Hiding Power of Paint

Many consumers believe that dark colors have greater hiding power than lighter colors. The truth is, darker colors don’t cover as well as whites and pastels. The reason is the way paints are tinted.

Typically, paint manufacturers produce tint bases– i.e., a product with the basic paint, but with little or no pigment. Pigments are added to the tint base to achieve the desired color.

Whites and pastels contain titanium dioxide– a white pigment that gives these colors much of their hiding power. Darker colors do not contain titanium dioxide, and attain hiding power only from the pigments added.

The tint base for darker colors is usually clear; the tint base for whites and pastels is white. The clear tint base allows the product to absorb the pigments, and therefore achieve the darker color. (The titanium dioxide would essentially dilute the pigment, making the darker color impossible to achieve.

While the clear tint base permits darker colors, it also reduces the hiding power of the final product.

Applying a heavier coat of these darker colors is seldom a reasonable option. Runs and sags can result, and the paint film will not cure properly. This can cause the formation of bubbles, and ultimately, premature failure of the coating.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a by product of the manufacture and use of many products, including paints, primers, and varnishes. Many coatings will continue to emit VOCs for years after application, which can diminish indoor air quality.
Low VOC coatings use water as a carrier instead of oil-based solvents, resulting in lower levels of harmful emissions. Certified coatings also contain no, or very low levels, of heavy metals and formaldehyde. The amount of VOC’s varies among different “low-VOC” products. Low VOC paints will still emit an odor until dry.

Benefits of Low-VOC Paints:

  • Less irritating odors
  • Fewer harmful emissions
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Less need to vacate the home

Urban Legends of Painting

“Urban legends” are a type of folklore, i.e., popular stories that often have some element of truth. However, they remain generally untrue, despite their regular retelling. Similar stories exist regarding painting. We call these the “urban legends” of painting. And unfortunately, some of these legends are occasionally spread by painting contractors.

Urban Legend: Brushing or rolling paint is superior to spraying.

Fact: According to the Paint Quality Institute, an independent organization dedicated to educating consumers and contractors, “some people think sprayed paint will not adhere as well as paint that is brushed, but we have not seen that, so long as the surface has been properly prepared.” In addition, because spraying generally produces a smoother finish, dirt and mold spores are less likely to attach to the paint film.

Urban Legend: Larger painting companies have more overhead and must charge higher prices.

Fact: While it is generally true that larger companies will have more overhead, that doesn’t necessarily lead to higher prices. In fact, a company with more employees can spread the overhead over more field hours. For example, Company A has weekly overhead of $1,000 and 3 people in the field, while company B has $2,000 in weekly overhead and 7 people in the field. Assuming each employee works 40 hours, Company A must charge $8.33 per hour to recover overhead while Company B must charge $7.14 to recover its overhead. Of course, the actual overhead for each company will be different.