Ready to Redecorate? 7 Ways to Save on Paint

Follow these DIY tips to help freshen up your walls without spending a fortune.

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Abby Hayes
Abby Hayes
Repainting a room is a quick way to freshen up your home, but at $30 a gallon, premium paint is no picnic – especially considering that a mid-sized bedroom could require 2 to 3 gallons.

If you're ready for a new look, but don't have a lot of money to splurge, these seven tips will help you update your wall colors without spending a fortune.

1. Check your local recycling center. Recycling and hazardous waste centers usually take paint from local business owners who need to throw out old, unused paint. Since paint has a long shelf life, much of the paint that is thrown away in these centers is still good. And the best part is you can usually pick up this paint for free!

2. Stop by the hardware store frequently. Hardware stores, paint specialty stores and even Wal-Marts usually have a mistints section where they sell discolored paint for a fraction of the cost. At Lowe's, for instance, you can pick up a $35 gallon of premium paint for under $15. You never know what you'll find, but it's worth swinging by this section of your local store.

3. Invest in better paint. When it comes to paint, you really do get what you pay for. Though you might not want to spring on the most expensive paint, the higher-end paints cover better, which means you use less paint, and they're less messy (so no accidental drips on the floor that could cost to clean up later). They also tend to be more durable, making your new paint job last longer.

4. Use primer. There are times when you don't have to use primer, but if you're painting raw wood, raw drywall, stained surfaces or rough surfaces, you'll definitely need to use primer. Also, if you're painting a dark color or dramatically changing the color of your walls, primer will help your paint cover better, so you use less. Typically, one coat of primer and one coat of paint will be cheaper than two or three coats of paint.

5. Learn to paint like a professional. Inexperienced painters tend to try to squeeze all the paint out of a roller every time. It seems like this would make sense, since you use all the paint you put on the roller. But rolling on thicker layers with a lighter touch actually uses less paint and looks more professional.

6. Buy in bulk. Buying paint in 5 gallon cans is cheaper than buying it in 1 gallon cans. Typically, a 5 gallon bucket of paint will cost about the same as four 1 gallon buckets – so you get a whole gallon for free. If you're painting a lot of square footage, choosing a single color to use on most of the walls can save you a lot of money. You could also talk to your local paint store about buying several 1 gallon buckets of paint at a bulk price.

7. Cover your rollers and brushes. Sometimes it takes a few days to complete a larger painting project. If you have to quit before you're done with a paint color, don't rinse out those brushes and rollers. That's just a waste of time and paint! Instead, wrap them tightly in plastic bags, tied with a rubber band or some twine. When you're ready to resume painting the next day, just unwrap your rollers, and go.

But the easiest way to save on paint? Buy less. If you're really on a tight budget, consider simply redecorating your home with an accent wall instead of painting the entire room. Another excellent way to upgrade the look of a room – especially if you still like the overall color scheme – is to paint the ceiling a lighter version of the wall color, instead of just a boring ceiling white.

Abby Hayes is a freelance blogger and journalist who writes for personal finance blog The Dough Roller and contributes to Dough Roller's weekly newsletter.