The Best Interior Paints are Low-VOC and Inexpensive

updated May 8, 2019
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A lot has changed with paints—even in the last year more paint companies have changed their formulas from high-VOC to low-VOC and even to no-VOC. And they’re probably not the big name eco-friendly paints you’ve heard about. Leave it Consumer Reports to put all the paints to the test, and find out their results after the jump.

While we’re used to seeing high-end brands such as Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Mythic beat out the competition with their quality and quantity of eco-friendly paints, most other companies have stepped up to the plate and totally under our radar. Keep in mind, this was not a test of solely low or no-VOC paints, but rather an overall test of interior paints &mdash it just happened to be that the majority of the top finishers were low-VOC.

While the Consumer Reports ratings vary depending on the type of paint finish, Home Depot’s paint, Behr, came out on top in all 3 finish types. The Behr Premium Plus Ultra was best overall, and has only 50 (claimed) VOC grams/liter at $31-$34/gallon. That’s compared to Benjamin Moore Natura, which also claims to have 50 VOC grams/liter at $50/gallon but came in at #12 for low-luster finishes, #4 in Flat/Matte finishes and #2 in Semigloss finishes. Additionally, the Behr paint does not need a primer and may even need only one coat, meaning it can go even further than the competition.

Here’s the Consumer Reports rated top 5 for each finish type:

Low-Luster (Satin & Eggshell)
1. Behr Premium Plus Ultra (Home Depot), $33/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
2. Kilz Casual Colors (Walmart), $22/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
3. Valspar Signature Colors (Lowe’s) $32/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
4. Glidden Premium (Home Depot), $20/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
5. Behr Premium Plus Enamel (Home Depot), $23/gallon, 150 VOC grams/liter

Flat & Matte
1. Behr Premium Plus Ultra, $31/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
2. Behr Premium Plus Enamel, $17/gallon, 100 VOC grams/liter
3. Valspar Signature Colors, $28/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
4. Benjamin Moore Natura, $50/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
5. Olympic Premium (Lowe’s), $16/gallon, 0 VOC grams/liter

1. Behr Premium Plus Ultra, $31/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
2. Benjamin Moore Natura, $50/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
3. Valspar Ultra Premium (Lowe’s), $23/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
4. Valspar Signature Colors, $32/gallon, 50 VOC grams/liter
5. Benjamin Moore Regal, $45/gallon, 150 VOC grams/liter

Given the fact that most companies can color match these days, there’s little reason to choose strictly by brand and definitely no reason to be afraid of the big box offerings.

(Image: flickr member Photocapy licensed for use under Creative Commons)

• The Best Interior Paints with Low Toxicity, The New York Times
• Best Non-VOC, Green Paint Stores
• Best Eco Paints 2009: No-VOC and Non-Toxic
• Eco-Friendly Paint Roundup
10 Best Non-VOC, Low-Toxic Interior Paints