ll want to mix them all together in a larger bucket (spring for a bucket and paint-stirring sticks) before applying.

Buy mismatched paint. Because of color differences noted above, paint stores will often have shelves of paint that didn’t match exactly. There’s nothing wrong with the paint, but it should be discounted. Just ask at the paint store if they have the type and color you need. You still need to choose the correct type of paint for the job — latex for walls, ceiling paint for a ceiling, enamel for woodwork, exterior latex for the exterior of your home, and so on. My husband and I once painted our home office in a studious navy blue that looked great. The color was a one-of-kind mixture of several different shades of blue from the mismatched shelf at the paint store.

Check your local household hazardous waste facility. In my area, when someone needs to dispose of paint, they bring it to the household hazardous waste facility. The facility keeps good paint and gives it away for free to anyone who wants it. Using the mixing method above, you might be able to paint your walls for FREE in a color that your neighbors will never be able to duplicate.

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Carolyn Erickson

Carolyn Erickson is a freelance writer with expertise in business-to-consumer writing and editorial. During her career, she's helped companies like Time Warner Internet, Ethan Allen, Gold's Gym, Stanley Steemer, Empire Vision Centers and others reach local customers with their marketing messages. Her writing has received awards from the Kansas Professional Communicators and the National Federation of Press Women. Most recently, Carolyn has parlayed her experience in digital media as the owner of Wichita on the Cheap into helping small businesses and non-profit organizations establish an Internet and social media presence – on the cheap, of course.

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