Other pros agree with my choice for the best interior paint: get the best you can afford because it lasts longer, looks better, fades much slower, and covers in fewer coats. But there are some good choices these days.
My top pick
The indoor paint that I want all my customers to use is Benjamin Moore and you should know why. I have used it for 30 years and found it to be the best high-quality paint for the money. It holds its color, it’s washable, and it covers unlike almost all the others.
I always tell my customers to let me buy them quality paint like Regal Select Waterborne Interior Paint from Benjamin Moore because it’s best for them and it makes me look good too. Does it cost a bit more? Yes, but you don’t have to paint again for many years.
So, my most highly recommended wall paint is available here.
The second most important tip after choosing the best interior paint is to use a quality roller cover and brush: see my top roller choice. Low quality roller covers will shed lint onto your wall which will cause your wall to feel (and look) like sandpaper.
Pro’s Secret: Eliminate the brushing (almost)
No need for much brushing in an interior paint job. The corners, yes a little and of course around the light switches and wall outlets etc, but not the long sections where walls meet.
See the video below where I demonstrate how to ROLL FIRST to almost eliminate the brushing in interior painting. Everyone wants to know ‘do you roll or cut first?’ and there is the pro’s answer. We save time and money and the result is the same.
We like a long nap roller cover: up to a ¾-inch roller cover, because the more material, the less dipping in the bucket.
Here is the key point about rollers
Get a wool/poly blend. That is 35 years of experience though: maybe go with the ½-inch if you are not sure. (We always use a Wooster roller: the poly gives longevity and the wool holds a lot of paint so you go farther on a single dip).
What you need to know about interior paint
What makes some paints worth the money and others not? One word answer: Solids. If you want the best quality paint for your money, and if you hate to spend money like me, lean towards MORE expensive, higher quality paints. It sounds illogical, but it’s not. Spock.
Flat or Glossy? Whether you are putting semi-gloss paint on trim, or flat on ceilings or eggshell on walls (this is the usual M.O.), you want the best paint for walls that will not lose its color over the years, will wash well, and that will apply evenly and fully. If you do not have high-quality paint, it won’t do any of this. Buy the best indoor paint and use quality tools.
Here is my top recommendation for the very best but not expensive roller frame, and best cover shown above. My favorite brush is a Purdy for latex paints only: it will last a homeowner a lifetime and it cuts sharp lines on its own. (I have written about how to easily clean brushes and the secret to cleaning rollers).
What about one coat of paint? We have to have our work look great, so we always go with 2 coats of paint (after primer, if a primer was needed). Why? Because each of the two coats can be spread thinner and so you can go quicker. You just make sure to hit all the surfaces: no skips and you’ll see how the 2nd coat covers like magic. With one coat of paint, you must go slow and when you leave a wet area looking good, and come back to look, you will find skips that were not there before! Also, the one-coat paint method may be slower: it depends on your colors and your tool/paint quality.
Are Budget Paints Toxic? Usually yes, much more so than Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. Be careful about zero-VOC paints even from these sellers: the tints added at the paint store may contain high levels of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing agents.
Safety warning: some people would reasonably think that exterior paint is better than the best indoor paint and use it inside: Big mistake. Quality interior paints do not have the toxins in exterior paints and believe me, you don’t want to be breathing that stuff as it cures for months, all day long. Read my post about this.
Tip: Good lighting will help you catch the ‘skips’ in the paint. LEDs go forever and we highly recommend this light that I use.
List of 5 essentials of the best paint
- Quality binders and resins to keep the pigments in place
- Pigments for opacity and color
- Extender for bonding
- Zero or low toxic ingredients (zero or low VOCs)
- Ideal consistency: thick so it does not spit
The paint brands that I recommend have all those essentials points in their interior paint.
The best indoor paint is a high-quality paint that will:
- Cover much bigger area
- Be much easier to paint with for non-professional
- Be easy to clean
- Lead to better results: you will hardly see brushstrokes (although you still need to use a good brush: shown above.)
The chemistry of paint
I’ve written elsewhere about primers, but here we will just focus on some simple logic and some chemistry for what makes an interior paint good. The bottom line is money. Can you say ‘ka-ching’?
Let’s say you need a garden tool. Let’s say it’s a wheelbarrow. You can buy a plastic one made in China that is surprisingly inexpensive and will not take a beating (and will shatter in the winter cold) or you can buy a more expensive metal one built to last.
How long do you expect the inexpensive one to last? How many ones do you have to buy to equal the life of your quality metal one?
Of course, paint is different, but there are other factors: paint can be messy and low-quality paints do not have expensive binders and resins like the better paints. Have you ever tried to paint a ceiling with low-quality paint? Better keep your mouth shut! It did not cover the old paint? Go back, Jack, do it again.
On the other hand, Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint may cost 10 dollars more per gallon, but it does not spit (if you are not rushing) and covers MUCH better. In fact, one coat after primer or older white paint is fine. You’ll only get this with the more expensive paints and you will be frustrated with the others.
Some other articles on the best interior paints
If you want to know more than you will ever need to know, try some articles about the chemistry of paint and on the Ben Moore website. But to keep this short, I will say that if you want to save money and not have headaches (and not have toxins in your lungs and house), buy high-quality paint from the best paint brands: Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams. They are the best paint brands. Those indoor paint actually cost less in the long run, and they are for sure the best interior paint you can find.