How To Mix Paint Colors to Save Money

You’ve stripped the walls clean of that dated wallpaper that reminds you of your grandmother’s house. And now, your mind is abuzz with excitement because you can picture your soon-to-be studio/ bedroom with such clarity. From the newly replaced sanded down walls to the freshly cleaned corners, everything in your room is primed and ready for a new coat of paint. But then you find out that the paint you just bought is a shade too light or too dark. What to do? It would be such a waste to throw it away. Not to mention expensive, since most paints can’t be returned to the shop. Lucky for you, you can still save that bucket of paint.

With a little creative mixing and a careful touch, you can tweak your paint and achieve the hue you desire. Here is how to mix your own colors and make do with your little mishap bucket of paint.

You will need. Prepare the following: a color chart; paintbrush or metal rod for stirring; and a pail of black, white and gray paints. The paints can be bought at your local hardware in smaller pints. Make sure that the paint you buy to correct your shade is the same paint type of the original: acrylic, latex and such. Important note: Make sure you buy enough paint to finish your project. More often than not, people can’t re-create the color they made exactly.

  • First, compare the shade of your paint to the color you desire. Use the color wheel to identify whether you will need to lighten or darken your paint.
    • If you need to lighten the color, add white paint to it.
    • If you need to darken the color, add black or gray paint to it. Use black if the original color is of a dark, deep shade like navy or purple. Use gray if the original color is of a lighter shade like pastel.
  • When you are mixing the paint, don’t mix the new paint into the WHOLE bucket of original paint. Take a few cups of the starting paint and place it in a smaller container. In this smaller amount, experiment with black, gray or white until you have achieved your desired shade/ effect. Tip. Add the white or black paint in small amounts to avoid making mistakes and to avoid wasting too much colorant.
  • Use the paintbrush or metal rod to blend the paint. Stir well to ensure that there aren’t any remaining swirls or globs in your mixture.
  • Once you have the shade, you can continue to mix and correct the remaining paint.

Once you have mastered the technique of adding black, gray and white to create different shades and hues of colors, you can now experiment with combining new colors. Mix different shades of blue and red to get a vibrant royal purple. Mix daisy yellow with red for a bursting splash of orange. The combinations are endless! And you can learn to make them just by studying the color wheel and understanding basic color combinations.  

Be like Picasso and be daring in your choice of colors. Don’t worry about mistakes or painting your wall a shocking neon green – even if it seemed like a good idea at first -  because now you know how to correct it.


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