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Business

Product Reviews

When painting deck or house, consider the product and the store

Your grill (and what’s on it) may be the star of your next barbecue, but your house and deck could get less-than-rave reviews if their finish has faded.

More manufacturers are promising greater longevity with long warranties that cover the cracking and dirt most homeowners gripe about. Paints that brush on without priming first and a stain you can roll over wet wood are time-savers, whether you hire a pro or do the job yourself. Roughly 25 percent of homeowners paint their own house, and 75 percent do the deck.

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Ace Hardware’s Royal Exteriors now rivals Home Depot’s Behr and Lowe’s Valspar, two of Consumer Reports’ top satin and semigloss paints. As with the Behr and Valspar, both Ace paints have a lifetime warranty and endured the equivalent of nine years outdoors without cracks. And at less than $30 per gallon, it costs up to $11 less. But the home-center brands proved to be better at fending off dirt and mildew.

Consumer Reports’ relentless outdoor tests under broiling sun and freezing snow also confirm that even top-performing brands could leave you cold if you buy the wrong line or shop at the wrong store. Some time-savings claims didn’t deliver.

And if you think you’re fully covered by lifetime and other paint and stain warranties, think again. Outdoor testing shows that some paints and stains with similar warranties perform very differently. These tests are especially tough, but they suggest that some finishes could let you down quickly, regardless of warranty coverage.

How to choose

Pick a paint based on your project. Flat and satin are what most people choose for siding, and semigloss adds sheen and contrast for trim. Among stains, solids hide the beauty of the grain in exchange for longer life; clear finishes show it all but usually last no longer than a year. A smart compromise: Semitransparent stains, which show some of the grain and can still look good after two years.

Consider the store. Most of the best paints and stains that Consumer Reports tested still come from Behr, making Home Depot your one-stop shopping destination if you’re doing your house and deck. Its tests also found that the Glidden Premium Satin sold at Home Depot is generally a better bet than the Glidden Endurance Plus at Walmart, though the Walmart product is self-priming.

Plan around promotions and sales. Holiday weekends such as Memorial Day and Father’s Day can bring storewide discounts of 30 percent or more. You’ll also save year-round by buying 5-gallon containers instead of the usual gallon cans.

Protect yourself. For houses built before 1978, any painter you hire must be trained in lead-safe practices and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. If your deck was built before 2004, it could have been made with chromated copper arsenate, which contains arsenic. Hire a pro, who can safely contain and remove flaking finishes and potentially harmful sanding dust.

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