Cheap Paint – How I Painted My Entire Basement for Less Than 1 Gallon of Premium Paint

Cheap Paint – How I Painted My Entire Basement for Less Than 1 Gallon of Premium Paint
Cheap Paint // Can I mix two cans of paint // Can I mix different paint brands // What can you do with leftover paint // Mixing leftover wall paint // Blending old paints // Mixing oops paints // Mixing leftover paints // Mixing latex paint colors // Can you mix flat and satin paint // Can you mix gloss and flat paint
Pin This!

When I decided to create a family room in my basement that took up 90% of the foot print of my house I didn’t plan on how expensive painting that size room would be – I needed to find cheap paint!

Considering my job is refinishing furniture with pricey paints like chalk paint you would think that the price of a gallon of paint wouldn’t shock me. Truth to tell the idea of spending $30-$60 on a gallon of paint makes my hair stand on end. I’m sure there’s a reason that paint costs that much but when you’re trying to do a large home renovation on a budget $350 is a lot when you’re at the end of the project.

I had used up all my funds on the floor I wanted, trim, the toilet, sink, etc.  So hear I was in an empty basement that was almost finished and no funds to paint. I needed a cheap paint solution.

It’s time to get creative!

Don’t get me wrong when I say creative I didn’t mean I used craft paints and went to town making art on the walls. I needed to be creative about the resources I had.

Lucky for me the home improvement store I had shopped at (Menards) has a rebate program where they give you back 11% of your purchase price in the form of a store credit. And since I had purchased my shower surround, trim boards and a bunch of other things to finish my basement I had a hefty store credit with them.  Unfortunately, I needed to get more than just paint. The bathroom floor needed grout as did the wet bar, so that took up a large part of the rebate.

I had $60 to spend to paint my entire basement.

The cost of one premium gallon of paint to paint a large family room, a bathroom, and a spare bedroom.

Take Stock

cheap paintThere was no way to get 8 gallons of paint for $60 at the home improvement store.  I knew I wanted my family room to be a neutral dark tan color, I wanted a Tiffany blue in the bed room and I wanted navy blue in the bathroom.

Knowing your colors is very important because getting cheap paint means you with have to put in a little more effort than walking up to a wall of paint chips and saying I want that.

The first think I did was take stock of what I already had on hand. When we painted our upstairs a few years ago I had saved some of the paints I had leftover (because I had way over bought – you can save money by using a paint calculator).

One of the paints was a light green color which would be perfect for the base of the Tiffany blue. Another was a pale blue from our nursery. Also perfect for the Tiffany Blue.

I had one room pretty well in hand if I mixed those two together and added more blue it would be the color I wanted.  I just need to find 4 gallons of dark tan and 2 gallons of navy.

Before you get upset and yell at me that you just moved into your first home and you don’t have left over paint! Relax. You can always ask family and friends if they have any leftover paints cluttering up their basements. I bet you’ll find a few gallons by posting one impassioned Facebook plea.

Where to Look for Free Paint

Here’s where patience come in.  Remember I said it wasn’t going to be as easy as ordering up the paint you want. You need to do a little leg work.

The first place I checked was my local recycling center.  They take paint for recycling and the best part is if they get a full or partial can of paint they set it on a reuse shelf that people can come in and take it for FREE.  I know the best price ever!

Want to know the best part about frequently checking the recycling center? Most people paint their homes in neutral colors like tan so scoring a tan can of paint is usually a slam dunk.  Unfortunately for me, I only found a half a gallon of tan paint here.  There was a lot of red though.  I must have missed the paint your home red memo.

Anyway! At least it was something.

Where to Buy Cheap Paint

Okay, we’ve exhausted all our FREE resources for paint or at least I had. It was time to use up that $60 credit.  Any home improvement store will have a section of paints they’ve mixed for someone else that for whatever reason weren’t quite right.  This section is usually in the back of the paint section on a dark shelf that isn’t very well marked, because they want you to buy the very expensive paints.

Those of us who paint for a living are known to haunt this section of the home improvement stores and paint stores. It’s how we get out paints for really cheap. I don’t walk into a home improvement store without a quick glance at this shelf because you never know what you’ll find.

Those of us in the know call this section the “Oops” paints section.  Recently, I saw paint that had fallen off a shelf and opened spilling down the sides. I bought it because it was just a white base. I’ve seen metallic paints that were discontinued. I’ve seen five gallon buckets that a contractor returned (yes, you can return paint).

The point is there are treasures to be found here! At my home improvement store they have raised the price of a full gallon of oops paint to $9 from the old price of $5 (I miss the $5 gallons).  You’ll have to check your home improvement stores to see what they charge (don’t forget the premium paint stores too like Sherwin Williams – They have oops paints too).

Frequent Visitsoops paint cheap paint

I went to the store twice a week for three weeks before I found what I needed.  Strangely enough I found 2 gallons of navy right away. I thought this was going to be the hard one but I got lucky! I now had he bathroom and the extra blue I need to make Tiffany blue.

Dark tan was harder to come back. Eventually I collected 4 full gallons of 4 different tan colors.  All of them very light. But that was no problem. I still had chalk paint left from when I was a stockist and NO ONE bought brown.  Seriously NO ONE. So I had a bunch of dark brown. If you don’t have chalk paint lying around acrylic artist paints are an inexpensive way to adjust your tints.

I was ready!

That was 6 gallons of paint at $9 per gallon = $54 + tax. Yep just under my $60 budget to paint the entire basement.

Time to Mix

There are two ways you can mix paints together. The first is called boxing the paint. If you talk to a professional painter this is the term they will use. It’s an annoying long process where you pour small amounts of paint into separate container and mix the paints back and forth between the gallons of paint until you have combined all the paints into one color.


No, I don’t have time for that. I bought a 5 gallon bucket, dumped all the paints into the 5 gallon bucket and mixed them all together. This requires a really long stick, and a lot of patience, but it’s way better than boxing paint. Especially if you have 5 different colors you need to mix.

I have a paint mixer that attaches to my drill but if you’re not a professional painter then a long broom handle will work too. Just be sure to mix it well enough that the paint colors are evenly distributed. Once they are mixed you’re ready to paint.

Watch the video below to see how I mixed my own colors using oops paints!

Can I Mix Different Types of Paint Finishes

Oh, heck yes!

As long as the paints you are mixing are all water based paints you can mix them together (don’t mix oil based with water based). The sheen types don’t matter. You can mix an eggshell and a gloss or a semi-gloss with a satin. And in my case a chalk paint with a latex.

For my family room I mixed an eggshell, a satin, a semi-gloss and a chalk paint. The finish I got was nice satin finish. Not overly gloss and not a flat color either.

The bedroom was 2 semi-glosses with a dash of navy satin so what I have in there is a semi-gloss.  If you want to see how I mixed the bedroom colors watch the video below.

Cheap Paint = Patience

I know this method of painting isn’t going to be for everyone. There are a lot of people I know (including my best friend) who have to have what they want NOW! So they will go out an charge their paint on a credit card at 30% to get it done today. That is their choice.

The only way to truly find cheap paint if you want to stay inside a budget with with a little patience.

If you are on a budget and can’t afford to replace your laminate cabinets right now don’t forget to read my blog post on painting on Laminate (yes, you can even use your cheap paint).

Don’t forget to sign up for my email list so you don’t miss any of my easy DIY tips!

Enter your email address and you’ll receive an amazing series of tips and tricks, plus one amazing bonus.  Every week you’ll receive emails packed with great tips to help you make your home gorgeous on a budget!  You can DIY (if I can do it anyone can)!

Many blessings to you all!