Paint is expensive. We've probably all dropped $30 or more for one gallon of paint tinted that perfect color. But savvy home shoppers with...

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Paint is expensive. We’ve probably all dropped $30 or more for one gallon of paint tinted that perfect color.

But savvy home shoppers with a little flexibility in their color scheme still can brighten up a room on a budget. You just have to know where to look.

At Bellevue Paint and Decorating, custom-tinted paint goes for $25 to $40 a gallon.

But those who don’t care if the color is rust, magenta or lime green can dig through the bargain bin and pay $30 for six gallons instead.

The bargain bin holds mis-tints, or paint mix-ups. They come from shoppers who don’t like the paint they picked, tinting mistakes by employees or custom paint that was never picked up. The store does not take back tinted paint.

The result is a boon for bargain shoppers. At Bellevue Paint, you pay $5 a gallon for a mis-tint or $1 a quart.

At the home-improvement store Lowe’s, computers mix the paint, so there are fewer tinting errors. But if a customer doesn’t like the color, the paint is sold at a discount, according to spokeswoman Adaugo Nwakamma. The average price for that paint is $5 a gallon and $2 a quart.


Bellevue Paint and Decorating: 10600 Main St. Bellevue, 425-454-7509; 2221 140th Ave. N.E. Bellevue, 425-641-7711; and 612 228th Ave. N.E., Sammamish, 425-836-5484.

Lowe’s: For a list of stores, go to

Sherwin-Williams: 1436 Northwest Leary Way, 206-789-5190

Not all stores make discount paints easy to find.

At Sherwin-Williams in Ballard, shoppers have to ask for the discounted paint kept in the back, a manager there said. They cost $5 a gallon.

The Home Depot once was another destination for discount paint, but as of June 6 stopped taking returns on custom orders and no longer has discounted gallons, a spokeswoman said.

Be sure to look for bargain bins at paint stores, or just ask for mis-tints that could be hiding in the back.

Marked-down paint is a thrifty way to spruce up a room with colorful accents — that is, for people who can put up with a bit of hassle and maybe a slightly whimsical shade of purple on the bathroom wall.

Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or