Buy It & Try It: designer paint

(Columbia) Nov. 12, 2003 - Color is a key consideration when you want to paint a room, and there's a seemingly endless array of choices. You may even prefer the palette of one of the celebrity paints. Martha Stewart has her own paint line, and so does designer Ralph Lauren.

Consumer Reports tested more than 100 kinds of interior paint, including some from Martha, Ralph and television star Bob Villa,

Consumer Reports' John Alcoon says, "Since a paint's quality isn't dependent on the color, it's dependent on the base, we test all the bases from which the popular colors are mixed."

The paints go through several standard tests, including how well a paint can cover and hide. With two coats, the best paints will hide all but the darkest color.

Another key test checks how well paints resist stains. John spread a greasy mixture on painted strips and let them sit overnight. Then the paint sections go into a scrubbing machine. Some of the paints come clean quite easily.

In yet another test mildew spores are dropped on paint chips and left to sit. It turns out some paints resist mildew growth better than others, an important consideration for someone painting a bathroom or kitchen.

In the end Consumer Reports found, while the celebrity paints were good, they weren't the best. Top ratings went to Behr Premium Plus available at Home Depot for around $20. And, if getting an exact color is of paramount importance, stores can mix any color, be it one from a celebrity palette or a perfect match for your upholstery or carpet.

Consumer Reports found one potential drawback with Behr Premium Plus: it may fade a bit in bright lights. So, if you are painting a sunny room, testers say a better choice is Valspar American Tradition from Lowe's. It also costs around $20. The magazine says it's just about as good as the Behr, although stains don't come off quite as easily.

posted 3:22pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2003 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED