What Makes a Quality Paint? What Makes a Quality Paint?

In the realm of paint, there are various grades of quality. While most people agree that quality is better than quantity, "quality" is a confusing term. Quality paint costs more, with the justification that it also lasts longer. But what proof is there that quality paint really is the better buy? Rohm & Haas' Paint Quality Institute answers this question all the time by looking at such things as binders, pigments and additives.

According to PQI, quality paints have better binders. The type and amount of binder used affects everything from stain and crack resistance to adhesion.

Several types of polymer are used as binders for latex paints. Oil paints usually have a drying oil or modified oils, called alkyds, as their binders. Of the two, quality latex paints with 100-percent acrylic binders are especially long-lasting. They're also more expensive.

"Part of the reason is that acrylic binders cost more," said Walt Gozdan, PQI technical director. "You're paying extra money but you're getting more durability and better adhesion."

Typically speaking, quality paints have more prime than extender pigments. Prime pigments are good hiding pigments, while extender pigments provide bulk at low cost. The most common prime pigment is titanium dioxide, a white pigment found in both oil and latex paints. It's not inexpensive but is imperative for good hiding. This is also called “Titanium White” and is one of the biggest factors in the quality of paint.

Quality paints also have more additives. Additives are included in paint to provide desirable properties. They might make the paint easier to apply, for example, or give it protective qualities.

Mildewcides are an example. "If you go to lower-cost paints, you take out some of that mildewcide to save money," said Gozdan.

All of these benefits save time in the initial painting and in recoats. Since most of the cost of repainting a home is in labor, it makes sense to invest in a top-quality acrylic latex paint. It applies easier, lasts longer and, when spread out over the life of the paint job, costs less.

Top quality paint has a longer life, which makes the cost per year less when prorated over the life of the paint job. (Information from Paint Quality Institute)

TIP: Painting professional Edward Kimble, author of Interior House Painting Blog, adds, “This is true if it is exterior paint, the more expensive, better quality paint lasts longer. However, in interior painting, usually other factors than the quality or cost of paint make another paint job necessary after so many years. This includes soiled areas, cooking stains and smoking stains on interior walls.”

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