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Home Depot Paint Secrets

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Okay, these aren’t really paint secrets, but my fiancée and I were waiting around at Home Depot, getting some paint mixed, chatting with the paint guy and came away with some “secrets” (yeah, that’s in quotes, these probably aren’t secrets to you but I was surprised to learn them).

  • Behr is Home Depot’s brand of paint and it’s actually pretty good quality paint but it sells terribly when it’s not on sale (at least at the local store I was at), which happens once every season. Those sales usually coincide with a major long weekend in that season, like Labor Day and Memorial Day. Expect to see Behr paint sales this upcoming long weekend.
  • Most people paint during those long weekends, probably because they either have a lot of time or because they plan on having some company over. If I were to guess, I wouldn’t have picked these long weekends… it’s enough stress planning for people coming over for Thanksgiving or the holidays, why add to that by painting? 🙂
  • Behr on sale isn’t the cheapest paint despite being a Home Depot brand.
  • When you request a color, you bring up a can of the brand’s base white and HD mixes in the dyes for you – all those dyes are all Behr dyes. In fact, you could, if you wanted to, bring a Behr base white and request a color from Sherwin Williams but the color won’t come out perfectly because every brand’s white is slightly different.
  • The guy, who wasn’t one of those overachievers looking to push corporate speak, said that it was surprising how white Behr paint was, in fact he mentioned how Sherwin Williams’ white actually looks gray next to the whiteness of Behr paint. What this also means is that if you tried to take the formulations designed for Sherwin Williams and put them in Behr paint, to pay Behr prices, you would get colors that would be lighter… but otherwise be “fine.”
  • “[…] use this tip: ask to open an “account” This just involves giving your personal info (fake it if you want). Then they’ll give you the commercial discount every time – 10% or 15% depending on the associates mood. Just make sure as they’re ringing you in to mention that you have an account with them.” (Great tip courtesy of Kelly, Thanks!)
  • Of course, look up some Home Depot coupons to make the purchase cheaper!

We’re redoing our basement a little, carpeting the floor and painting the wall a little lighter color, so if you have any painting tips or “secrets” (even if they’re not that good), please share!

{ 84 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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84 Responses to “Home Depot Paint Secrets”

  1. ~Dawn says:

    No kidding!
    I didn’t know there could be a ‘whiter’ white.

    • Homer says:

      Ever see an artistic wedding photo of the bride in her wedding dress? Where she “glows” to an extent that is not only painful, but she burns out detail in the background? That is Behr Ultra Pure White. They mean it, and they’re sticking to their claim.

  2. MrsGroovy says:

    I love Behr paint and painted my entire house with it and I don’t care what it costs its totally worth it. My “secret” tip is, if you use that blue tape to tape off windows and stuff, leave it on overnight after you’ve finished painting or when you try to pull it off, it’ll pull some of the paint off the wall too. Also… you can put your paint covered paintbrush or roller in a bag over night so you don’t have to rinse it out every night. Just make sure the bag is closed, it doesn’t have to be airtight. You can just take your roller pan and roller and put the entire thing in a garbage bag to keep for the next day if you don’t finish the paint job in one day. Hope this helps.

    • sickofpainting says:

      I’ve given up on using painter’s tape altogether – I just freehand it. With very little practice (start with a window so you can remove mistakes with a razorblade) it becomes quite easy. Saves a lot of time!

      Saving roller covers: we’ve even gone so far as to put them in aluminum foil, inside a ziploc bag in the refrigerator. We’ve used them for two weeks without rinsing them out, with no problems!

      • robin says:

        Have you tried that new Frog tape? It’s at Walmart and seems to come off cleanly just like it states it does.

  3. David says:

    I find the Behr brand of paint to be of high quality. Easy to use. Covers nicely.

  4. OL says:

    About two years ago we painted several rooms after buying a house. We still have a bit to do and hope to get around to it someday.

    How have you found the Behr paint so far? I picked up 2 five gallon containers of it during one of the Home Depot sales and used it in the garage (started with bare drywall). Compared to Benjamin Moore (we used that inside), I found that Behr required additional coats. It certainly costs a bit more, but being a Berkshire shareholder makes up for that, at least a little bit 🙂

    Here are some thoughts on painting and a list of items that I picked up to get us started:


    • Anonymous says:

      It’s taking more coats because you’re putting it over bare un-primed drywall. Gypsum acts like a sponge and just sucks up paint. That’s why drywall primer is cheap as dirt compared to regular paint.

      • Homer says:

        Anonymous is correct. New drywall primers “flash seal” the new drywall paper covering. You can use the best, most expensive, paint in the world, and you’ll probably just keeping feeding the gypsum until you destroy what little structural integrity it has. When in doubt, make it stout…the rest of the time, it’s best to prime.

  5. Thermopyle says:

    As a home builder, I’d like to point out that you CAN mix a near-perfect* clone of a Sherwin Williams color with Behr paint. They just can’t use the formulation (i.e. typing in the color codes for the Sherwin Williams paint), they have to use their color-matching machine to scan the color sample from Sherwin Williams which will then output the correct formulation to match that color with Behr base stock.

    *I say near-perfect because they say that the color scanner doesn’t necessarily generate a perfect match, but I find that 9 times out of 10 I can’t tell the difference.

    • Silentsniper says:

      Actually, the paint tint machine that home depot uses now can get sherwin williams color on it. Home Depot has all the major paint companys on the computer.

      • Homer says:

        This is true. Without getting into THD brands (Americas Finest, Glidden, Behr, Martha Stewart, etc.), Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, Lowes, WalMart, et al, are in the competitive formula database. There ARE coding errors, however (“Hint of Mint” should be a green…but it comes out blue), but these errors are reported. All competitive formulas are specific to brand and base.

    • daemondust says:

      A properly calibrated color scanner should be able to get as close as any two batches of a color will. The problem is nobody calibrates them.

      • Homer says:

        WRONG! Although individual mileage varies, THD stores calibrate the spectrophotometers before opening, at mid-day, and, if a tenured associate is on duty, whenever a formula “looks funny.” Most obvious is matching a Behr Ultra Pure White (brightest, scariest white on the planet Earth) to any other brand’s base white. Takes some experience, but too much Lamp Black or Burnt Umber soon becomes obvious.

        The real problem is four-fold. (1)The white standard (part of the instrument) must be clean. (2)The chamber between the lamp and the sample must be completely free of detrious. (3)Lamps and collectors in the instrument wear out. (4) Do not bring a bad sample (hunk of poorly painted booger wood) to be matched. The spectrophotometer will also penetrate thin or sun faded paint (the lamp can damage your eyes) and “see” the paint underneath. Of course, it won’t match the sun faded stuff.

    • Homer says:

      Thermopyle has been around the block a few times…heed Thermopyle.

      To dumb Thermopyle down to the easiest understandable analogy, consider a Xerox, of a Xerox, of a Xerox, etc. That first copy is so close that one cannot really see the difference, even with the original to compare it to. You don’t need the original to see that the tenth generation sucks.

      Spectrophotometry is an approximation…a facsimily.

      BTW, we are all “stoopid,” and our brains “protect” us from such things as absolutes. Spectrophotometers have “eyes” that are not connected to “brains” which worry about whether or not we’ll be reduced to a whimpering, half-representation of human, just because the blue came off just over the grey side, rather than the brown side.

    • TMN says:

      My husband and I have painted many houses in our Military Career as Officer and a Wife and i will love the most expensive item on a rack with out even touching or looking at a tag. Quality and comfort is my name. We have lived in the high dessert and the Low beach.
      Behr is our favorite. Les Coats, Most coverage, Easy to Clean. Everything depends on the base you are painting and the type of Behr paint you use. There are different paints in every Brand. Behr is the Best. I would let your contractors use Behr. Also a color chip will Fade Make sure to bring in a new one and the scanner only pikes up the darkest color of a fabric. Have fun with your project.

  6. My wife and I (mostly my wife) are in the process of painting most of the interior rooms of our house. Next time, only one room at a time…

    We went with Behr because they were rated highly in consumer reports. A few weeks ago I was in Home Depot and saw that it was on sale, so I went home, we made our final color decisions, measured everything, and went back to get our paint. We started painting last Monday, and were planning on getting our cat this weekend, but with all the crappy weather the walls haven’t been drying very quickly so we left the cat up at my mother’s house for an extra week and will be painting this week as well. I need to get off my butt and start writing about the painting process on my site; I’ve been lazy. My wife is writing a few articles for it, so I’ll probably just put up what she says.

    Painters tape is expensive but very worth it! Just be sure to wash your walls and patch your holes before you put the tape up or start painting. We use a small 2″ roller to get the edges and corners by the tape and around outlets. We do the rest of the walls with a normal sized roller. The 2″ foam roller is a bit easier than the 4 inch regular style roller, we think.

  7. sixpack says:

    Instead of buying roller cove tray liners, you can use Glad Press and Seal to cover them.

  8. Debbie says:

    spend the time to tape off the trim, windows, etc. and cut-in around the edges…the prep time IS a pain BUT well worth it in clean-up, quality and making the rest of the job move along quickly. Also, don’t use cheap paint brushes and wash them well…they’ll last forever.

  9. If you’re using latex paint, you don’t need to use tray liners at all. Leave a slightly thicker layer of residue in the tray overnight to dry, and then in the morning it will just peel off in one big piece.

    Also…the man earlier who said that you can get a near-perfect colour match is correct. ANY paint store can do this for you, not just HD. Benjamin Moore has some of the most beautiful colours going, and you can take them to ANY paint supplier and get them mixed in ANY brand of paint you prefer. Remember, just because it’s more expensive paint doesn’t mean it will be better. Everyone has preferences.

    Paint with titanium additives is well worth any slight price-increase. It’s far more durable, gives twice the coverage, and is much more scrubbable. It’s usually also only a couple of dollars more per gallon, so double the coverage for a very slight price increase=great deal.

    Using good quality brushes was also a great tip. They don’t leave bristles all over your wall. And if you’re taking a break between coats, wrapping rollers and brushes in a plastic bag is a great idea. Seal them tightly. If you’re not going to get back to the painting right away, they can be stored in the freezer for longer lasting freshness.

    Finally (sorry to hijack your comments!), don’t paint when it’s wet outside. You can, and will have great results…but the more humid and damp the weather, the longer your paint will take to dry between coats. If you don’t allow proper drying time, your second coat will actually REMOVE paint rather than add it. You’ll end up with an uneven, blotchy finish. So either wait a bit longer between coats, or just wait for a bit nicer day before starting.

    Happy home improvements!

  10. jane says:

    When you clean your brushes, during the rinsing process, comb through them with a cheap, black, “grandpa” pocket comb. It helps get some of the semi-dry, clumpy paint that accumulates higher up on the bristles.
    If you are able to leave your brushes dry overnight, do a final finse in white vinegar. It helps keep the bristles soft, but if you try to paint while the brush is damp with vinegar, it streaks.

  11. Kelly says:

    I’m no longer a fan of Behr and instead go to Sherwin Williams. (I understand Benjamin Moore is similar.)

    SW paint spreads more smoothly and has better coverage. It’s easier to clean up. And I suspect it doesn’t cost more if you use this tip: ask to open an “account.” This just involves giving your personal info (fake it if you want). Then they’ll give you the commercial discount every time – 10% or 15% depending on the associates mood. Just make sure as they’re ringing you in to mention that you have an account with them.

    Tape: I went through a lot of expensive tape and have found that simply learning to cut in without tape is far faster and more effective. I use a 2.5″ angled brush (buy high quality and wash it promptly) and simply run the brush along the corner without tape. With a little practice, you can make a very nice straight line. Don’t waste time with tape.

    Good luck.

  12. Patrick says:

    Make sure to pull the painter’s tape from the trim and window areas as soon as you have finished painting the area. Don’t let the paint dry first, or you will rip the paint from the wall.

    No matter what, buy quality equipment. It is well worth the cost!

    You mentioned you will be installing carpet also. Be sure to paint before putting in new carpet! I did it this way when I finished my basement last year and it made it so much easier to not worry about spilling paint on the floor! 🙂

  13. bradley says:

    ditto on the no taping. I recently painted 2 rooms and took time to prep the room edges + baseboard with painter’s tape. After painting we tried to take the tape off that day and it pulled some paint off the wall so we left the tape there for 2 days to dry. We ended up having the trim the edges with a razor blade and cut away the tape so it wouldn’t take paint off the walls. Just take the time around edges w/ an angled brush and straightedger.

    We were using Sherwin Williams Duration paint. Great stuff, but way too expensive ($40+)

    Also, tinfoil to cover the rollers overnight seemed a lot less messy than plastic bags.

  14. Jim, does Kelly’s tip apply to Home Depot (as implied in the last point)? When I read it, it seemed to apply to Sherwin Williams, which has it’s own stores (at least in some areas).

    • jim says:

      Hmmm, I interpreted her comment to apply to Home Depot but it might only apply to Sherwin Williams, not 100% sure.

  15. KMC says:

    Thanks for the tip on the sale. We’re planning on painting the new baby’s room this coming weekend and knowing about sales helps a lot.

    I do have a word of caution on the basement, however. When deciding on flooring (you mentioned carpet) consider that basements flood. Even if it’s never happened to you, with enough rain it might. I know from experience.

  16. RootAnn says:

    After washing (TSP or phosphate-free-TS(P) solutions are usually recommended) and patching, make sure you re-prime the patched spots.

  17. The paint people at Home Depot are hacks. They mismade my paint, which I found out about too late, as I had already applied it to the wall. Then they balked when I asked for a refund. I had to buy more paint to cover over their mistake, and all they could say was, “Sir, this can is empty.” I got my money back, but what morons…

    • jim says:

      I understand what you mean but at least try to understand two things:
      1) They don’t mismake anything, they just have the computer enter in the dyes for them. If you want to complain to someone, complain to the manufacturer for not formulating it correctly.
      2) You brought back an empty can and claimed it was mis-mixed? While I understand you can’t tell it was mismade if it’s off by just a little bit and it’s the first can, but at least put yourself in their shoes.

      I don’t own HD stock or have any friends at Home Depot or anything, it’s just that I can understand why they’d be skeptical.

    • Jade says:

      You brought back an empty can and expected your money back? They gave it back because they didn’t want you to make a scene,not because they were in the wrong. You sound like an entitled brat. They gave you your way after you used their product up and you still insult them.

      • Bob says:

        Excellent response Jade. You nailed this guy right on! I don’t think I would have been quite so generous in dealing with Mr.Million $ to my name.
        If he manages to buy and use products without paying for them, it is no wonder he has at least 1 million dollars!

  18. sickofpainting says:

    Has anyone had HD calculate their room size to get the appropriate amount of paint, and then end up with WAY too much?

    We took our measurements in for 3 rooms. They did the math and said we’d need 5 gallons for one coat. We painted 2 coats AND it was over a textured surface (panelling). We have nearly 2 gallons left, which is$40-50 I could still have in my wallet! Unfortunately it’s in a 5-gal container, so I think it will be even harder to get them to take it back. They also overestimated on primer, but luckily that was a 5-gal plus 2 1-gallon cans, and we returned the 2 cans. We’ll use the rest of the primer (about 2 gallons left of that as well) somewhere else.

    Do I have a reasonable complaint with them? Does this happen often?

    • anon says:

      you find the SQ FT= perimeter x ceiling height, gallon in pastel base does about 350-400 sq ft, less for darker color

  19. Curvezilla says:

    Just wanted to clear up a couple of things in this article. Behr Paint is not Home Depot paint. The Behr branded paint is SOLD exclusively at HD but is not owned by HD. Behr Paint is a subsidiary of Masco, a large holding company. Behr’s interior flat enamel, satin and semi gloss have all been rated #1 by Consumer Reports for 4 years in a row. Behr is great paint! Compare it to any of the other more expensive paints and you are really getting a good deal. The reason Behr Paint is so white is because of the high quality pigments they use to construct the paint, mainly TiO2 (Titanium Dioxide). The grey tint you get from other paints comes from the clay, talk and silica they use as the primary pigment. There is a huge cost difference in these pigments, TiO2 is about $1.60 a pound and the other are around $.07 a pound. I hope this helped!

    • 2Cents says:

      Behr may not be owned by the Home Depot but it is their brand of choice dating back to the early store beginnings. Behr is great paint but the new Glidden line which is $2 cheaper will cover just as well as Behr Paint and has just as much TiO2 for whiteness. The purer the white the better chance the colors will match properly. Also, Behr paint is not exclusive to Home Depot only the Behr Premium Plus Brand. They do produce and market a product called Behr Expressions sold in other areas. It would not make since for any manufacturer to place all of their eggs in one basket.

      • Anonymous says:

        Behr no longer makes the Expressions paint and they no longer have independent outlets. They have exclusively with Home Depot.

  20. Raziorizzo says:

    Go over to LOWES. The paint selection is better,thay match any color and have much more color selection for interior and exterior paint. Valspar (American Tradition) has been around for 200 yrs.
    TIP OF THE DAY: When painting with a paint brush, tape around the bottom of the brush, go up around 1/2 -3/4 inches onto the bristles. After done painting remove the tape and the base of the brush remains clean so all you have to do is clean the top of the brush.

    • Jack says:

      I went to Lowes to color match a Behr red color swatch. It is a bold, bright red, called Edgy Red. I wanted two gallons their Valspar Signature Paint in an satin finish. The paint expert there told me that it would take at least 10 coats to achieve the color. I heard that Valspar Signature paint has primer and paint mixed together. I find it strange that would take 10 coats. I was hoping for 2 or 3 coats.

      • KT says:

        Any home tv channel show will tell you that getting reds just right takes multiple coats. As for primer, if you get it separately, make sure it is tinted the same color as the paint so you can use fewer coats.

  21. Jason says:

    GREAT TIP: Get one of theose $3 Shur-Line edgers (Google it) available in lots of places and use it instead of having to tape stuff on. Works great whenever a surface makes a 90 degree angle with another (corners, windows, where walls and ceilings meet, around doorframes…etc.). You save a lot of prep time not having to tape everything off. And often makes a cleaner line than when using tape.

  22. pat says:

    I would like to agree with a number of the points here:
    -Use good brushes (like ~$10-15 each, they give a better finish, and they last longer)
    -Cut in, but tape also if you are unsure of your skills. The key is not to go crazy and think that just because you taped you can slap the paint all over the place. A layer of paint from the wall onto the tape is the reason that it pulls the paint off the wall. If you are careful, and just use the tape as a second defense, you should be fine.
    -Any paint store should be able to match any color (like in the Lowes commercial, just bring in a color you want, even a paint chip from another store) if they can’t, I’d consider going somewhere else.
    -As far as I know, HD does not give a discount to people who just open an account, from what I’ve gathered, you have to have an actual commercial credit account with them to qualify for any “in the trade” discounts. However, SW and many of the smaller hardware stores do have this “in the trade” system.
    -this brings me to an additional point, try to avoid places like HD, patronize your local hardware stores and lumber yards when possible. Particularly with things like paint, the local hardware store is a much richer bed of experience (usually), is usually better about matching anything. Look for ones that don’t just sell the products of their parent company (e.g. an ACE hardware that only sells ACE paint) I prefer Pratt & Lambert paint – great coverage and scrubbability, even with their satin finishes.


  23. matt says:

    I have been in the paint business for 14 years, as a store manager, a regional sales representative and now am in charge of architectural services for my company.

    The majority of the information in the article and comments is wrong.

    To make colors, tints are added not dyes. Paint is not mismade, or mismatched but it is referred to as mistinted.

    Any color can be matched. For a perfect match, allow them to start with the computer, but make sure they check the color with their and your eyes. Have them do corrections until acceptable. (Some Home Depot, Lowe’s and hardware stores will not have the expertise to do this effectively, for the best matches use a real paint store, they do this everyday all day). Color matches are a pain and take years of experience to do them perfectly and quickly.

    Never allow a store to tint someone else color from a color formula developed for the other store. It will never work correctly. Every manufacturer uses different tints, different measurements of those tints and different bases. In most cases it won’t be off a little it might be green instead of red.

    It is accurate that higher quality paint will have higher loads of TiO2 and that this pigment is more expensive. However, it disingenuous to say Behr has better paint that Sherwin Williams (I do not work for SW). Sherwin Williams has 6 different main interior lines of paint, not including numerous specialty lines. What line is it being compared to? ProMar 700. Well, ProMar 400, ProMar 200, Super Paint and Duration are all better. I would be hard pressed to say anything you could buy at Home Depot would be better than SW’s Super Paint, PPG’s Manor Hall or Benjamin Moore’s Accolade. Comparing apples to apples is hard even for professional painting contractors.

    Real painting contractors do not use Home Depot. For the best advice and best paint go to where they do business in your area. Call one of them for a “quote” and ask what paint they use.

    I also laugh when people say Pratt and Lambert is better than Sherwin Williams. SW owns P&L. They also own MAB, Mautz, and numerous others. The paint world has been consolidating for a long time. Do not get to hung up on brand names.

    Unless you are a professional painter and you want nice crisp “cut” lines use tape. It takes years to perfect and crisp “cut” line using only a brush. After placing the tape into position run a putty knife across it. This will seal the tape down to make sure paint doesn’t seep in underneath. When removing the tape, remove it either while it is still wet, or wait 4-6 hours. Always pull the tape away at a 180 degree angle to itself. If the paint is pulling away from the wall still, use a putty knife or “olfa” knife to score the gap between the tape and wall. This will leave a very crisp cut line and a perfect paint job.

    One commenter above stated that paint with Titanium additives is more scrubbable and durable and gives twice the coverage. Almost all paint contains some amount of Titanium Dioxide. It is the primary hiding pigment. Due to its expense, manufacturers try to use as little as possible and will use extender pigments instead (clay, calcium carbonate and talc). Products with high quantities of Titanium Dioxide tend to hide better, but the Titanium Dioxide itself does not affect the durability or scrubbability of the coating. The resin or binder affects these properties. The higher the sheen of the product (flat, eggshell, stain, semi-gloss, and gloss) the more resin is in the formula and the better the product will perform. So in the same line of product, for instance SW’s Duration, the semi-gloss will out-perform the flat. Also some resins offer different capabilities.

    • PAT says:


    • 2Cents says:

      “Real Paint contractors” are truly wasting their own profits by purchasing from factory paint locations. The paints are more expensive and not open long hours and most weekends. Factory paint store paints are carried at Home Depot locations. ICI Paint is Glidden Paint. Marketing and brand names sometimes mis-lead consumers unintentionally.

    • jared says:

      I can tell you are an excellent paint expert! I also have 14 years in the business and I want to say, you do know you’re paint! Another reason why people need to go to REAL paint stores for paint advice!

    • Chuck j says:

      Sheen is not a product of the amount of resin but a result of how fine the raw material in the paint is ground prior to manufacture.

    • anon says:

      thank you for this banter, ive been reading all the comments on behr and i have to say ive worked at SW and BM and get disater story after disater story, mostly due to lack of knowledge. And to Pat we do have to graduate from a very long training program before we are allowed to sell paint, there are many reasons why it could have been recommended that you not use your color choice, just saying.

  24. Irving says:

    Try using Fine Paints of Europe-it’s twice the quality of any of the paints that have been talked about. If you ever use it you will never paint with anything else again.

    • 2Cents says:

      Most of the paints sold in Europe are manufactured bt ICI Paints, now known as Akzo Nobel Paints. These paints can be sold at any Home Depot location under the Glidden Premium Brand.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Matt, as a professional I would be curious to know what you think of Microblend Technologies ( They make many grades of interior and exterior paint in 3000+ colors on demand from 5 or so homogeneous components and have a patented process to match paint better than anyone in the industry. A 1 gallon bucket of paint can be dispensed in under 60 seconds… and a different machine at a different location can make the same exact paint, with the *exact* tint within 60 seconds and you would not be able to tell the difference between the two. I think I see a revolution coming. An entire paint store within a 200-400 sq ft area (reducing stocked inventory by a factor of 10. Check out the demo on their site.

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