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All paint is made up of four ingredients: pigment, solvent, resin, and additives. Each ingredient serves a purpose in getting you the color and sheen you want.

However, cheap paint contains higher levels of solvent than more expensive paint. If you’re putting latex paint on your walls, that solvent is water.

Cheap wall paint will have lower quality pigment, less resin or binder, and may have an inconsistent sheen. Cheap paint may also scrub off when you go to wash it.

In my experience with paint, it is always worth the extra cost to use the more expensive and higher quality paints. Rarely does using cheap paint result in cost savings. Good quality paint will always cost more, but because of the poor quality of cheap paint, you will need more coats, resulting in buying more paint and costing more money overall.

There are other reasons why buying more expensive paint is worth it which you can read below.

cheap vs expensive wall paint infographic

Key takeaways

  • Rarely is cheap paint a better choice.
  • The extra cost for a higher quality paint is worth it.
  • Certain pigments cost more than others.
  • Cheap paint has lower-quality pigments.
  • Cheap paint can be very inconsistent.
  • Cheap paint has higher solvent levels and is runnier than expensive paint.
  • Quality and more expensive paint will be thicker and have a stronger smell.
  • Cheap paint on a wall is harder to wash and you could lose some of the pigment.

couple looking at a color wheel with a blue wall


Some pigments are more costly than others. As a general rule, bright white colors are going to be more expensive than off-white because blue pigments are more expensive than brown or warm tones.

A former decorating craze used the shade Navajo white as a base color. Unfortunately, if you opened 5 cheap cans of Navajo White side by side, they often didn’t match.

Cheap paint can be quite sloppy if you buy it pre-mixed. If you have any interest in mixing your own colors, cheap paint will make it much harder.

man mixing paint colors

If your paint budget is small, you may be able to save by only priming your patches rather than the whole wall. Look for a paint color that is close to your existing shade; you can’t cover a dark green accent wall with a pale gray top coat.

Wash the walls for great cling, patch and sand all the holes, and prime the patches with a sponge brush, working from the patch out. Take care to feather out the edges of your patches so the top coat goes on smooth.

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Solvent is what holds pigment, resin, and additives in suspension so you can put color on the wall in liquid form. As noted above, the solvent in latex paint is water.

Cheap paint is runnier than quality paint and may be inconsistent from can to can.

If your walls are flat, you’re going to get the best quality finish with at least a 1/2-inch roller cover. For those with small budgets, you may be able to save money on tools so you have more for paint.

Reach out to friends, on social media and make time for a trip to your local Habitat ReStore. If you’re going to be working out of 5-gallon buckets, keep an eye out for a roller grid so you can skip paint pans altogether.

In my experience with paint, it is always worth the extra cost to use the more expensive and higher quality paints. Rarely does using cheap paint result in cost savings.


Tools such as ladders, spindles, paint pans, and extenders can be borrowed. If not, keep an eye out for a cheap paint “kit” containing spindles, brushes, and a paint pan.

Purchase it and invest in some foam brushes. It is possible to get primer off a brush but primer can change the texture of a brush over time.

Paint is easier to wash out of a brush so you can use it again.

No matter the quality of paint you’re working with, always use eye protection. You can cover your head with an old bandana and your skin with worn-out clothes, but your eyes need the best care you can get.

One drip in your eye, especially if you’re working alone, can be quite unsettling.

woman painting a wall with a roller


Resin is what makes paint stick to walls and cling in the application. Quality paint will be thicker to pour into the pan. It may also have a stronger odor.

Open the windows, fire up the fans, and be confident in the knowledge that your walls will be washable when you’re done.

If you find a decent quality paint on the scratch and dent rack at your local hardware store, make sure you mix it thoroughly before you start painting. All paint will settle over time.

Load up your cart with the other tools you need, and, as a last step, ask the folks at the paint counter if they will shake up that can of scratch and dent.

If they won’t, maybe it’s time to find a new hardware store. If they can’t because of policy issues, you’ll have to stir it up yourself.

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A bigger bucket will be necessary. Pour the scratch and dent paint into a larger container and leave it to drip by standing it up on one of your wooden stir sticks.

Take your least favorite rubber scraper from the kitchen and scrape the original bucket. If you have a drill, invest in a spiral paint mixer. If you don’t have a drill, use your least favorite wooden spoon to stir the paint.

Make sure the chief household cook never finds the scraper or the spoon back in the kitchen; they’re painting tools now!

3 paint cans with red,green,brown colors


Additives are what make paint shiny, mildew-resistant, and mold-proof. Paints formulated for kitchens and baths are blended to deny mold a place to take hold.

They’re also formulated to cling when washed after a bad spaghetti sauce spatter. Cheap paint is hard to wash and you may end up losing pigment from the wall as you scrub.

If you’re painting a rental house or rehabbing a place that was rather grimy, a washable paint is a wonderful investment. It will also have a slight gloss to the sheen.

The shinier the paint, even if it’s not formulated for moisture, the easier it will be to wash.

bright entry way to a freshly painted room

For those with very tight budgets, the best bet may be to visit your local recycling center. As a general rule, latex paint can always be mixed with latex paint.

If you can find a decent quality light or white paint at your local recycling center, you can mix it with a quart of scratch and dent paint that is close to the color you want.

Do mix your blend in a small batch first to see how the paints work together before you dump it all in the same bucket.

When reviewing the paints available at your local Habitat ReStore or your recycling center, avoid anything labeled ceiling or barn paint. You want a primer or other high pigment paint.

Do be aware that these paints may be older and have a stronger odor right out of the container; open up the house and keep the air moving.

Why are more expensive paints worth it?

In summary, buying more expensive paint is the better option and will end up saving you money in the long run. The following reasons summarizes why expensive paint is worth the money.

  • Better paint coverage
  • Save money by applying fewer coats
  • Saves time allowing you to perform other jobs
  • Expensive paint will last longer and is easier to clean
  • Expensive paint is easier to work with and saves unnecessary costs

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