paint is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to refresh your home
A beautiful paint finish can really bring out the
best in a room and repainting is one of the quickest, easiest and most
affordable ways to give your home a fresh look. But regardless of your skill
level, a paint job can only look as good as the quality of the paint used. Interior
paints vary in their ease of application, viscosity, coverage, smoothness of
finish, stain resistance, freedom from fumes, and other factors, making careful
analysis of the qualities of an interior paint formulation a critical step in
getting the best results.
interior paints are smooth from start to finish
The best interior paints should go on smoothly,
without sticking or streaking as you roll or brush them on a surface. These typically
provide a richer and smoother finish; you should not be able to see brush or
roller marks when the paint has fully dried. Top-rated interior paints are also
more durable, meaning they resist fading, especially in bright, sunny rooms,
and they don't lose their color, texture or sheen when scrubbed or cleaned.
They should also be easy to clean when dry and resist staining, and they
shouldn't absorb residue from water- or grease-based spatters. The best
interior paints are able to cover old paint -- even dark surfaces -- completely
in one or two coats. That's why professionals and dedicated do-it-yourselfers usually
recommend that you buy the best paint you can afford.
a few quality paints out there that won't break the bank
Interior paints span the
price spectrum from $25 per gallon (and sometimes a few dollars less) to $70
per gallon or more for premium paints. Overall, however, we found that price
isn't necessarily correlated with quality; some of the top-rated interior
paints differ in price from the cheapest paints by only about $5 or so per
gallon. The drawbacks to some less-expensive wall paints are that the finish
tends to be less rich, and they may not be quite as durable as pricier paints.
Cheaper paints that don't cover surfaces as well may require more coats, so you
could end up spending nearly as much as you would have on a premium paint that
would get the job done in fewer coats, and sometimes just one. That's why
coverage should be given as much, weight (or more) as cost when choosing an
and no-VOC paints are all the rage
One hot topic that's really sprung up in recent
years is the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interior paints.
VOCs refer to the potentially harmful chemicals in paint fumes that create
strong paint odors can cause headaches, dizziness or nausea in the user. They've
also been linked to respiratory and liver damage, along with other health
concerns, over prolonged exposure. VOC levels in wall paint are regulated by the
federal government and are currently set at 250 grams per liter for flat paints
and 380 grams per liter for other finishes. Some states, such as California,
require even lower levels: 100 grams per liter for flat paint and 150 grams per
liter for other finishes. The bottom line, experts say, is that you should
always use the lowest-VOC paint possible and the fewer VOCs there are, the
better it is for you, the homeowner, and the environment in general. The good
news is that many top-rated paints now claim to have low VOCs; some even claim
zero VOCs in their standard formulations. Most interior paint brands offer at
least one formulation for consumers looking for low- or no-VOC paint.
to choose the right sheen for your paint
This is important because you can spend a lot of
money on paint, and a lot of time on painting, but if you choose the wrong
sheen you could experience some serious buyer's remorse over the results. High-luster
finishes, such as satin or semi-gloss, are best for high-traffic, high-moisture
areas like kitchens or bathrooms because they're easier to clean. Also pay
attention to the kind of reviews these paints get for mold and mildew
resistance. Low-luster finishes, such as flat and matte, are ideal for low-traffic
rooms and ceilings, and many recommend eggshell for medium-traffic rooms like a
living room. Most paint stores have experts who can advise you on the right
paint sheen for the room you want to paint at no extra charge. Many can even advise
you on color to further cut down on the chances that you'll regret your room
This report covers interior paints. Once you're
done with the inside of your home, don't forget to spruce up the outside as
well. Our report on exterior paint will help guide in you in making the
best selection for that job.
paints from Benjamin Moore and Behr earn the most praise
Top-quality paints are worth their higher cost because they'll typically
get the job done with fewer coats. Higher-quality paints also go on more
smoothly, are less likely to show flaws such as brush marks and usually provide
a better finished look. They're also more durable, holding up to bright sun and
scrubbing and resisting dings and scratches.
Benjamin Moore ranks third in the
J.D. Power 2017 Consumer Paint Satisfaction Survey, and earns the highest
possible ratings for application and durability. (Est. $70 per gallon),
which claims zero VOCs and is self-priming, is a favorite among contractors on
discussion forums at ContractorTalk.com, and it does well in professional
tests. In one head-to-head interior paint roundup, for instance, Benjamin Moore
Aura lands fifth overall, with excellent scores for hiding and scrubbing, as
well as good scores for staining and surface smoothness. Editors say it resists
mildew, sticking and fading, and once dry, roller and brush marks aren't
detectable. On the downside, they do point out that satin and semi-gloss finishes
may lose some of their sheen with aggressive cleaning, and the matte finish
doesn't perform quite as well as the glossier finishes in resisting stains.
Editors at TheSweetHome.com say that
Benjamin Moore Aura is highly regarded and note that professional contractors
they spoke to say it offers the best coverage they've seen. This sentiment is
echoed by editors at Good Housekeeping, where Aura earns a 5-star rating, and
TheSpruce.com; editors at both sites say it covers light and dark surfaces, as
well as stained surfaces, in as little as a single coat -- or at most, two
coats. Editors say they were able to remove stains from coffee and crayons
easily in tests, leaving little evidence behind, and that Aura holds up well to
cleaning and general wear-and-tear.
The biggest concern surrounding Aura
is its high price. Lee Wallender at TheSpruce.com
says that Aura is the paint to use when you need to "pull out all the
stops for a high-quality interior paint job." However, he adds that it can
be too pricey for homeowners who are painting their entire house or doing
another large-scale project. Cost also prevents it from being the top choice at
TheSweethome.com, even though the editors note that "The coverage does
appear to be exceptional." The bottom line? If your budget permits it, Benjamin
Moore Aura is a great choice for a perfect finish that hides just about
anything underneath in one or two coats.
If Benjamin Moore Aura is too costly for your budget, at around half the
price, Behr Premium Plus Ultra (Est. $35 per gallon) is a good option to consider. It earns a recommendation from editors at
ConsumerReports.org, earning praise for its smooth finish and ability to cover
old paint. This self-priming paint also resists fading, tackiness, and mildew,
though its matte finish is not the best at resisting stains. Editors also find
that Behr Premium Plus Ultra holds up well to aggressive scrubbing without
losing its sheen.
The Paint Quality Institute also recommends Behr Premium Plus Ultra for
consumers opting for self-priming paint, noting that interior self-priming
paints that contain a 100 percent acrylic latex binder (like Behr Premium Plus
Ultra) perform best. Behr Premium Plus Ultra is also favored
by users, earning high overall ratings in hundreds of reviews at
HomeDepot.com, the primary retailer for Behr. Most of those reviewing Behr
Premium Plus Ultra say it's thick and covers well, leaving no trace of brush or
roller marks behind for an ultra-smooth finish.
There are a few detractors who have had different experiences, including
several users who say it took several coats of Behr to get the job done for
various interior projects or that it fails to cover old layers of paint in
colors such as blue and orange. Overall, however, the majority of consumers
praise Behr Premium Plus Ultra for its even coverage and smooth finish. Covered
by a limited lifetime warranty, Behr Premium Plus Ultra is a low-VOC paint.
Sherwin-Williams Duration Home (Est. $65
per gallon) is
another option, and also a low-VOC paint. The Sherwin-Williams brand earns the
top rank in the 2017 J.D. Power Consumer Paint Satisfaction Survey for overall
consumer satisfaction, and it's a brand often mentioned by professional
painting contractors at JackPauhl.com and ContractorTalk.com. Editors at
ThisOldHouse.com say Duration Home is the top-of-the-line interior paint
offered by Sherwin-Williams, noting that its high level of titanium dioxide
means it requires no separate primer, and its styrene-based acrylic resin adds
durability, making it more washable than inferior formulations and brands.
Sherwin-Williams Duration Home also earns positive feedback from owners
at Sherwin-Williams.com, the only source for consumer opinions on
Sherwin-Williams paints given that they can typically only be purchased at
specialty paint stores. Reviewers say it's extremely durable, holding up to
regular washing, and because it retains both color and sheen exceptionally
well, it can be touched up easily even years later. However, its performance in ConsumerReports.org's test doesn't quite meet these
expectations. Duration Home earns middling scores and editors say it doesn't
resist fading as well as some interior paints, its satin finish is prone to
tackiness, and its semi-gloss formulation may lose its sheen over time. It's
almost as costly as Benjamin Moore Aura, though even a $5 per gallon savings
can add up for a big project. In addition, discounts and other promotions that
lower the price can sometimes be found.
Olympic ONE budget paint is an affordable contender
painting is considered one of the most budget-friendly ways to spruce up your
home, if you have a lot of space to cover, the cost can quickly add up. If your
budget is very tight and you're looking for a balance between quality and cost,
there are some budget-friendly options that won't leave you disappointed.
if you're on a tight budget is (Est. $25 per gallon), sold exclusively at Lowe's.
Olympic ONE earns excellent ratings from editors at ConsumerReports.org for
maintaining its glossy finish and holding up well to aggressive cleaning and
scrubbing. It also earns a very good score for covering older paint well and a
good score for stain resistance, but a lower score of fair for surface
smoothness (which editors say is a problem with both flat and semi-gloss
finishes). This self-priming formulation also resists mildew well, but isn't a
particularly exceptional performer when it comes to fade resistance.
Quality Institute names Olympic ONE as a good option for home owners looking
for a quality paint and primer in-one formulation, noting that it contains 100%
acrylic latex binder for great adhesion and better durability. Hundreds of users
give Olympic ONE positive ratings at Lowes.com. They say it goes on thick and
covers old paint well, including dark colors such as brown. Olympic ONE claims
low-VOC levels, but some users say the paint has a strong odor when applied.
Some consumers say that Olympic ONE may look streaky during the drying process,
but looks great once it's completely dried.
Glidden Premium (Est. $20 per gallon), sold at HomeDepot.com, is another
budget-friendly option that earns positive feedback from hundreds of reviewers.
Glidden Premium is a low-VOC, low-odor interior paint, and reviewers at say it
provides smooth, even coverage. Many reviewers say it covered previous paint
colors in just a few coats. However, there are also some detractors who say
that the coverage is poor compared to other paints they've used, and some
report problems with streaking.
Premium lands near the bottom of the pack at ConsumerReports.org. It earns an
excellent score for holding up to aggressive scrubbing, but only a fair score
for stain resistance. Editors note problems with mildew formation with the flat
and satin finishes, and stains with both the flat and semi-gloss finishes.
However, if you're looking for a budget-friendly option for repainting an area
of your home that's not as visible as your entryway or living room, or to
freshen up your house prior to selling it, Glidden Premium might fit the bill.
paints are a "green" choice for chemical-sensitive homeowners
Paint is made up of three components. The pigment
represents the color; a binding agent ensures the pigment sticks to the wall;
and a solvent keeps it all liquid until exposed to air. The solvent evaporates
on application, leaving the pigment behind on the wall, and that's the main
source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint.
Homeowners who paint once every
couple of years, or are painting an area that isn't used very often, may not be
too concerned about VOCs. However, if you're affected by paint fumes, if
sensitive people live in your home or if you just want to avoid off-gassing in
general, the good news is that most popular paint brands are offering formulations
with lower VOC levels, and many offer special low-VOC and zero-VOC formulations
that meet the strictest VOC standards in states like California.
Our best-reviewed interior paint, Benjamin Moore
Aura, discussed above, is a zero-VOC paint that earns high praise from both professionals
and DIY painters, but the high cost of Aura is a deal-breaker for some. If your
budget is tight, there are other options for no-VOC paints that won't break the
(Est. $25 per gallon) is one such option. It's
a self-priming, no-VOC formula that lands near the top of the pack in an
interior paint test at ConsumerReports.org, earning excellent scores for hiding
and for resistance to aggressive scrubbing, and good scores for surface
smoothness and its ability to maintain its sheen over time. Editors say most
Behr Premium Plus finishes also have excellent stain resistance, with the
exception of the flat finish, which may be more prone to staining from water-
and oil-based spills and splatters. It also resists mildew and fading, and it
dries completely, leaving no tackiness behind.
Behr Premium Plus earns positive
feedback from thousands of users posting reviews at HomeDepot.com. Reviewers
say it covers exceptionally well, often in just one or two coats, dries in no
time, and doesn't have a strong odor. Some users say it took a few coats to
cover darker paints or flaws such as pencil marks, and a few reviewers say it
doesn't cover textured walls as well, leaving unpainted pockets and spots of
behind as it dries.
Valspar Reserve (Est. $45 per gallon)
is a zero-VOC interior paint that also earns consistent praise from
professionals and consumers. Although it's a bit pricier than Behr Premium
Plus, it's not as costly as the top-rated Benjamin Moore Aura, making it a sold
no-VOC pick in the middle of the price spectrum. It earns excellent scores for
hiding older paint and holding up to scrubbing and aggressive cleaning in testing,
as well as a very good score for stain resistance and a good score for surface
smoothness. It also resists mildew and sticking, although editors at
ConsumerReports.org say it's not totally fade-proof.
Consumers posting feedback to
Lowes.com, the primary retailer for Valspar paints, say it provides excellent
coverage – even over darker paints – and is a great value for its
reasonable price. Valspar Reserve earns high ratings from hundreds of reviewers,
and most users agree that it's easy to apply with a brush or roller. Like most
interior paints, Valspar Reserve also receives some mixed feedback, with some
consumers reporting poor coverage or the need for multiple coats.
Expert & User Review Sources
We found several professional reviews
of interior paints. ConsumerReports.org (ratings available to
subscribers only) offers the most comprehensive review, evaluating more than 20
interior paints for durability, surface smoothness, fading,
resistance to stains and mildew, and ability to cover old layers of paint. TheSweethome.com also conducts comprehensive testing of interior paints, considering more than
55 interior paint formulations and spending more than 30 hours of research to
come up with their top recommendations. The Paint Quality Institute doesn't offer a formal roundup of interior paints but does recommend a few
paint and primer in-one formulations offering exceptional adhesion, and we
found a similar review at TheSpruce.com recommending the top three
interior paints. We also consulted reviews from Good Housekeeping, JackPauhl.com and This Old House. J.D. Power and Associates surveys consumers
on their preferred paint brands but focuses only on brands, not individual
formulations. User reviews from sites like HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Sherwin-Williams.com and Amazon.com and discussions
on sites like PaintTalk.com, ContractorTalk.com and Houzz.com offer insight on long-term durability in real-world conditions as well as
valuable consumer feedback on coverage and ease of application.