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I’ll freely admit I laughed at this recently when I saw the ad for sample 8 oz. cans of paint for just under $3 at the Depot. I should have known better; every time I scoff at something like that it winds up biting me in the rear.

What could you possibly do with that? It’s not enough to really accomplish anything. I mean it’s not as if you could try out a few colors you were having a hard time deciding between in the room you wanted to paint. Oh wait, that’s just what my other half did this weekend — and spent less than ten bucks putting actual paint on actual walls — worked pretty well on the whole.

Also, you have some touch-up paint afterwards for pesky nicks and holes to be fixed. So let me just point out: sample paint, The Depot, 8.oz — don’t laugh.

Sample Paint [The Home Depot]


18 Responses to Sample Paint — Who Needs That?

  1. Dave says:

    Laugh? Are you kidding? I’ve been addicted to these things since they first appeared at the local H.D. But I’m one of those people who changes his mind about paint shades a lot. I used to spend a ton of time fretting about whether to buy this shade of green or that one, and then ended up buying a whole quart only to change my mind once a patch was on the wall. These $3 samples rock.

  2. Greg A. says:

    I used this to match paint on a patch job, only needed a bit, and since it was in an apartment saved me $750 security deposit

  3. _Jon says:

    I learned to throw away the samples you don’t use.

    Grabbing the wrong shade a year later makes for a frustrating day of re-painting (touch-ups) the following weekend.

  4. Old Coot says:

    They are hot. Wal-Mart and my local hardware stores no longer stock/sell paint in less than one quart size and those cost $8-10. These little cans are just what I need for touching up a painted sign, scout projects, model making, etc.

  5. Jim German says:

    Lowes has these now too.

  6. Rusty says:

    The color is not always that accurate in these, because of the very small quantities of some colors that would need to go into them.

  7. BLORE40@HOTMAIL.COM says:


  8. FredB says:

    Single serving sizes. Cool.

  9. Alan says:

    Yeah, I use these from Lowes all the time. Serious time and money saver if you can’t figure out what color you want or you just need to see it first under YOUR lighting.

  10. BJN says:

    Sounds like a great option – a lot less expensive than buying a quart to test a color.

    I have to ask. Are you color-impaired or do you just like to paint everything white? Professional painters can’t eyeball colors from chips in context, and it’s a really expensive bite in the butt to waste quarts or gallons of paint of the wrong color or shade.

  11. Jim says:

    Used sample paint once, not HD, and when we top-coated with the same brand, sheen, line of paint as the samples the top coat didn’t take the same over the sample spots as the rest of the wall. Looking at the wall from an angle you could see several squares where we’d painted samples. Not just a color diff, but a texture diff as well. Had to scuff sand those areas, prime, and repaint. Kinda annoying. Next time may paint some scrap pieces of plywood (that can be moved around the room) or at least spot prime before topcoating.

  12. Don says:

    I learned to love these the hard way. When we bought out first house. the previous owners had painted the kitchen a bright yellow. We liked the look and wanted to re-fresh the paint. After buying five gallons to do the job and painting one wall we noticed that the color was not quite right.

    When we repainted out master bedroom the next year, my wife bought a couple of pints in the colors that we were between so that we wouldn’t have a repeat of the kitchen mistake.

    Paint chips are no substitute for slapping some paint on the wall to see how it looks in different lights and on different walls.

  13. Mike47 says:

    Instead of sample-painting walls in our home the last time we painted, we took 8-1/2″x11″ heavy white paper sheets and painted them with each color. Then we stuck them to the wall with a loop of tape on the back. That way we could put the samples anywhere we wanted in any room, without affecting the surface, and the size made for a good representation of the color. Worked especially well for placing right next to window and door trim. Made sure to label each one on the back to avoid stupid mistakes. It’s surprising how different a paint color looks between morning, day and artificial light, as well as ceiling vs. wall.

  14. rjerryc says:

    So you pay $3 for a sample – you decide it’s not what you want and you pay $3 for another sample? How many of these $3 each samples do you go through before deciding on just the perfect color and sheen? Not trying to be difficult but I am certainly curious about this.
    As for the idea of being able to just buy a small amount of paint for a project that only needs that amount, I think these would be great!

  15. Rusty says:

    “So you pay $3 for a sample – you decide it’s not what you want and you pay $3 for another sample? How many of these $3 each samples do you go through before deciding on just the perfect color and sheen? Not trying to be difficult but I am certainly curious about this.”

    Well, when you’re contemplating buying 5 gallons or more, and then living with your choice for several years, I think it’s worth spending some time and money up front for it. We bought at least 5 or 6 samples when we did our living room recently.

    That’s why I mentioned the color variations – some colors might only have a VERY small quantity of a given color for a full gallon, so the amt used in a little sample is REALLY small. The variation gets magnified.

  16. Kris says:

    On a slightly different theme, when I have paint finally mixed I ask them to print an additional formula label, then stick it to a piece of heavy paper (card stock works for this) along with a couple of swipes of the paint. That way if you need some touch-up paint in a few years you have the formula as well as the actual color if it needs to be scanned.

  17. Gough says:

    As my stats prof used to say, “There’s no substitute for an adequate sample.” I think this is certainly the case here. In my experience, these don’t cover enough area to give my clients a good idea of the final product. I use quarts and cover 40-50 square feet of wall or ceiling for each sample. Then I let them look at it for a few days in different light, times of day, etc. before they make a final choice.

  18. Brau says:

    In the past I have simply bought tester quarts and usually have more than half left, so yes these testers are cheaper and welcome.
    Two things have always boggled my mind:
    1. Why some people don’t bother to test colours first, then complain and want to return 5 gallons of mis-tint.
    2. Why some other people feel they have to “live with it” when the colour is wrong or just plain clashes badly.

    I mean, in the grand scheme of things paint is about the cheapest and arguably the most effective thing you’ll pay for during any reno.

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