How much paint is in your gallon?

jerry_njOctober 17, 2012

For some reason this question didn't come to mind sooner, years go.

Anyway, about a week ago I purchased another gallon of Behr (Home Depot) paint, a solid stain for decks. As is now almost always the case, the paint department took out a "gallon" of base into which they add the color elements needed. Today I decided to use some, and figured I'd try shaking to mix the "full" gallon if there was enough room in the can. To my surprise there was a sound of considerable space. Upon opening I'd say the paint was about 2 inches below the full (lid). Looking at the can I see it states the base was 116 oz, or about 90% of a gallon. To this the store added color, and my color is rather dark (a color called Sable) so it took a lot of colorant, but no were near enough to fill the can. I wonder how much paint I really got in my "gallon". Is the can really big enough to hold 140 oz or something near that amount to allow space to add colorant and easily shake the "full" can to mix? Measuring the outside dimensions of the can I get approximately 7 3/4 tall with about 6 3/4 inch diameter - the same size as another paint (Walmart) that being white didn't require any colorant, and the can states 128 oz. I don't recall how much space was above the paint level when that can was full.

I'd not be happy to learn I got significantly less than a 128 oz, a full gallon. I could excuse being a couple of oz short, but not a pint or more short.

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If you'd gone to a real paint store they could explain it to you. Walmart? Really? Will people ever learn?!
A gallon should hold 128 plus some air space for proper "shake" or "throw" when the put it in the shaker. Having just the right amount of space in the can for all colors would be nearly impossible, BUT, it's possible you did get a short filled gallon. 116 ozs. seems about right.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

Forget about the ounces. What's important is the coverage.

The average is 350 to 400 SF.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:15PM
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Yes, Walmart, Really I have been happy with the Color Place latex interior paint and love the oil base paints they used to sell.

All I go to a paint store for is paint, I don't need a lot of advice, my post was about getting a gallon of paint when that's what your are paying for.

I agree coverage is a key quality, and that is best exhibited in the oil base paints we used to be able to buy.. which I use only on wood (trim) or metal...but finding it harder each year to find any oil based paints.

I think I will talk with the Home Depot manager about the amount of paint in the "gallon" can. Happily there are lots of managers so I don't have to hit on the same one each time I have a grip.

I do understand that they carry different bases, some for light colors and other for darker colors... not sure, but I think the base may be different, but I think too that the cans for darker colors have more space. It may be the color I picked for the deck is at the lower end of the range, that is there is more space for color input than is needed. I'll ask them to open a can for me to see how full it is. I find the people at HD paint very friendly, and if not "professional" painters do know basics about their products.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:09PM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

Do you really think the HD "manager" will know anything???


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 4:39AM
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My experience with the manage (anywhere? at least at HD and Lowes) is if your grip has any financial impact, the manage will adjust the price. This has been my experience, not often do I call out the manager, but when I do I intend to get some compensation.

On the paint I think it is possible that the gallon of base used may have been short, I'd like to know the truth. Getting the paint department to open a new can and letting me "eye ball" the level will answer my first question. If this leads to a complaint to the manager it will not be for a refund, rather for a improvement in how HD handles paint mixing. For example, if I find a can off the shelf of the same base as I have is fuller before the colorant than mine was after, they have to make changes to prevent short fill cans from being used. They have to open to add colorant, they can look with an educated eye and see if there are any gross errors. This is important for color match too, can-to-can.

I already had a can and when I open a next can I always add enough of the new to make the old/new mix about 50/50. I did this so I don't have the evidence any longer. Using the mix on an adjacent deck board, the color match looks good.

I will take a small amount of the new stain and apply it to an out-of-the-way spot on an board with the previous gallon, if the match isn't good/great that adds to the seriousness of my concern.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 8:34AM
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Oh boy...!

I'm kinda (respectfully) grinning to myself here!

(...also kinda surprised other experienced people here haven't commented by now...;-))

I've been involved in the retail side of paint for a decade now (@ an upscale/independent Hdwr./Paint/Furniture/Power-Eq., etc., retailer).

You're reading waaaaayyy too much into this!
* Tint-bases have varying fill-levels ON PURPOSE.
* Whiter/Lighter colors go into a "fuller" tint-base (often @ 124-128 oz. fill).
* This allows 2 oz. of colorant to be added...and leaves 2 oz. worth of "shaking/over-tinting" wiggle-room.
* You could view 132 oz. as a TOTALLY full gallon, but mixing would be very difficult!
* For medium colors, there's usually a couple medium-fill bases.
* The darkest colors go into the least full base, often @ a labeled 114-116 oz's!!
* This leaves room for a LOT more colorant for the real dark colors.
* Another "wrinkle" on the deeper tint-bases...they have proportionately LESS White (TI02), making these bases fairly SHEER. TINTED-primers are often required underneath deep/jewel-toned colors.
* Each step down (fill-level wise!) in tint-bases has less White pigment, allowing colorants to fight against less white to get to a desired color.
* If you shook up an untinted dark tb, and brushed it out, you'd easily see through it!
* A White-tb would be very opaque.
* Additionally, the darkest bases (least full!) are usually a couple $$MORE than lighter bases! This is 'cuz MUCH more expensive colorant usually goes in.
* Some high-grade Magenta & Red colorants are hitting $70...PER QUART...


    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Thanks, I'll paste a copy of your expert explanation into my file of helpful information.

I think the reason no one else has provided your full explanation is because there are few who knew it. Other readers will gain from your tutorial along with me.

As I may (tried) to say in my creation of this question it seemed reasonable to me that the base for dark colors would have less base, more room for colorant. I had no idea about stripping out T102, is that the titanium some us understand is one measure of more expensive/better paints, latex?

All said, I still think I got a base that had too much room. I'd say there was at least 6 to 8 oz of space above the fill, enough empty space that I noticed it when I shook the can before opening. It felt more like a can I had painted 100 sq feet out of in the past. I will discuss this with the paint department at HD next time I am there.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes

The paint pro at my HD knows more than all of us combined. He served 41 years at the brush and roller game.

What gives some of you the right to condemn them just because they work at HD? I've been to ACE and they are poorly trained and the manager admitted that he had never owned a paint brush.

So please. Save the judging for contests, not people.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 6:07PM
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why not just go back to HD and ask them to open another gallon and see whats in there. Ihave never had a gallon that was""2 from the top. If the one they open is full I am sure the will give you a credit...or perhaps a quart!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:13PM
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IF I'm reading some of these posts seems there may be some lingering misconceptions out there...

* For example...If you have 27 different dark colors that need the SAME tb, there will be 27 different final fill-levels. Every color obviously has a different formula.
* HOWEVER...those dark tb's will START @ say, 116oz.'s.
* If ONE color is tinted, the finished level will obviously (or SHOULD BE!!!) the same across all cans of that color.
* NOTE----there WILL still be space left over!!
* There won't all magically get filled to the same level.
* Some colors may still have an inch of room left!!!

The main brands I've worked with over the years are ACE-Royal, ACE's new Clark+Kensington line, Ralph-Lauren, & the high-end C2.
* Years back, we even had the Independent-store line of Behr.
* Of the thousands of gallons I've helped people with, there has NEVER been a fill-level issue/variance. I hardly EVER make a mistake....seriously.
* Regarding TI02----Yes, this ingredient is a crucial part of better paints, BOTH Oil & Latex.
* The amount, GRADE, & Whiteness present varies between brands however.
* Low-end paints sometimes use CLAYS instead. These are very opaque....BUT....wear like crap.
* Good grades of TI02 are getting VERY expensive.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 12:17AM
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Christopher Nelson Wallcovering and Painting

The paint pro at my HD knows more than all of us combined. He served 41 years at the brush and roller game.

He is probably the ONLY one out of the millions of HD stores that has ANY knowledge of paint

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 6:11AM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes


You're wrong. We'll leave it at that. :)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 7:29AM
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Thanks, I think I'm getting a lot of valuable information from this thread, and I ask as the Originator of this thread PLEASE do not turn this thread into a fight over the value of big box stores and their staffs. I consider that a hijack of the thread, and if I said anything that sounds like a specific complaint about HD, it was not intended. I gave those details just to frame my question in a real context.

I am just a DIY painter, but one with over 50 years of experience, so I suppose I've painted as much as a rookie professional painter, and I have gone to the trouble to ask questions (witness this thread) and read about paint an painting to try to improve my methods.

I use Behr paint both interior and exterior about 90% of the time. It is always latex, much as I like oil base for trim, I just Behr latex semi-gloss from trim most of the time. The other 10% of the time I use Glidden (sp?) or Walmart Color Place (it may no longer be available)... and some specialty paints for stain blocking and water proofing.

I intend to ask the local HD about the experience I have. I have learned enough here to think I have a "case". The objective of my discussion with HD will be to uncover any possible training need, e.g., some base cans may be obviously short on paint, the paint associate should, for example, check before adding the colorant (I think my case may have been extreme enough for a good eye to put that can aside) and for sure to check the paint level in the can after mixing. The associate should have specifications on how full is full enough, and maybe have a method for measuring, not just using the eye. Still, my memory is in the past when I open a new can of store mixed paint the paint was very near the top of the can, perhaps 1 or 2 oz short, not 1 or 2 inches short.

My color test shows a good match with the previous gallon, and I opened that can last year, so I have no memory of how full it was, but it was full "enough" to my eye. Still the color mix may be color specific, that is this HD color should use the base can that has more base. I'll check again, but I recall looking to see that both cans I have started with the same base can "size", they are the same.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 9:45AM
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Re-read my most recent post.

I was trying to say...there ARE ALWAYS different starting/ending fill levels.

Some deep-base colors, after tinting/shaking, may still be 1" short of the rim!!


    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 10:08AM
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Confession time. I think being 73 may have something to do with it, I know I have more trouble on ladders and cutting a straight paint line than I did in past years.

Thinking real hard (like it is hard to think):

1) I was driven by the fact that such a short fill had to affect the color and surely the paint associate would have noticed the paint can wasn't full when they took the sample to smear on the lid.

2) I recalled, it may have been a couple of weeks back, that I would remove some paint from the new can while it was freshly mixed and add it to the old can for transition. This is about what was missing, perhaps 8 to 12 oz.

Sorry for my poor memory, this is a true story. Still I think the discussion brought up a number of good facts about store mixed paints and I will keep the good information in my help-notes file.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 2:56PM
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