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Behr vs Sherwin Williams paint

emaxxman's picture

I was wondering what everyone's opinions of these two paints are.  From my experience (based on Sherwin Williams contractor grade semi gloss white vs Behr Premium semi gloss ultra pure white).  Why these two you may ask?  The Behr is what I normally get at Home Depot and the Sherwin Williams is what my brother in law gave me (a 5 gallon bucket from a paint contractor on his construction site.)

It may not be fair to compare the SW contractor grade with the Behr premium but it is what I had.  I used both and was satisfied with both.  However, they both also had some quirks about them that I didn't like.

I'd like to hear your opinions if you've had experience with both of these.

In the end, I'd like to find a paint that flows off a brush as easily as the Sherwin Williams but with the flattening and smoothness of the Behr finish. 

Behr -


- thicker and therefore faster "one coat" coverage on preprimed surface

- seems to be a higher sheen semi gloss finish (almost "plastic like") - dirt and stains wipe off easier with a damp cloth

Cons -

- thicker paint means harder to paint with a brush.  Doesn't flow off of bursh as easy however, it does flatten and dry very smooth.  About as smooth as one could get with a brush (vs. spraying.)

- thicker paint means less square area covered per gallon.  This probably balances out with the necessity of some paints to have a second coat.

Sherwin Williams -

Pros -

- thinner paints makes for easy brushing.  Flowed very nicely off the brush. 

- slightly less shiny semi gloss (vs Behr) - seem to be more aesthically desireable to my eyes

Cons -

- thinner paint required at least a 2nd coat (even with a Zinnser primer sealer on the wood)

- seemed to dry a slightly rough sandpaper like texture unlike Behr's very smooth plastic like finish.

Look forward to reading about your opinions.

(post #61411, reply #1 of 38)

What kind of finish was advertised on each? Sounds like one can was a gloss and the other was more of an egshell or matte finish.

Just curious, does Behr come from anywhere other than Home Depot? It doesn't around here.


(post #61411, reply #2 of 38)

There is no industry wide standard for paint sheens.  What one company calls a semi-gloss could be another compaines satin or eggshell.  Most paint manufacturers use a flat, eggshell, satin, semi gloss, and hi gloss labeling system.  Some do not.  Look at Ben Moore.  They have pearl (kinda like a satin.  The only way to make an accurate comparison between different sheens is to look at the units of gloss, which is usually found on that paints Technical Data Sheet.

Behr paint does seem to be a bit thicker than SW.  Some like it, some don't.  If you were to step up to a SW Superpaint then you would get better hide from the paint.

You may want to look into SW ProClassic Waterbase.  Neat stuff, although it is a bit tricky to use (it sags very easily).  It levels great, and dries nice and hard.  Probably closer to $30/gal though.

The Behr Premium Plus line is exclusive to Home Depot.  Behr makes another line of paint called Expressions that is sold though other retailers.  A few hardware stores close to my house sells the Behr Expressions.  I do know that the Behr Semi Gloss was rated Number 1 by Consumer Reports recently, so that is a good sign.

(post #61411, reply #4 of 38)

I've always had good success with SW.  One thing I'd like to throw into this discussion though is how often some want to use the cheapest(least expensive) paint they can get.  While dollars don't always translate into a better product it has been mey experience that with most paint you get what you pay for.  What amazes me is that if you take the time to do a proper prep job which any pro will tell you is the foundation of success, the amount of time involved is significantly greater than the amount of time to put on that final coat.  If you spend the time to do the job right, spend the extra $ 10.00 to $20.00 per gallon on a product that will be easier to use and last longer. 

(post #61411, reply #9 of 38)

I wholeheartedly agree that you always get what you pay for.  Keep in mind though that we all start somewhere and the local Home Depot is usually going to be everyone's starting point (and to be honest, there's nothing wrong with that) unless pointed in a different direction by a more experienced person.  The fact that Consumer Reports rated the Behr semigloss as a number one also serves to possibly confuse others.  I will say that I have 3 bedrooms all painted with Behr eggshell(ceiling), satin (walls), and semigloss (windows, doors, trim).  It's held up very nicely with very easy cleanup from dirty fingers and no visible scratches, nicks, or blemishes.  Brushing is just slightly more difficult than the Sherwin Williams paint.  I've had no problem rolling it to a smooth finish with the Purdy rollers. 

I definitely spend about 75% of the time in preparation and 25% in the actual painting.  My wife is amazed sometimes at how much spackling, sanding, and cleaning I do in preparation.  I'm very anal about getting glass smooth surface on trim work and any signs of a brush stroke drive me nuts. 

Given how much I spend on trim work (even making some of my own on my router table), an extra $10 /gallon is not that big of a deal; especially considering how much trim a gallon would cover.  But ignorance is bliss and until I was given the free 5 gallon bucket of Sherwin Williams, I would never have known.  I'd have to think most people are like that.  How many of us truly buy X number of brands of the same item to see which one we like the best?  As professionals, it would be in your best interest to do so.  As homeowners with small budgets, it is unaffordable. 

I appreciate everyone's comments and feedback.  It has been most helpful.  As luck would have it, a new Sherwin Williams store opened up in my town.  I'll definitely be checking it out tonight to see what selection they have. 


(post #61411, reply #10 of 38)

Though HD sells Behr products, Behr isn't owned by HD. Behr is also available in my locale at United Building Center. Many times I've seen contractors swear more by who gives them the best credit terms than by who has the best product. Locally, that would be Diamond Vogel followed by SW, then PPG. There's also the issue of one-stop shopping, meaning that you go to a professional paint store if you wish to be assured that everything you want will be available. My personal favorite is PPG Manor House, both for application and durability.

(post #61411, reply #11 of 38)

I do agree that you get what you pay for, to some degree.  My only concern is that as a retail customer of Sherwin Williams, a gallon of ProClassic Waterbase will cost me $37.  They will sell that same gallon of paint to a contractor for $29.  I understand contractor prices, and why a supply house sells to a contractor cheaper than John Doe off the street.  Just normal business practices, and part of the reason that many of us dislike HD (because we pay the same price for a piece of OSB that Mary Homeowner pays when she buys 2 sheets her entire lifetime.

One of the reasons that HD has had a good deal of success is that DIYers get the same prices as the Pros do.  They pay $22/gal of paint just like the Pro contractor standing next to them.  It makes it easy to compare value/quality of items.

It makes the "you get what you pay for" judgement difficult for DIYers when a pro gets a steep discount off retail.  As a small contractor, I have no problem with contractor discounts.


(post #61411, reply #28 of 38)

Lottsa Eric's in here today...........





"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." — Sherlock Holmes, 1896

(post #61411, reply #13 of 38)

 I'm very anal about getting glass smooth surface on trim work and any signs of a brush stroke drive me nuts. 

Then try this paint.  You'll love it.

(post #61411, reply #14 of 38)

That Fine Paints is the same stuff that Martha has recommended for interior walls. Oil based, besides. Who can afford it?

(post #61411, reply #15 of 38)

Forget the Martha connotations.  They only use her name for a line of colors.  And I can't afford it for walls either (but only because you will grow tired of the color long before it needs to be recoated).  But for woodwork, it is absolutely incomparable to anything I've ever used.  Everyone asks me how I got such a finish on my woodwork and the one built in cabinet I did in it in my own house.

Edited 6/4/2004 4:18 pm ET by Mugsy

(post #61411, reply #16 of 38)

Since the thread seems to be wandering off the Behr vs SW line... a few years ago I was refinishing a kitchen that had unbelievably ugly hollow plastic (yellow no less) tiles on one wall.  For a variety of reasons I decided to try sparying them before I tore em all out and used white Murolo enamel in an HVLP sprayer.  The stuff was unbelievable... dried hard as porcelain (has stood up to years of cleaning now) and smooth as glass... you'd never guess what was under it.

(post #61411, reply #17 of 38)

Holy smoke!!!  That may be great paint but those prices are YOWSER!!!!

For those prices, I could buy an airless or HVLP sprayer and not have to worry about brush strokes.   They may be great for fine furniture but I can imagine spending that much for interior trim or walls in my house.  I simply couldn't afford it. 


(post #61411, reply #18 of 38)

for $80 a gallon I could just replace the paint grade trim with hardwood.  I'll stick with the BM

(post #61411, reply #19 of 38)

"for $80 a gallon I could just replace the paint grade trim with hardwood"

Yeah, right.   And how much for stain and poly, including labor?  What are we talking about here, 4 or 5 gallons of paint for the entire house?  At $50 a gal difference, 250 or less.  And this stuff will last at least twice as long before needing to repaint.  But to each his own. I know it's not for everyone.

(post #61411, reply #20 of 38)

Don't get me wrong, I was just joking; I am sure it's good stuff.  Have you used the BM gloss (impervex)?  With some Floetrol, it's not bad for brush marks.

(post #61411, reply #21 of 38)

As was I.  Am in the middle of staining and urethane on over 1000 lineal feet of oak base, crown and casing plus 8 doors right now.  Painting is looking pretty good right about now.  BM paints are my usual.  But love the Schreuder stuff and will use it whenever I want something to really stand out.

(post #61411, reply #22 of 38)

Has anybody worked with the Devine paint line?

I have family members who are hooked into thinking it is something special, especially since they are marketing the color palette as perfect for the rainy Pacific northwest. I'm trying to tell them they can do the same thing in an excellent quality paint for less than 35 dollars a gallon. If somebody has used this stuff, and can convince me otherwise, I'd like to pass the experience on.

"I really don't think I need buns of steel.  I'd be happy with buns of cinnamon."  ~Ellen de Generes

(post #61411, reply #23 of 38)

Looks like the paint is actually made by "Miller Paint".  Who they?  If they are a high-quality old paint company (like the old Pratt&Lambert) it could be ok, but at first glance this stuff looks like over-styled crap marketed to yuppies.  But I am a cynic.

(post #61411, reply #24 of 38)

A question, as you say you are manic about brush marks, do you always add floetrol to your woodwork/trim paint or just when it's hot/humid?  I find I have just be adding it no matter what for a long time, and don't know if this is what everyone else does . . .

(post #61411, reply #25 of 38)

Almost always I add it.  Just cause I got used to doing it, probably not needed all the time.

(post #61411, reply #29 of 38)

Consumer Reports named Behr number one in 3 classes last year. I am almost exclusive with it.

David H. "Splinky" Polston

Founder of Sawdust, Norfolk, Virginia

David H. "Splinky" Polston

Founder of Sawdust, Norfolk, Virginia

(post #61411, reply #30 of 38)

i recently used Behr in a basement renevation I did....I couldn't stand the way it was covering. The only reason I used it was of course the HO bought it then asked if I would paint. Originally the paint job wasn't in the estimate. I love using Ben. Moore. I stated it earlier in this topic, I use Ben. Moore from Fresh Start primer to the finish coat with Super Hide. I know opinions very but I would recommend BM. Can't think of a customer who complained about the finished product (paint-wise) anyway.


" Looks good from my house!!" 

A good friend will come and bail you out of  jail...BUT, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying "Damn...that was fun"!

(post #61411, reply #32 of 38)

I agree Behr Expression pure white coverage is terrible. Three coats of white to cover white. I will never use the stuff again. Granted my prep work wasn’t what it should have been, (nothing at all). I know the Valspare that I normally get from my favorite big box store would have covered in one coat.

I will have to try what you pros use, now that I am a handyman, look for a local paint supplier like SW or PPG or BM.  The local stores are closer than the big box stores anyways, might as well have the customer pay for quality paint vs me pay to drive to the big city to get them cheap paint. The Behr paint was from the local lumber yard, thought it was a good brand, but I was disappointed.


(post #61411, reply #33 of 38)

Personally, I like the Behr semigloss when rolling.  I recently painted my hallway.  Preprimed with Zinsser odorless oil primer.  It was basically a one coat job.  Behr is pain with brushing though.  Its one coat formulation is too thick for burshing.  I'd have to imagine that it's tough to spray as well.

On the other hand, this past Saturday I used Sherwin Williams exterior gloss Superpaint.  I primed with a tinted Sherwin Williams primer and then brushed the "deep red" topcoat on.  It covered in one coat and flowed off the brush like controlled water.   What a pleasure it was to work with. 

My only complaint is that the paint sample card didn't match the final color on the door.  I'm oign to have to go back to the dealer and ask why.  It was definitely not as deep a red even borderlining on a different hue of red. 

Overall, unless Sherwin Williams doesn't carry or can't match the color I want, I'm never using anything else. 

(post #61411, reply #34 of 38)

Damn!  I couldn't type correctly to save my life in that last post.  Sheesh!!!

(post #61411, reply #35 of 38)

At the bottom of each of your posts, you should see three buttons, Reply, Cancel, and Edit. The Edit button really does work.

Each time you edit a post, a line is appended to the end of it showing what time the edit was applied. If you find yourself editing a post repeatedly, the timestamps show up as text in your message and you can delete all them, except the last one, which isn't there yet when you are doing the last edit.

(post #61411, reply #36 of 38)

I myself have not used SwW paint in the past. However, I have come into the same problems with a burgundy color...same problem you seemed to have had with your red door. You said you tinted the primer...Did you tint it with the paint you were about to use? Or was it a red primer? If it was your paint you tinted with, try another coat of your finish paint before heading back to the paint store. I , unfortunately, used a white primer (untinted) for that burgundy color. Whew...four coats later it finally started to cover. I totally forgot about the lack of pigment in the red colors. But then everyone forgets a little something here and there right??

Good luck

" Looks good from my house!!" 

A good friend will come and bail you out of  jail...BUT, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying "Damn...that was fun"!

(post #61411, reply #37 of 38)

Sherwin Williams has this tinting system where they tint the white primers to different shades of grey (depending on the color of the topcoat).  It seemed strange to me but I just went along with it. 

While the color is not as dark as I wanted, my wife and I are going to stick with it.  It looks good from the curb and we like.  It's not a big deal but I'll still mention it to the dealer anyway.

I did the same thing you did when I painted my walkin closet a deep red.  I knew to use a good primer but I didn't know anything about tinting primers.  White primer and 4 coats later, I had my deep red closet.  That was sure a learning experience. 

(post #61411, reply #38 of 38)

just a footnote to I think it may have been Theodora a dozen posts back

re: Miller Paint  ;  highly regarded by architects and those descending from Portland roots ** former Portlandites brought some up my way and we painted out most of the interior w/ oils  -  some latex on ceilings   good stuff

(post #61411, reply #26 of 38)

It's not even a gallon. 2.5l is about 2/3 of a gallon.