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I just purchased a home and it needs a good painting (interior). A little research led me to a thread stating that Benjamin Moore has the best paint. How does it compare to Lowe's and Home Depot paints?

Does the brand really matter?

What are the qualities of a top end paint versus a low end paint?

Update

A link to top 8 interior paints.

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As with anything like this buy the most expensive you can afford. Going for the cheapest is false economy. –  ChrisF Jun 30 '11 at 21:26
    
Thanks @ChrisF, I'm going with either Behr from Home Depot or Valspar from Lowes. –  Chuck Conway Jun 30 '11 at 23:58
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@ChrisF Cost does not necessarily imply quality, sometimes you pay a lot for a label. With that said, I agree that the cheapest option rarely really is. –  Stephen Jul 1 '11 at 2:36
    
@Stephen - true, but it's a fairly good indicator - unless the name is a "lifestyle" one. –  ChrisF Jul 1 '11 at 12:00
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I like Sherwin Williams, not only because it's good paint, but because it's a single-purpose store. Those people really know paint, and the can also counsel on color choices. Better service is well worth the money. –  pboin Jul 1 '11 at 15:01

4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I have always been pleased with Behr paints from the Home Depot, though I know they are a bit pricey.

From my experience less expensive paints tend to have the following in common (and I'm sure this is by no means comprehensive)

  • less covering ability ... the pigments used don't seem to be able to provide as good a barrier to bleed through from what's on the wall now

  • less coverage ... probably related to the first point, but they also don't seem to get the same amount of square footage per gallon

  • more spatter/drips, the paint itself seems thinner leading to more cleanup

  • less selection of colours

  • less durable, the less expensive semi glosses that I've used don't seem to retain their finish as long leading to repainting earlier.

  • more marking, again related to the finish, the walls seem to mark up much easier

Again this is only based on my experiences, Sears used to have a good quality paint but lately I've bought Behr. CIL is probably good in most cases as is Benjamin Moore. I've used a number of bargain brands and don't really recommend any of them, and the last time I used a gallon of Walmart house brand was the last time I used a gallon from Walmart :-P

Hope this (mostly opnion) helps.

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+1 Thanks, that's good advice. –  Chuck Conway Jun 30 '11 at 23:57
    
I agree with all this, including the Behr paint recommendation. We've gotten good results from Lowe's Valspar too; a bit thinner but it covers very well. Don't bother with Glidden; it took us two gallons, two coats, and half the day to paint an average-size living room, and then we tried to use their primer and it was so thin it couldn't help but drip. –  KeithS Jul 1 '11 at 15:30
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@Chuck - Buying paint at Home Depot is like buying a computer at K-Mart. They don't specialize in it, and their paints are beginner-level paints. The painter who did our interior started with our Behr paint that we bought (we were naive about the difference between what he could get at the actual paint store), and used about a gallon or more per room. When he ran out and switched to his paint (which he was able to mix pigments into to achieve the same color), he painted our living room (with vaulted ceiling), and dining room with less than 1 gallon, and it looks way better, 2 years later. –  orokusaki Jul 1 '11 at 17:30
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An addition to the points mentioned here. If you are painting in color, a bad quality paint is very prone to fading in a short time (1-2 years). Especially important if there is lots of UV light in the room (many windows, a southern location, a high altitude location). –  rumtscho Jul 2 '11 at 16:35

In general, yes the cheapest option rarely is, but if you live in the New York City, there's a relatively small company called Mercury (no, that's not a comment on the ingredients :) ) that I've found to be the best I've ever used. It covers almost half again as much area as I was able to do with Bejamin Moore. As an added bonus, their low VOC line smells a lot less than any other one and doesn't affect people who get sick even from other low VOC paints like Benjamin Moore Aura.

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I tried to find Mercury paint here in California, but no findo. –  Chuck Conway Jul 3 '11 at 2:03
    
@Chuck, I'm not surprised like I said, it's pretty small and didn't even get rated in Consumer Reports. Here's their website, it has contact info if you want it. mercurypaint.com/mp –  Yitzchak Jul 3 '11 at 2:45

Consumer Reports does objective analysis of paints and stains every year. They test properties like how well it covers up what is underneath, resistance to fading, resistance to mildew, resistance to cleaners and scrubbing, etc.

Behr is usually one of their top-rated brands. Other top picks are from Kilz, Glidden, and Benjamin Moore. Which one is "best" will vary depending on the specific type of paint you are looking for (Satin, Semi-Gloss, Flat, etc). It can also change from year to year as companies reformulate their products.

You have to subscribe to see the ratings: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/home-improvement/paints/index.htm

You can also buy a back issue.

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+1 thanks for the link. –  Chuck Conway Jul 1 '11 at 13:10
    
Back issues of Consumer Reports are probably available at your local library as well. –  Scott Saunders Jul 1 '11 at 18:13

Stephen has a great answer. One more thing:

  • Better paints also 'flow' better off the brush or roller, making it much easier to get an even coat and retain detail. This is related to, but distinct from, coverage (you can get by with less paint).
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+1 Thanks for the tip! –  Chuck Conway Jul 1 '11 at 12:49
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+1 Good point that I've experienced but didn't think of. –  Stephen Jul 1 '11 at 18:07
    
I wasted so much time on a trim job before realizing that, no, I didn't suck at painting today, it was the paint... –  Alex Feinman Jul 1 '11 at 18:09

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