Choosing Quality Paint

Simplistically, premium quality paint saves you work and money. If you only need to paint your house once every five years instead of every second year, you can see that paying even twice as much for quality paint in the long run will be less expensive both in terms of money and your effort.

All paint companies make different grades of paints to meet different application requirements. Premium or quality paints provide the best coverage, durability and ease of working. Other paint grades with names like professional grade, architectural grade or professional grade will work but won't do as good a job as true premium quality paint. But what makes quality paint and how can you tell quality paint from paint that isn't quite as good - since the names don't really tell you much?

A little bit of paint chemistry

All paint is made up of 3 components, - pigments, binders and thinners or solvents.

  • Pigments provide the colors and the hiding properties to paint. Two kinds of pigments are used in paints
  • Quality paints use hiding pigments such as titanium dioxide along with small amounts of other pigments to provide the color.
  • Lesser quality paints use different types of pigments (actually extenders) such as talc, clay, calcium carbonate or silica along with color. While these do provide good hiding capabilities they lack durability and wear quickly.
  • Binders actually hold the pigments together once the paint has dried. They also determine the durability of the finished/dried paint and help provide adhesion between the paint and the underlying surface.
  • Thinners or solvents combine with both pigments and binders to control the consistency or texture of the paint.

Quality paints contain both the best pigments and binders, but in addition, they contain more of these solids than lower quality paints, and it's the solids that remain behind after the paint has dried. Economy paints provide hiding by using less pigment then extending it with fillers like clay or calcium carbonate that will have good hiding capability initially but lose their hiding capabilities over time - particularly when exposed to weather.

Telling quality paint from lesser quality

  • If you are comparing paint from a single manufacturer, price and name are usually good indicators. Manufacturers need to charge more for their premium quality paint since it contains more of more costly ingredients. However, price is a good indicator of quality since, a manufacturer isn't going to charge more for a lesser quality paint (or label it as a premium paint when it's not), since their name is on the product.

  • If you want a more subjective test, the "touch test" is a hand's on method that also works well. To do the "touch test, select your paint and have it thoroughly shaken. Then open the can put your thumb and index finger into the paint, and feel the texture of the paint on your fingers. Good quality paint will feel smooth and silky while lesser quality paint will have a hard, gritty feel. (Less expensive pigment materials like clay and talc can't be ground as finely as the more expensive pigments giving the paint that gritty feel).

Help your quality paint do its job

Once you've found (and paid for) your quality paint, you know your work isn't done yet. Even the best quality paint can't overcome poor surface preparation so take the time to prepare the surface properly before you start painting.

  • Clean, scrape and sand the surface. Dirt and grease will prevent paint from adhering and putting a coat of new paint on top of cracked or peeling existing paint will actually cause all the paint to peel faster.
  • Use a primer-sealer to improve the paint's hiding capability and provide a "tooth" for the new paint to adhere to. Primers also prevent uneven paint absorption and will even help lesser quality paints but when used with quality paint, your finished project will retain its good looks much longer.
  • End up with the best appearance by applying your paint at the rate recommended by the manufacturer; don't thin the paint to try to get a little more coverage -(you just defeat the purpose of buying quality in the first place).

Choosing good quality paint then taking the time to properly prepare the surface will mean your finished paint job won't just look great, it will last a long time, - and that means you won't need to paint again - for a long time.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with numerous articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to