premium paints
Photo by John Wikes
At $75 to $100 per gallon, some premium paints are so expensive you'd think they were made from a champagne base and colored with pigments from moon rocks. To find out what you get for those steep prices, we looked at two high-end examples. The Donald Kaufman Color Collection ($40 to $75 per gallon) is a set of 37 preblended "full-spectrum" paints. Whereas most paints use just three pigments and obtain a static color, Kaufman's paints use up to 12 pigments to create a paint whose numerous hues react to changing light with much of the same richness and range of color found in the natural world.

Kaufman mixes his pigments with Benjamin Moore and Pratt & Lambert paint bases. These paints are available only through the Color Factory, based in Englewood, New Jersey, or Painter's Supply, in Santa Monica, California. Fine Paints of Europe ($100 a gallon), a superpremium paint, distributed in Europe as Schreuder Finishes, also produces full-spectrum paints with as many as eight pigments per gallon (the company also markets fine brushes).

Available in 110 stock colors and any custom mix, these "complex colors" are pricey because they use only the finest solids binders and pigments available; they also last longer and look good as they age. But $100 per gallon?

"High-quality paint is common in Europe," says John Lahey, the company's president, "because people tend to stay put and realize it's a good investment to apply a paint job that lasts." In the U.S., auto paint is $250 per gallon and can easily last 20 years; marine varnishes are $120 per gallon and last a decade. Yet when it comes to our biggest investment, our homes, lots of folks use the cheapest paint available, even though the cost of the paint is a small percentage of the overall painting bill.

You get what you pay for in paint, and in our product you get the best."
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