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Consumer Reports ‘Decodes’ Paint Labels

Friday, August 14, 2015

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From “washable” to “one gallon”—paint experts over at Consumer Reports hope to relieve some confusion when it comes to paint can labels.  

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Paint testing experts say paint can wording can confuse consumers and sometimes present more of a challenge than color selection.

In “Decoding Paint Can Claims,” the influential non-profit testing organization reports “which terms you can take seriously and which ones are just slick marketing” on paints.

Demystifying Labels

“Enamel” is among the terms discussed.

Consumer Reports writes that the word once specified that an interior paint was oil-based, with “a tough finish and high gloss.” However, nowadays, “enamel” can be seen on paint cans for all finishes, including flat, the article says.

Moreover, the organization’s testing does not necessarily conclude that a paint labeled “enamel” is tougher than a non-enamel coating, Consumer Reports warns.

“Washable” is another of the words decoded in the article.

interior paint

Interior paint from Valspar ranked atop Consumer Reports' latest evaluation.

“All the word means is that once the paint dries, you can scrub the surface and the paint won’t come off,” the experts say.

“One-gallon” is another claim Consumer Reports warns customers not to take at face value. It reports that while some cans contain 128 ounces, others can be up to eight ounces shy.

Manufacturers often leave room for a tint, Consumer Reports explains.

Trust in the ‘Plus’?

The report also mentions the use of the word “plus” on paint labels.

“Add a superlative—‘premium,’ ‘premium plus,’ ‘premium plus ultra’—to a paint’s name and the price goes up. Performance does, too, but not always,” the report says.

Other terms discussed in the article were “mildew-resistant,” “environmentally friendly,” “stain blocking” and “stain resistance.”

Top Ranking Paints

The organization periodically ranks interior and exterior paints based on demanding testing methods of a number of important appearance and performance measures. The agency then issues a verdict of “recommended” or “best buy.”


Interior and exterior paints from Behr earned top marks in Consumer Reports’ latest performance evaluation.

The top paints from its most recent tests include products from Behr, Valspar, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Clark + Kensington.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the non-profit rates thousands of products and services annually.


Tagged categories: Coating selection; Coatings manufacturers; Consumer Reports; Container labels; Good Technical Practice; Marketing; North America; Trends

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