Monday, July 2, 2012

A brief primer on paint

Painting is like a drug.  It's addicting.  When you start painting one thing, you want to paint more things.  I'm starting to feel less enthusiastic towards paint due to the number of projects I'm juggling simultaneously that involve it.

Mom and I spent countless hours at the local hardware store Sunday morning picking out paints for the One Room Challenge.  From my other dissertations on paint, you must know that I'm a bit of a paint nazi.  I won't say 'snob' because it's not about name brands or price.  It's about finding a color that conveys on the walls as it does on the chip.   If you aren't a total spaz or didn't envelope yourself in the art education track, you may not be as fussy about tones, hues and shades as I am.

I abhor paint. The aforementioned drug reference is oh-so-true for me, especially as I go from brand to brand hoping to find my  fix.  When I tested out Sherwin Williams/Duron paint after many botched projects with Behr, it was like a beacon of shining light. An upgraded seat on your flight.

When the color I chose for my guest room remodel turned out to be Benjamin Moore, I tracked it down at said hardware store and gave it a whirl.  This time, it was like going from a good, solid Japanese-made sedan to a maneuverable European sportscar.  It came out like mousse in the paint tray and went on like butter.  We went with the mid-grade petrol of Ben's lines and were super happy with the result.  The coverage is remarkable and the $15 increase from the mid-grade at Sherwin Williams was well worth it. 

Here's the thing:
Everything in life has a scale.  There's always an economy class and a first class within almost any category of things in life.  Cars, plane tickets and paint.  
If you are happy running up to your corner home improvement store and getting a can of paint for a project, go right for it.  There's no right or wrong.  If you're happy with it, there's no reason to change.

If you are looking for a professional finish and immediate, mind-numbingly thick coverage, you're not going to get it there.  If you are extremely picky about what actually comes out of the can and goes onto your walls, their paint isn't always true to form.

You can spend $15, $30, $50 and upwards of $80 on a gallon of paint, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

The best example I can give is Mom's kitchen.  Ten years ago, she decided to personify her love for blue and white porcelain on the walls of her kitchen.  She choose an intense royal blue from our local chain store and went to work.  One coat of primer and seven coats of blue paint later, you can still see some streaks on her walls if you know what you're looking for.  And what a labor of love.  Luckily for her, her love for blue transcends most of the trends, but we both rue the day she decides to get rid of it.

Yesterday, we painted my builder's grade matte finish walls with B. Moore's midgrade paint (about $35 more than a can of the other stuff) and got full coverage and deep color in one coat. The difference in the texture and the viscosity of their paint is better, but their richness in the finish is what was the kicker for me.

Just like switching to Yves St. Laurent make-up, I was hesitant to do it because I knew there might now be any turning back.  I will hold off on Farrow & Ball for the same reason.

There are always a million rules you can follow while painting.  And if you listen to all of them, they just start to contradict each other. My advice is to break them all.  If you want to put a signature on something, do what makes you feel good.  Like white after Labor Day… hello… winter white…  

See what I mean?  Rules are meant to be broken.

Two unrelated observations:

#1 - You must never wear perfume or a sports bra into a home improvement store unless seeking a husband. 

#2 - 'You can do it, we don't help' is not the way of the local hardware store.  Much more helpful and knows a thing or two about your project.


If you are looking for help with your home, we'd love to work with you! Contact us for a listing of our services and prices. 
 Nancy and Bethany


  1. Great post! I was planning on having my entire house painted with Farrow & Ball (new construction), but when I saw what the increase in price would be, I stuck with my favorite Benjamin Moore paints!

    Another paint that designers around Atlanta are using is San Marco paint, which is mineral paint and has a beautiful, chalky appearance - I know some designers who swear by it!

    Have a happy 4th,

  2. I can't wait to see how your paint job comes out. I am hiring someone to paint my ceiling (high gloss), but his price was so ridiculous for the walls. I will be rolling the walls, myself. Unlike you, I paint, but it is less than my favorite thing to do. Miss Ya!

  3. Great post, Bethany. We have a rule in our house now, "No cheap paint". Last year we needed plain 'ol white and so I bought a big box brand...UGH! It still took two coats to cover off-white.
    I have been wondering about Benjamin Moore. I am Sherwin-Williams Superpaint fan.

  4. We are getting ready to do lots of painting and this post has so many great reminders!! I'm such a fan of Benjamin Moore paints - plan on sticking with my tried and true...

  5. I like painting more than I used to. I find I'm a better painter when I can just be left alone for a whole day with some music and ice tea to do it at my own pace. When I have to paint with others (i.e. - the hubs) my work tends to...suck. :)

  6. I'm so with you, Bethany! The backs of my bookcases are being painted by my husband for The One Room Challenge. I was planning to do it, but apparently that scared him and he got busy with that right away. He's using Ben Moore. Paint is not ever the place to save money. In our experience you end up just having to buy twice the amount of the cheaper brands and it never looks as pretty.

  7. rules are definitely made to be broken when it comes to design!
    and i agree- quality paint is SO important!

  8. Very interesting, Bethany! Everyone's got an opinion. I take a bit from this and that, and make it mine ;) Looking forward to your Wednesday progress report. xo, L

  9. True, All of that!
    Great post!

  10. Couldn't agree more. I'm a loyal Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams fan. I find their high grade levels to be very comparable!

  11. Hi Bethany, I really love these posts about paint. You are teaching me so much! As an aside, I'm glad you choose the B. Moore abbreviation over others I've seen (and that I use!) and one day I'd love to choose Farrow and Ball, but to be quite honest, I have no idea where I'd even find a can of that stuff.


  12. Bethany all so on spot! Better to pay the extra and seeing it glide on will be the reward! You will love it

    Art by Karena

  13. Oh and I have always loved Benjamin Moore!

    Art by Karena


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