Giving your house a fresh, new look doesn't have to break the bank. While most experts agree that you should buy the best paint you can afford, a few inexpensive house paints earn strong recommendations in independent tests, such as the ones conducted by editors at ConsumerReports.org. These are especially worth consideration if you're painting an exterior structure that is on a part of your property where it's not in full view of everyone who comes to your home.
Behr Premium Plus (Est. $30) is the best cheap house paint we've found, and it receives a lot of positive attention in reviews. This exterior paint, which is available exclusively at The Home Depot, earns top accolades in independent tests. It maintains a quality finish after being subjected to accelerated weathering tests for the equivalent of nine years, which simulate the effects of sun and precipitation. Premium Plus satin and semi-gloss finishes earn recommendations in the same tests, but flat doesn't. All resist cracking, color change and mildew, but only the satin and flat withstand dirt well.
Among all budget house paints, Behr Premium Plus seems to get the most consistent positive reviews at Internet discussion boards overall -- which are toughs crowds to please. It's a hit among customers posting at user review sites, earning an overall score of 4 stars out of 5 at HomeDepot.com in more than 100 user reviews. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive there, and most are pleased with the way it covers existing hues -- most say two coats did the trick -- and its ease of application. At Behr.com, Premium Plus fares just as well in user reviews. Customers report it goes on smooth, thick and evenly, with little hassle.
Another solid contender in the budget category is Glidden Premium (Est. $25) . Like all cheap house paints, it receives mixed reviews from contractors in discussion boards -- but like Behr Premium Plus, it's received more favorably than other brands of exterior paints, such as products from Valspar or Olympic. There are some who say if they have to buy budget paint, they go with Glidden Premium. Also like Premium Plus, it scores highly in independent tests that focus on durability. Premium flat is the only finish that resists mildew in the same tests, so you'll want to consider the Behr paint if you're painting in an area that receives lots of rain or moisture.