Protect Your Investment: Buy quality paints

Consumer Reports News: June 02, 2008 12:09 AM

We recently reported that the price of exterior paints and stains is up a few dollars per gallon on average from last year. An article on the Web site ICIS, which covers the chemical industry, revealed similar findings. "Skyrocketing fuel costs have led to price hikes for many of the petrochemicals that go into paint, such as vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), which is used in much of the architectural paint produced in the US," the story read.

But the story also noted that big-box retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart, are preventing manufacturers from passing on those added costs to consumers. That's good news if you're about to tackle a painting project. In our latest report on interior paints, Behr (sold at Home Depot), Valspar (Lowe's), and Kilz (Wal-Mart) rank among the top performers and are competitively priced.

The exterior finishes from the big-box stores are also less expensive than many of the other brands. But since some of these paints have been reformulated, we're retesting them and don't have final test results.

As we reported in our June 2008 story "Scrimping Doesn't Pay," the Valspar Ultra Premium Satin ($24 per gallon) and the Valspar Ultra Premium Semi-gloss ($24) exterior paints are less expensive than the California 2010 ($38) and Kelly-Moore Acry-Shield ($32) finishes that we rated just above them. We have completed only one year of testing on Behr Premium Plus and Ultra exterior paints. While they are doing well so far, it's too early to say how they will last in our long-term testing.

But remember that you should take the long view by choosing quality over price when buying paint. If you hire a contractor, then labor costs will add another reason to choose a longer-lasting finish. A finish that lasts for a decade will cost you less than a cheaper one that fails after five years. So use our advice and refer to our Ratings to find the best paints for your needs.Daniel DiClerico

Essential information: Ratings of full reports on interior paints and exterior paints and stains are available to subscribers. And learn how to dispose of leftover paint.


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