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Release Date: 01/16/2014

Farrow & Ball Finish Falls Flat in Consumer Reports Interior Paint Tests

$105 per gallon paint misses the mark; $34 per gallon Behr top of the Ratings

CR Mar '14 CoverYONKERS, NY In Consumer Reports’ latest tests of interior paints, Farrow & Ball, an import from England known for its colors, was the worst at hiding old paint and scored near the bottom of the Ratings.   It took two coats of its eggshell finish in white, which costs $105 per gallon, to do what the top-rated Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin in white, which costs $34 per gallon, did in one. 

The full report and Ratings of interior paints is featured in the March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

“Our new Ratings show that spending top dollar won’t always get you better paint,” said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman, Deputy Content Editor of Home and Appliances for Consumer Reports. “Shoppers should also be wary of relying on past experience to pick a paint, as brands frequently reformulate from year to year, changing the performance of the paint.”

This year, Consumer Reports toughened its interior paint tests by applying water and oil-based stains to painted panels in addition to testing how well paints held up to scrubbing, how well they hid old paint and the smoothness of the finish. The Farrow & Ball eggshell and gloss paints left a rough, grainy finish and lost most of their sheen after cleaning, but like the Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin, resisted stains well.  However, Lowe’s Valspar and Olympic satin finishes didn’t make Consumer Reports’ Recommended list this time around.

Additionally, the Farrow & Ball color wasn’t that hard to match.  Consumer Reports sent a secret shopper to three Home Depots with a panel painted with Farrow & Ball’s Lulworth Blue Estate Eggshell.  The shade of blue, created by Home Depot’s computerized, color-matching technology, using the top-scoring Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin was only about one percent lighter, according to Consumer Reports’ colorimeter, a difference that testers couldn’t see. 

How to Choose

When picking a new interior paint, Consumer Reports suggests the following:

  1. Use online resources to get ideas. Whites and neutrals are in style again, and warm grays are hot too. Consumers can find inspiration at the manufacturers’ Pinterest boards and websites, where they can compare color palettes or play with additional painting tools.

  2. Pick the finish. Many eggshell and satin paints have become much better at standing up to scrubbing, according to Consumer Reports’ latest tests. Flat paints are better than eggshell at hiding imperfections because they don’t reflect light, but they are also the least stain-resistant, so flat-finishes aren’t an ideal choice for busy rooms.

  3. Nail the perfect color. Light affects color significantly. Once a hue has been selected, consider buying three samples: the desired color, one a shade lighter and one a shade darker. Paint a sample next to a window and in an area that’s dark, viewing the colors in daylight and at night, with the lights on and off.

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 nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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