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I have enough paint in my hair, on various old T-shirts, and on my skin (um, how’d it get on my feet?) that I should probably know a thing or two about paint by now. But I’m still a novice painter, and even after these next few years of practice, I doubt I would ever call myself an expert.

I have taken many a trip to paint stores (Ace, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sherwin-Williams) to try to compare the quality, color selection, and coverage of the various well-known paint brands. While I’m too much of a cheapskate to purchase the higher-end paint choices, I have found a few that I keep coming back to.

Love their paint choices, not impressed with paint coverage. They have a wonderful variety, and their Waverly and Seaside collections always manage to make me stop and pick out a few swatches. The paint goes far, but all that means is that you’ll have two unflattering coats on your wall instead of one. I used a coat of Valspar’s Ashlar Gray for our bedroom walls in flat enamel, and while a full-room image looks OK, the close-up reveals how uneven the sheen dries:

Not crazy about their color choices, but they do color matching and coverage is great. Home Depot has a kiosk where you can color match yourself, but they will only match the sample to a color in their spectrum. If you get the guy at the counter to do it, they can much better match it to the color you really want. That’s what I did for our living room and matched it to Valspar’s Sandy Shell. I barely needed one coat, but did a second anyway (the perfectionist in me will believe I missed a spot). The sheen appears just as uneven as Valspar’s does when wet, but the difference is that it dries to an even coat. At $16 for a gallon of flat enamel, and the number of walls I need to paint, it’s hard to beat for my budget.

Limited number of color choices, but the colors they have somehow suit my color palette perfectly. Home Depot will do color matching to both Behr and Glidden paints, so I will likely give them a try soon for one of the bathrooms. I’ve had my eye on Olivewood for months. The color is pretty close to how it sounds – olive-y, brown, and moody; but be careful, I painted a test swatch in all 3 bathrooms and standard white light makes one wall look the color of baby poo. Hmmm… not really what I was going for.

Glidden also has pre-mixed color samples – it’s only a small convenience, but given how long I had to wait at Lowe’s for someone to come to the paint department, the fact that Glidden/Home Depot makes it easier on customers is always nice.

Benjamin Moore
I love their endless color options, but paint is more expensive. The people at Ace are extremely thorough and friendly, and one guy even brought me to the store’s redecorated office in the back to show me the coverage quality. Their stores stay open late and if it weren’t for Home Depot’s matching abilities, I would be a Ben-Moore only girl.

I wouldn’t know about the paint quality or even the selection. As someone with a full-time J-O-B, they don’t stay open late enough for me to get there in time to check them out. The one near me closes at 6, and Atlanta traffic simply doesn’t allow you to get anywhere by 6. It’s unfortunate; I hear they have some great brushes and large range of colors.

After a few more rooms, who knows? My opinions may change. But I believe that Behr is rated #1 by Consumer Reports for a reason: good coverage equals good quality, and the small price tag makes it a heck of a lot easier on us DIY-ers!

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  1. Huh, I may have to give Behr a try. Most of our stuff has been with Valspar, and for the most part (after using primer first) we've been able to get away with only 1 coat coverage. I haven't noticed any uneven sheen on our walls, so I've been pretty content with it, but maybe I should give Behr a try to see if it's even better. :)

    Great post! Love the writeup of the different brands of paint – it's very useful info – thanks!


  2. Thanks for the feedback Chelsea! The hallway from our bathroom to the bedroom is the area that I notice most. I think it's because it's so close to the hallway's light source that the area around the ceiling just shows every flaw. Since I'm not a pro, I need the paint to be a little more forgiving! Perhaps once I change the lighting fixture (no more bubblegum ball!) the light won't bounce off the paint in the same way.

  3. i <3 sherwin williams! i'm sorry you can never get there in time. i think they have good coverage. i've only really had problems when i touch up like a year later, i feel like there's a slight difference in the sheen. their raffia basket is my go to color. it's that perfect tan that's not too brown, and not too orange or peachy. i always stay in that color family, going either up or down on the color swatch. i think it's so homey. i'm not too adventurous i'm afraid, whenever i try to find other colors i end up hating them. :)

    great progress on the house! looks great. such an improvement.


  4. Thank you! I'm going to keep that color in mind. I wish I had enough rooms for all the colors I love. Maybe the next house…

  5. I can vouch for Sherwin Williams. We got the hook up on price, and every room that we painted was Sherwin Williams. And deciding on the shade was very difficult.. there were so many variations. I have been very pleased with coverage, light change, etc. Keep up the good work, Sarah!!!

  6. Well I'm a little late to this train but maybe other will stumble across this post as I did, Pinterest Challenge anyone? Behr flat enamel is amazing & I was/am still completely bummed I hadn't discovered it sooner. I painted 90% of my house in Dutch Boy Refresh & beg anyone not to spend their money on it. 2 years in & I'm planning to repaint the whole house again, here's why:
    1. It fades, horribly. It's not even the same color. It looks flat & dull. And I used satin. In fact I tried to touch up some spots & you can see it-bad!
    2. It doesn't wash well. Even using satin, it has become like a flat paint-very chalky.
    3. If you're washing the wall, the color will come off on your rag.
    As the mom of 4 boys, it does not stand the test of time, I loved that it had no odor, but not worth $30/gallon.

  7. I am a newby to painting but was very happy with Behr eggshell enamel latex in the purple can. It is about $27 a gallon, but I have only used 1 coat. Even after paint dries I can touch up spots I missed and it doesn't 'show'. The paint is very thick, unlike Valspar.