What could be a more common home improvement purchase than buying a gallon of paint? You may fuss over the brand, the color, and the luster but you certainly don’t pay attention to the net contents statement on the can. Why should you, after all? A a gallon is a gallon.
An eagle-eyed Mouse Print* reader, however, recently bought a gallon can of Glidden paint and noticed that it was only 124 ounces — four ounces shy of a full gallon.
What’s going on? Has paint been downsized just the way half gallons of ice cream have?
*MOUSE PRINT: For the past half dozen years or so, according to Glidden, paint cans labeled “base” or “tint base” contain less than one gallon. Why? These are the products to which the colorant of your choice is added when you pick a custom color at the store. If the cans were full to the gallon mark, there would not be enough room to add the color.
Do you actually get a full gallon when the color is added? According to Glidden, maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on the color you pick. Most bases are white or very light colored, so the darker the custom color you want, the more color they have to add.
There are also “dark bases” that have even less in the can to start with.Sherwin Williams Duration, their most expensive paint, has only 116 ounces in their gallon can. Some Ralph Lauren paints (made by Glidden) have as little as 112 ounces in the gallon can.
Paint that has the color premixed by the manufacturer (rather than paint customized at the store) is still one gallon, and marked as such on the label. Often the packaging of certain whites and base whites is identical except for the word “base” on the label. If you are going to use that white as is, check the label carefully, so you get the full gallon.
The practice of underfilling gallon cans appears to be industry-wide. There is nothing illegal about it (unless you ultimately don’t receive 128 ounces), but as with many products featured in Mouse Print*, the revelation of the facts buried in the fine print can be quite surprising.