The Problem with Paint Chips

Over the past few years there has been a surge in crafts made from paint sample chips you get at the paint or hardware store. I see them all over Pinterest, in books, on crafty and design TV shows, in blogs and in magazines. They're very cool, because paint chips are very cool.  Each chip a lovely gradation of opaque colors neatly stacked on one long paper strip.  I'm sure it began with a creative type who took a bunch of chips home to review while planning colors for painting.  Innocent enough, yes?

They had a bunch of these chips sitting around and looked at them and found them fair...and a new crafty creation was born.  Upcycled, repurposed and quirky in its charm.


Then they told two friends, and they told two friends...and pretty soon paint chip crafts were everywhere.


Yet, I have begun wondering how a truly upcycled idea morphed into one that involves basically stealing paint chips to make art.

Someone has to pay for those paint chips and I am quite sure they're not cheap.  Each chip has to be painted with the actual paint colors and the hardware or paint store foots the bill to keep them stocked with the intention of customers taking them as they plan their paint colors.  Then the customer returns and hopefully buys some paint to offset the cost of the samples.  I'm sure they never thought paint chips would become a craft and interior design trend.  One wonders if paint chip replacement costs are soaring!  Will it reach the point where you have to pay for paint chips?

It's a crafty conundrum indeed.

If you are truly upcycling chips you took while looking at paint colors, that's a different story.  Why toss them out when you can make something fun with them? Still, I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, taking a bunch of paint chips to make crafts if you have no intention of buying a can of paint is not upcycling, it's theft.  I bet a lot of people haven't even thought about this, but as a former retailer I think about this stuff a lot.  It's amazing how easily people can convince themselves that it's okay to take a whole lot of something for free, I mean it's there on a shelf and all and it is technically free.  No one stops you from taking them.  You can't pay for them.  So what's the big dealio? 

I don't know if the big hardware chains are addressing this phenomenon or if it's big enough to make a significant difference in their cost of business, still, it's the kind of thing that rolls around in my noggin' and makes me go...


Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?



Kim said...

I always tell them I'll be making cards (or whatever) with them and ask if I should pay, the people at the store always say to just take them.

Margot Potter said...

If it is just you or a few people, it is probably not a significant cost factor. Butbif thousands start doing it, that has to add up! I just wonder if is having an impact or if the hardware and paint store companies care. It isn't any money our of the clerk's pocket.


EK Hil said...

Funny thing, I was just in a Lowe's ro Home Depot or Ace (one of em') - looking for paint chips for specifice project in mind, just remembered something I seen somewhere..anyhoo, paint chips were more paperish, not the solid type they used to always have...hmmmm....maybe they did catch on and are using less costly materials? Maybe eventually a "chip" is all we'll really get to take home for

Unknown said...

I frankly don't like the paint chip stuff. I don't live near a home depot.
Also, I've never been one to do what everyone else is doing.

sandi m said...

Interesting and valid points Margot. I'm just guilty of taking a gazillion samples when trying to figure what color to paint walls. I'll then keep some for color inspirations or use as bookmarks in my books.
But to just walk in, help myself to a wad and turn them into something of value to give or sell - no, I'm 100% with you.

Shai Williams said...

That has always bothered as well as people who will take hoards of free boxes from the post office and have no intention of using them for their implied purpose. It is theft and causes us all to pay more in the end.

Tammy said...

No one actually paints paint chips anymore. Haven't for years. They're computer printed lightweight cardboard. Still shouldn't take them.