Good Home Painting Practices Include Safe Paint Disposal

good home painting in VancouverTell the truth: are there some old, partly full paint cans taking up room in your basement, crawlspace or garage? Once a home painting job is completed, one of the things that should be done right is the disposal of leftover paint. Any paint that isn’t going to be kept on hand for possible touch-ups down the road should be dealt with responsibly, to ensure that your home remains free of hazards.

Getting rid of old paint (colours that are no longer on your walls) not only saves space, it eliminates confusion when searching for the right colour. Correct methods of paint disposal also mean that the environment doesn’t suffer as a result of a laissez-faire attitude or careless accident.

Responsible Disposal of Oil-Based Paint

  • Check the label to see if it contains lead or any other hazardous materials. (Some older paints require hazardous waste disposal.)
  • Remove the lid and let the paint air dry. To speed things up, you can stir in some sawdust, clay cat litter, or other absorbent material.
  • Deliver the paint cans to a suitable facility. The City of Vancouver website includes a link to Product Care, where you can easily locate the nearest appropriate disposal depot (

Caution: Do not pour oil-based paint into a drainage system or directly into the ground, and never ignite or bury paint cans.

Properly Disposing of Latex Paint

  • Save it for a later project. Latex paint can be stored, mixed and reused. If not the exact colour you need, it can still be useful as a base paint or to cover interior surfaces that won’t be seen. Seal cans tightly and store upside-down in a cool, dry place, making sure it is out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Community paint recycling programs. If you don’t have use for your leftover paint, someone else in your area just might. Schools and municipalities may have programs to collect paint and use it on community projects.
  • If you or someone else doesn’t have a use for the paint, you can dispose of it in a plastic container filled with clay cat litter or scraps of paper. Let it dry, and throw the contents of the container away with the regular trash. This possible because latex paint is not considered toxic, so doesn’t have to be treated the same way in that regard as its oil-based counterpart.
  • Pouring paint into a drain is a no-no; it can damage pipes and is harmful to the water supply. Likewise, it is hazardous to the soil if paint is poured into the ground.
  • To get rid of a larger amount of latex, you may want to consider purchasing waste paint hardener. Always read and follow the instructions carefully.

Recycle empty paint cans by letting them dry completely before recycling them with other metals. If you have an inch or more of dried paint in the bottom of the can, however, you’ll need to toss the whole can in the trash.

Additional Tips for Home Painting Follow-up:

  • home paintingConsider donating the paint to a local theatre group, for example, or a charity such as Habitat for Humanity that can use leftover paint.
  • Mix a quick-drying concrete product and combine it with no more than two litres of the leftover paint. Mix thoroughly and pour into forms to create pastel stepping stones for your yard or garden.
  • Use your mixture as a base coat for future home, painting. Depending on the colour of the final coat, some neutral shades can work well for this.
  • If you mix lights with lights or darks with darks, the combination may be just fine to paint a garage or basement laundry area, for example, where coordinating colour with décor is not a concern.

Homeowners should always keep on hand a supply of the new paint to be used for future touch-ups, of course. Or even if come touch-up time the paint is old and has “gone off,” the lids tell the tale as far as the specific colour code you will need to get some more. In other words, any paint still visible in your home should have samples or codes on hand in order to make a match.

Don’t hesitate to ask if your professional Vancouver painter handles leftover or excess paint responsibly and according to local rules.


Vancouver painter and contractor Peter Byrne“PETER BYRNE is the owner and hands-on manager of Kassel Painting Limited. In the last two decades he has run over 1500 painting projects totaling millions of dollars. There is little that can go right (or wrong) on a job-site he has not seen, solved, and lived to talk about.”

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kassel Painting and a clickable link back to this page.