Paint 101 – Value vs. Cost

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 1

I Thought It Was a Bargain Part 2!

You labor over selecting just the right color and shade of paint for your project from hundreds of paint chips or a fan deck, and then realize that you have many other decisions about the paint to make!  How will it look in my space?  What is the best finish for the area I am painting?  And am I even using the best product for the job?  And most importantly, am I purchasing the right product for my investment?

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 2

Flat/Matte Paint

Has a velvety touch and covers flaws easily. Best used for ceilings and bedrooms.

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 2


Easy to clean and best used in a family room, child’s room, and bathroom.

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 4


This finish is ideal for trim and cabinetry.


Assuming you finally hit on just the right color, and I recommend that you apply it to a poster board and move it around the space at different times of the day, to see how it reacts in your environment.  Don’t paint a section of a wall that only gets light from one direction.  And remember that paints look different on horizontal and vertical areas.  They can be influenced by your surroundings also.  And make sure to apply it over a primer so it is not influenced by what is on the wall.

Now, I hope you have chosen from a good line of paints to start, but more on that to follow.  You must decide what finish you want, and that largely depends on what area you are painting.  Probably you will choose a matte, eggshell or satin for interior walls and semi-gloss and gloss for trims and woodwork.  Matte is now an option offered for the flat that will give you that velvet look and is supposedly cleanable.  The hint of sheen in eggshell or satin though is a little more cleanable.  Flat is the cheapest and least durable.  If you don’t specify the finish, then you may find that the cheapest did not do the job you need.  The more sheen the more cleanable and that may be needed for an active kid’s room or playroom for example.

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 5
Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 6

Paint formulas contribute to the price and the final result of your project.


But let’s understand the difference in a cheap paint and a more costly one.  First, the price on any of the paints will be less for less luster, but you get what you pay for in many other ways.  Low grade paint of any brand will not hold up in the long run, and will necessitate painting more often.  It also requires using more of it to cover.  High quality paint has more total pigments and resins than low quality.  The low quality is more diluted, so when these solvents evaporate, it is less tough.  This makes them more prone to fading, cracking and peeling.  Cheap paints have large pigments to increase the amount of paint in the can, rather than enhancing the color and coverage.  The type and amount of binder used affects everything from stain and crack resistance to adhesion.  The latex paints with 100% acrylic binders are especially long lasting, and are more expensive.


Quality paints have more prime than extender pigments.  Prime pigments hide, and extenders provide bulk at low cost.

Quality paints have more additives.  They may give it protective qualities or make it easier to apply, or may have mildewcides.

Quality paints, when prorated over the life of the paint job, cost less.

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 7

This illustrates the variety of paint types from just one vendor.  Photo by Benjamin Moore

Know before you buy!

So after you have done your homework and have just the right color, finish, and quality selections for your project, don’t let it be tampered with by someone telling you they will computer color match what you have chosen in a less expensive paint. (Sometimes they don’t tell you and just substitute it, and you may be charged for the better paint.)  It may temporarily look similar, but time will tell.  The formulas are different; therefore you are not getting the same thing.  And even a color match in the beginning may not have that exact hue that you spent so much time selecting.

 Additionally, since the major cost in painting is the labor, buying the best quality paint is a good investment.  It applies easily, lasts longer, and over the life of the paint job actually costs less when prorated over the life of the paint job.  So remember value vs cost!

Paint 101 - Value vs. Cost 8

This illustrates the variety of color options from just one vendor.  Photo by Sherwin Williams


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