Benjamin vs. Sherwin | Bower Power
Skip to content

Benjamin vs. Sherwin

2013 February 21
by Katie

Call me Barbara Walters.

I’m here with some hard hitting journalism.  It’s the showdown of the year….in one corner we have Benjamin Moore Advance paint…a waterborne interior alkyd that boasts being the best for painting cabinets…and in the opposing corner, we have Sherwin of the Williams clan.  Sherwin ProClassic is also a waterbased acrylic-alkyd.  Both heavyweights.  Both big hitters.  And both up for the fight of the title of best cabinet paint.   known.  to.  man.

That was me being as dramatic as possible.  Go back and read it with the soundtrack to Gladiator in the background.  It sounds better.

Seriously though…we painted our cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint and assumed that it would be the best (I read in a ton of different places that it was the best waterbased paint for cabinets out there).  But then I was really disappointed because it was taking FOREVER to cure.  It didn’t seem hard as nails like everyone said.  So I decided for the benefit of all humanity that I would test the same type of paint in Sherwin William’s formula on our island.

The island had been primed just like the rest of the cabinets but it was never finished because we had always planned to paint it a different color than the Simply White.

 

You can really tell in certain shots that it was just primed…no top coats whatsoever.

Sorry about the crummy photos…my camera was getting cleaned and my lens repaired so these are all my iphone pics.

Anyhoo…this is after one coat.

Sorry about the crazy coloring…

Here’s what I came away with…the Sherwin’s went on really really smooth.  It was super easy to apply and I didn’t have any real troubles with drips like we did when we sprayed the Benjamin Moore cabinets.

Overall, I thought that it was a really nice consistency of paint…not too thin or thick…and it seemed to cover pretty well considering I like to do really thin coats.

I didn’t like the color though.  It doesn’t look like the swatch I gave the fella at the store.  And I am usually pretty good with color.  So I am thinking that maybe the color matching wasn’t such a great idea.  If I bought this paint again, I would definitely do one of the Sherwin Williams colors because they probably have those formulas down pat.

And even though it’s still a very pretty muddy gray, the undertones are all wrong in real life with our walls.  Since the wall color is more of a bluish undertone, it makes the island look really flat.

For consistency, we decided to also spray the doors like we did with the Benjamin Moore paint.  Jeremy said that it did not spray the same either.  He agreed that the paint was a great consistency and great coverage.  He also said that it seemed to dry faster.  For the sake of science though, I think no matter what paint he sprayed second, he would probably prefer because there was such a learning curve with the spray gun.

So two coats on the island and we had full coverage….vs. the three we had to do on the white cabinets.  I was pumped.  I let it dry a solid week before attaching everything back on….BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED….

Yes.  Unthinkable.

I was shocked.  And it happened all over the island.  I was expecting the paint to take a long time to cure…the Benjamin Moore took at least 60 days for it to be as hard as everyone bragged it would be….but this was totally different.  This is not like a soft paint that has gotten marred.  This is dried paint that is chipping off in big dried clumps.  I literally can take my fingernail and score a line of chipped paint.

So I came to the conclusion that the island is going back to white.  I love the two tone…I do…but in this situation and for the amount of money it costs for aklyd paint, I am not ready to mispick the island color again (apparently the wall color is beautiful but doesn’t get along with it’s peers).  Since we have most of a gallon left over from our other cabinets, it can live as a white guy for a while.  The worst part is that I have to sand it all down again.  But this might be just the kick in the pants we need to get Jeremy to help me add a couple narrow shelves on one end and replace the corbels with something less lion-footy.

Okay – so here is the point system for our showdown….

BENJAMIN MOORE PROS

  • cheaper ($56 a gallon vs $71 a gallon – I got the Sherwin Williams paint 30% off during a sale, so it ended up $49 but whoa)
  • ended up with a harder finish
  • factory looking finish (even though it was really hard for us to apply correctly with the sprayer)

SHERWIN WILLIAMS PROS

  • great consistency
  • great coverage
  • faster drying
  • easy to spray

Of course, in the end, we had to give the crown to Benji….even if the points don’t show it.  The end result is just too important.  Chipping is just not something I pay for…and even though it was a headache to apply and the wait time was EXCRUICIATING because I had to make sure Will didn’t ram the cabinets with his bike, it cured up really nicely and our white cabinets look fantastic.

So that’s our little island painting adventure.  Of course, I am still looking to use the rest of the can of Sherwin Williams paint…I’m thinking one of the boy’s bathroom vanities.  Maybe the results will be different in that space…who knows?!  One experiment doesn’t prove anything.  Afterall, I didn’t have environmental constants so I’m gonna have to do the next one double blind.  Oh look, my nerd is showing.

Barbara Walters signing off.

p.s.  There are a number of reasons that paint can chip and peel – usually it’s due to the surface not being prepped and primed sufficiently.  For complete info on how we prepared our cabinets for paint, click here.  Here is how we painted our white cabinets.



129 Responses leave one →
  1. February 21, 2013

    Ooh- Such helpful info to know! Thanks for sharing your experience. Your kitchen is looking stunning, by the way!

    ~Abby =)

  2. February 21, 2013

    What the heck!!! Take the paint back and get a new can, new kind, and diffrent color. If you don’t want to use the store brand…GET YOUR MONEY BACK!!! I am totally sure the store will back you on this. I bet they have a guarantee! Do it do it do it!!

  3. February 22, 2013

    Holy cow . . . Chipping is SO not ok. Yikes. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Stacy permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Good to know that there are options. I agree that you should take the can back for credit to try again. I say this because I used ProClassic on my cabinets and love the drying time and end result. I did have just one random spot (albeit on the corner of the highly used door to the garbage) that pealed (even the primer came off). So I resanded, re-primed (used Zinsser Smart Prime each time), then re-painted and all is good now. Very random but chemicals and science can be like that, I guess.

  5. Shanna permalink
    February 22, 2013

    I recently painted my dingy white cabinets black. LOVE IT! The paint I used was Dutch Boy Kitchen and Cabinet paint in high gloss. The guy at the paint shop said high gloss will give a harder finish. So far it is holding up really well. I of course did not have your patience and did not wait a week to reattach the hardware or start using my doors and drawers again. I was doing this project while my husband was gone for the weekend so had to have everything put back by the time he got home on Sunday afternoon. ;) I have just a couple spots that the paint chipped, due to the rush job of putting everything back and then of course needing something from that location right away. I do love your new kitchen though and good luck with repainting the island. That sanding is the worst part of any project. If only you could take it outside then you could use a power sander.

  6. Amelia permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Katie, can you offer some advice on using oil-based paint in the house with a toddler? We have a small house, under 1000 square feet, and the previous owners had painted the trim tan with something oil-based. I got some Kilz water-based primer because it said it went over anything, but we’ve had a ton of peeling. I want to do the job over with oil-based paint, but I’m worried that having those paint fumes in our small house would make my kiddo sick.

    • February 24, 2013

      I’ve never painted with oil based with the kiddos so I don’t know from experience but I’ve heard that just getting out for a couple days is helpful (maybe you could stay with friends or family?) and to put bowls of vinegar around and light candles (to burn off VOCs) and open doors and windows with box fans could be the best way to get rid of the fumes :)
      xo – kb

      • Annie permalink
        February 25, 2013

        How long did you keep your kids out of the house for when you did this project?

        • February 26, 2013

          When I painted the island, they stayed with grandparents who were visiting in another room…so they didn’t leave the house.
          xo – kb

          • Annie permalink
            February 27, 2013

            Sorry, I don’t understand. You said you didn’t have them in the house one comment upthread, but you did, just with box fans and things?

          • February 27, 2013

            That was in reference to oil based paint. This island painting project was alkyd paint which is water based. Sorry that this is confusing…I must be typing too little info to be clear. The last time I used oil based paint (which has crazy strong fumes) I didn’t have kids…so I have never dealt with the evacuation and fume-with-kiddo-problem….does that make sense?
            xo kb

    • Rick permalink
      May 26, 2013

      Try priming with Zinsser BIN primer. It is shellac based and shellac is a universal binder so it works great between coats of oil and water paints. The downside is that it is thin and it stinks. It uses alcohol as a solvent so it dries fast. Just make sure you have good ventilation. You can then top coat with water based paint. BIN is also the ultimate odor blocker.

  7. casey permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Have you ever researched Insl X Cabinet Coat? It’s by far the best cabinet paint we’ve ever used. It’s similar to Advance (which we tried based on Sherry’s recommendation a long time ago), but it my experience goes on a whole lot easer. (We’ve sprayed it, brushed it, AND rolled it.) It takes about 2 weeks to cure, and after that gives you a rock hard finish. Love that stuff and now wouldn’t use anything else.

  8. Valerie J. permalink
    February 22, 2013

    BTW, I’d go turquoise or yellow on the island. Why the heck not? With 2 little boys you will probably end up painting it every 5 years anyway from wear. :)

  9. February 22, 2013

    Hahahaha! Love the “Gladiator Intro”! I already have a great imagination and had given a mighty echo to your “voice.” :D

    As for the cabinets, double blind studies are so important, but when it’s time to paint my kitchen cabinets, I’m keeping this in mind and probably going to err on the side of caution with the Benjamin Moore.

  10. becca h permalink
    February 22, 2013

    Thanks for this awesome comparison, but now I’m really nervous! We purchased 2 gallons of the ProClassic to re-do our kitchen cabinets in a white but after reading your post, I’m nervous we made the wrong choice. I asked my friend that’s been refinishing cabinets for years and that’s what she suggested along with TSP & Zinsser for prep.

    Now, we’ve just had another friend tell us that they just re-did their cabinets using the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and that it turned out amazing and was the easiest paint they’ve ever worked with. I know it’s more expensive than even the SW Proclassic at $38 a quart, but they were able to do their entire kitchen and island with only 3 quarts using their sprayer! Now we’re really stuck trying to decide if we should stick to the SW that we already purchased or go the chalk paint route.

    Do you have any experience or stories with chalk paint?!?

    Thanks!

    • February 24, 2013

      I don’t. But I do know that chalk paint can adhere to pretty much anything but it does need waxing or poly over it otherwise it feels well, chalky. Hope this helps a little!
      xo – kb

    • April 25, 2014

      I used ProClassic on an antique piece of furniture that sits in my kitchen as my “coffee station”. It’s held up great and it’s been at least a couple years. (It is a glossy finish, which is great because it’s Creamy White and being a coffee station, we need to wipe it down occasionally.) We applied with a roller and brush and it looks great! We’ll be painting our kitchen cabinets in the next month or two and Sherwin Williams is in town, so that’s what we’ll be using again, but with a sprayer. Always been happy with SW!

  11. Anon permalink
    February 22, 2013

    It could have been due to the primer over-curing. I had the same issue with a shelf I’d primed and left a couple of months before painting. If you let the primer fully cure it doesn’t bond to the new coat, so you should either re-prime or sand before painting, then the fresh primer bonds to the paint properly.

    Could also be a coat of grease from being in the kitchen.

    • February 24, 2013

      Yeah…I’m thinking it might be the over-curing…which is something I had never thought of. Spot on Anon.
      xo – kb

      • Annie permalink
        February 25, 2013

        I’m glad to spread the word, because I had no idea either.

  12. February 22, 2013

    I painted my cabinets with SW Pro Enamel Oil based paint. Well, my painters did it. They suggested the paint because they are convinced it’s rock hard when it dried. I wanted a BM color and was really irritate with them. If they hadn’t done such a good job on my exterior of my house I wouldn’t have used them. They were so right! It’s been 1 1/2 years and this paint is still perfect! Get the oil based and you won’t be disappointed!

  13. February 23, 2013

    The chipping…I would have had a heart attack when that started happening! Thanks for sharing your experience with the paints. Your kitchen looks awesome!

  14. carol jane permalink
    February 23, 2013

    I never heard of InslX cabinet coat. Who makes it and where can you buy it?

  15. Gail permalink
    February 23, 2013

    Definitely give the Insl-x Cabinet Coat a try. I used it in my kitchen. Rolled the frames, sprayed the doors, two coats on the inside of doors, three coats on the outside. It acts as it’s own primer and I recommend following the instructions in their pamphlet (also available online). It’s been about a year and not one chip or scratch. It cured in only a few days. Also the paint is self-leveling so it dries to a really smooth satin finish no matter how it’s applied. I buy it online from Home Depot because I like the standard white, but you can get it from Benjamin Moore and have it tinted. The price it better from Home Depot and it arrives in about 2 days. I used to work as a painter/faux finisher and have tried tons of different formulas, this one is beyond comparison.

  16. February 24, 2013

    If you haven’t already done something on the island, consider doing it in the same color as the walls, but at 125% or more strength. At least the undertones will be the same. The island should end up looking darker even at the same strength. I recently used the Advance to paint some interior doors. My sprayer came with a viscosity tester to determine how much to dilute the paint for the best spraying. I had to dilute it MUCH more than they estimated would be needed but it ended up spraying very well. The finish is very nice. I have also used the pro classic on several occasions, but it was oil based. It was a perfectly hard finish – and never chipped even though it was on bedroom dressers that were used frequently and also painted over a high-gloss oil based paint. I’ve never used the reformulated Pro Classic (I believe most paints have been reformulated to comply with new laws). Nice write up – thanks!

  17. Lisa permalink
    February 25, 2013

    We plan on painting our cabinets this spring and I’ve been bookmarking all your kitchen makeover pages so we have some kind of idea of what we are doing. Our kitchen is really small though so we will not be using a sprayer. Plus my husband has not one chromosome of handy man in him. I think I will be doing most of he work.

    Can you retile your bathroom next? We need to tackle that sometime soon too! LOL!

    • February 25, 2013

      haha…Jeremy wishes! I definitely think we are gonna be doing our laundry room floor soon…when we can squeeze it in :) Are you planning on doing the floor or shower or what?
      xo – kb

  18. February 25, 2013

    yeaaaaah…. i have had clients complain about advance paint because of the ultra slow drying time, so i quit using it. i still stand by aura line from ben moore! i think it cures faster (its not an alkyd).. just my opinion! and it goes on way faster, and is not thin and runny like advance. i dont know. advance paint got on my nerves!

    • February 25, 2013

      Is the Aura hard as a rock? I know you are the pro Kristen so I totally would love to know from you!
      xo – kb

  19. February 26, 2013

    I haven’t used either of these paints in a sprayer but I have to say the SW’s paint is my absolute favorite for painting furniture by hand. I use a foam roller and brush and get such a great, hard finish with this paint. It looks clean and smooth and doesn’t ever, ever chip (even without a top coat in my kids room).

    I painted my daughters laminate top dresser with the ProClassic three years ago- two coats, no top coat, (primed with water based zinzer and let it cure for a week) and it looks absolutely perfect to this day. And that is with books and baskets, diaper changes, and lots of things happening on top of it! I am excited to try the BM some day but I have to say the SW’s is really worth the cost to me.

  20. February 26, 2013

    Have you heard of PPG’s Break-Through paint – they recently purchased this technology, and it’s really remarkable. It’s expensive, but it’s been used for years commercially – it dries for recoating in 2omins, and cures rock hard. So you can paint a window and then close it up, and it won’t stick. You can fill your bookshelves an hour after you paint – it’s really incredible. It’s water-based, has some smell to it, but not awful, and is expensive, but in my mind, completely worth it.

    We’ve been painting woodwork in our house for thirteen years now, but I’m completely sold on this. I wrote about it here: http://www.thirdstory-ies.blogspot.com/2013/02/library-progress.html

  21. Kristy permalink
    March 23, 2013

    Just curious, because you made the comment that Jeremy had a learning curve when it came to using the pray gun on the cabinet doors, is this a different spray gun than you used in your May 2012 post about spraying your office? We are in the market for a spray gun and wondered if you had a recommendation, although we don’t want one that hooks up to an air compressor.

    • March 24, 2013

      Nope – it’s the same one! It had a learning curve because neither of us had used one. We read the instructions like ten times :) And we do recommend it…because it does quick work and is really easy once you get the hang of it.
      xo – kb

  22. Samira permalink
    April 1, 2013

    Just a note that Sherwin Williams color matching BLOWS! We’ve renovated our house with all Benjamin Moore, with some Behr, Pratt & Lambert, Do it Best, etc paint thrown in. Just renovated my mom’s place with Sherwin Williams for the exterior paint since it got such great reviews.

    #1 None of the dealers had enough stock for me to buy enough paint for one place. You guys sell paint. That’s all you sell. Why do not have enough in stock to paint a house and garage? #2 The paint colors are all a bit “off” vs Benjamin Moore. The undertones are completely different and it seems like many of the greys and taupes had too much of a “red” undertone. #3 They can’t match standard colors even within one order, at one store, with the same product to save their lives. I had to return multiple times since the computer got the colors completely off between the multiple 5 gallon pails I bought. Visibly off, where one was a dark charcoal and the other was the actual color I chose. I have never had this issue with Benjamin Moore in over 4 years, so super disappointed!

    They also have terrible customer service at every location (I visited at least 5 in a month to get all the materials I needed) – it took FOREVER to get even one quart or gallon mixed. Each visit took no less than 45-1 hour for even the simplest purchase (it took almost 1 hr to get 20 quarts of standard, no mixing needed white cans of oil paint). We used the oil on the cabinets, so I really really hope all my frustration was worth it and that all of the paint looks great for a long time!

    • April 1, 2013

      It’s good to hear that experience…I had excellent customer service but I hear ya…every store must be different. And I am sure that Sherwin is sorry that you have to go through that each time…what a pain!
      xo – kb

    • April 30, 2013

      I have to laugh, because my local BM and SW stores are the complete opposite. With Ben failing miserably and Sherwin being completely awesome. And as far as color matching goes, it’s always going to be a crap shoot of who you get to match your color. Some are better than others. I have a favorite guy at my Sherwin Williams store for matching across brands if necessary, but I typically try to avoid having colors matched in general. Its just best to buy the paint from the brand whose color you selected. After all, there is a reason brands don’t all have the same colors….

      • April 30, 2013

        I believe that is true. I have had people do some crazy color matching before…it’s always best to go with someone that has an original formula :)
        xo – kb

  23. Stephanie R permalink
    October 7, 2013

    I just tried the Benjamin Moore Advance paint and will never use it again. It dries at glacial speed, is needing a ton of coats to cover even with primer, and runs terribly. And it is dinging really quickly, though to be fair, it is not cured yet. I should have stuck with my “big box store latex” paints :(

    • October 7, 2013

      It definitely would run with thick coats. It’s no joke. Good news is, with our experience we found it does cure SUPER hard.
      xo – kb

  24. Ann permalink
    October 19, 2013

    I have 1800 sf painted in sherwin whilliams that after only 2 months started to peel.Horrible.You barely touch it and it comes off in big clumps.We moved in a month after it was painted.The first that started to peel was the kitchen just a few days after being painted.The painter had to scrub everything off,sand the walls again,prime and paint.Same thing happened again about a week after it was painted second time.We thought it was finally done and moved in.Well,now the whole house is peeling.We spent 800$ in paint.We can’t afford to repaint due to too much work and time involved plus we have 2 small children.Never again sherwin whilliams.Will go back to behr or benjamin moore(we had these 2 in previous houses and were more than great,easy to wash,never chipped or peeled even though the walls were hit daily by tons of toys,books,shoes,feet etc)

    • October 19, 2013

      You might want to tell your local Sherwin Williams folks about this issue…they may be able to help you! It never hurts to ask!
      xo – kb

  25. Bridget J. permalink
    October 24, 2013

    Nice post! We used Benjamin Moore to paint kitchen cabinets in our last home remodel. We were on a tight budget, so at first I was hesitant because compared to other paints, I found BM to be a little pricey. But on the walls, it had been soooo much better than Behr Premium Plus. So in the kitchen (by hand, no sprayer) I went with BM. I will add that we used primer which I did sand and do 2 coats of. In the end, after paint, both the new cabinets & the 1955 built ins looked awesome. Gorgeous color. Gorgeous coverage. Washes well. Still looks great. Once when I couldn’t get BM, Clark+Kensington has done well for me. But overall, I will never stray from BMoore brand again.

  26. Linda Goepper permalink
    October 24, 2013

    I’ve been a Benjamin Moore girl for years. Love Aura and Aqua Velvet but Will never use advance again. Took 3 coats on woodwork and still looks like it needs another coat. Store said. It is supposed to have an oil base look but not oil base. Next I tried Breakthrough by Pittsburg. Dry to touch in 30 min. Must work fast and not go back over it. Strong as steel. Made for industrial use but people are using it in homes now. I did a bathroom floor and all my interior doors. I love it!!! Will only use Ben Moore for walls though.

    • October 24, 2013

      I’ve never heard of Breakthrough before. Thanks for the info!
      xo – kb

  27. Linda W permalink
    November 19, 2013

    I used Advance on oak kitchen cabinets. It is hard and cleans well 18 months later. It is a so…long process. I just washed the staircase railing that I painted simply white with ProClassic acrylic latex, no alkyd. It washed-up like a charm. No peeling!

  28. Tim the Painter permalink
    January 6, 2014

    Unfortunately, I have only recently come across this blog in my obsessive research of all things paint. From what I’ve read, I can say two things. 1.) Advance does take a long time to cure on previously sealed/ non-porous surfaces. It really does, but the beauty of that material is that it only gets harder over time… and does not stop doing so. 2.) I’m not a big fan of pro-classic ever since sher-will switched to the low voc formula. I’ve had some issues with it in the past myself. As far as the island peeling, I wonder what primer was used, and how long it cured before topcoat. Many primers must be sanded prior to topcoat if they are allowed to cure for more than a few days. Otherwise they get too hard and create bonding problems with the topcoat. I hope this info was helpful.

    • January 6, 2014

      Yup…I think you hit the nail on the head. I did see how the Advance cured much harder over the course of time and I do highly recommend it now that I have the finished product. I think if someone had similar cabinets to mine and had small kids like mine, it is a beast of a wait and really hard to keep them from mucking them up. And yes…our primer did have over the recommended 24 hours of dry time before coating and like some of the comments above, I guess the ‘glue’ or the sticky part of the primer was too cured for the paint to adhere properly.
      xo – kb

  29. January 22, 2014

    We did our lower cabinets with Sherman Williams ProClassic a year ago, painted a shade of white. We have two big Dobermans and balls and dogs get bounced against the cabinets. Also feet, etc. No chips. Still easy to wipe clean (satin finish). I cleaned, sanded, tsp, before priming with two coats of Zinsser Bin (former homeowner was a smoker and the cigarette stain leaked through with just one coat of BIN). Anyway, I was very happy with the SW ProClassic, did three thin coats, but can see why you were not.

    I’m thinking about trying the BM for some interior doors… just for fun. I will say I really like that I can recoat the SW in the same day. I’m doing window trim with it currently.

  30. Danny permalink
    August 28, 2014

    I am a long time contractor that paints with every company, just wanted to say that this is very well written and unbiased (unlike alot of critics). ProClassic is what I always use for cabinets and trims (baseboards and doors). Besides being easy to apply after the years it has been one of the few products with no problems in the long term = Quality. Like you supported, Prep work is Key. Sorry about what happened to your island, But ProClassic is the best.

    FYI: Sherwin Williams never charges retail price (“$71″), its just a gimmick. Sales always help.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS