Are Expensive House Paints Worth the Cost?

Taking on a large house painting project can lead to sticker shock. When it comes to the paint itself, there are a lot of options: oil or latex-based, indoor or outdoor, glossy or matte? It’s easy to lose your way in the paint aisle. Beyond those options, there are a wide range of costs on paints. Are the high price tags worth the price? Are expensive house paints worth the cost?

The simple answer is maybe. Some uses and locations could warrant the more costly paints over others. To determine if your project is one of these, let’s discuss the higher cost paints further.

Solids Content

More expensive paints tend to have a higher solids content. Paints have three ingredients: solvent (water or alkyd), pigment and binders. The pigments and binders remain after the solvent evaporates. These are the solids. With a higher solid content, the binder and pigment are expected to provide a better paint film. It will hide and protect with a longer lifetime. Coverage with higher solid content is easier and may even require less coats.

Paint and Primer Combination

Many consumer brands tout this paint and primer in one as a benefit that is worth a higher cost. Primer is designed to prepare the area for painting. It’s task in life is to create a layer that will have good tooth and even color for paint. So how can an all-in-one create a layer for accepting the paint and the paint at once? The answer is it can’t.

If your project has stains or is virgin drywall, you’ll want to prime, separately. Some of the consumer paint and primers do provide a bit better coverage, but not enough to compare it to primed and then painted wall. Some of the better coverage can be directly attributed to a higher solids content.


Enamels always cost more than regular wall paint. These paints are manufactured to give a hard, durable and highly washable finish. For trim, doors and windows, this paint is a good option to maintain a good look. The finish allows grimy fingerprints to be washed easily. Though for a full-wall paint job, the price and style might be outside of your comfort zone.

In the same vein, both oil-based and water-based paints have options in glossy finishes that will hold their own against heavy touch and traffic areas.

Ceiling Paint

If you are looking to save money, ceiling paint is the place. Ceilings require little more than flat white paint to cover well. Nobody should be touching the ceiling and scrubbing is not regular. Save money on the ceiling paint and go with the cheaper options.

Exterior Paint

Exterior paint is asked to stand up to a lot of elements and moisture while looking beautiful. This is an area you don’t want to skimp on. High quality paint will provide great coverage and seal out cold winds and moisture. Typically, the higher quality exterior paints carry a warranty that is worth the cost alone. Because they cover better, you may be able to squeeze a couple of years out of the job before you need to do another complete painting.

Wall Paint

When it comes to walls, the room will determine the kind and cost of the paint you’ll need. Messier rooms, like children’s bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms will have to stand up to more wear and tear than a formal dining room. The first time you have to clean the marker off of a lesser paint, you’ll regret your choice. In the messy rooms, consider a higher quality paint in a glossy finish. This will make washing much easier. Dirty fingers and splatters will be no match for the paint.

Dramatic color changes also require a higher quality paint. This is again related to the solids in the paint. To cover a deep color or get a deep color, these paints will be more vivid and cover in fewer coats. If your home doesn’t have kids, pets or messy projects, feel free to save a bit on the paint.

Ultimately, the paint you choose and the cost per gallon should be directly correlated to the project and room it’s in. If you are still unsure, contact our painters for help. We’re happy to provide a free, in-home estimate for your project.