Ask The Painter: Paint is Paint, Right?

June 23, 2010

All paints are not created equal

Two of the most common misconceptions I hear are that “Paint is Paint” or “It doesn’t matter what kind of paint I use”. The exact opposite is true. To use a car analogy, just as Toyota Motors has the Scion, Toyota, and Lexus lines to meet different market needs, so too do paint manufacturers have different lines of paint that meet various needs.

“Production” Home Builders for example, are generally concerned with keeping costs down in order to offer the most attractive selling prices they can while still maintaining desired profit margins. This generally means using inexpensive (and therefore low grade) paints. Re-paint work, on the other hand, is generally done by/for homeowners who are more concerned with how the paint will perform than with saving a few dollars per gallon.

I classify paint into one of three categories: Builder-grade, Contractor-grade, or Premium-grade. Builder-grade paints meet the low-price point required by builders and may touch-up fairly well, but are generally not very durable. If you have ever purchased a new home, or a home that was never painted since it was built, think of what happened when you tried to wipe a mark off the wall. Chances are, you probably scrubbed some color off the wall along with the soil, right?

What I refer to as “Contractor-grade” paints are generally middle-of the road in both price and quality, and are adequate for many uses. Ceilings, for instance do not need to hold up to wear-and-tear. Higher-end Contractor-grade paints will cover well even when applied by brush or roller (builders typically use spray application, so roller overlap or brush “streaks” are not a concern to them and “thinner” paints suffice). Some of them (but not all) have adequate durability to withstand general home wear-and-tear. Contractor-grade paints are also the paint of choice for many environments where frequent re-painting is planned (such as businesses or schools).

Premium-grade paints are preferred for re-paint work or for any use where increased durability or increased longevity is desired. Premium paints are generally thicker, so they give a little more latitude for changing colors without needing an extra coat, and they are also more durable then lower-grade paints. This means they may last longer or wash better and this translates into savings over time by not having to re-paint as often.
Any reputable painting contractor should be well-versed in various grades of paint and their benefits to you. Beware of any contractor who does not ask you about your needs, or who only offers one option for paint grade. It may be that they are basing their pricing in a specific paint, or worse, that they are using performance characteristics of a lesser-grade paint to guarantee themselves a bigger job. Here are two recent examples that illustrate this.

Case one involves a contractor who was quoting a very attractive price for exterior work using “one coat of Sherwin Williams 25-Year Superpaint”. This is an excellent premium-grade product, however it is meant to be a two-coat exterior paint. In fact, the stated warranty on the side of the paint can explicitly states that the warranty is for 25 years from date of application when two coats are applied. So the contractor’s quote, while attractive, was misleading.

Case two involves homeowners who were getting quotes for interior re-painting work where the color was being changed, but only slightly. These homeowners got three quotes and were surprised that mine was the only one that did not quote two coats of paint. They asked me to explain, in detail, why I quoted just one coat when others told them two would be necessary. I told them it was because they didn’t need two coats since they weren’t changing the color drastically and we could achieve good one coat coverage using a premium grade paint. I went on to tell them that when we first met they had mentioned the need for two coats and I suspected that the other contractors had picked up on this and had quoted what the homeowners *thought* they needed rather than what the job really needed. In other words, the contractors had sought to maximize their profits by taking advantage of the homeowners. Needless to say, the other two contractors did not win this business. I got the job, painted one coat of a premium product and the homeowners were very satisfied with not only the result, but their cost savings as well. A little more in paint cost saved them much more by way of reduced labor.

A quick look at product technical specs (many of the major paint manufacturers have these posted on their web sites) tells the story in numbers. One of the things to look at in comparing paints, at least for coverage, is “Volume of Solids”. The solids are what is left after the “solvent” (water in the case of latex paints) evaporates out of the paint. It stands to reason that paints with a higher percentage of solids in the bucket will cover better than paints with lower percentages of solids. Here is a comparison between two different grades of paint from the same manufacturer: Builder-grade: 25% vs. Premium-grade: 41%. Besides volume of solids, there are other factors such as chemistry of the paint, etc that also come into play (especially when considering durability), but you get the idea. All paints are not created equal, and “Paint is Paint” is not a fair statement.

Copyright 2009 Jeff Stec

What Homeowners Are Saying
5.0
Average Star Rating

Absolutely phenomenal company to work with. Did a fantastic job and was very reasonably priced. Would highly recommend them to others!

I would definitely hire Southern Painting again. Professional, trustworthy and conscientious.

We needed to have some exterior and interior painting done and were also on a tight schedule. Southern painting did a great job and worked with our schedule. The house looks amazing! The entire process was very easy and everyone was friendly and professional.

I can't believe the professional care we experienced with Southern Painting! The crew was very knowledgeable, experienced and took care of our older home like it was their own.

SPECIAL OFFERS
SPECIAL OFFERS
Save Big on Your Painting Project

Visit your local Southern Painting office to find special offers in your area.

WE WORK ONLY WITH THE BEST
Do You Like Show & Tell?

Choose a video to see what you can expect from Southern Painting.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Our Locations

Florida

Sarasota / Bradenton, FL
Sarasota / Bradenton, FL
Tampa
Tampa

Georgia

Gainesville, GA
Gainesville, GA

Texas

Amarillo, TX
Amarillo, TX
Arlington, TX
Arlington, TX
Austin North, TX
Austin North, TX
Austin, TX
Austin, TX
Carrollton, TX
Carrollton, TX
Collin County, TX
Collin County, TX
Coppell / Flower Mound, TX
Coppell / Flower Mound, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Dallas, TX
Dallas, TX
Ft Worth Northwest, TX
Ft Worth Northwest, TX
Ft Worth Southwest, TX
Ft Worth Southwest, TX
Houston Southwest, TX
Houston Southwest, TX
Houston West / Memorial, TX
Houston West / Memorial, TX
Katy, TX
Katy, TX
Mid-Cities / Keller, TX
Mid-Cities / Keller, TX
North Dallas / Richardson, TX
North Dallas / Richardson, TX
San Antonio East, TX
San Antonio East, TX
San Antonio West, TX
San Antonio West, TX
Southlake, TX
Southlake, TX
Spring / Cypress, TX
Spring / Cypress, TX
The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands, TX
Sarasota / Bradenton, FL
Sarasota
Bradenton, FL
Tampa
7028 W Waters Ave
Tampa, FL 33634
Gainesville, GA
439 Green St, Ste B
Gainesville, GA 30501
Amarillo, TX
1522 South Alabama St
Amarillo, TX 79102
Arlington, TX
4275 Little Rd, Ste 103
Arlington, TX 76016
Austin North, TX
13377 Pond Springs Rd, Ste 101
Austin, TX 78729
Austin, TX

Austin, TX 78750
Carrollton, TX
5057 Keller Springs Rd, Ste 300
Addison, TX 75001
Collin County, TX
2011 W Spring Creek Pkwy, Ste 200
Plano, TX 75023
Coppell / Flower Mound, TX
405 State Highway 121 Bypass, Ste 250
Coppell, TX 75067
Corpus Christi, TX
6537 South Staples St, Ste 125
Corpus Christi, TX 78413
Dallas, TX

Frisco, TX 75034
Ft Worth Northwest, TX
4455 Camp Bowie Blvd, Ste 114-116
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Ft Worth Southwest, TX
113 Sproles Dr
Fort Worth, TX 76126
Houston Southwest, TX
Houston
Southwest, TX
Houston West / Memorial, TX
14525 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
Katy, TX
5719 Highway Blvd
Katy, TX 77494
Mid-Cities / Keller, TX
1500 Corporate Circle, Ste 18
Southlake, TX 76092
North Dallas / Richardson, TX
18208 Preston Rd, Ste D-9 437
Dallas, TX 75252
San Antonio East, TX
1141 North Loop 1604 East, Ste 105-441
San Antonio, TX 78232
San Antonio West, TX
8000 Fair Oaks Pkwy, Bldg 3, Ste 3200
Fair Oaks Ranch, TX 78015
Southlake, TX
1500 Corporate Cir, Ste 18
Southlake, TX 76092
Spring / Cypress, TX
13121 Louetta Rd, Ste 530
Cypress, TX 77429
The Woodlands, TX
25322 Oakhurst Dr
Spring, TX 77386
JOIN OUR TEAM
Franchise Opportunities

We welcome inquiries from conscientious painting professionals! Tell us about yourself.

Start Your Application
We Need Your Painting Skills

Are you an experienced and meticulous painter interested in joining our crew?

Start Your Application
Are You Interested in Being a Project Estimator?

If you’re great with and helping people, we’d like to hear from you.

Start Your Application