With spring just around the corner--and all the outdoor work that goes with it--there's still time to "remodel" your home's inside with a new coat of paint. Consumer Reports' latest tests of more than 60 interior paints yielded several top picks that save you the hassle and expense of multiple coats. Some also let you skip the usual coat of primer.
Our experts performed a sea of tests that include covering the old coat and resisting stains and scrubbing. Clark+Kensington Satin Enamel tops our list. It covered in just one coat and is as close as your local Ace Hardware store. (We still recommend a second coat for added richness and a more-even finish.) Like 18 other top-scoring paints, it lets you forget about priming and paint directly over old finishes, bare wood, and even bare wallboard. And at $32 a gallon, it costs less than half what we paid for three impressive-but-pricey Benjamin Moore picks.
You'll find other recommended paints at Home Depot and Lowe's. All of them meet even the toughest regional California standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But that doesn't mean you can simply pick any paint off a store shelf. New formulas improved some paints, but others performed worse than they did just a year ago.
Many big brands also make both good and not-so-good paints. See our Ratings of satin and eggshell, flat and matte, and semigloss paints, matching the paint sheen to the surface you're painting. If you're looking for ways to save money on paint, consider these five tips. And be sure to look for our new Ratings of exterior paints in early April.