Buying a can of paint should be easy. But walk into any home center or paint store and you’ll see just how confusing the choices can get. Brand lines keep expanding, and the price might jump by $5 to $20 per gallon.

The good news is that the perfect paint for your needs is out there, and this buying guide will lead you to it. We test dozens of interior and exterior paints in a variety of finishes to help you find the best one for the job and your budget.

Top 10 Paint

Bestseller No. 1
Crayola Washable Kids' Paint, Includes Glitter Paint, 12Count, Amazon Exclusive, Gift
113 Reviews
Crayola Washable Kids' Paint, Includes Glitter Paint, 12Count, Amazon Exclusive, Gift
  • Add a little bling: glitter effects add extra dazzle to your creative masterpieces. Crayola washable kids'...
  • Worry-free painting: Crayola washable kids paint is perfect for introducing young children to painting....
Bestseller No. 2
Crayola My First Finger Paint for Toddlers, Painting Paper Included, Gift
108 Reviews
Crayola My First Finger Paint for Toddlers, Painting Paper Included, Gift
  • Toddler painting set: includes 10 sheets of glossy painting paper and 4 Crayola washable finger paints in red,...
  • Painting for kids: painting provides hours of tactile experimenting, color mixing, and artistic fun.
Bestseller No. 3
Crayola Washable Kids Paint, Classic Colors, 6 Count, Painting Supplies, Gift
739 Reviews
Crayola Washable Kids Paint, Classic Colors, 6 Count, Painting Supplies, Gift
  • CLASSIC COLORS: Washable Kids' Paint in six different colors: blue, violet, green, red, yellow, orange....
  • WORRY-FREE PAINTING: Crayola Washable Kids Paint is perfect for introducing young children to painting....
Bestseller No. 4
ARTEZA Kids Tempera Paint, Set of 24 Colors (24x2oz) Includes Flourescent, Glow in The Dark,...
83 Reviews
ARTEZA Kids Tempera Paint, Set of 24 Colors (24x2oz) Includes Flourescent, Glow in The Dark,...
  • Rich, Opaque Colors - Our paint sets come with metallic, neon, glitter, fluorescent, and glow in the dark...
  • Matte Finish - Each paint offers a creamy consistency with a smooth laydown that doesn't crack or flake.
Bestseller No. 5
Acrylic Paint Set, Shuttle Art 16 x12ml Tubes Artist Quality Non Toxic Rich Pigments Colors Great...
141 Reviews
Acrylic Paint Set, Shuttle Art 16 x12ml Tubes Artist Quality Non Toxic Rich Pigments Colors Great...
  • VIBRANT ACRYLIC PAINTS: Shuttle Art 16 Acrylic Paint Set consists of 16 vibrant assorted colors and with BONUS...
  • VERSATILE PAINTS: Paint lay down is creamy and vivid. Great for teens, beginners or artists for wide range of...
Bestseller No. 6
Crayola Assorted Paint Washable Paint Bottle
88 Reviews
Crayola Assorted Paint Washable Paint Bottle
  • 12 bright colors - true hue positions
  • Does not drip readily from brush
Bestseller No. 7
Crayola Washable Glitter Paint Great for Classroom Projects, 6 Count
315 Reviews
Crayola Washable Glitter Paint Great for Classroom Projects, 6 Count
  • ADD A LITTLE BLING: Glitter effects add extra dazzle to your creative masterpieces. Crayola Washable Kids'...
  • WORRY-FREE PAINTING: Crayola Washable Kids Paint is perfect for introducing young children to painting....
Bestseller No. 8
Mod Paint Sticks - Washable Solid Tempera Paint Markers - Non-Toxic, Quick Drying, and No Mess Paint...
143 Reviews
Mod Paint Sticks - Washable Solid Tempera Paint Markers - Non-Toxic, Quick Drying, and No Mess Paint...
  • KIDS LOVE THIS ART SUPPLY: With these paint sticks, your kids can create colorful works of art on paper,...
  • 12 VIBRANT COLORS: This pack of 12 colored, easy-glide sticks includes a wide variety of vibrant colors,...
Bestseller No. 9
Melissa & Doug Spill Proof Paint Cups, Set of 4
363 Reviews
Melissa & Doug Spill Proof Paint Cups, Set of 4
  • Pour paint in and keep it fresh for the next art session.
  • Lids snap on tightly for an air-tight seal.
Bestseller No. 10
Crayola Kids' Paint Washable, Assorted Colors, 6 Count (Pack of 2)
42 Reviews
Crayola Kids' Paint Washable, Assorted Colors, 6 Count (Pack of 2)
  • This multi-purpose poster paint is perfect for: posters, banners, arts and craft projects
  • Non toxic paint colors

Shopping Tips For Paint

The best interior paints should go on smoothly, without sticking or streaking as you roll or brush them on a surface, or having a visible brush or roller marks when fully dried. Top-rated interior paints resist fading and staining and don’t lose their color, texture or sheen when scrubbed or cleaned. The best interior paints are able to cover old paint — even dark hues — completely in one or two coats.

Choose low-VOC or no-VOC paint

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are the potentially harmful chemicals in paint fumes that create strong paint odors and have been linked to a number of health concerns. VOC levels in wall paint are regulated by the federal government and are currently set at 250 grams per liter for flat paints and 380 grams per liter for other finishes, with stricter limits in California. All of our top-rated paints claim low- or zero-VOCs.

Determine the proper sheen

High-luster finishes, such as satin or semi-gloss, are best for high-traffic, high-moisture areas like kitchens or bathrooms because they’re easier to clean, but you should also look for paints that offer good mold and mildew resistance for these areas. Low-luster finishes, such as flat and matte, are ideal for low-traffic rooms and ceilings, and many recommend eggshell for medium-traffic rooms like a living room.

How to buy enough paint

Multiply the length of the walls all around the room by their height to get the square footage. Add the square footage of the ceiling (if you’re painting the ceiling). Subtract out the square footage of the ceiling (if you’re not painting the ceiling). Subtract out the square footage of the doors and windows, then add 25 percent to that figure. Manufacturers provide information about the coverage you can expect under normal circumstances on the paint can, but a gallon of top-quality paint should cover 350 to 450 square feet. Be sure to buy enough paint, because you’ll want extra for touch-ups later. Remember that lighter colors over darker ones will usually require more coats than the other way around.

This report covers interior paints. Once you’re done with the inside of your home, don’t forget to spruce up the outside as well. Our report on exterior paint will help guide you in making the best selection for that job.

Key findings for best interior paints

  • Behr is rated the best interior paint brand by both outlets, with its paints taking the top three spots in the Consumer Reports rankings.
  • Consumer Reports’ rating system gives three varieties of Behr paint (Marquee, Premium Plus, and Premium Plus Ultra) its highest scores, but it should be noted that second-ranked Premium Plus is actually less expensive than the third-ranked Premium Plus Ultra paint.
  • Behr topped JD Power’s list by winning in some key categories related to overall customer experience. Not only was the paint’s application and price figured in, but also ease of purchase and things related to sales and promotion.

Key findings for best exterior paints

  • Consumer Reports’ rating system again went with Behr based on a number of durability tests, including the appearance of the paint after three years, six years and nine years.  Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra Exterior and it’s Premium Plus Exterior both ranked in the top four.
  • Benjamin Moore topped JD Power’s list with a score of 858 out of a 1,000. That just nipped Sherwin-Williams, which scored an 854 for overall customer satisfaction.

Choose Your Sheen and Color

Choosing a color is where some folks start. Color-matching systems have improved to the point where you can get close to the color you crave in just about any brand. The sheen can vary by brand, however, and that can affect your perception of color. So decide which sheen is needed for the job (you’ll see the pros and cons spelled out below), the color you love, and then the best paint for your budget.

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