In Consumer Reports' latest tests of interior paints, newcomer Clark+Kensington earned the highest scores of 65 products evaluated for overall finish, ability to hide and more.
Clark+Kensington is the paint-and-primer in one paint brand made by Ace Hardware in 2011.
"When choosing paint, don't assume a leading brand you swore by last time will do just as well this time around," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports. "Our tests found paints can vary year to year -- and a bigger name does not always equal a better product."
Consumer Reports found Clark+Kensington paint to be tops in satin and semigloss finishes, and among the best for flat paints. It was also impressive at hiding, leaving a smooth finish that resisted stains and scrubbing. Its volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are low enough to meet the toughest, regional California standards.
And while new formulas have improved some paints, others performed worse than they did just a year ago in Consumer Reports' tests. Compared with earlier versions, the Behr Premium Plus Satin Enamel wasn't quite as good at hiding and became dull when cleaned.
Some paints such as Olympic One Flat Enamel improved at hiding. Better hiding also helped move Valspar Signature matte and semigloss up in Consumer Reports' Ratings, joining Behr in besting Benjamin Moore, which costs roughly twice as much, among flat and semigloss paints.
Twenty of Consumer Reports' top picks were of the paint-and-primer-in-one variety. The full report on interior paints is available in the March 2013 issue of the magazine and online at ConsumerReports.org.