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Understanding What Makes a Quality Paint  

(© Copyright 2011 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Choosing a good quality paint has advantages over buying the cheapest paint when painting a room.  Good paint goes on faster and easier and has good hiding qualities to cover up imperfections on the wall.  Buying a better paint also means not having to put on extra coats of paint because the better paints provide better "coverage" than cheaper and thinner paints which will require more coats of paint to achieve a good surface.  Buying a better paint also means you can wash the dirt and grime off the wall easier and maybe avoid having to repaint the entire wall again when a tenant allows his child to draw on the wall with crayons

A paint is composed of pigments, binders, resins (liquid) and various additives.  The pigments give the paint color;   the vehicle (water for latex paint)  make it easier to apply;   binders help it dry;  and additiveds serve as everything from fillers to anti-fungicidal agents.  Hundreds of different pigments, both natural and synthetic exist.  Paint is made up of different percentages of these components

Understanding what makes up a good paint will help the building owner make an informed decision as to which paint is best for the job.   How the manufacturer adds these basic component determines the price per gallon and how the  paint performs on the wall.

What Do Manufacturers Put In Paint?

All latex paint has 4 basic components:


Pigment is the component that provides the color.  It is made of finely ground powder which does not dissolve.  This powder is suspended in the liquid.  There are two types of  pigments:

These pigments provide the primary color of the paint.  This type of pigment is very expensive and only high quality paints to a lot of this type of pigment.
These pigments are less expensived to use than primary pigments.  They also do not hide imperfections as well, nor do they allow for the owner to scrub marks off the paint as well as paint that uses primary pigments do.  These extender pigments are usually made from clay, silica, talc, and / or chalk.

Paint that is made with more prime pigments is naturally more expensive than paint that ues extender pigments.  The combination of using different percentages of the primary and extender type pigments determines the price of the paint and the ability of the paint to cover etter, scrub off marks bedtter, etc.  That is why one manufacturer makes  several different lines of paint at different prices.  The different lines of paint are determined by what percentage of each of pigment is in the paint and why some paint costs $12 a gallon wile the same manufacturer has $30.00 a gallon paint to offer to the buyer.  The other cost factors are listed below.

The Binder

The binder is the actual film forming component of paint.  The binder consists of acrylics, polyurethanes, polyesters, resins, epoxy or oils.  As the wet paint is put on the wall, the binders control how the paint dries and/or cures.  As the water compoentn of the paint evaporates, the binder forms a solid film on the top layer of the paint.  Latex paint is a water-based paint that means any spills can be cleaned up using water.  Depending on the binder, some paints "cure" -- meaning all the parts of paint fuse together so that water will no longer affect the paint.  Enamel type paint usually cures rather than the latex paints simply dries.

Vehicle (also known as the water or resin)

The main purpose of the water in latex paint is to regulate the "viscosity" of the paint.  Viscosity of the paint refers to the thickness of the paint.  Water has a low viscosity while honey has a high viscosity (thickness).  The less viscosity of the paint, the easier the paint spreads on the wall.  In other words, the thinner the paint, the more wall surface it will cover.  that may sound good but the coverage is a thin layer of aint that may not cover any imperfections under it and may require two or more coats to provide good "coverage".  The lower the viscosity (thickness) the more square feet a paint will cover per gallon.  Because the thinner paint is actually thinner, the imperfections on the wall may show through, resulting in the need for a second coat.    Paint with a higher viscosity are thicker paints which cover imperfections better.    These are the paints advertised as "one coat coverage".  Although the gallon may not cover as many square feet per gallon, the higher thickness of the paint eliminates the need for a second coat and thus saves the building owner the expense of applying a second coat of paint.

The Additives

The three main ingredients of paint as described above may also have  a fourth ingredient known as an "Additive".  Some additives improve the flow of the paint when being applied, some improve the finished appearance, some control foaming, some provide UV protection from the sun fading the paint and some  fight bacterial growth when paint is applied in moist areas such as the bathroom. 

The more additives, the higher the quality of the paint and the higher the price per gallon. 

The manufacturer may put in an additive such as:

What Makes a Better Paint?

                High Quality Latex Paint                                    Standard Quality Latex Paint
                30% to 45% binders and pigments                    Less than 30% binders and pigments
                Remainder of gallon liquids and additives            Remainder of gallon liquids and additives
                Thicker Dry Film on paint surface                    Thinner dry film on paint surface

The High Quality Latex Paint has higher solids content that provides a thicker dry paint film, which results in better hiding, durability and resists dirt better and holds up better to scrubbing the paint to get it clean.

Look at the can of paint and find the specifications of the paint label.  The solids content of the paint may be on the pain can specification sheet.  It can be expressed by weight or volume.  Latex paints range from 25% to about 40% volume of solids depending on the quality of the paint.  The more solids, the better quality of the paint.

                                                  Pigments   +  Binder    =  Solids


                                                    The Solids   +  Liquid   =  Coating Coverage

Choosing the Right Paint Finish Can Help Extend the Life of the Painted Surface

A homeowner usually chooses a "flat" finish for the walls of their home but a flat finish may not provide the protection you need in an apartment building where the tenants write on walls, have children who put dirty finger prints on the paint, draw with crayons on the walls and generally abuse the painted surface.  Choosing the right finish of the paint can upgrade the life of a cheaper per gallon paint to perform better and last longer.

The different finishes provide more ability to wash the pain and may eliminate having to paint as often.  It is always more economical to wash the walls than to re-paint the entire wall again.  Remember that a cheaper paint with a more durable finish may be an alternative to purchasing amore expnsive can  of paint.  Even a very expensive can of paint with a "flat" finish may not hold up as well to washing as a cheaper paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish.


How to Determine What Paint to Buy

The above information will help the building owner read the specifications located on the gallon of paint and/or on a specification sheet.  Some owners have preferences on  a specific brand of paint.  That's okay.  The best way to determine the manufacurer and the specific type of paint in that line of paint is a combination of preference and experience and knowledge of what the paint label describes.

Combinationsof the above compoents of paint explain why one manufacturer will offer up to a dozen models or types of paint at different prices.   The more pigments, additives and binders used, the more expensive the paint and the higher the quaolity of the paint.

Never Hire a Painter that Does Not Have Liability Insurance

Cole Maintenance has a ONE-MILLION DOLLAR INSURANCE POLICY.    Some of the men who advertise in the yellow pages or on line are part-time painters who have full time jobs and paint  your apartment on the week-ends.  They may not be insured since these insurance policies are expensive. 

I have discovered that most of the men to advertise that they paint never answer their phones.  You call them and find yourself leaving a message on a recorder.  They may call you back in a few days.     Cole Maintenance answsers his phone when you call.   Several phone numbers are available for you to call.     Painting on week-ends is no more costly than painting an apartment during the week.  

Cole Maintenance Philosophy

Cole Maintenance believes that building owners should put their money into their building, whether in counter-tops, flooring or paint.  That is why you can take control of the amount you want to invest in the paint.   You can choose an expensive paint or an inexpensive paint based on your needs.  Never again do you have to pay top dollar for a paint job only to find out that the paint that was used was the cheapest your old painter could find but charged you top-buck claiming it was great paint.

Cole Maintenance will paint a two-bedroom, one bath apartment for $200 in one color per coat.   

You provide the paint.    You decide what you want to pay for the paint.     You keep the receipt for the paint and deduct the paint on your income taxes.      
Cole Maintenance provides you with a receipt for the labor charge which you deduct on your income taxes.

You decide if you want to purchase a high quality-one-coat paint that covers in one coat.  You may decide, after calculating the cose differential, that you want to purchase a standard, less-expensive paint that may require two coats.    You control how you want to spend your money.   Never again will you pay a small fortune for a painting job that is supposed to have included the "best" paint -- only to discover the paint was not the top of the line paint for which you paid.