Homeowners often ask us about properly disposing of house paint. For some homeowners, this comes when they’re getting ready to sell a house. For other homeowners, this is a question that arises when they buy a home and inherit old paint stock. And finally for some of the more organized long term owners, it’s just a matter of getting rid of old paint to keep the basement clean and organized. So what to do?
Our first advice is do what is the most convenient and physically possible. Old paint cans are often tucked away in the back corner of a basement. Moving them out can be a daunting task. How many are there? How full are they? What size containers are they in? How heavy are they? And how healthy and capable are you?
If you’re healthy and able, you might want to get all the old cans to the bottom of the stairs as a first step. Then, each time you come up and down the stairs, just bring up 2 paint cans at a time and put them in your garage or temporary staging site. After a week or month, you’ll likely have this all consolidated and out of the basement. Phew! It’s a start.
Next, you’ll need to open every can and take next steps according to what you find:
- Minimal paint: If there is just a little bit of paint in the can, the easiest paint disposal method is to simply let it dry out. Putting it in the sun can help. Even a fan blowing across the tops can help move air and expedite drying. If you’d like to really speed up that drying process, you can dump sand or cat litter into the mostly empty cans and swirl it around. Once dry, it’s time for the trash can, or a garbage bag and trash can to follow.
- If the cans have quite a bit of paint, you’ll want to consolidate it. This can involve pouring each partial can into one can until it is full, and repeating this as many times as needed. The full gallons can be resealed. Then the empty ones can be dried out per the above actions.
Finally come the full or near full, wet paint cans. What to do with those? Well, your community might have a paint disposal program. This usually means you’ll bring it to the recycling center and pay to get rFinally come the full or near full, wet paint cans. What to do with those? Well, your community might have a paint waste disposal program. This usually means you’ll bring it to the recycling center and pay to get rid of the paint. Some communities are continually accepting paint, others arrange 1 or 2 days a year for drop offs. Usually there is a price to pay per gallon or per 5 gallon bucket (and this is where consolidation efforts can really save you some funds).
Another strategy for disposing of house paint is to hire a professional painting company in the Milwaukee area to remove the paint for you. While very few offer this service, some do, and a proper search may lead you to the right resources! A full service interior paint company or exterior paint company will likely have the ability to dispatch an employee, move the paint from the basement, transport it, and dispose of the paint for you at a cost. Thing of it like an oil change shop having disposal fees in it’s pricing, or a tire shop needing to charge for tire disposal. Ultimately these products get properly disposed of, and that’s where the costs are involved.
One final note: don’t mix oil based paint, or solvent based products (wood stain, clear coats) with the latex paint. Keep latex paint with latex paint. Keep solvents with solvents. Believe it or not, the solvent based goods are often converted into heating fuels. The latex paints get recycled and turned into other things.