Ace Hardware has made the Ace brand paints that line its store shelves since 1984. But it's Ace's new brand, Clark+Kensington, that tops Consumer Reports' latest Ratings of two finishes, semi-gloss and low luster satin and eggshell. For flat and matte paints, Valspar from Lowe's was best. But come April you'll find Clark+Kensington paints, made by Valspar, on Ace shelves.
"We will not reformulate the paints. Ace sold its manufacturing facilities to Valspar but not the technology, and the agreement is for Valspar to produce Ace paints to our specifications," says Jenny Stephen, public relations manager for Ace Hardware. This 20-year agreement means Valspar assumes responsibility for all Ace brands—Clark+Kensington and Royal Interiors—and next fall Ace stores will introduce its own line of Valspar paints.
"They'll be different from the ones sold at Lowe's," says Mark Goldman, vice president of corporate communications for Valspar. "We sell to other independent hardware retailers too—our Valspar Medallion, for example." Lowe's will continue to sell its Valspar paints and is working with the manufacturer to develop new lines, says Jaclyn Pardini, a spokesperson for Lowe's. If all this sounds like something out of "As the Paint World Turns," stick with us.
Our tests of 65 interior paints found standouts that are as close as the neighborhood hardware store or home center down the road, and they were easy to apply, great at hiding, durable, washable, and better for the environment. You'll find them at Ace, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Benjamin Moore retailers. But don't pick any paint off their shelves. Formulas do change and while some improved, others performed worse in our tests than they did just a year ago. To find the best paint for the surface see our paint Ratings and recommendations. And be sure to check the websites and Facebook pages of manufacturers and retailers for free samples, coupons, and even rebates if you're unhappy with the color of your newly painted walls.