The Importance of Quality
Or why do some interior paints still exhibit a rich, deep color long after the kids have grown up while others look worn, scuffed, and ready for a recoat soon after you've applied them? There's no secret in the answer -- it's the quality of the paint.
Whatever you're painting, it's important to use the best paint you can afford -- even if that means stretching the project budget a bit. Top-quality paints are designed to produce the best-looking and longest-lasting results. They provide a smoother, more uniform appearance and can last more than twice as long as cheaper paints. In the long run, that saves money because you don't have to repaint as often.
High-quality paint goes on faster and with less effort because it hides better and flows out evenly. That means less brushing, rolling, and retouching. It also means you can apply fewer coats to get an attractive and uniform appearance. And if you're rolling, a high-quality paint will save you cleanup time because it doesn't spatter as readily.
For exterior work, a properly prepared surface coated with high-quality paint will also require less maintenance between paint jobs. You probably won't have to clean off mildew or worry about excessive chalking, peeling, or cracking.
Likewise with interior work, a top-quality paint not only lasts longer, it also resists dirt and stains and stands up to cleaning better than lower-line paint.
But how do you determine which paints are high-quality? It's easy if you know a few things to look for when you shop for paint.A solid case
When paint dries, the proportion of solids (pigments and binders) to the liquid solvent determines how thick the dried paint film will be. Paint with higher solids content will dry to a thicker film. In general, a thicker film hides better and is more durable. Look on the can label or ask your supplier for the specification sheet (all paints should have one). The proportion of solids to solvent (carrier) can be expressed by weight or volume. The weight of solids to solvent is usually higher than the volume of solids to solvent; volume is a better indicator of performance. Latex paints generally range from 25 to about 40 percent solids by volume, depending on type and quality. Alkyd and oil-base paints can exceed 50 percent volume solids. A higher solids percentage is better.
Be wary of high-solid paints that don't cost much. The low cost can mean inexpensive solids make up the bulk of the paint, and that spells a shorter life span for all your work.Better binders
Latex paint can be formulated with all-acrylic binder, vinyl binder, or vinyl-acrylic binder. All-acrylic binder is more weather-resistant and durable. If the label doesn't say "100% acrylic" or "All acrylic," check the ingredients or spec sheet to see if the paint contains acrylic polymer.About application
Application methods count too. Even with a high-quality, high-solid paint, thinning for any reason other than spraying is not recommended because it reduces the proportion of solids in the paint layer and thus makes it thinner when it dries.
On stucco or concrete block prone to cracking, however, use an elastomeric paint. It's more flexible than standard coatings and leaves a durable film that's twice as thick (about 5 mil). These paints actually bridge gaps in masonry surfaces and can be painted over with a high-quality latex paint.
In some climates, a paint will perform better if it is formulated to stand up to specific conditions associated with that climate. For example, a paint with more mildewcide would be desirable in the Southeast, where humid conditions favor the growth of mold and mildew. In the Northwest, your painting efforts might be better rewarded by applying a paint with a high solid content to fend off the rain.
Last, check out the paint warranty. You may not actually consider the warranty period to be the exact life of the paint, but you can usually assume that paint with a longer warranty is higher-quality paint.Pro Tip: Interior vs. exterior paints
Interior and exterior paints are formulated with different properties for different uses. Don't use exterior paint indoors because it seems tougher. Some high-grade exterior paints can be worse indoors than a low-quality interior paint.Interior paints are formulated for:
- Stain resistance
- Splatter resistance
- Lack of yellowing
- Good hiding ability
- Easy touch-up
- Resistance to alkaline cleaners
- Burnish and block resistance -- won't get shiny when rubbed; won't stick to other
- Color retention
- Flexible expansion and contraction
- Resistance to mildew and tannin bleed
- High adhesion -- less chance of blistering, peeling
- Resistance to dirt
- Resistance to peeling
- Resistance to fading
- Resistance to alkalis