Upcycle Leftover Paint In A Garden Sidewalk

Concrete Garden Sidewalk with recycled latex paint and leaf imprints

Summertime in the garden bespeaks the sensual delights of picking juicy tomatoes, finding yourself danced over by butterfly shadows and basking in the radiance of sun and sunflowers.

It’s also a great time for creating hardscaping elements, like garden paths. And those can be an opportunity for reusing and recycling leftover materials.

As someone who is often compelled to paint everything in sight in bold colors, and having been loosed on this property with bristles and pigment in hand many years ago, it is perhaps not surprising that paint cans with leftover dregs collected in the old shed in shocking numbers.

Besides the inside and outside of buildings, I also paint garden beds and trellises, wine barrel planters, discarded furniture, wall murals… basically anything with a surface gets a splash.

Leftovers from latex wall paints can be somewhat altered in hue with paint pigments available in paint stores to extend their usefulness in other projects.

But what to do with the bits that have no home?

Using Up Leftover Latex Paint in Concrete–like garden hardscaping
Swirls are my thing. 😉

I did some research and found that latex paint can be added to concrete. Now, I’m not big on concrete, since I prefer to have permeable outdoor surfaces that can absorb winter rains and replenish the water table in our summer-dry climate. But in one particular area, we needed a sturdy, indestructible path, navigable during soggy winters even with a heavy garden cart. We decided to make a concrete garden path ourselves, in sections (so we could rest in between pours), and use up some remnant latex paint in that.

You can use up old latex paint in the concrete mix — just keep the ratio to 20% of the water amount. The color of the latex paint in the concrete will be very faded, almost negligible, depending on the saturation of the color you mixed in. (If you want your concrete to be strongly colored, you will probably need to use a powdered concrete colorant made for the purpose.)

We stamped the wet concrete with favorite plant leaves and flowers from the garden, and used up some spare glass tiles and pavers, and then I painted the final surface. For a professional concrete job, I would, um, call professionals. 😉 But doing it ourselves instilled it with nostalgia for us, and allowed us to complete it in stages so we could imprint the leaves and set the glass tiles in wet cement.

Replace up to 20 percent of the water required with the latex paint of your choice. Mix the paint well before combining it with the concrete. Add the rest of the water and 10 percent more to make a wetter mix than normal to make sure the paint is well mixed.

The finished sidewalk. A bit of a hack job to be sure, but we enjoy it! This area used to be “the duck run” but now is up for a redesign.

There is research to suggest that using leftover latex paint in municipal sidewalks could divert a significant portion of paint waste material:

“Currently, in Ontario, Canada, around 21.7% of the total hazardous waste (HZW) collected by municipalities is waste paint. Waste latex paint (WLP) alone constitutes 12% of the total HZW.

… The results also indicate that the annual urban concrete sidewalk construction could use the yearly production of WLP while producing sidewalks with enhanced properties and durability.”

Of course, you could just use up old paint on a multi-hued garden fence!

I hope all of you are having a wonderful summer so far, and have been able to see friends and family! Thanks for reading!

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Go to the garden blog of The Compulsive Gardener here.

One thought on “Upcycle Leftover Paint In A Garden Sidewalk

  1. Your path looks great and a really interesting walk way in your garden. I love your painted goat and chicken as well but that speaks of a lot more artistic talent than the average gardener has. Amelia

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