Ok. Ok. I'll get serious now.
I love to paint. I love how you instantly see results. There's nothing that spruces up a room any quicker than a wall color change. But how do you know what color to buy? Um, well, I know a good Interior Decorator that specializes in color! LOL. (P.S. Grays are one of the trickiest colors. If you do not know how to pick out the underlying color tones in a grey, you can end up being sorely disappointed in how a grey looks in your space as the existing colors in your space such as floor color and wood tones in the room affect how your grey will look BIG TIME. It may be grey on your color chip and then in your space look green . . . or blue . . . or purple. What looks good in one house, may look awful in another. Its all in the tones, my friends.)
But, beyond color, how do you know what paint to buy and how to get the most bang for your buck? THAT is what this post is about.
My paint experience can be divided into two . . . the "before I worked at Benjamin Moore" and the "after what I learned working at Benjamin Moore". To make things a little more simple, I'll give each of these two "eras" a nickname. I'll give the "before" era the nickname "BBM" and the "after" era will be called "ABM".
I began working at Benjamin Moore when I was going to college to take Interior Decorating.
BBM, I thought all paint was the same. I had gone about buying paint like I would anything else I buy. I looked for the cheapest price. My main choice was the Walmart brand because it was less than $20 for a gallon (at the time). Then, one day about 8 years ago, I splurged big time and bought a gallon of Home Depot's Behr paint to the tune of around $50 for a gallon. That was when the paint & primer all-in-one was just beginning to get attention and I decided to give it a try. The only difference I found in this more expensive paint is that it was super thick and I really didn't like it.
In 2012, when we purchased our first brand new home, the paint the contractor used was a very cheap flat paint. That stuff was NOT washable at all. When you tried to wipe a dirty spot off of the wall, the paint would come off on the rag and leave an obvious streaky look on the wall. A neighbour who was also frustrated with the quality went to the brand store to ask questions and was told that it was the cheapest stuff they sold and agreed it was very poor quality and tried to sell her a more expensive line of their paint instead. She asked why they would even sell poor quality paint knowing it was awful and they replied that it was to fit the budget demands of their contractor clients. That was a turn-off for her . . . and me as well. A poor experience is often hard to overlook, eh!
Now on to the wonderful ABM era! When I began working at the Benjamin Moore paint shop, I took some paint courses right away and learned so much just from that. I learned much more from hearing customer's stories and the stories of paint contractors. We dealt with a lot of paint contractors and they taught me a lot. Also, I used the Benjamin Moore paints myself and I was blown away at the difference in using their paints! I became a complete Benjamin Moore fan. I worked there for 2.5 years.
Since leaving the job at Benjamin Moore, I have learned even more. Most of which just reinforced what I had learned from my Benjamin Moore days. However, I did learn a few more things.
Even though most paints today have primer built into them, that simply means that you don't have to prime between simple color changes. Here's a quick reference on when to use a dedicated primer first:
- if the wall was previously painted with an oil-based paint
- Before you paint a wall, you need to know for sure if it was previously painted with a water-based paint or an oil-based paint. Oil-based paints are no longer sold for walls, however, some older homes that haven't been painted in recent years still have oil-based paint on their walls and some people have also repainted with leftovers they've found kicking around. If you paint a water-based paint over an oil-based paint, it simply will not stick. It will either not even stay on in the first place or it will peel very soon after. The easy way to avoid this 'surprise' would be to take a cloth with some rubbing alcohol on it and rub a spot on the wall beforehand. If paint comes off onto the cloth, it was water-based paint. If paint does not come off onto your cloth, it was oil-based paint and you will need to prime the wall first with a dedicated primer (not an all-in-one paint).
- if you are painting over a shiny surface
- Ask your local paint store what specific primer to use on your particular shiny surface. (Or email me and I will tell you, no problem.)
- if you painting over new crack-filled drywall
- if you are painting any other non-drywall surface such as brick, wood, glass, etc.
- if you are painting a light color over a highly pigmented color such as any reds, deep or bright oranges, deep or bright greens, etc.
- if you are painting a highly pigmented color (as described above) over a light color
- In such cases, always go for the highest level of paint or you will be painting many coats. Also, some of these highly pigmented colors will require their own specially tinted primer. Your paint supplier will let you know when you hand them your color choice.
There's matte/flat, eggshell/velvet, satin/pearl, semi-gloss, and gloss/high-gloss. In each company there are also various lines of paints. In each line, the sheens vary slightly also.
Traditionally, when choosing paint sheens, this is the way people would choose their paint sheens:
- flat or matte for ceilings
- eggshell or velvet for regular walls
- satin or pearl for bathrooms & kitchens (or any walls they wanted to be able to scrub heavily)
- semi-gloss for trims & doors
HOWEVER, in the last several years now, paint companies have progressed leaps and bounds. You no longer have to buy shiny sheens of paint to be able to wash & scrub your walls. You no longer have to buy satin or pearl to use in kitchens & baths even for the sake of mold/mildew resistance. Thats where the different lines of paints within each company comes in.
For example, in the Benjamin Moore lines of paints, here's how they work:
- Aura - washable AND scrubbable even in the matte sheen
- Regal - washable even in the matte sheen, scrubbable in the pearl and shinier
- Ben - washable in the eggshell sheen, scrubbable in pearl and shinier
The other reason for sheen differences other than washability & scrubbing features, is in how they look. When it comes to trim & doors, the sheen choice is something that is really just a preference thing . . . how you want it to look. When choosing a sheen for your walls, keep in mind that the more shiny the paint, the more any wall blemishes you may have will show up. From personal experience, you can have a brand new home and there will still be plenty of wall blemishes. The less sheen, the less your wall blemishes will show.
* Washability means wash-up with water. Scrubbable means you can use cleaner when you scrub.
* All paints need at least 2 weeks to cure before the washability & scrubbable features come into play.
Paint companies sell a variety of lines of paints to cater to the variety of budgets. I personally find this annoying, to say the least. My black-and-white honest nature does not see a need to sell poor quality paint for ANY reason. If you can't at least wash a painted wall, why bother spending the money (no matter how inexpensive it is) on a gallon of paint and spending the time to do the painting? Have you ever wondered why when you tried to wash a wall and the paint comes off on the cleaning cloth and/or it leaves a mark behind on the wall showing where you washed it? That is poor quality paint.
For example, if you painted a room with Benjamin Moore's Ben paint in an eggshell sheen, you can't touch up with the exact same colour in another of BM's paint lines even if it says eggshell on the can. Your touch-up will be clearly noticeable if you do. Always touch up with the exact color, brand, line, and sheen you originally used.
Benjamin Moore has a patented tint system called Gennex. They are the only paint company that uses a water-based tint system. That give them the upper hand on more than one level. I will focus this post on one of the biggest advantages. BM's tint system has more shades of colorants. All of the competitors use the Universal tint system and are limited in their shades of colorants. That is why the competitions cannot perfectly color match any Benjamin Moore colors. They can come pretty close in some of BM's colors, but cannot perfectly match.
Why would this be a problem? Well, when the stores do their little dollop of paint on your BM color chip and you look and it looks 'pretty close', once you get that home and on your wall it isn't the same colour at all. Where a BM grey color may have had brown undertones in it, the color matched grey may have green undertones in it. That will throw off your whole color scheme! I can't count the number of times we heard of customers angry at their BM color looking awful in their house and then as they talked, we would find out that they had had their color chip color matched into a competitor's product.
I, myself, had this same thing happen to me, BBM. When the builder's were building our house in Moncton, I had thought they had told me to go pick out my paint colors at Benjamin Moore. I went to a Benjamin Moore store first and had picked out a grey I wanted and then found out that it wasn't that store I was supposed to be at. I then went to Sherwin Williams, the store our contractor was using, and chose my other two colors. The Sherwin William's guy told me I didn't have to re-choose my grey because they could color match it and I would never know the difference. Not knowing any better at the time, I went with his suggestion.
When we moved in to our new home, I noticed the grey color was very 'greenish'. It wasn't until my color training at the BM and at college that I realized what must have happened. That very day I took home the BM color chip I had originally chosen (and the Sherwin Williams people had marked that color on their can) and held it up against my wall. It was clearly a different shade.
Moral of this story . . . don't get your Benjamin Moore colors matched anywhere. If you want a Benjamin Moore color, get it at a Benjamin Moore store. I do KNOW you can perfectly match other company's colors at Benjamin Moore (due to their tint system having so many shades). However, I would recommend you choosing your paint colors from the store you plan to buy your paint from. It is much less hassle, for sure.
If you have chosen a specific color and end up deciding to buy your paint from a different company, I would suggest taking your color chip to their paint chip display and trying to find your match yourself. You really are only guaranteed to get the exact same colour of paint from their own paint chips.
I do not use painter's tape. I don't have a steady hand, either. However, I do my cutting in without mishap thanks to Wooster's Short Cut brush. I have tried other brushes and they simply do not give the same job. These brushes layer the paint on just right, the angle allows for easy cutting in, and the short rubber handle does not cramp your hands.
For the roller, I recommend a lint-free 10mm roller. There are two ways to prep the roller before using. One is to wet your hand and vigorously rub the roller all over to remove any factory lint. The other way is to wrap the roller in tape (packing tape is quicker) and the remove the tape.
I use the Handy Cup for cutting in. It is comfortable to hold and when you have to get up and down off ladders, you just set your brush in the cup against the magnet to hold it in place.
I like to use disposable tray liners to save on the amount of cleanup and the amount of paint going down the drain.
To keep my paint brushes lasting longer, I use a metal brush when cleaning them out.
When cutting in, always start a few inches below where you want to cut in to get the feel of the brush. When cutting in horizontally, I use the brush with the high end of the angle pushing sideways along the edge, but in vertical applications such as door trims, I use the brush pushed straight at the wall and drag it down only slightly angled outwards.
When rolling, make sure to have it loaded up just enough that it don't drip off. Roll over the 'ramp' in your paint tray until it is evenly loaded. Start a little ways away from where you left off and in a w-shaped motion, roll back to where you left off. This eliminates leaving paint ridges. The key is to put the paint on fairly quickly and fairly thickly. Not so thickly that it runs down the wall, however. Take care to not go back over spaces already done even if you see missed spots. Those will take care of themselves on the next coat. Leave at least an hour in between coats. A good paint will only take two coats. By the way, don't fall for these one-coat-will-do ideas. It may look ok on the wall, but you will not be able to scrub or wash it without it coming off or showing where you washed.
- Before using your new can of paint, punch some holes straight down inside the lip/rim of your can. This way you'll have less build-up in the rim as it can drain back into the can. It makes a big difference in the life of your paint and can (not to mention it simply looks much neater for those of us that are perfectionists).
- Before each use, make sure to thoroughly stir the paint. Colorants will settle at the bottom over time so make sure there is nothing thick resting at the bottom (you can stir that thickness away) and the colour of your paint looks mixed well.
- In between coats, you can wrap your brush/roller/tray very snugly with cling wrap. This keeps the paint moist and ready to go and saves on supplies and cleanup. However, when wrapping your brush, make sure to keep the bristles flat the way they were and to not wrap so tightly that they fold onto one another.
- hide wall blemishes as much as possible
- cover in an least amount of coats as possible
- stretch as far as possible, where quantity is concerned
- be able to be scrubbed without marring the finish
- be affordable
I absolutely LOVE Benjamin Moore's Aura line of paint in the Matte finish. However, it costs around $75 per gallon and the best sale they have is $10 off and that comes twice per year. Once in the spring and once in the fall.
I now have another favourite . . . Dulux's Diamond line of paint in the Matte finish. I would consider it to be Aura's identical twin. Although their regular price is very close to that of Benjamin Moore's Aura, Dulux has multiple sales throughout the year. About 4 times per year, they have a buy-1-get-1-free sale. Dulux also offers a membership where you can get a 25% discount off regular priced merchandise. (I post about paint sales on my Facebook page.)
I have put together a list of paint lines within paint brands that offer the best durability features in a matte finish, according to the manufacturer's website. Click on the pictures to be taken to their website's information.
Benjamin Moore Regal is available at Benjamin Moore stores and retails for $64.99 per gallon.
Dulux Diamond is available at Dulux stores and retails for $74.99 per gallon.
Dulux Lifemaster is available at Dulux stores and retails for $66.99 per gallon.
PPG Manor Hall is available at Kent Building Supplies and retails for $54.99 per gallon. It is also available at Colours 'n' More at 164 Collishaw Street in Moncton, NB.
Sico Evolution is available at Kent Building Supplies and retails for $46.79 per gallon.
Home Depot's Behr Marquee retails for $58.97 per gallon.
Home Depot's Behr Premier Plus Ultra retails for $44.97 per gallon.
I have used all of Benjamin Moore's paint lines, however, have only used Dulux Diamond when it comes to other brands. I would love if you all would participate in the comment section below this post to give your feedback on these paints I have featured.
Benjamin Moore Aura is available at Benjamin Moore stores and retails for $69.99 per gallon.
Benjamin Moore Regal is available at Benjamin Moore stores and retails for $52.99 per gallon.
Home Depot's Behr Marquee retails for $39.98 per gallon.
Home Depot's Behr Premier Plus Ultra retails for $29.98 per gallon.
Valspar Signature retails for $31.98 per gallon at Lowes.
- You get what you pay for, you actually spend more in the long run by buying cheaper paint.
- If you have any wall blemishes that you don't want to show, BUY FLAT PAINT.
- Makes sure the paint you choose says on the can, washable (at the very least).
- It is a safer bet to choose your colors from the company you plan to buy your paint from.
Disclaimer: It is not my intention to 'slam' paint companies. If I have come across in that way, I apologize. My intentions are simply to arm you with information to make your paint journey as smooth as possible.