Best & worst

Last reviewed: May 2010

Cordless-tool kits

Porter-Cable PCL418C-2 and Skil 2887-16 cordless-tool kits
Porter-Cable PCL418C-2 and
Skil 2887-16 cordless-tool kits
Combine a drill, reciprocating saw, and circular saw, and you have a cordless-tool kit. The Porter-Cable PCL418C-2, $300, at top, drove screws and sawed 2x12s almost as well as a $500 kit. Don't be tempted by the $230 price tag of the Skil 2887-16. It's mediocre overall, but worse, it has a short battery run time and will require frequent recharges.
 

Interior paints

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel and Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Satin interior paints
Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel and
Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Satin
interior paints
Low-luster paints, also known as eggshell or satin, are ideal for most rooms. And Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel, $33, sold at Home Depot, had impressive one-coat hiding and stain resistance and doesn't need a primer. It's also low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Satin, $47, was only so-so at hiding and stain resistance. Plus its sheen noticeably changed after scrubbing.
 

Lead-detection kits

Homax LeadCheck 5250 and Abotex Lead Inspector lead-detection kits
Homax LeadCheck 5250 and
Abotex Lead Inspector lead-detection kits
All kits take some practice to properly expose old layers of paint where lead lurks. The Homax LeadCheck 5250, $8, at near right, was relatively easy to use, gave quick results, and can be used on dark colors except red or pink. The Abotex Lead Inspector, $13, can be used on light colors and pink/red. Confusing instructions in tiny type made the $15 Industrial Test Systems SenSafe 480310 difficult to use and mistakes more likely.
 

Radon kits

Accustar Alpha Track AT 100 and RTCA 4 Pass Charcoal Canister radon kits
Accustar Alpha Track AT 100 and
RTCA 4 Pass Charcoal Canister radon kits
Long-term kits, such as the Accustar Alpha Track AT 100, $28, at top, are more accurate than short-term kits. Need fast results? Only the RTCA 4 Pass Charcoal Canister, $28, was accurate enough for us to recommend; confirm results with a long-term kit. Results from Kidde Radon Detection Kit 442020, $16, were inconsistent and often inaccurate.
 

For more Best & Worst products see our Kitchens and baths & Laundry and cleaning reports.