Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Choosing the Best Paint for Indoor Walls
When it comes time to buy paint for a painting project, the massive product selection at the store can make it hard to determine what's good and what's garbage. Unless you paint often like me, your painting experience is likely limited to a few projects and probably one paint brand.
Choosing the best paint for interior walls is easy when you know what to look for. Quality wall paint has a higher percentage of solids for better coverage when rolling low to zero VOCs (chemical fumes), and it allows surface cleaning without smearing the finish.
What to look for:
- VOCs (paint vapors)
- Dry time
- Finish quality
Another important consideration is the finish quality of the paint after it dries. Some cheaper, low quality paints, dry streaky and show overlap marks from the roller, even with perfect rolling technique. The dry time and re-coat time is another factor. If you're impatient like me, you probably won't be happy having to wait several hours, or even days, to roll on the next coat. I like using paint that dries fast and allows me to re-coat the walls a couple hours later.
Don't Use the Wrong Type of Paint On Your Walls
Not all walls paints are created equal. Some paints react negatively to moisture, or cannot be wiped without leaving marks on the wall. For example, I love Sherwin Williams CHB paint for a ceiling, but the chalky, non-washable finish makes it a terrible paint to use on walls. Think about the room you're painting and choose a paint suitable for your environment.
Do you have kids or dogs? Do your walls take a lot of abuse? If so, using washable paint meant for a high-traffic living space is recommended. Using a more glossy paint too, such as satin or even semi-gloss, will give you maximum washability and stain resistance than a duller finish like eggshell or matte.
The Best Paint for Interior Walls
Based on my experience and personal preferences, the two best paint brands for interior walls, at least in my opinion, are Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Both brands include a massive selection of products, some good and some bad. For paint colors, both companies have thousands of samples to choose from, but I love the Sherwin Williams fan deck, especially their selection of gray, including Repose Gray (SW-7015), one of my favorite wall colors.
Where I live, Sherwin Williams stores are everywhere, making it really convenient to get what I need for my painting projects, no matter where I'm working. While there are some Benjamin Moore stores here too, most of their paints are sold through family-owned paint and hardware stores.
Price wise, buying multiple gallons of premium paints from either brand can get expensive without contractor pricing or a seasonal sale, but in terms of quality, you get what you pay for. While I'm not a big fan or user of Behr paint, I have used their products for interior painting. From a pricing standpoint, they have some decent paints in the Ultra line for those who want to paint their walls on a lower budget.
My Top 2 Interior Paint Picks
Now I'll share my two favorite paints for interior walls. Both of my picks exhibit the durability and application traits I look for in paint that make my projects easier. I don't use paint that covers poorly or wreaks to high heaven. I only included two paints because I wanted to keep it simple. You can't go wrong with either one, but for an honorable mention, Benjamin Moore Aura is also great if you prefer that brand.
Benjamin Moore Regal Select
I've used Regal Select several times, without disappointment, for whole-house painting projects and single rooms. If you love Benjamin Moore's Aura, but you don't want to fork over $80 per gallon, this a cheaper alternative that doesn't under-perform. If you're on a tight budget, I would also recommend Ben, which is around $10 cheaper per gallon and performs great too.
- Awesome coverage
- Mildew resistance
- Washable finish
- Low odor
Unlike the original Regal Classic, Regal Select is a paint and primer in one with a high solids volume near 40% to deliver excellent coverage for cutting-in and rolling walls. I've used this product in lighter colors over darker colors with solid coverage in one or two coats of paint tops. Regal Select is a zero VOC paint too, unlike the original Classic version. The paint temporarily smells when wet, but the odor doesn't linger after it dries like other paints.
This paint is resistant to mildew, making it a good choice for bathroom walls, but it will perform fine in any room. To make the walls more washable, I would use the eggshell finish or the shinier satin finish if you have dogs or kids marking up the drywall.
Sherwin Williams Duration Home
I'm a long time user of Duration, both the interior and exterior version. Previously, I used Super Paint a lot for interior painting, but I ran into some issues and switched over to this product. Duration Home is quite washable in any of the non-flat finishes. I don't recommend the flat finish at all unless you're painting a ceiling.
- Great coverage
- Fast dry time
- Brushes into corners nicely
- Minimal odor
I use the matte finish a lot for clients who don't care or want the extra gloss on the walls for cleaning purposes. The satin finish is what I recommend for durability, but like the semi-gloss finish, it is very glossy. This paint is also mildew resistant and performs well in humid spaces like bathrooms. I have this paint in my own bathroom and I find it easy to maintain.
For application ease, cutting-in wall corners and ceiling lines with Duration Home is very good. The paint spreads over drywall nicely without resistance. The paint is thick enough to cover good, but not thick enough to feel like you're cutting-in peanut butter. In terms of the VOCs, this product passes the test with flying colors. I've had customers walk in the door and not notice the odor. When wet, the paint has a temporary smell similar to Windex. The odor is gone a few hours after drying.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Matt G.