Interior Paint Issue

Old 05-31-11, 03:56 PM
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Interior Paint Issue

We just purchased a new townhome in February.

One issue that we've encountered is the paint. We love the color, but it marks up so easily. When we try to fix markings, it usually makes it worse. And you can tell where the painters have gone back and paint.

I looked at the can of paint they left and it's Sherwin Williams universal Khaki.

Is the issue with the brand, the color or because it's a flat color? We considered repainting everything with Behr paint...
Old 05-31-11, 09:14 PM
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I really don't have any experience with Sherwin Williams paints, so I don't know if your experience with this paint is typical or not. If you're finding that the paint marks up easily, that's generally caused by the "binder" resins not being hard and strong enough. The single most expensive component in a can of paint is the plastic binder resins. They are what coalesce to form a continuous plastic film with the coloured pigments suspended inside it very much like the raisins in raisin bread.

Se the PS below to learn about what makes for good "scrubbability" in paint.

However, most people opt for Behr paint only because Consumer Reports annually rates it as a "Best Buy". I own a small apartment block, and I've painted with Behr paints and other company's paints as well. Behr is only a "Best Buy" because of it's low price. If I had only $18 to buy a gallon of paint, I'd opt for Behr too. But, you're going to be saving 90% of the cost of repainting your home by doing the work yourselves, so why not buy a better quality paint?

When I used to paint with Glidden and Behr paint, I'd continually be sliding strips of carpet along the walls so that the paint spatter wouldn't get on the floor. Now, I use Pratt & Lambert Accolade Satin (in the F4790 tint base) on the walls of apartments and Accolade Velvet (in the 4090 tint base) on the ceilings. And, since I switched, I don't even bother with protecting the floor any more because there is no spatter with this paint.

Also, P&L Accolade Satin was the highest gloss paint I could find that would hide an underlying off white colour in one coat. When it comes to paints, the higher the gloss, the easier the paint is to clean, but the less well it hides an underlying colour. The fact that I could hide a different colour with a satin gloss in one coat was most of the reason I switched from $18 per gallon Behr paint to $55 per gallon P&L Accolade paint. I'd have to paint twice with the Behr paint to hide the underlying colour completely, whereas I could do that with one coat of P&L. I acknowledge that the cost of paint is tax deductable to me, whereas it wouldn't be for two people painting their own home, and that may be a consideration for some.

Anyhow, why not buy ONE gallon of P&L Accolade, or any of the Benjamin Moore Regal line of paints (which include Aqua Velvet and Aqua Pearl) or a gallon of Sherwin Williams Superpaint and use that in an area where you're likely to need to clean the walls more frequently (like the most commonly used entrance to your home where people lean one hand against a wall while taking boots or shoes off with the other) and see if you like Behr as much after using a better paint.

I am confident that painting over the paint you have with a higher quality paint will solve the marking problems you're experiencing with the SW Universal Khaki paint.

"Scrubability" is a measure of a paint's ability to stand up to hard scrubbing (to remove a mark, say) without losing it's gloss. Generally, when people scrub hard on a wall to remove a stubborn mark, the result is a dull spot on the wall that can often be more apparant than the original mark was.

There are two components in latex and oil based paints that I'll be talking about:
1. The binder resin - this is what actually forms the continuous plastic film on the wall. When it comes to interior latex paints, one good measure of the quality of the paint is the hardness of the film that the binder resins form. The harder the plastic film, the more expensive the binder resins, and the better quality the paint.
2. The extender pigments - these are rocks added to the paint to lower it's gloss level. Were it not for extender pigments, all paints would dry to a high gloss. The more and the coarser the grind of extender pigments in paint, the flatter the gloss the paint will dry to.

Now, in order to get high scrubability in house paints, you need BOTH the extender pigments to be hard and the binder resins to be strong and hard enough to support those hard extender pigments. A good way to think about it is by analogy to making sandpaper. To make good quality sandpaper, not only does the abrasive have to be hard, but the glue holding the abrasive in place has to be strong. If either the abrasive is soft or the glue is weak, the sandpaper won't last.

Now, in inexpensive paints, the extender pigments typically used will be calcium carbonate (which is chaulk) or magnesium silicate (which is talcum powder), both of which are very soft materials. In really cheap paints, they'll use Kaolin clay as an extender pigment only because it's less expensive. In top quality paints, the extender pigment will typically be pulverised silica sand. This extender pigment is much more expensive than chaulk or talc because it's expensive to pulverize a hard rock like quartz into a very fine dust. But, to have a paint stand up to hard scrubbing without losing it's gloss, you need a hard material in the paint which won't wear away.

And, as mentioned previously, the harder and stronger the binder in latex paint, the better it can support those particles of powdered sand from being rubbed off the surface of the paint.

So, when you pay more for a gallon paint, some of what you're paying for is the higher cost of binder resins that form a harder and stronger film, and some is because pulverized sand costs a lot more than talc or chaulk cuz it's more expensive to grind a hard material into dust than a soft material.

If you pay more to get a strong binder and hard extender pigments, your paint will have much better scrubability, which means you can scrub harder to remove stubborn marks without having the paint change it's gloss where you scrubbed hard on it. This is more of a challenge with latex paints because the binder resins are inherantly softer. With interior oil based paints, it's much easier to get high scrubability because alkyd binders dry to very much harder and stronger films than latex paints.

In my case, it's important for me to have high scrubability paint on my walls so that I can clean the marks off walls after tenants vacate instead of repainting. It costs more for the paint, but then I don't have to paint nearly as often.

Also, you should be aware that many companies are now producing "ceramic paints", such as Pratt & Lambert's "Porcelain" line of paints. These paints use ceramic "microspheres" as extender pigments. Since these ceramic spheres are as hard as they are small, ceramic paints generally have high scrubbability. Another effect of the ceramic microspheres is that they make the paint more stain resistant as well.

Zeeospheres Ceramics, LLC

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Nestor; 05-31-11 at 10:05 PM.
Old 06-01-11, 04:20 AM
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What line of SWP paint is it? SWP has both great paint and low quality paint. Many builders use the promar 400 line which IMO isn't all that great. The promar 200 is a decent budget line of paint. Stepping up to their super paint or duration is even better. The folks at the paint store can help you pick the best paint for your budget and needs. This is true of most any paint store, I'd shy away from paint depts in a bigger store because they have less of a selection [based usually on low price] and their help is typically poorly trained.

I've used most all of the SWP lines of paint and there is no reason for the touch ups to show if done correctly. Do you know if they primed the walls? Some builders/painters will skip this needed step

Latex enamels will always wear/clean better than flat wall paint. A low sheen satin or eggshell finish works for most folks. If you really want a flat finish, most of the top line flats are fairly scrubable.

btw - welcome to the forums!
Old 06-01-11, 07:17 AM
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Builders typically use cheap paint (they sure did in my house). SWP makes good paint, though I use Benjamin Moore so I can't comment on specific lines to recommend one like Mark can, but you still want to use a top of the line paint - I wouldn't use anyone's low end product. Also, while I don't like knocking anyone's product, I can tell you no pro here will recommend Behr - I had a coworker use some recently and call me after a coat of primer and two coats of paint didn't cover the paint underneath. Once she used the products I recommended, all was well - how cheap was that paint when three coats just got covered up by something else?

Hmm.... Can't see my point in the paragraph above so let me put it here - I'd repaint with high end SWP or BM paint and I would put a Zinsser primer on first just to make sure (123 is my favorite standard use primer)

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