I have been in the paint business for 35 years and I have used many different brands.
Here are a few things I would suggest:
-Read the can.
The can label will have some information on the front and back stating what kind of paint it is. What it's intended use is for. It may contain a break down of ingredient or not.
-Read the data sheet.
You can usually visit the manufacturer's web site to get a data sheet which will have a description of the product, a basic breakdown of the solids content, pigment and type of resin as well as some test results such as scrubs, adhesion, salt spray etc. The most common indicators on the data available are volume of solids and the type of resin (100% acrylic, PVA or blended). "Solids" are the part of the paint that is left behind after the "Vehicle" or liquid part of the paint has evaporated. For exterior paint, the resin should be 100% Acrylic and the solids will depend on the sheen of the paint but around 35% by volume is good. For interior paint the volume of solids is about the same but a blended resin will preform well. For lighter colors the amount of TIO2 (Titanium Dioxide) can be a good indicator of "hide" or covering capability. Darker colors use other pigments and generally require multiple coats to achieve the color density.
-Don't go by price alone.
The price is not always relevant to quality. Just because a can of paint sells for $70 per gallon and has a lifetime warranty on the label does not mean that it is 3+ times better than a $20 per gallon can of paint. Most of the time this is a marketing campaign and the cost is in the advertising. Better quality raw materials and increase amounts of TIO2 do cost more in the manufacturing process and will be passed on to the consumer however a reasonable profit margin should allow these premium products to go for up to $50 per gallon.
- Choose dedicated paint stores or independent dealers.
I have made it well know in my website my bias toward a local company called Colorado Paints
I like Colorado Paints because the products are locally manufactured and do not have the national marketing cost associated with them but still have the same or better quality as the national brand. I like the fact that if I have a question I can call and talk directly to the chemist. Try calling a national chain store or box store and ask to talk to the chemist. They will laugh you off.
That being said, not everyone has a locally manufactured paint company close to them so I suggest to go to an independent dealer. They usually carry a good brand or multiple brands and will try to guide you in the right direction. I hope this helps. "Knowledge is power".
Jay ----Adirondack Painting