Behr Premium Plus Ultra Review

lizzie_nhAugust 17, 2011

I just used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Interior Satin (Behr's new paint and primer in one product) to paint my builder grade oak bathroom vanity, and thought I would post a review. Prior to purchasing the product, I read some very mixed reviews, so I wanted to add my thoughts.

The major problem people seem to have had is that they need to apply multiple coats to get good coverage. This suggests that the negative reviews are based on a misperception - that "paint and primer in one" means you don't need to apply primer coats. Behr does not make this claim. Instead, they claim that in many cases it negates the need for a SEPARATE primer product. The directions on the can instruct you to apply 1-2 primer coats of this product on repaired or uncoated surfaces, and surfaces in which there will be a dramatic color change, followed by paint coats of the same product. (Of course this begs the question of why one would use a relatively expensive paint as a primer, instead of buying a less-expensive primer, but one plus is that if you use this as a primer, your "primer" is exactly the same color as your paint, and thus you need fewer paint coats.)

Of course, some surfaces can be painted with 1 or 2 coats of any kind of paint, and no primer at all, and the result is good adhesion, coverage, and durability. But some surfaces absolutely require at least one primer coat, and I suspect that those who had negative experiences with this product had surfaces like that.

My project:

I painted my vanity with the color French Roast, which is the darkest brown Behr offers. (It's almost like a warm black.)

I removed doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, and washed all surfaces with a no-rinse TSP substitute. When they were dry, I sanded them with a medium grit sanding block to further remove gloss. I can't completely speak to the capability of this product as a primer, as for my project, where proper adhesion was of utmost importance, I primed with one coat of grey Glidden Gripper (an excellent primer.) However, I can say that the Behr Ultra has the same viscosity as primer (thicker than regular paint), and I fully expect that on most surfaces it would prime as well as any other primer. (Glidden Gripper is specifically for "hard-to-stick" surfaces, which describes my glossy cabinet, which is mostly real wood, but has sides of fake wood laminate. I wouldn't bother with it on most kinds of walls.)

The Behr went on the very smooth wood laminate in just one coat, despite the very dark color over a lighter primer. The cabinet front, doors, and door fronts all have a noticeable grain, so although I got very good coverage with one coat, I did apply a second coat. (I then applied a second coat to the laminate side, just to make sure the depth of color all matched.)

I found the paint to be very easy to use, and I was impressed by its self-leveling ability. I rolled it on using an ultra high-density foam roller, which left somewhat of a ripple pattern. When dry, this rippling was almost imperceptible. I used a brush on a couple spots around the door panels, and the brush strokes also leveled.

Although all latex paints take awhile to fully cure, one thing I noticed about this paint is that it seems to harden more quickly - it doesn't stay tacky to the touch, even though I painted on rainy days. It's also mildew-resistant (which makes sense since it's a primer, too) which is good for a bathroom. I went back and forth about what kind of paint to use for this project - oil? Latex? I didn't want to use latex because of durability issues, but I was talked into this one. Only time will tell how durable it is, but so far it seems more durable than other latex paints I have used for things like furniture. It doesn't seem to have that "rubbery" quality that latex paint often has when applied to surfaces other than drywall.

One more thing - it is supposedly low-VOC, and I have noticed that it does have much less of an odor than most paints, and yet it is still thick and offers good adhesion and coverage, which is often not the case in low-VOC paints.

I'm not totally done with my bathroom re-do, hence no pictures.

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"Of course this begs the question of why one would use a relatively expensive paint as a primer, instead of buying a less-expensive primer, ....

Small projects might require a total of a can of paint. If you buy primer and finish paint, you have two half-cans left over.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:32AM
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Ionized - good point. I tend to end up using in some other project whatever I didn't finish in the project for which I bought the material (especially when it comes to primer), but I can see how if your projects are very few and far between, you might not do that.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 12:07PM
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I still do not think that the Behr 'paint and primer in one' actually is also a primer. I don't think there is actual primer in the can. It's just a different way of saying that the paint is 'self priming' or that todays paints do not need priming. This is an important distinction because it essentially means that the Behr paint is not special and neither is the Lowes paint that has 'primer in the can' and neither will be any of these paints that pop up claiming they have primer in the can. They are all 100 percent acrylic paints to be used as topcoats only. Primers are different products entirely. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 8:25PM
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It would seem to be a compromise. I don't know any paint chemists, but without any specific knowledge, my assumption would be that primer is formulated to stick to anything and to the finish coat. In order to do that in an excellent way, you might have to compromise on other incompatible characteristics, like resistance to staining and marring,... and surface appearance. If you formulate the finish coat to stick to a good base and not "anything". You might have more room in the can, so to speak, to improve the other stuff.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

paintguy, I believe you got it

ionized, I dont get it

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 7:06AM
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Let me put it differently:

Primer should be good at sticking to many things and should not be expected to be good at anything else like looking good. Finish paint needs to look good and be durable. It need not and should not be expected to be good at sticking to anything but solid primer or other paint. It is not entirely unlike trying to make a product that is both a good dessert topping and a good floor wax.

simplified versions:

One paint can't do everything best.

In chemistry, and materials development, you often have to give up something to improve another characteristic.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 8:10PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Got it. Much clearer explaination( at least to me)

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 5:38AM
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I should say that there are exceptions to the idea that you always have to give a little to get a little. Sometimes there are leaps in technology, that go beyond tweaks, allowing real big gains in the characteristics of products. I appreciate what the best chemists and materials scientists do.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:21AM
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If it aint broke dont fix it. If you find something that works good and has longevity, stick with it despite new technology hype.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 6:29PM
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If everyone had that kind of attitude, we would still be making paint out of stuff like milk and blood.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 8:24PM
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Here's another way to say it...

Behr Ultra might be a good paint for painting things which don't absolutely need primer, but which would be *best* primed. I still think that for something which *absolutely* needs one or more primer coats, a separate primer is probably best. That's why I used the Glidden Gripper for my glossy cabinet. It's an excellent primer for that purpose. I'd use Kilz or Zinsser where covering heavy staining is an issue.

I did find (as mentioned) that the Behr Ultra was (like primer) much thicker than regular paint and seemed to have good "gripping" power. I also found that I got a superior finish when compared to other latex paint I've used in furniture applications. Only time will tell if it is truly more durable than other paints, as they claim. But it seems to be superior in finish, but probably, primer-wise, inferior to other separate primers.

I plan to continue to use this paint for projects like this one. It definitely "feels" better than other latex paints, and I found it easier to control. I'm very pleased with the depth of color. My husband didn't want me to paint over the natural wood tone of the cabinet, but he was really surprised at the professional-looking finish, with even coverage and nary a drip to be found. For painting drywall walls in good condition, I see no significant benefits in using this paint over a regular paint.

One thing - as I think I mentioned, I selected a color from a chip which is only available in the "Premium Plus Ultra" chip display. It was a darker brown than was available in display for the regular paint. The paint guy said the colors could be mixed into any Behr paint... so if you do use Behr paint, be aware that there might be some new, superior colors in the "Ultra" display, and check it out.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 12:02PM
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The previous owner's painted the entire house with Behr Paint with Primer 2 years ago when this house was offered for sale.

What they failed to do was prep the high gloss oil base painted walls prior to using the Behr. The Behr peels off with no problem. So much so, that I actually peeled a mural on a kitchen wall!!

Obviously, there are people who don't understand that paint with primer does not take the place of proper preparation.

Now I have a three fold job: peeling, sanding and repainting. UGH

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

"Obviously, there are people who don't understand that paint with primer does not take the place of proper preparation."

THAT is the big problem. People see paint and primer in one and think they can just paint over anything .It is all a big marketing scheme and a bad one(IMO).There is NO primer in the can, never was never will be.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:55PM
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