Five ways to save on paint that the stores don't tell you

Consumer Reports News: February 19, 2013 03:08 PM

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You'll pay about $32 a gallon for the top-rated satin, flat, or semi-gloss paints from Consumer Reports' latest tests. Benjamin Moore interior paints also performed very well, but cost twice as much. You can spend less but too often the most inexpensive paints are no bargain. Many require additional coats for hiding so you might have to spend more to get good covering. We asked our experts if there's a way to save money and still use the best paint. Here are five money-saving tips to try.

Be calculating. Guessing how much paint you need may cause you to overbuy. Use an online calculator to figure out how much you need. You'll find calculators on the websites of paint retailers and manufacturers, as well as the Paint Quality Institute, which is part of Dow.

Friend manufacturers. Search for special deals on the websites and Facebook pages of manufacturers and retailers. Our search turned up brand coupons and a 10 percent moving discount at Lowe's. It applies to purchases up to $5,000, whether you're painting your home to put it on the market or are just moving in. Military discounts are available at both Lowe's and Home Depot.

Shop seasonal sales. Shop the week leading up to Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. "It's typically when paint manufacturers and retailers put paint on sale," says Debbie Zimmer, director of communications for the PQI.

Ask about oops paints. Most stores, including Home Depot, sell them. They're gallons of paints that have been returned or paints just mixed and the customer changes his or her mind about the color. One local hardware store we know of sells top-shelf paints that have been returned for $5. That's $5 a gallon.

Buy in bulk. Request a quantity discount when buying lots of paint—say enough to paint the interior of your home or when painting the exterior. Don't be shy, it's money in the bank.

Here's another way to save. Choose one of the CR Best Buys from our Ratings of 65 interior paints. These recommended paints offer impressive performance at an appealing price, such as Glidden Premium Satin paint, which is $24 a gallon at Home Depot. A can of Glidden Premium Flat is $20.

And two Best Buy flat paints sold at Lowe's, Olympic One Flat Enamel and Valspar Ultra Flat, are $25 a gallon. Our list of semi-gloss Best Buys includes Better Homes and Gardens Semi-Gloss, which is sold at Walmart for $26.

Kimberly Janeway

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