The paint market in the UK is split into three main sections. You have retail paint, which is made from cheap materials and sold on mass to homeowners. You have trade paint, which is slightly more expensive and made from better quality materials but is still competitively priced against other trade paints.
Then you have the luxury designer paint products, that come with a premium price tag and a big fanfare of marketing bumf. In this blog I’m going to compare luxury designer paint Vs Trade paint and give you my take as a Professional Decorator.
Is Luxury Designer Paint Really That Good?
Let’s look at the ‘premium’ end of the spectrum. Designer paint is far more expensive than trade, but is it worth it? Well, in most cases, yes. As a sweeping statement, the luxury products tend to be good quality.
There are exceptions of course. I’d recommend staying away from Farrow and Ball because even though you pay through the nose, it does come with drawbacks. But if you stick with brands like Little Greene, COAT, or Lick, then it should be relatively easy to achieve a better finish than you would with standard trade products. However, it isn’t that cut and dry.
How Does Trade Paint Compete?
So, we know most luxury designer brands are better quality than standard trade products, but don’t discount trade just yet. A few years ago, trade stepped up to the plate and started producing premium versions of their paint so they could compete with the luxury brands. Dulux have Heritage, Crown have Crafted, and Johnstone’s have Perfect Matt.
Here we have three ranges from the three big trade brands in the UK. All premium quality, but without the fanfare that comes with the luxury designer brands. They do all compete with each other on price and quality. There’s no big marketing budget, so more money goes into the product. When it comes to bang for your buck, these paints are a better option than the designer brands.
Let’s talk about Johnstone’s Perfect Matt, as this is the one I have used the most. This is an emulsion paint for walls and ceilings. It has a very low sheen level, leaving a flat contemporary feel. Opacity is good, it’s easy to use, and you can touch it up without issue. There are no defects such as flashing or picture framing, and the quality of pigments in the product means there is a real depth of colour.
Johnstone’s Perfect Matt is a trade product that outperforms most designer luxury brands. It’s more expensive than standard trade paint, but cheaper than designer products. When it comes to price Vs quality, it’s up there as one of the best.
Johnstone’s Trade also have a product that competes with the luxury brands when it comes to water-based satinwood. Their Aqua Guard is fully water-based, easy to use, great opacity, awesome finish, and can be tinted into any colour.
Some water-based trim paints can look cheap and plasticky on woodwork, or they’re not very durable. Johnstone’s Trade Aqua Guard is one of the best on the market, and it’s another example of a trade product outperforming most designer luxury brands. Apply one coat of Johnstone’s Trade Aqua undercoat, followed by at least one coat of Aqua Guard.
We have just established that there are some trade products that outperform designer luxury paints (again, this is another sweeping generalisation, but it gives you an indication). One thing that the designer brands do have is metameric colour ranges, predetermined palettes, and loads of inspiration.
Trade focuses on product and delivering the best paint possible for a certain price bracket. Designer luxury brands focus on lifestyle and colours. This makes it easy for a homeowner to browse through, say Benjamin Moore products, and choose colours they know will look stunning together. You just can’t do that with trade paint.
The way around this is to go for a colour match. You can choose whatever colours you want from any luxury brand, go to a website like Decorating Centre Online, and easily get that colour mixed into a trade alternative. It’s normally cheaper to buy trade products online anyway.
Colour matches are usually very accurate nowadays in terms of the actual colour. As a Decorator, I get loads of colours matched and I’ve never had any issues. However, colours never look identical from one brand to another, simply because each brand of paint uses slightly different pigments or has a slightly different sheen level. If you need colours to be precise, go for the original, but the chances are you won’t notice the difference anyway, and you might get better value for money buying trade.
Luxury Designer Paint Vs Trade Paint – by Mike Gregory