A new coat of paint can really transform a room, but painting’s a messy and time-consuming business, so you’ll want to get it right first time.
Choosing the colour is one step, and proper preparation of the walls and other surfaces is very important, but what about choosing the paint itself? It’s hard to judge quality based on the information on the can, and price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality either.
CHOICE tested 21 low-sheen acrylic paints – the most commonly used paint type for interior walls – for hiding power, how well they handled washing and scrubbing, and stain resistance. We tested white paint; adding tints may affect the hiding power (a darker tint will probably improve it), but should have no effect on resistance to washing, scrubbing or staining.
For more on renovation options for your Floors and walls, see our Living and bedroom section.
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- Accent Interior Premium Low Sheen
- Australis Interior Pristine Low Sheen
- Berger Premium Interior Acrylic Low Sheen
- BIO Wall Paint Interior HD
- British Paints InColour Interior Low Sheen
- Dulux Once Low Sheen Acrylic for Interiors
- Dulux Wash & Wear 101 Low Sheen
- Duralex Everclean Acrylic Low Sheen
- Duralex Premium Low Sheen
- ecolour Eco Living Interior
- Endura Trade Low Sheen Acrylic
- Finish Premium Interior Low Sheen
- Haymes Ultra Premium Interior Expressions Low Sheen Acrylic
- New Look Xtrawear Low Sheen Acrylic
- Pascol Living & Bedroom Interior Low Sheen
- Resene Zylone Sheen VOC Free
- Solver Maxi Wash Ultra Premium Low Sheen
- Taubmans Easy Coat Walls Low Sheen
- Taubmans Endure Interior Low Sheen
- Taubmans Living Proof Silk Low Sheen
- Wattyl Interior Design i.d Luxury Low Sheen
Brands not tested: Kmart, Target and Big W don’t have their own brands any more, and Nippon Paint Australia has gone out of business. Bristol Easy Living was being reformulated at the time of testing to be relaunched as a new line, so we didn’t include it.
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How we test
Relative dry hiding power is tested by an accredited laboratory as per the Australian Standard AS 1580. This measures how well the paint hides a black test pattern, using two coats at the manufacturer’s recommended maximum coverage rate. One of the tested paints (with good hiding power) is used as a reference against which the other paints are compared. A paint with a comparatively poor score may need a third coat on walls to hide any underlying colours or marks.
Resistance to washing is tested by the same lab as per the Australian Standard. This involves 200 wash cycles with sponge and soapy water, with the gloss of the paint measured before and after. All the paints passed this test with excellent results (they had no significant loss of sheen) so we didn't factor this test into the scores.
Scrub resistance is tested by the same lab, based on the US standard ASTM D2486. The paint panels are scrubbed with a bristle brush and an abrasive cleanser (Jif); the number of cycles taken to significantly wear the paint is noted. Lower scores here don’t mean the paint can’t be scrubbed safely, but do indicate it may wear faster than better-scoring paints.
Stain resistance was tested using coffee (with milk), red wine, tomato sauce and crayon. Our tester, Peter Horvath, applies stains to the panels for one minute, then assesses for stain removal using water on a damp sponge; if unsuccessful, he tries again with water and detergent (Cussons Morning Fresh Super Strength); if unsuccessful, he tries again with Ajax Spray n' Wipe.
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