Borough of Kenhorst
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"Green" Painting Tip
Berks County > Municipalities > Borough of Kenhorst


“Green” Painting Tip

Protect the Environment while Painting Your House

Paint, Stains and Varnishes can add color to your home, perk up a drab room or transform a piece of furniture. But did you know that paint and paint-related products may be harmful to the environment when they are disposed?

Paints and related products contribute to air pollution. And, if they are poured down the drain or put in a landfill, paint products can pollute our groundwater. Never throw liquid paint products into your trash. In addition, paint products can irritate your eyes and skin and may be harmful if inhaled.

1. Types of Paint Products:

Latex Paints are water-based and usually less harmful to the environment than oil-based paints. They clean up with soap and water.

Oil-based Paints, Stains and Varnishes contain solvents that don’t mix with water. They must be cleaned with paint thinner or appropriate solvents.

Oil-based paint products are flammable and present particular waste management problems. Never dump these products into storm sewers, drains or onto the ground.

Paint Thinner, Turpentine and Mineral Spirits are generally used to thin oil-based-paints and stains or to clean up the residues left behind. Leftovers are household hazardous waste: they are highly flammable and should never be dumped into the environment.

2. Tips to reduce paint-related waste

Buy wisely

Measure the area you are painting to determine the amount of paint you need. A typical gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet, although coverage varies by brand and surface to be painted.

Purchase the right type of paint. Check the label to make sure the product is suited for your project (I.e. plaster, wood, metal or high temperature).

Use latex paint if possible. It is less harmful to the environment than oil-based paint. The words “alkyd” or “oil-based” indicate that the paint is oil-based. “Soap and Water” clean-up instructions indicate latex paint.

Purchase recycled paint if it is available in your area.

Use it all. Don’t buy more than you need. Save money and reduce waste by knowing how much to buy.

Donate it

If you have extra paint, give it to a neighbor or donate it to a community or religious group.

Keep it

If you cannot use it all immediately, keep it for future use. Store small amounts in a tightly sealed glass jar. Keep larger amounts in the original can. Close the lid tightly and store the can upside-down. The paint will stay fresh by creating a seal around the rim.

3. How to manage paint related waste

If possible, recycle or dispose of your paint-related waste at your local HHW collection site. Otherwise, please follow these tips:

Latex paint disposal

Latex paint is not hazardous and can be disposed with regular waste.

Pour the paint into an absorbent material such as shredded newspaper or kitty litter.

Allow it to completely dry.

Dispose of the dried paint in trash.

In areas where recycling programs exist, recycle the empty, dry container.

Oil-based paint disposal

Oil-based paint, stains and varnishes are hazardous and should not be disposed, if possible.

Take it to a household hazardous waste collection program if available.

If you need to dispose of oil-based paint and a household Hazardous Waste Hotline at 1-800-346-4242.

In areas where recycling programs exist, recycle the empty, dry container.

Paint Thinner, Turpentine and Mineral Spirit

Paint thinners, turpentine and mineral spirits can be reused! Let the solid particles settle to the bottom of a closed container, then pour off the clear liquid. Store it in a clean container for use with another project.

Add cat litter, sawdust or shredded newspaper to dry the residue completely; then dispose of it with household waste.

Source: PA Department of Environmental Protection.