As interior paints get tougher, painting gets easier

As interior paints get tougher, painting gets easier

It’s time to break some rules about painting your home’s interior. Warm grays are now neutrals and there’s no reason the trim has to be white. Painting walls and trim the same color with little contrast in sheen is popular, creating a clean line and redirecting your eye to the room’s furnishings. So how much do you have to spend for interior paint that goes on easy, hides well, and holds up over time? About $ 34 a gallon, according to Consumer Reports’ latest interior paint tests.
Buy the cheapest paints and you’ll wind up putting on more coats for better hiding. The top-scoring paint in our tests, Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel, is $ 34 at Home Depot. Among flats and mattes, the Behr Premium Plus Ultra Matte, $ 32, was tops, but like all flats it's not good at resisting stains and its finish wasn't as smooth as some and showed some roller marks. In the semi-gloss category, the high-scoring Behr Premium Plus Ultra Semi-Gloss Enamel, $ 34, was superb at hiding and resisting scrubbing, and very good at resisting stains, with little change in sheen after rough cleaning. But like most semi-glosses we tested it left a slightly textured finish. The good news is that eggshell and satin paints have gotten better at holding up to scrubbing so there’s no reason you have to use semi-gloss on trim.

Paint patter
All three Behr paints are self-priming, so you can skip the primer, a timesaver if you’re painting bare wood or drywall or repainting a finish that has a glossy or semi-gloss finish. In addition to “self-priming,” paint can labels are crammed with information. Here’s what you’ll want to know before picking a paint.

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  • Eggshell. The finish should be slightly less glossy than satin.
  • Enamel. It used to indicate that the paint was oil based, providing a tough finish and high gloss. Enamel now appears on labels of all finishes, including flat, and implies that the finish is tougher than non-enamel paints.
  • Low or no VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are solvents released into the air as the paint dries and are linked to respiratory problems and air pollution. All the interior paints we tested carry a low- or no VOC claim, but the tints used to color the base might have some.
  • Matte. It shouldn’t have a sheen, making it flatter than flat paint.

Most people pick a store first and then a paint and if that’s what you do, check our Ratings for brands where you shop—we have recommended paints from Ace Hardware, Benjamin Moore, and Lowe’s, in addition to the Behr paints from Home Depot. Spring’s nearly here and it’s finally time to pick up a paint brush and put away that shovel.

—Kimberly Janeway

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.

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