Why is Consumer Reports unreliable?

brendainnjJuly 1, 2010

I've gotten the distinct impression that most of the painters on this forum have little regard to CR ratings....I'm honestly asking...why is that? I have subscribed to CR for years--most used info related to cars & appliances but have used their paint tests too. I do find that their ratings are not always consistent--2 yrs ago I used one of their highly rated paints only to find it near the bottom of the list the following year! Not sure why. But it seems they do a thorough testing of their products; what is it that a lot of people disagree with on here? It's time for me to paint again so I'm trying to get the best I can for my $$.

Thanks to all for your opinions--I learn so much here!

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The list of reasons is just too long to list. Suffice to say that their testing methodology is suspect at best, useless at worst. Take hide for example. Look at the pictures, they are evaluating hide based on rolling out a few square feet on paper. That the testing isn't double blind is amazing (think about it, what is the likelihood that the tester that uses Behr at home and loves it is going to apply it and have a different conclusion at work). Lastly, they don't really factor application into the process yet most folks, especially painters, are keenly interested on how it applies.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:44PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

It seems to me that CR( at least for paint)uses sales as it's criteria as much as anything. To place Behr above BM SW or ANY other paint brand an far as quality, hiding, lasting, covering or anything else is just wrong.MOST and I say MOST professional painters would not think of using inferior products that cost more to apply than a quality product.Read paintguy's second sentence above, that pretty much says it all.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 5:19AM
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Good point about the testing paintguy...never really considered the aspect of the double-blind testing. So I guess I'll be heading down to my local SW store. Thanks again, it's always good when people can learn valid reasons for avoiding something rather than just bashing...kind of leaves one thinking...do they know something I don't know?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 8:56AM
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I have used Behr almost exclusively on the past 4 or 5 houses I've had the (pleasure) of painting. But since I've been hanging out on the home forums, I've opened my mind to other brands. I ordered the BM fandeck recently, even got a sample of a favorite color in the BM equivalent.

Now I'm going toward SW, and registered on their website so I could do things with their planner. Not doing so good with that, I'm afraid, they still don't recognize my registration and I can't see a thing. I hate to go out shopping, and do it as the final step after I've narrowed down my options. Does anyone see a need to register to use the SW website?

And, when you get to choosing paints, do you pretty much stick with one manufacturer? Or do you jump around? Any benefit or differences in chemistry?

I also don't pay much attention to CR test results. They are not giving me any info pertinent to my situation.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:14PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

I dunno - when it comes to the online stuff on paint/color websites I think there's only 'so much' they're good for. Because color does not render true on monitors. Monitor color is additive which means you see color because of emitted light and real paint chips are subtractive color. Subtractive means you see color because of reflection/absorption. Not sure what you use the planner for exactly, but it'd be no great loss for me if I couldn't get in.

I do not stick with one brand for various reasons. As a DIYer/homeowner tho, I think it's best to follow the color and buy the best grade you can afford. Meaning when you find the color you want, it's easier and better to buy it from the store you got the chip -- it's 'home brand' if you will.

You can get crappy grades of paint at the name brand signature paint stores the same as you can at the discount big box around the corner.

There's just no two ways about it, you get what you pay for when it comes to a can of paint. The more you spend, the more features and benefits you get.

Now, the necessity of all those features and benefits are debateable. My list of 'must haves' in a can of paint could differ from someone else's list. And that's the reason there are so many grades to choose from. There is something for everyone.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 3:15PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Now, the necessity of all those features and benefits are debateable. My list of 'must haves' in a can of paint could differ from someone else's list. And that's the reason there are so many grades to choose from. There is something for everyone.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 7:02AM
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B.MOORE is FAIR to GOOD...this is not buying the Porche of paints.
They're Aura...Pratt & Lambert Accolade...are GOOD PAINTS.
A decent standard.
Farrow & Ball is a real first rate paint.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 10:37PM
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I was a CR subscriber for several years, too. I enjoyed reading the reviews in their magazines. We stopped our subscription when I realized you could Google just about anything and get a thorough and credible review of it, for free.

That being said...CR had me in a Behr paint zombie state, thinking Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams etc. were inferior by far.

Then I went to the local paint shop in the town I just moved to - I love little businesses like that - and inquired after zero-VOC paint. The guy sold me 3 gallons of Muralo BreatheSafe. Wow!! What a paint! It's creamy, silky, feels thin & spreads far, but covers thick. I can only imagine what a fume-laden Muralo paint can do. :) They even spent a good half-hour tweaking it to match a Benjamin Moore chip I had.

I was so impressed. Better yet...my eyes were opened. Go to your local experts and ask them for some real paint...don't just READ about paint. A fun lesson I learned this month. :)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 12:11AM
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I had always used BM not thinking too much about it because it always worked out. But when I kept seeing Behr show up with top results in CR reports, I decided to try it once for a room. I got a ceiling paint and wall paint. And I'm sure I got the "best" Behr there was because that's how I shop. It was AWFUL! I was shocked that I didn't get good coverage. I was covering white over white and off-white over a different off-white. The ceiling paint splattered all over. Three coats needed for walls. Never again!

I still read CR (old habits die hard), but I take their results with a grain of salt. They typically leave out something BIG. I remember once reading a comparison of countertop materials. Pros and cons granite, formica, corian, blah blah blah. They did not include a syllable on QUARTZ which possibly would have been the winner.

They also often list only Recommended items in a report. I want to see all Tested items including the ones that did NOT make the cut. Because if a brand is missing, you don't know if it was omitted or flunked.

They are useful for providing info on what to look for and consider in making choices. But that's all I rely on them for.

Thanks for this post. I needed the vent!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:51PM
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I've liked CR for a long time. Used to subscribe to it for a while.
IMO...MOST of the things they test will have pretty cut & dry results....like cars, vacuums, electronics, food tests, etc.,...

BUT...Paints/stains are pretty unique items to test.

Mainly due to the "Human Element", and other factors...
* No 2 people will put on paint the same way,
* No 2 people will have the same equipment used,
* Substrates vary sooooo much in the real world,
* Every different paint/stain endures it's own "micro-climate",
* Many times, new paints are at the mercy of an existing coatings' condition,
* On exteriors, homes "breathe" out moisture at different rates, greatly affecting a new paints ability to hold on. Some older structures have crappy insulation, and therefore can "blow-off" properly applied coatings.
>>> Guess what....people will then blame the paint...


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:52AM
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Faron, thanks for this very understandable response--yes, the human element & existing conditions will vary greatly, something I hadn't thought about at length. As a former CR subscriber, I appreciated a lot of their ratings & just couldn't understand why there was so much bashing here about their paint ratings...now I think I get it! People might get the impression from here that CR isn't reliable for anything, which I don't believe is the case. But the point on paint is well-taken.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 10:51AM
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