Spending more money on paint can save you hundreds of dollars

With paint, you get what you pay for

Credit: Getty Images
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The holiday season is coming soon, and maybe you’re thinking about painting your living room to spread some joy and impress the guests. But before you choose between Oceanside and Caliente, there's something you need to think about: What type of paint should you use?

It’s true that painting can be the least expensive way to redecorate. But that doesn’t mean you should do it on the cheap. Yes, you’ll spend some extra cash for it—a can of quality paint could cost you $50 or more. You could probably pick up a can of cheap paint for $15, but it’s not worth the trouble, because a paint job is mostly labor, either your own, or a professional’s.

A paint job is mostly labor, either your own, or a professional's. Tweet It
S-W-Oceanside
Credit: Sherwin-Williams
A deep teal envelops this room, and using a good quality paint ensures that it will stay beautiful for a long time. Sherwin-Williams Oceanside looks as nice on cabinets as it does on walls.

As an architectural color consultant, I've always encouraged my clients to use high quality paint. Of course, it looks more beautiful on the walls, but it's also a bargain. I wanted to explain why, so I spoke with Rick Watson of Sherwin-Williams.

"Why would you want to paint every two or three years?" asked Watson. "Don't skimp on quality," he said. "There are reasons why some paints in the marketplace are less expensive than others. Higher quality products are made with higher quality materials. Quality paint on the walls means less work."

Here's how:

1. Better paint covers better.

PPG-Black-Flame
Credit: PPG
Dark indigo black like PPG's Black Flame adds drama to a room. The only way to get dark colors like this to completely cover what's underneath is to use high quality paints.

Although one coat coverage is mostly a myth unless you’re painting over the same color, a higher quality paint will hide the original wall color in a couple of coats. The cheaper the paint, the more coats it will take to cover, and the more paint you have to buy. Don’t expect cheap paint in a dark color to ever completely cover, no matter how many coats you put on.

2. High quality paint is easier to apply.

Benjamin-Moore-Caliente
Credit: Benjamin Moore
You can see here how a red accent wall brings a space to life. One can of Benjamin Moore's Caliente can enliven your room in this way.

Better paint goes on smoothly, levels itself, and minimizes spatter. "Is it spattering?" asks Watson. "That's a sign of inferior production."

3. Good paint gives you a more durable, fade-resistant, and longer-lasting finish.

Akso-Nobel-HearWood
Credit: Akso-Nobel
Akso-Nobel's Heart Wood palette instills a sense of warmth and comfort in a living room.

Quality paint can last for 10 years or more. You won't get that kind of longevity from cheap paint, since the manufacturer skimped on high quality ingredients when it was made.

4. The better the paint quality, the easier it is to clean the walls.

Behr-InTheMoment
Credit: Behr
Green brings the outside in. The is Behr's In The Moment. Premium paints make it easier to clean the walls.

Top quality paint can be wiped off, and it resists stains. Watson said, "Look at a product that is washable. Stains don't penetrate into the paint film. You can wipe it with a damp sponge and a little dish detergent. There's no scrubbing involved. There are products you need to scrub, and that leaves a lot of burnish marks on the wall."

5. Mildew thrives on low quality paint.

Farrow-Ball-Brinjal
Credit: Farrow & Ball
High quality paints are more mildew resistant. This bathroom looks amazing in Farrow & Ball Brinjal.

Premium paints are more mildew resistant, and water doesn't soak in. "A film that's very tight is less porous, and is going to give you better moisture resistance and quicker return to service," said Watson.

6. Quality paints are less sticky once they’ve cured.

Paint-a-door
Credit: Getty Images
Quality paint won't stick once it dries.

If you’ve ever been challenged to open a closet or cabinet door because the painted surfaces stuck together, you know how frustrating that can be. Once it dries, good paint is much less likely to stick.

If you're ready to go with a high quality paint, remember, better paint deserves better tools. According to Watson, "The brush and roller are quality tools that you need to match up with a quality paint. The outcome will speak volumes in the durability and the aesthetics."

Short on cash? Try a one-can project.

Always buy the best paint you can reasonably afford. But if painting a whole room with top quality paint is not in your budget, you can do a lot with a single can of it.

• Give your front door a facelift, using an exterior paint in a glossy finish.

• Create an accent wall to create a completely different feeling in a room. It’s a one-day project, and if you love the way it looks, you can paint the other walls another time.

• Paint the trim. Right now, your woodwork is probably white, or maybe the same color as the wall. Putting black paint on the trim lends edge and character, and it’s completely classic. Pick a room that needs something extra and watch it pop.

If the exact color is less important to you than coverage, check the "mistake" shelf. Most paint departments have one, and you can buy a can of good paint from there for practically nothing, if you're not worried about getting a perfect match to the paint chip. A shade that didn’t look right to the original customer might be just right for your home, at a better quality and lower price than you ever imagined.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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