Consumer Reports tests pricey paints

January 17, 2014

Designers showcase paint from the British company Farrow and Ball because of its luscious colors. But Farrow and Ball can cost triple what other paints cost.

Consumer Reports tested Farrow and Ball along with more than 60 paints to see if it really offers extra value.

On Farrow and Ball's website, the designer photos show off the beautiful colors of its paints. But the Farrow and Ball's paint is pricey, about $100 a gallon.

Consumer Reports compared Farrow and Ball to far less expensive paints from Home Depot and other stores.

All faced the same tough tests including stain resistance and how well each paint covered dark stripes.

"It is very important to get good coverage from a paint because it will reduce the number of coats that you will have to put on to cover the existing color," explained Rico De Paz, Consumer Reports.

The expensive Farrow and Ball paint could not cover well with one coat. The lines could still be seen after one coat.

But Consumer Reports saw a visible difference with a $34.00 Behr paint from Home Depot.

And as for Farrow and Ball's beautiful colors, Consumer Reports sent a secret shopper to Home Depot to see how closely it could match a sample of Farrow and Ball with its Behr paint.

Back at the labs, testers compared the color of the two paints using a colorimeter.

"They are very close," said De Paz.

The color difference was within one percent.

As for the stain-resistance test, the Farrow and Ball paint did do a good job, but so did the $34.00 Behr paint.

In the end, the Satin Enamel Behr Premium Plus Ultra earned top ratings.

There is another advantage to Behr Premium Plus Ultra. It is a primer as well as a paint, so you don't have to cover bare surfaces with a primer first.

Consumer Reports' simple tips for getting the perfect paint job:

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