While there are many guides to the best interior paint on the web, few actually break down the products by benefits and user reviews. But fortunately for you, we’ve done just that. Read on to learn more.
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What Is the Best Interior Paint?
You’re probably familiar with the old maxim, it’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do. This phrase is oft repeated because it’s completely true. In the home, a color change can transform a dull room into a bright oasis.
When it comes to buying interior paint, there are an endless array of options on the market. Which one is best? That question is a little complicated, because it depends on several factors.
What’s your budget? What’s more important—ease or longevity? Or, is low-VOC your top priority? Read on, because these five best paints satisfy all of those needs.
Our top picks:
- Best Overall: Benjamin Moore Regal Select
- Best One-Coat Paint: HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Infinity Satin Latex Paint
- Top Value Paint: Behr Premium Plus Interior Flat
- Best Zero-VOC Paint: Benjamin Moore Natura Interior Paint
- Best for Novices: Valspar Signature Satin Latex Paint
Of course, there are many great paints out there. Our top picks are meant to steer you in the right direction by breaking down various options and things to consider when looking for products. Read on to learn what each of our picks for the best interior paint has to offer.
Best Overall: Benjamin Moore Regal Select
Painters across the board agree that this paint works wonders. Regal Select Interior Paint retails for $58.99 per gallon, but experts and homeowners alike say it’s worth it.
Proprietary Gennex colorant and a high-performance resin combine to ensure this paint applies easily and smoothly.
Unlike cheaper paint brands, Benjamin Moore is only available online or at specialty paint stores and hardware stores. This zero-VOC paint ensures an easy and clean paint job every time.
Once you’re done, it boasts impressive durability and is fade- and mildew-resistant. So yes, this paint costs double the stuff you’ll find at Home Depot. But with better coverage, you’ll need less coats.
You may only need one Regal Select can of paint compared to two gallons of cheaper paint, so the cost events out. Professional painters say it is long lasting, which means you won’t be re-painting next year.
Non-pros agree, and were surprised at how easily this paint is applied with a roller or paint brush. Choose from a flat, eggshell, pearl, matte, or semi-gloss paint finish.
Glossier finishes are great for bathrooms and smaller spaces, while eggshell is a common choice for living spaces. For small apartments, pros swear by a classic white in the pearl finish for optimal brightness.
Best One-Coat Paint: HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams Infinity Satin Latex Paint
The can of this Sherwin-Williams paint reads: “One-coat coverage, guaranteed.” Does it hold water? It depends on your preferences.
Reviewers say this is the easiest paint they ever used and that it is thicker than your average paint for more coverage.
One coat does offer impressive coverage. But, if you want more saturated color and perfect coverage, a quick second coat is ideal.
Reviewers also loved the silky feel and said the paint wasn’t smelly at all. That’s thanks to the Greenguard Gold art quality certification.
The satin finish is ideal for high-traffic areas like kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and laundry rooms. It features impressive stain-resistant characteristics.
Plus, the 100-percent acrylic paint is great for mildew resistance. This paint retails for $45.98 and is available exclusively at Lowes. Although it’s a pricer option, experts and DIYers alike say it is worth the price.
Best Value Paint: Behr Premium Plus Interior Flat
Behr premium paint offers great value at $27.98. (At press time, it was on sale at Home Depot for $24.98). Better yet, reviewers say it looks high end and works just as well as some more expensive competitors.
Premium Plus offers paint and primer in one, so you can do less work.
The flat finish is best for open spaces like living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Flat paint has a non-reflective appearance that makes walls look smoother.
This formula is great for interior painting as it seals both uncoated and previously painted surfaces. You also don’t have to worry about awful smells.
This paint is Greenguard Gold certified for low chemical emissions. One reviewer who says they are particularly sensitive to odors said this paint has no odor “unless you were standing with your nose up to the wall.”
Reviewers were also impressed with paint’s fast drying time. Head to Home Depot to have a can mixed in a virtually endless assortment of interior paint colors.
Best Zero-VOC Paint: Benjamin Moore Natura Interior Paint
Benjamin Moore’s self-described “greenest” paint is Natura. It’s Aura line comes close with low VOCs, but Natura has zero volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
it also has zero-emissions and is certified asthma and allergy friendly. Reviewers say it is virtually odor free.
You don’t have to sacrifice choice to be eco-friendly. This paint is available in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss finishes and can be colored in one of the paint company’s 3,500 hues.
The SRP is $56.99 per gallon, worth the peace of mind in spade. Along with the health benefits, you’re getting the high quality paint you’d expect from Benjamin Moore.
The paint creates a durable, washable film. It’s spatter resistant and boasts a one-hour re-coat. You’ll have to head to a specialty paint store to pick some up. Find one near you with Benjamin Moore’s authorized dealer locator.
Best For Novices: Valspar Signature Satin Latex Paint
If you need to cover up flaws, this high-hiding paint is the way to go. So, if you make mistakes along the way (or need to cover up old ones), this paint picks up the slack.
It’s also super affordable at $36.98 at your local Lowes. It’s available in an array of paint sheens. This satin finish is ideal for moderate to high-traffic areas.
The can proclaims this paint will “stand up to anything.” This is thanks to ScuffShield Technology, which creates a scrubbable barrier that resists stains and scuffs. The paint also boasts an ultra-rich color to resist fading.
Do all the claims hold water? According to reviewers, yes. They say the coverage is great and typically takes only one coat, unless you want very saturated coverage. Painters were also happy with the low odor and fast drying time.
Best Interior Paint: Complete Buyer’s Guide
All interior paints are not created equally. Finding the best interior paint starts with knowing what type of paint to look for. It goes beyond choosing the right color.
The finish, formula, durability, and coverage level all factor into how the room will look when it’s finished. Certain formulas and finishes will highlight imperfections.
Some take longer to dry and are notorious for having a strong paint smell. Others will chip and turn yellow over time. But there’s no reason to panic — you’re in the right place.
Whether you’re going for a dramatic color change or opting for more muted tones, you’ll learn how to evaluate and compare interior paints to find the best one for your needs.
That includes factoring in the room’s size, the lighting, and special features you may want to highlight or hide.
We’ll talk about different paint formulas, average costs, paint finishes, coverage, color options, and more things to consider. Let’s get started!
Interior Paint Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For
No matter what you want the end result to look like, there are a few things you should compare and evaluate as you shop around. Start your paint search with the following things in mind:
What’s the Best Paint Formula?
There are multiple interior paint formulas on the market. You might not have paid much attention to the differences between them before, but it’s one of the most important things to consider.
Here are the different paint formulas and their characteristics. Think about which formula will be the best fit for your purposes.
- Dry time: 1-2 hours
- Ready for 2nd coat: 2-4 hours
- Solvent: Water
Most interior paints you see in the store are latex paints. You may also see latex paint labeled as water-based or acrylic.
Latex paints are easy to clean (soap and water) and dry to the touch relatively quickly, usually within one or two hours.
This means you won’t have to wait as long before painting the second coat, if one is needed. Latex paint is widely available and is not strictly regulated, like solvent-based paints.
- Dry time: 6-8 hours
- Ready for 2nd coat: 24 hours
- Solvent: Mineral spirits
Oil paint is less commonly used for interior painting, but it’s one available option. You may see it labeled as alkyd or solvent-based paint.
It takes longer to dry than latex paint, usually about 6-8 hours to feel dry to the touch. The advantages of oil-based paint are its durability and ability to hide brush strokes or impressions from paint rollers.
Oil-based paint has two major downsides. One is the amount of time you have to wait before doing a second coat (about 24 hours).
The other is the strong odor from relatively high volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas from the paint.
Low- or No VOC Paint
- Dry time: About 1 hour
- Ready for 2nd coat: 2-4 hours
- Solvent: Water
You’ll come across several low- or no VOC latex paint options in your search. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ll be looking to use one of these options instead of traditionally formulated paint.
Here’s what you should know about paint and VOCs. Most paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, chloride, and benzene.
These are responsible for the tell-tale paint odor and may cause a range of health problems. Other household products like wax, certain cosmetics, disinfectants, and cleaning chemicals contain VOCs, too.
The Environmental Protection Agency found that exposure to high levels of VOCs may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, fatigue, headaches, organ damage, and even cancer.
“Low-VOC” paints don’t have to meet any specific criteria to bear the label, so be aware of that as you shop around. “No VOC” paints are made with no VOCs.
But some paint tints used in them do contain VOCs. It’s helpful to do a little research on VOC exposure and the related risks to decide whether or not to opt for low- or no VOC paint.
How Much Does Paint Cost and How Much Do You Need?
When you’re shopping around, you’ll see a range of paint prices. They vary by the brand, quality of the paint, size of the container, type of paint, and more.
Since most interior paint is purchased in gallons, that’s the example we’ll use. Nationwide, paint costs an average of $15 to $40 per gallon.
- Average price per gallon: $15 – $40
- Average price per room: $30 – $80
- Average price per house: $90 – $240
The median price is about $30 per gallon. A 12 foot by 12-foot room with an 8-foot ceiling would require about a gallon and a half of paint, so you might spend anywhere from $30 to $80 to paint it yourself.
To paint a 2,000 square foot house, you’d need about five and a half gallons. That could cost anywhere from $90 to $240, depending on the paint you buy.
If you decide to hire a professional painter, expect to pay anywhere from $2 per square foot to $6 per square foot.
Which Paint Finish Is the Best?
There is a range of finishes that you’ll need to choose from. The most important factor here is the overall look you want to achieve.
Durability and cleanability are also important to consider. These are the different finishes you can choose from:
The flat paint finish is not reflective or shiny and has a chalky look. It is good for hiding small imperfections, but bad for high-use areas.
It scuffs easily and is harder to clean because of its texture. The flat finish is often used for ceilings.
The eggshell finish is similar to flat, but is a little more reflective. It is not glossy or shiny. This is the most commonly used finish because it provides a good balance.
It’s not too shiny, but is still durable and easy to clean. It’s good, but not great at hiding small wall imperfections. It can be used in any room in the house.
The satin finish is glossier than eggshell or flat and is more light-reflective with a slight sheen. Most people use the satin finish for accents and molding.
It also makes a good choice for children’s rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, or other areas where the walls may need to be cleaned regularly.
The semi-gloss finish has a noticeable sheen that is a little more muted than high gloss, but shinier than satin. More durable than flat, eggshell, and satin finishes, it’s commonly used for accents (like banisters) and shutters.
It’s generally too shiny to be used on a wall, but if that’s the look you’re going for, semi-gloss could be perfect.
High gloss is the shiniest paint finish. This looks almost wet when dry with a glassy sheen. It is the most durable finish, but it also highlights imperfections.
Oil-based high gloss paint is almost mirror-like in its shine and reflectiveness. Uses for high gloss paint include paneled doors and furniture. Remember that your desired look is the most important factor in choosing a finish.
No matter how long-lasting or easily cleanable high gloss paint is, if you’re not going to be happy with a shiny, light-reflecting wall, you should steer clear of it.
How Long Will the Paint Last?
Consider how durable the paint you’re considering is when comparing different options.
You don’t want to go to the trouble of finding the right paint, moving furniture, and painting the room only to end up with chips and scuffs a week or two later.
Your daily activities and household needs can help you decide how durable your paint should be and how long it will hold up.
If you live alone or you’re painting an area that isn’t heavily trafficked or easily accessible, you won’t need as much durability. But if you’re painting a child’s bedroom, the kitchen, or a hallway, durability comes into play.
Paints with the most durability are typically those that are semi- or high gloss, oil-based, and premium “one coat” paints that contain primer mixed in. But even eggshell and satin paints offer plenty of durability for most uses.
How Many Coats Will You Need for Full Coverage?
When shopping for paint, you should also think about the number of coats you’ll need for complete coverage.
A premium paint might only require one coat for complete coverage on a light-colored wall, while a cheaper, lower-quality option could require a layer of primer and more than two coats of paint.
Manufacturers typically include statements about the coverage of premium products, with things like “One coat coverage, guaranteed” on the can. If you don’t see any coverage guarantees, it’s safe to assume the paint will require more than one coat.
And if your walls are currently a dark or bold color, even one-coat paints might require an extra coat for full coverage.
With the level of coverage, you’re considering three important things:
- How thick and pigmented the paint is
- How much it will cost to paint the area
- How long it will take to finish the job
The thicker and more pigmented a paint is, the better it covers whatever is underneath and the fewer coats you’ll need. You can reduce the number of coats needed for complete coverage by starting with primer, which is cheaper than buying additional gallons of paint.
And applying fewer coats means less waiting time in between for drying. Take all of these factors into consideration as you shop.
Which Color Will You Choose?
Finally, the fun part of picking out the best interior paint is choosing the color. This is a matter of taste, but you can follow some general guidelines when choosing the color you want.
You’ll want to consider the room size, the purpose of the room, how long you expect to stick with the color, and how you’ll paint the room.
The room size plays into your color choice because different hues can visually trick the eye into thinking a space is bigger or smaller than it is.
If you have a small room, it’s best to steer clear of dark colors. These make the room appear smaller than it is. Instead, opt for a lighter color in a smaller room, which adds visual space to the room.
If you’re painting a large room that you want to feel more intimate, choosing a darker color can help.
The purpose of the room is also important to think about. Warm tones are always inviting and cozy (perfect for a dining room or kitchen), while cooler tones are perfect for areas where you want to create a relaxing or calming vibe (like a bedroom or sunroom).
So if you’re leaning toward white for the dining room, you might opt for a warmer cream-colored shade instead of a cool, blue-toned white.
Thinking ahead is always a good idea when choosing a paint color. If you think you’ll repaint in a new color every couple of years, remember that choosing a bold or dark color will be harder to cover when the time comes.
Try to ignore any sudden urges to paint a room in a color you don’t typically gravitate toward, or one that will clash with your existing furniture and décor.
It might be fun for a bit, but you’ll likely end up regretting it and repainting sooner than you want.
Start thinking about how you’ll paint the room, too. There’s no rule that you have to paint every wall, or that every wall has to be a solid color!
You might choose to paint most of the room a muted color, have a bold accent wall of a different color, or use the painter’s tape to create a design.
You can also add dimension to a room by choosing a slightly darker or lighter shade for one or more of the walls.
When you start thinking about any design you might use, it can inspire you to embrace colors you might not have considered.
Other Things to Consider
We’ve looked at the factors you should keep top of mind when shopping for interior paint. There are a few more things you should consider as you look around at different options.
- If you’ll be painting molding, accents, or additional trim, make sure the color you choose is complementary to your main selection.
- For most people and uses, latex paint in an eggshell finish is the best choice. This combination provides an attractive balance of durability and lower VOC content while still being easy to clean.
- Don’t overbuy paint. It’s nice to know you have plenty and won’t run out in the middle of the job, but open paint cans continue to release VOCs for years (even if you reseal it).
- Make sure to ventilate and air out any room you paint for the recommended amount of time. Use fans and a dehumidifier to speed things up. It helps the paint cure faster and prevents you, family members, and pets from breathing in high levels of off-gassed chemicals.
- Always purchase a sample first to try the color in an inconspicuous spot on a wall or a piece of cardboard. This way, you can see how the color looks in that room’s lighting.
- Buy the highest quality paint you can afford. It hides brush strokes and paint roller marks better, requires fewer coats, and is more pigmented.
When you decide to paint one or more rooms in your home, you really do want the best option you can afford. After all, you’ll be living with the finished product every day for the foreseeable future. Why not consider your next paint choice as an investment?
If you do your research and choose a formula, finish, and color that is right for your home, a new coat of paint just might make your home your favorite place to be.
So, What Is the Best Interior Paint?
It’s true, a coat of paint can do wonders. Especially if you’re painting with one of our top picks for the best interior paint. If you take anything away for our reviews, let it be this: Don’t cheap out.
Whether you head to a specialty paint store or opt for the premium finishes available at big home improvement stores, spending those extra few bucks will be worth it.
Professionals can’t say it enough, you get what you pay for. If you’re concerned about budget, you might end up spending more on the cheap stuff. Low-quality paint doesn’t offer as complete coverage.
So you may find yourself running out for extra gallons when you need another coat. And, you’ll thank yourself a year or two down the road when your paint job is still looking good as new.