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Lowe’s, Home Depot and Ace Hardware sell their home-brand paints for about $30 to $45 a gallon. Farrow & Ball prices its posh paint at £63.00 for a 5-liter container to its UK customers. If you live on this side of the pond and order Farrow & Ball through your interior designer, expect to pay about $100 a gallon for its off-white, old white or shaded white paint.
Is it worth it?

Chipping Away at the Allure of Luxury Brand Paints: Farrow & Ball | Revuu: Search for Excellence in Luxury Interiors
Light and airy bedroom painted in Farrow & Ball “Pale Powder” and “Wimborne White.”

Are luxury paint brands such as Farrow & Ball, Donald Kaufman, Little Greene, Fine Paints of Europe and Craig & Rose superior to Benjamin Moore, Behr, Clark + Kensington, and Kelly Moore paints?
Consumer Reports and a painting contractor don’t think so. And a painting consultant to the stars (who has her own line of luxury paint) buys less expensive paint for her personal use.
Paint quality and price are often unrelated, they say. Really cheap paints may end up costing more because they cover poorly and don’t hold up well to normal wear and tear. But a high-end price tag does not guarantee premium performance.

What the Paint Research Shows

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports tested 67 interior paints, including Home Depot’s Behr, Ace Hardware’s Clark + Kensington and Farrow & Ball, and released its findings in the March, 2014 issue of the magazine.
The non-profit research institute gave top marks to Behr Premium Ultra Plus in both satin and matte categories and rated Clark + Kensington No. 1 in the semi-gloss category. The three paints were priced in the $30-a-gallon range.

Chipping Away at the Allure of Luxury Brand Paints: Behr | Revuu: Search for Excellence in Luxury Interiors
Living room painted in Behr’s seaside-inspired shade, “Eastern Breeze.”

Consumer Reports also liked Benjamin Moore Aura Satin, Valspar Signature Matte, Glidden Premium Flat and Kilz Casual Colors Satin.

Farrow & Ball didn’t fare so well. It was the worst at hiding old paint, taking two coats of eggshell finish in white to cover what Behr satin managed in one. This means it could cost six times as much to paint a wall with Farrow & Ball as it would with Behr. And Farrow & Ball’s colors lost much of their sheen and became rough and grainy after cleaning, Consumer Reports testers found.
But what if you’ve fallen in love with Farrow & Ball colors, the charm of their muted hues and delicate undertones?

Farrow and Ball luxury paint interior design: Revuu: Search for Excellence in Luxury Interiors
Kitchen units painted with Farrow & Ball “Stony Ground,” ceiling in “Pointing” and walls in “Clunch.”

Computerized color-matching technology makes it easy to replicate them, Consumer Reports says. Buy a $7.50 sample pot of Farrow & Ball online and take it to your local hardware store and ask them to match the color. Consumer Reports sent secret shoppers to three Home Depot stores with a panel painted in Lulworth Blue Estate Eggshell, a Farrow & Ball paint that costs about $95 a gallon. Paint specialists at Home Depot matched the color using Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin, which runs $34 a gallon.
When Consumer Reports tested the two products, they found that the Behr paints were about 1 percent lighter, a difference noted by its colorimeter but not the human eyes of their testers, according to an article in the Hartford Courant.

What the Painter Prefers

Cheap paints aren’t a good value – you can end up using four to six coats of paint to cover a wall instead of one or two, says Andrew Watt, owner of Mr. Fixit Renovations. But that doesn’t mean you should spend $100 a gallon – or more – on paint.
“If you have more money than sense, then go ahead a buy the high end paints,” Watt said in an interview. “But, does your house really need a Rolls Royce? Or will a Cadillac do?”

Red wall: Benjamin Moore Paint -- Revuu: Search for Excellence in Luxury Interiors
A lively pop of color: Benjamin Moore red accent wall in “Raspberry Mousse.”

Watt says most hardware-label paints provide as much coverage and scuff resistance as somewhat pricier paints like Benjamin Moore, a name brand he likes, but he doesn’t buy into the notion of luxury paint.
“The difference in the cost doesn’t give you the value back. Once the paint is on the wall, no one can tell the difference of what you’ve spent on your paint. The walls are just as good with an average costing paint. It depends on how much you want to invest and personal preference.”

Eve Ashcraft's NYC apartment | Revuu: Search for Excellence in Luxury Interiors
The living room of Eve Ashcraft’s NYC apartment.

What the Paint Doctor Prescribes

Eve Ashcraft, the Paint Doctor who helped Martha Stewart create a line of paint based on the pale blues of her chickens’ eggs and chose the correct shade of white to complement Steve Martin’s art collection at the San Remo, put her name to a line of paint manufactured by Fine Paints of Europe.

The paint sells for about $110 a gallon and Ashcraft told The New York Times that the paint is “all that” and “like getting the keys to the Maserati,” but that she uses Benjamin Moore paint in her own apartment.
“I believe in the (Fine Paints of Europe) product,” Ashcraft said. And any time I can use it in a job, I’m thrilled. Of course, I can’t spend that kind of money on paint for myself.”

What the Paint Experts Recommend

Does it ever make sense to spend a premium on luxury paint? Maybe, if you can afford the steep price and if you don’t trust your sense of color. 
Benjamin Moore sells more than 3,000 shades of paint, which provide a lot of opportunity to make mistakes. Farrow & Ball’s collection includes just 132 shades, all of them lovely. For anyone intimidated by an abundance of paint choices, going with a boutique paint designer may feel less threatening.

But whether you pay $50 or $150 for a gallon of paint, here are some expert tips on how to get your money’s worth:

1. Don’t Rely on the Paint Cards

The fan deck of swatches, whether they’re hand-painted by a luxury designer or factory-produced by a hardware store, will give you an idea about what color will work best in your living room, kitchen or bathroom. But it won’t give you the full picture.

Walls, like people, are flattered in some lights and made to look unfortunate in others. If you want to know what your room will look like in the afternoon sun or under the glare of a fluorescent light, buy a paint sample and apply it to your wall. Generally, cool lights, such as fluorescent work well with cool colors (blues and greens) and incandescent lights work better with warms colors (red, orange, yellow), but the size of your room and natural light will also affect the appearance of your painted walls.

Don’t like the idea of six shades of lavender splashed against your yellow wall while you try to decide among them? Paint a large board and hold it up against the wall instead. Some colorists will paint the boards for you.

2. Don’t Rely on Experience with Paints You’ve Used Before

Brands frequently tweak their paint formulas from year to year, sometimes because of new environmental regulations and sometimes for aesthetic reasons. Paint performance varies as a result, says Celia Kuperszzid-Lehrman, the deputy content editor of home and appliances for Consumer Reports magazine.

3. Do Buy Paint in Multi-Gallon Containers

It’s cheaper to buy a single, 5-gallon container than 5, 1-gallon containers. More importantly, perhaps, you will get a consistent color.
“Each gallon that gets mixed can have variances. It would be very slight and might not show, but the odds are it can,” says Watt. “So it’s better to have the right quantity to start with and having one color mix applied. It avoids multiple mixings and lessens the chance of human error.”

4. Do Paint the Ceiling Pink

Watt says a pale pink ceiling will look white when dry but provides a clearer line, and you’re less likely to miss a spot than if you paint white over white.

5. Do Pay Attention to Paint Finishes

Eggshell and satin paints stand up to cleaning better than they used to, according to Consumer Reports and, because their sheen is subtle, can be used on both walls and trim. This creates less visual distraction – the eye focuses on what’s in the room, not on the shiny door frames.

Flat paints hide imperfections better than eggshell, but they stain easily and aren’t a good choice in high-traffic rooms.

Special finishes, such as metallic and suede, give texture to paint. Keep in mind that these special finishes cannot be replicated. If you want a Ralph Lauren paint in a suede finish, you have to buy the RL paint. You could get the same color in a Behr (or other brand) paint, but the finish wouldn’t transfer.

Paint Isn’t Permanent

Don’t lose sleep over paint choices. If you make a mistake, the fix is just a new paint roller and a few gallons of paint away.
And, if you haven’t painted in a while because you hate the fumes, here’s some good news; manufacturers are reducing the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in paint. It’s the stuff that gives paint its noxious odor and can also cause headaches, dizziness and breathing problems.
Low VOC paints used to rate poorly in performance, but many of the ones tested by Consumer Reports in 2014 ranked very well.
Are you planning to paint a room or house soon? Are you following the trends – grays and other neutrals are in – or going with vivid colors?
Tell us about your painting experiences – good, bad and hideous – and about what paints you think are great bargains and which ones failed at any price.


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