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$72.00 For A Gallon of Paint. What Were We Thinking?

What Well-Dressed Moldings are Wearing

oc-17 white dove

“Thank you for shopping at ACE Hardware.  That will be $72.00 for your one gallon of paint.”

[This is part of Our Molding Makeover Series.]

The Sunday we walked into a local ACE Hardware store to buy a can of Benjamin Moore molding paint, Jennifer, dressed smartly in her latest Patagonia ensemble, as always, was looking like a million bucks.

Me, I must have been looking mighty dapper in my ten-year old Ralph Lauren polo shirt.

Wearing nice clothes while buying paint may be the reason why our conversation with the guy helping us in the paint section didn’t go more like this:

Paint Guy  “Yes, Aura is our premium paint for people who can afford it — because with tax it costs $72.00 a gallon.  Would you like me to mix up a can of $72.00 White Dove for you?  What kind of finish would like in your $72.00 can of paint: flat, eggshell, satin or semi-gloss?  Your $72.00 gallon of trim paint is almost finished shaking, is there anything else, other than a $72.00 gallon of paint, I can get for you today?”

Us  “Wow, that’s a lot of money for a can of paint!  Perhaps we’ll just color our moldings with crayons.”

The big price reveal didn’t come until the cashier, in an overly chipper voice and ending on a high note — as if to lessen the impact — said “Your total will be $72.00 today.”

So why didn’t you just ask the price first, you ask?

Because I hadn’t bought a can of Benjamin Moore paint since early 2008, and back then I was paying a discounted contractor price, so I just figured it would cost about $50.00 a gallon.  Silly me.

Is The Price Worth It?

My ultimate goal when I design, install and finish moldings, is to create architectural detail that appears as integrated elements of the home architecture, and not merely painted sticks of trim nailed to the wall.

It’s a little more work this way, but it’s worth the effort.

You wouldn’t go to the symphony in flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt, would you?  Likewise, don’t dress down your moldings with low-quality paint.

When you consider the sizable impact your new moldings are going to make on your home’s interior, not to mention the care and time you will put into installing and finishing them, then $72.00 is a small price to pay for a trim paint as good as Benjamin Moore.

Well-Dressed Moldings

This is what two hand-brushed coats of Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo paint looks like on moldings.  The walls are also two coats of Benjamin Moore Regal paint.

Satin Impervo Trim Paint from Benjamin Moore

Can of trim paint

What well-dressed moldings are wearing.

Our Ace Hardware didn’t stock Satin Impervo, Benjamin Moore’s paint made just for moldings, so we bought their Aura product instead.

Years ago, after the first time I applied Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo paint on my moldings, I never, ever used anything else — refused, in fact, to use anything else.

The rooms I painted twelve years ago with two coats of Satin Impervo paint look like they were painted yesterday.  No other paint I’ve used goes on as smoothly or levels as well as Benjamin Moore.

The Joy of Moldings is about dressing up your home with really nice moldings.

To that end, good design and careful installation are only part of the process — you want to apply a really nice finish to your architectural details as well.

You want your moldings to be dressed for the occasion.  And the occasion is the life you live in your home.

The moral of the story is this: Cheap paint is for cheap trim, but Benjamin Moore paint is for architectural details.

Cheers, Ken

P.S.  Jocie at One Project Closer wrote an excellent article about Benjamin Moore paint, and a lively discussion follows in the comment section to her post.  It’s worth checking out Benjamin Moore Paint Review: is it worth the price?

P.P.S.  This is a candid opinion and not a paid review, because we don’t do that here on The Joy of Moldings.

[There's more at our How to Paint Moldings page]


Update: How Aura Paint Worked on Our Moldings

Now that I’ve painted all of our kitchen moldings — crown, picture rail, wainscoting, pilasters and baseboard — with Aura paint, I can say that it’s the most difficult paint I’ve ever applied to my moldings.

The problem with the Aura paint is that it dries so incredibly fast, even after adding lots of paint extender to it. I’m a fast painter and I just can’t keep a wet edge long enough to paint my moldings without leaving ropy brush marks.

Final word: Don’t use Benjamin Moore Aura paint on moldings, stick with their Satin Impervo.

4 Responses to $72.00 For A Gallon of Paint. What Were We Thinking?

  1. Sheryl November 26, 2012 at 9:57 PM #

    I was told by experienced painters who used BM paints back in the height of last real estate boom leading up to 2008 that all of BM paints are now low quality not to use any of it. Low quality substitute ingredients are now being used by BM.

    What do you think about Pratt & Lambert’s Accolade semi-gloss 100% acrylic for trim? After having done extensive research P&L are apparently about the only paint company left still using same high quality ingredients, even though Sherwin Williams bought them they did not change any of their paint formulas. I am about to paint all our new crown molding, door casings, door jambs, baseboards and doors with this paint myself and have never painted trim before. The painters wanted to charge $4,000 – $13,000 just to spay all trim twice after we did all of the prep work filling in all nails holes, priming, sanding, etc., which I think is the hardest part as it takes forever. Our house is 3,400′. I am really worried about brush strokes don’t want them and like things nearly perfect. P&L said to thin with water only and not to add floetrol as their paint is suppose to lay down real smooth and is designed for DIY’s. Have you tried their paint? If so, how do you think it compares to the Impervo that you have come to love? Thanks so much! Sheryl

  2. Ken November 27, 2012 at 4:55 AM #

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’ve never used P&L paint, but I’ve used lots of SW wall paint. I never cared too much for their molding paint because it was runny. This is an application preference and not a testament to its overall quality. Painters are a notoriously opinionated bunch, not unlike chefs.

    Also know that the advice you get from professional production spray painters, like the ones you consulted, look at painting through the lense of production painting techniques, and not through hand painting techniques. Those are two entirely differnt things with two entirely different results.

    That said, I once worked for a guy who managed a Sherwin Williams manufacturing plant.

    I asked him essentially the same question you asked me — how different the P&L paint was from SW.

    I was surprised at how candid his reply was. He said the exact same paint that goes into SW premium paint cans is the exact same paint that goes into the P&L cans.

    That was back in 2001, so who knows what the deal is now. Perhaps they’ve changed formulas between the two paint brands. Paint companies are always tweaking their formulas you know.

    The BM Aura paint seems very durable so far, so my complaint is not with its final quality, it can handle a good scrubbing. It’s the application of it that I don’t like.

    You say you’re worried about brush strokes, and I’ve said that BM Aura leaves too many of them. But I also don’t like the perfect finish a good spray paint job leaves. It looks cold and impersonal.

    I want my finished moldings to look like they’ve been touched by human hands, not stamped out in a factory. So a few gentle brush strokes are preferred, like imperfections in hand-made ceramics.

    We will be using Sherwin Wiliams premium trim paint in our half bathroom when I’m finished with it. If we like it we’ll use it on the rest of the moldings in the house. If not, we’ll try another brand.

    And that is my advice to you. Start in one room using your first choice of paint. If you like it, then finish the rest of the house with it. If not, try another product.

    Oh, and don’t skimp on the brushes. Buy the best you can afford!

    Let us know what paint you finally decide to try, Sheryl. Good luck!

  3. Corey Graham January 26, 2013 at 12:48 PM #

    You should write a post about this paint similar to what you’ve done with filling, caulking and priming. The BM paint you’re showing is meant to be tinted. They actually have a pre-tinted (at the factory) version of this exact same paint in the green/silver can for Satin Impervo – 314 1 instead of 1B. If you’re cool with white then you can save some $ by just picking this up rather than buying the 1B and having it tinted white. But if you want your color to be different then talking about tinting the paint you’re showcasing here might be worth mentioning.

    Also some details on paint extenders/levelers, how much to use and how to mix it could come in handy. That seemed to be a hot topic at the BM store when I talked to them about it. One guy thinks a cap full is too much while someone else said 6 oz is probably in the ballpark. In the end it depends on the painter, and some experimentation, but the topic can be confusing when someone like me has never used that type of product.

  4. Saddlestrum February 11, 2013 at 9:42 PM #

    Having sold Pratt and Lambert paint for many years, I have serious doubts about the statement the same product gets poured into Sherwin Williams cans as P&L cans.
    I have used both products and the P&L “Accolade” is a superior and different product (in my opinion). I don’t have any formulation or chemical specs to prove that but to me the Accolade lays down nicer, smoother and permits better finessing with its extend time.
    Thanks for an interesting website. I’m enjoying your articles.

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