Are Designer Paints Really Worth it?
Before I jump into the "is designer paint worth it" debate, let’s just start this by saying that paint is a highly complex subject.
Not that I expect you are, but if you were in the market for space shuttle exhaust paint that can withstand ultra high heat, you’d likely head to Jotun (who also happen to produce elastic paint that will physically stretch in your hands).
And if you’re looking for bomb proof adhesion, you’d head to Kein mineral paints who produce a paint that chemically bonds to the surface.
I think it’s perhaps a fair statement to say that not all paints are created equal.
However, a question I frequently get asked, and see argued so much is…. is designer paint really worth the money?
It’s a question that brings out quite a bit of resistance and design snobbery…. (As any of you that witnessed #lickgate in the free HomeEnvy Facebook group will know)!
When I first started as a designer, I was a Dulux devotee. Hundreds of premixed colours of the rainbow in thousands of tints, tones and shades, and a wall of paint chips that I could spend hours investigating under those lamps. Why did you need to pay double, for less choice??
I didn’t understand the difference.
It also seemed there were quite a lot of differing views. Some decorators loved designer paint, some despised it. It took me a while to get my head around, and work out who was actually right.
See here’s the thing….. Everyone comes at this discussion from different viewpoints depending on what is personally important.
Perhaps it’s coverage (and the least amount of coats) that is important. Perhaps cost effectiveness on your project (as a decorator or DIY designer). Maybe it’s choice of colour. Or it’s where you get the best discounts. Perhaps it’s a paint you find easier to apply. Or it’s quality and durability. Maybe its colour complexity. Perhaps it’s eco credentials, the list goes on.
The truth is that there is a difference between designer and standard paints (quite a few big ones actually) that when known, close that gap somewhat. But there is no right or wrong here. I’m not here to say you should always use high end paints, or you should never, I am here to give you the understanding of what is different and why, so that you can make your own decisions based on what is important to you.
So when we’re talking designer paints, first of all what brands do we mean? We’re talking about brands like Farrow & Ball, Little Greene Paint Company and for our American friends Fine Paints of Europe, Benjamin Moore.
So let’s find out if designer paint brands are worth the wonga, and some of the differences…. Spoiler alert: it isn’t even the price!
1. Designer paints have higher levels of colour pigmentation
So the first and most glaringly obvious difference between standard brands and designer paints is the pigmentation levels.
Little Greene Paint Company paints contain 40% more pigment than ordinary paints.
What does this mean for your walls? Much more colour complexity. You’ll experience greater depth to the colour. Even on lighter neutrals you’ll see this. As the light changes through the day so will your colours and it’s lovely to see the rich tonal variance.
2. Higher coverage rate
Here is one element that is so often overlooked. Premium brand paints will cover more area, so you are actually getting more for your money.
First up, the actual price….
5L of Valspar v500 matt emulsion will cover 10m2 and costs £38 (v700 is £47 still 10m2), so £3.80 per m2 (or £4.70 per m2).
A 5L tin Little Greene Absolute Matt Emulsion will cover 14m2 and costs £85, so £6.07 per m2.
To get the same coverage using Valspar v500 paint, you’d need 40% more paint so £3.80 x 14m2 = £53.20 (and v700 would be £65.80), reducing that initial additional difference and now not such a huge variation.
And then let’s not forget about the added time and labour. It is going to mean you (or your decorator) spreading around 7 litres of Valspar paint to achieve the same coverage as 5 litres of Little Greene Paint, which will take more time and cost more money.
If cost and time are taken into consideration the differential is negligible and is often a false economy.
3. Designer paints use higher quality materials
So this is quite a scientific part, but stay with me. Designer paints contain high grade ‘titanium dioxide’. It’s basically a pure white powdered pigment that covers really well.
Many lower grade paints use cheaper alternative fillers, such as synthetic silicates, polymers, clay, talc and carbonate. The problem with these types of fillers is that they do not cover nearly as well. Depending on brand, to achieve a comparable opacity you may need up to 8 times more paint! These cheaper fillers therefore reduce the quality.
4. Myth - Limited colour choice
One common untrue objection I hear is that designer paints have limited colour choice. Although it’s not widely known, a visit to a Little Greene stockist, such as my favourite interiors showroom in Nottingham, William Robinson interiors, you’d find Little Greene’s extensive colour collection of around 2000 premixed colours to choose from.
So does designer paint now seem quite so expensive? It is a genuine case of you get what you pay for. Sometimes it may be your bank balance that’s the most important consideration, and that’s of course totally fine.
But if you want good quality, durable paint finishes that can be cleaned, that will last longer, have greater coverage and look amazing on your walls, head to Little Greene Paint Company.
And don’t forget, if you’re decorating and want to save 15% on your Little Greene paint purchases, HomeEnvy Bootcamp can help you save on this and so many other brands.
I hope this has helped clear things up and give you a clear understanding of the differences other than simply cost, is designer paint worth it? Yes, yes it is.