How to Mix Your Own Paint and Save Money

It’s easy to mix your own paint, and it’s a great way to save money on your decorating budget… especially if you’re like me with virtually no budget at all.

Everything I do has to be done as inexpensively as possible, and I’ve been mixing my own paint for years.

I like to repaint rooms every couple of years (sometimes even more often) and I shudder to think how much money I would have spent over the years if I was buying full-price store bought paint.

How to Mix Your Own Paint to Save Money

Tips to mix your own paint to create a custom color and save money

It’s not really that difficult to mix your own paint and it opens a whole range of possibilities for using leftover paint from other projects, and also with using Ooops or end of line paints from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore that might be the right color but not a light enough shade.

The two ReStores that I frequent sell gallons of paint for $10, and paint/primer gallon combos for $15. This is an awesome deal!

I’ve seen every brand, finish, and color you can imagine and I buy most of my paint this way. If I were to buy the same paint from the paint store the price would range from $30 to $75 a gallon depending on the brand. That’s a huge savings!

You don’t need any fancy mixing tools or drill attachments, but you certainly could use them if you like. All you really need is a paint stick and some patience.

The one important thing you need to remember is to only mix latex with latex , and oil with oil. Oil based and latex/water based paints do not mix… and never the two should meet. I never use oil paint for anything anyway so for me that isn’t an issue.

So here’s how I mixed my own color to repaint my red living room a while back.


Blue and white paints to be mixed to create a custom color


How to Mix Your Own Paint

I started with a can of Ooops! blue paint and primer combo that was too dark for my liking, a white paint and primer combo, and a dried can of white paint that I used to mix.

The blue paint/primer cost $15, and I got 2 cans of white a while back when they were having a half price paint sale so the white paint here cost me $7.50.


Hammering holes into rim of paint can to allow paint to drip back into paint can

I always hammer large holes into the rim of paint cans on the side that I’ll be pouring over. This really helps the paint drip back into the can and keep the inside rim clear.

I share more tips in my Top 10 Painting Tips, which you can get free in my Member Only Resource Library. All you have to do is subscribe to Color Me Thrifty here.

Dark blue and white paints used to create a new tone by mixing your own paint

I poured about half of the blue paint into the empty white paint can.

I’m a wing it kind of gal so I never worry about measuring, but you certainly could if you want to.


Mixing blue and white paint for a lighter tone

Adding white paint into blue paint to mix your own paint

Then I added the white paint little by little…

Mixing blue and white paint with a stir stick to create a lighter blue tone

…mixing and stirring with the paint stick.


Mixing blue and white paints to create a custom color

I added the white paint four different times to make sure that I didn’t have too much to mix in at a time.


Mixing your own paint to create a lighter tone and save money

And I just kept mixing and stirring.


Stirring and mixing your own paint

It’s important to pull the paint from the bottom up as you’re mixing.


Mixing your own paint to create a custom color

Dark blue paint beside new custom color of lighter blue paint created by mixing your own paint

After about 20 minutes of pouring and mixing and stirring I have my new paint colour.

Quite the difference from the one on the left which was way too dark for my liking.


mixing your own paint to create a custom color and save money

I went ahead and did the second can of the lighter blue too, and I’ll be letting the white can of paint dry out for the next time I want to mix another colour.

So for $22.50 I have two gallons of a light sky bluish paint.

It took an entire gallon of this new color to paint over the red in the living room, so I have the other gallon to use as I wish. I might lighten it up again and use it in my family room. Who knows?

I’ve done this before. When I did my guest room makeover I started with a one gallon can of a robin egg blue Ooops paint. Then I mixed the leftover paint from that with white for my upstairs hallway makeover, and then I mixed what was leftover from that with more white and painted the hallway ceiling. I got two rooms and a ceiling painted, and there’s still about 1/4 gallon of the final paint color left.

Tips for Mixing Your Own Paint

One thing to remember when mixing your own paint is to make sure that you mix enough for whatever project you’re doing.

If you’re mixing two gallons like I did for painting a whole room, make sure to paint from the same gallon. If you don’t have enough paint from one can for two coats on the wall, use one can for the first coat and the other for the second coat. That way you’re sure that all the walls will look the same.

One tip for buying paint at the Restore. Always ask them to open the can. If the paint has separated too much don’t buy it. It means it’s been sitting around for a long time, and they don’t mix them for you. Also, it’s always a good idea to check the color.

So the next time you’re thinking about a paint project, check out your local ReStore. It’s a great way to save money while supporting a great cause at the same time.

It’s a win win! 

Don’t forget to pin to your favorite board!

Tips to mix your own paint to create a custom color and save money

Thanks so much for reading, and until next time… keep on keepin’ on.

Tuula from Thrifty Rebel Vintage signature

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    1. Thanks very much Mimi!

  1. Good tips Tuula 🙂 I use a lot of paint, but I do not change the colors of my rooms very often (LOL). I’m a fix it and leave it kind of gal!

    1. Thanks Diana! I’m a repaint it every couple of years because I get bored with it kinda gal. lol.

    1. Thanks Tina! Light blue is becoming a new favourite colour.

  2. Awesome post! I really liked the tip of nailing holes into the rim, I’ve never thought of that and I can see how that would make things cleaner!


    1. Thanks Tania! The holes really do help drain the paint.

  3. I mix paint, too!! But, I have to say, the nail hole in the can lip is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard!!! I will definitely be doing that from now on. It’s one of those “duh, why didn’t I think of that” moments!! Thanks for that tip!!! Dona

    1. You’re so welcome Dona! It really works.

    1. Thanks Cecilia! The Ooops section is the best. I never know what I’ll see there.

  4. Hi Tuula,
    So interesting to see how the other guy does it! I never thought of the holes in the rim either. Last time I mixed paint, I used the stick to ladle it out….very messy too!
    I’m going to have to make more frequent visits to our Habitat store!
    Thanks for the tips!

    1. I used to do the ladle thing too Florence until one day years ago I just decided to take a large nail and hammer in some holes… and it worked. Now that’s the first thing I do whenever I open a can of paint. It really does work.

    1. Thanks Sharon! The Ooops section at the Restore is one of my favourite places. lol. It’s a lot easier to mix colours than most people think.

  5. Great tips, Tuula. I’ve got a lot of painting ahead of me at this new house, so any way to save money is a win-win, for sure. Now I’m going to go downstairs and look at what paint I do have already.

    1. Thanks Amy! Paint can be so expensive so mixing leftovers with white paint to get a new tint is a great way to use it up… assuming you still like the original colour.

  6. I never think to look at the paint at the Restore but now I will the next time I am there. I just priced paint for my dining room and it is about $40 a gallon!!

    1. I was just at a paint store on Saturday to get a few supplies, and I was shocked that the paint I used to buy years ago now costs $75 for a gallon. Ouch!! There’s no way I’ll ever spend that kind of money again. Frankly I can’t afford it, and even if I could I love to save money way too much. lol.

  7. JaneEllen says:

    You sound lie me Tuula, make do and save or do without. Your way of mixing paint is pretty much my idea also, savers think alike because they need to.
    Few years ago when we lived in KY I got incredible urge to paint our living room. When son bought house , completely renovated, painted he used all white. I remembered he’d left some white semi-gloss in pantry, I wanted a “tan” color of some shade, had to see it to know it. We lived out away from town and I was very short on money. Knowing me if I had to go to town for paint by time I got back would be way out of mood. Wanted to tackle it right then.
    Got that 3/4 gal/ of white out, got every little bottle of tan/brown acrylic out of craft room and started mixing one little bottle at a time until gallon was full, had my “custom” color mixed, lol. Couldn’t ever match it but had color I wanted. Couldn’t find rollers or brushes, didn’t want to waste time looking, so got out one of those flat square things with a paint pad from craft room and proceeded to paint living room. By time I finally started was about 10 a.m. or so but got going anyway. Besides other big pieces of furniture had to move big tv armoire and tv, no flat light tv’s yet. Didn’t get done til later that evening, hubs on the road so no big deal. I was so tired but got living room done, good size room, and loved it. When hubs got home he was pretty shocked, my son just shook his head when I told him what had been done and how.
    Still miss that house and property out in country with 1 1/2 acres. Wish we could have stayed but climate didn’t agree with allergies, asthma and arthritis doggone it. After 5 yrs there we moved back west, this time to western CO.
    Like you, don’t let not having right color paint stop me, have mixed other colors to get what needed. One of things about not having money and living out from town to buy paint, makes a person be resourceful. I kinda like the challenge.
    Have wonderful Sunday.

  8. Carol Tuttle says:

    Can I mix some light blue with dark gray to get a smokey blue gray?

    1. That’s impossible for me to say Carol without actually trying a ratio test first. If you’re not sure you can mix up a very small batch making note of how much of each paint you used. You can use plastic teaspoons and create your own ratio to create your custom color. If you discover what ratio you need for each color you can then create it on a larger scale using that same ratio whether its half and half, or one-third and two-thirds etc. I hope that helps.

  9. Hello,
    I want to paint my UPVC door, and I have done my research on the paint I would like to buy – Zinsser AllCoat Exterior. They only seem to do Black and white, and I’ve tried researching if I could mix a water based colour paint with the white zinsser, so I can have a coloured door. I can not find this out anywhere!
    Do you know if this can be done or not? Although I think a black door would look smart, I would like it to be a colour preferably.

    Thank you for your previous tips 🙂

    1. Hi Laura. If your Zinsser is oil based you can’t mix water based paint with it to create your own color. You can however use an oil based primer and a water based top coat in certain circumstances depending on the surface. Since I don’t have first hand knowledge of the surface you’re painting I can’t say for sure, but you could research that. I hope that helps.

      1. Marietta R Walker says:

        If you are buying Zinsser, can’t the store mix some color into the white for you.

        1. I think it would be best if you ask the store where you’ll be buying your Zinsser if it’s a good idea to do that. I’ve never used Zinsser so I can’t really answer that.

  10. Marietta R Walker says:

    Hi there,
    Do you have a new link to the ten tips for painting. The link above is broken and I would love to read the paint tips.

    1. Hi Marietta, My tips are for Color Me Thrifty subscribers only and can be found in my Member Only Resource Library. If you’re already a subscriber you can find the password at the bottom of every email that I send. If you’re not and you’d like to be you can sign up here. Thanks, Tuula

  11. Gayle Leier says:

    We have a place that gives paint away but you have to be at the door first thing when they open on Saturday. I got a 50 gal garbage can and went every Saturday for 6 months. I got everhthing that I could in exterior paint and a few interior ones. I put all the exterior paint in the 50 gal can and mixed. Each time the color looked pretty good. I ended up with a full 50 gal and painted my entire exterior in a blue grey with white trim.

  12. Great tips, especially the one about hammering holes in the paint can rim. Thank you. 🙂