7 easy ways to save money on paint for your next project

Don’t overspend on your emulsion, eggshell or gloss. Get our ways to save money on paint, from paint recycling schemes to sale bargains.

Paint is décor’s magic elixir. Whether you are selling up, staying put or seeking quality tenants, a sensibly selected and carefully applied lick of the stuff can be an excellent investment. But the big problem? Interior paint, and especially designer paint, doesn’t come cheap. A 2.5-litre can of Farrow & Ball matt emulsion, for example, for will set you back £59. 

What we need are some sensible ways to save money on paint, and that’s exactly what we’ve come up with. So before you even reach for the tester pots, make a note of some these clever tricks and tips, and learn how to make some impressive savings. 

Paint cans and brushCredit: Shutterstock / Sebastian Duda

The credit crunch has seen many put decorating on the back burner, and that could be a mistake. As interior designer and home-staging expert Emma Victoria Hancox, of Studio EVH, explains: “Maintaining property values is high up on homeowners’ agendas.

“Any designer or estate agent will tell you that keeping your home in good decorative order, especially in a buyer’s market, is the most cost-effective and easiest way to keep the value of your home from eroding. 

“Even for homeowners with no intention of selling in the near future, staying on top of paint-related tasks like keeping skirting boards fresh or maintaining a well-painted front door might mean not having to tackle a more expensive whole-house paint job later on.”

Blue doorCredit: Shutterstock / John Queenan
A freshly painted front door adds to the kerb appeal of your property

1. Look out for DIY store deals

They’ll often fall on bank holidays

Paint salesCredit: Facebook / The Paint Shed
Look out for social media flash sales

Planning ahead for your DIY projects can leave you with more money in your pockets. With the May bank holidays approaching, now is the time to gather and review your samples so that you are in prime position to benefit from targeted seasonal price reductions and snap sales. 

Keep a close watch on the social media for the brand you want to use. They will often announce their bank holiday discounts on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. It’s also worth signing up to marketing emails as you’ll be the first to hear about any offers. 

Multibuy deals are especially popular. Over Easter 2023, B&Q had a 3 for 2 deal on interior paint and all paint mixing, both in store and online. This covered all brands including Dulux, Crown, Craig & Rose, Farrow & Ball and Valspar. 

Wickes, meanwhile, offered lots of discounts on single tins of paint – including Crown ready-mixed emulsion reduced from £18 to £13.

Crown emulsion paint, was £18, now £13 for 2.5ltrs at Wickes

2. Source affordable leftover paint

Buy up surplus paint – or pick it up for free

Handing over paintCredit: Shutterstock / ViDI Studio
There may be resources in your local community to collect free or cheap paint

Have you heard about the Community RePaint Scheme? This UK wide paint reuse network, sponsored by Dulux, aims to collect this leftover paint and redistribute it to benefit individuals, families, communities and charities in need at an affordable cost. 

Simply visit the website and enter your postcode to discover what affordable leftover and remanufactured paints are available. You can also offer the community any unused tins of paint that you aren’t using.

And this isn’t the only way you can get your hands on cheap or even free paint. 

We’d be willing to bet that right now, someone you know has unused paint that they are just itching to rid of it. Just this week, one of our Homes team was contemplating what to do with a couple of spare tins of Farrow & Ball’s De Nimes matt emulsion. 

Imagine what a call-out on your local town or village Facebook page – or even your personal profile – could yield?  

If you are willing to throw your net a little wider, many people will quite happy to give you their unused paint for little to nothing if you are willing to collect it. Our investigative search for ‘free paint’ in Gumtree brought up ads from Bristol to Fife. Take a look to see what’s on offer near you, and check out eBay and Facebook Marketplace, as well as waste reduction websites and apps, such as Trash Nothing and Olio. 

Chances are, if you start your own ‘free paint campaign’ you might end up with more paint than you know what to do with. The next tip will help you to get creative with all of that surplus paint. 

3. Use tester pots and leftovers to create inexpensive murals

Get creative with scraps of different shades

Leftover paintCredit: Shutterstock / Kostiantyn Voitenko
Leftover paint is the perfect medium for creating large scale abstract art

One of the easiest ways to save money on paint is to stick with what you’ve already got. The beauty of using your leftover paint to create an abstract mural is, if you have some artistic children in your life, they can do most of the work. It’s really that fun and easy. 

But before you pick up that paintbrush, it’s wise to start by editing all of that leftover paint you have. Take a cue from which colours you have the most of to create a complementary palette, and avoid the shades that are going to clash. 

Then you can tape up your skirting board and your ceiling and let your imagination go wild. And the good news is that since your wall is abstract, it is impossible to get your masterpiece wrong.

Running low on tester pots? Patronise brands that give free samples. Eco-paint makers Claybrook will send you out up to four, and many other paint brands are also happy to send you out free tester pots. 

4. Shop for paint like a builder

Save in the long run with trade paint

Trade depotCredit: Shutterstock / Juice Dash
Go to trade depots to get your hands on premium paint

A perk of using a builder or decorator on your project is that they may pass their trade discounts onto you. But if you’re not using a tradesperson, don’t write off trade paint. 

A commonly held belief among homeowners is that trade centres are out of bounds for non-contractors. This isn’t true. What is true is that ‘trade paint’ is designed to meet the exacting specifications of professionals.

Much of the paint you pick up at your local hardware store is formulated to be easy to apply for first timers. Trade paint is designed specifically for expert painters. 

And yes, you will pay a little bit extra for paint from a trade centre – particularly if you don’t have a discount card. But the upside of professionally formulated paint is that it is highly pigmented and offers much better coverage. Therefore, you’ll ultimately use less paint. 

Expert painter and decorator Artur Soszynski from Prime Projects often jokes that he cannot afford to use cheap paint: “Trade paints are easier to use, more efficient and more durable. Retail paints can be applied easily, but often do not cover as well and almost always age much faster – white gloss paint turns yellow quickly. 

“Paradoxically, despite the lower buying price, they are more expensive because they require more work and quickly lose their freshness.” 


5. Be calculating

Do the maths to save some money

Paint calculatorCredit: Shutterstock / aomas
Calculating how much paint you need for your project could mean big savings

The first rule of paint penny-pinching is to never pay for more than you actually need.  

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, up to 50 million tins of untouched or barely used paint are sitting forgotten in sheds and garages across the UK, posing all sorts of environmental issues.   

So why not tackle the problem at source, and only order exactly the paint you need? It will save you money, too. Most major paint brands have easy-to-use online calculators to do the sums for you. We recommend using the calculator for the brand you are actually using, as each paint has a slightly different formulation and coverage. 

Here are the links to well-known paint brand calculators and tables:  

A great eco choice is: 

These calculators are most useful when starting with white walls – allow a bit extra for painting over dark walls, where you may need an extra coat. 

Soszynski says calculating how much paint you need to go from a dark to light wall isn’t straightforward: If you want to repaint a very dark wall (black, for example) to a very light one (white, for example) the first ‘primer’ coat needs to be made grey, a few tones brighter. The next coat should be lighter, the next coat white. 

Sometimes two coats of primer are enough (first grey; second white) and sometimes you need to do a third (white). 

6. Buy upcycled paint

Be kind to the environment

Seagulls in Leeds accept unwanted household paintCredit: Seagulls
Seagulls in Leeds accept unwanted household paint

The environmental risk of leftover paint hasn’t gone unnoticed by manufacturers in the paint industry. Leading brands like Dulux, Farrow & Ball, Johnstone’s Paints and Ronseal have banded together to create a remanufacturing programme called Paintcare. 

A visit to the Paintcare website will direct you to a list of social enterprise outfits that sell re-manufactured paint for £1-2 per litre. The wall paint is available through their shops, charities, or community groups.  

A heart-warming example is Seagulls in Leeds. They will not only sell you beautiful re-manufactured paint, but if you are close by you can also donate your leftover and unwanted paint.

7. Shop clearances and deals sites

Great if you’re flexible about the colour

Paint DealsCredit: HotUKDeals
HotUKDeals collates paint deals from around the internet

Does the thought of a £5 paint sample pot turn you crimson with frustration?  If you have penny-savvy patience and don’t mind a potluck approach to colour, a great way to save money on paint is to scour the shelves and use online deals sites. They will flag up offers from your favourite names in paint, as well as DIY store own brands.

Latestdeals.co.uk scans the internet for offers, including paints – a recent deal included a Farrow & Ball 100ml sample of No.290 Salon Drab, available at B&Q for £2.50.

You might also find localised offers for paint deals. Our quick search on Hot UK Deals threw up Rust Oleum Furniture Paint 125ml on sale for £1.25 at Wilko in Fareham, as well as 2.5ltr tins of Dulux Weather Shield in Green Glade reduced from £46.99 to £33.33 at Amazon. 


Written by Joy Archer she/her