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House Paint: Introducing the 116 oz. Gallon*

paint cansWhat 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.

paint net weightThere 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.


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21 thoughts on “House Paint: Introducing the 116 oz. Gallon*”

  1. You need to watch your misuse of the term *net weight*. This is not the same as *fluid ounce*. Fluid ounce
    is a measurement of volume and net weight is a measurement of weight. The *ONLY* time they are the same is
    when something weighs the same as water, which not everything does.

    Paint probably does weigh the same as water, but the label you show clearly say *fluid ounce* **NOT**
    *net weight*. These are not the same thing and should not be misused interchangeably.

    Edgar*s response: I changed *net weight* to *net contents* in the story.

  2. This does seem an odd practice, but the can is not labeled a gallon, so it’s hard to take the paint companies to task over this. The bigger issue would be if they were to fill it to the brim and then leave you no room to add in tints. As far as I know, companies do not charge for you the 8 to 12 ounces of tint added to the can.

  3. Another thing, where on the paint does it actually say that it is a “1 gallon can” and , for that matter,
    where on the mayonaise did it say it was a quart jar?

  4. God man….please get a clue and STOP making specious arguments.

    It’s not about where on the can it says it.
    It’s about the damn advertisers saying it.

    Here’s one example, an ad for a famous home hardware store advertising pain for sale in (my gosh) ONE GALLON CANS


    Use google for cripes sake, it’s the ADVERTISERS offering the products in one gallon cans.

  5. Well, they do say that the *cans* are one gallon. They don’t say the paint in them is. lol

    Seriously though, if I go in and say I need 8 gallons of the premium Ralph Lauren paint will they give me 8 cans (7 gallons) or 10 (8.75 gallons)?

  6. But if you read the original post, it states that you need to add tint to these base colors, at which point you actually get a gallon (or close to it, depending on the color you use).

    I never give corporate America a pass, but in this case, for every ounce you are “shorted,” you get 3 square feet less coverage (assuming the industry standard of 400 feet per gallon on interior paints).

  7. This is outragous. They are giving us less paint for a higher price. What the hack is going on. Made the supply is short maybe they ARE POOR.

  8. Image if they did this in other industries:

    * Water industry…that 1-quart container is 28 ounces because you might add tea mix

    * Milk industry…that 1-gallon container is 116 ounces because you might want to make chocolate milk

    * Soda industry…that 8-oz can is really 7 ounces because you might want to make a run-and-coke but not get drunk

    Imagine the marketing possibilities…ugh!

  9. …and don’t forget that a 2X4 stud is only 1.5 X 3.5 inches and a 4X4 beam is really 3.5 x 3.5 inches! The hardware store is worse than the supermarket!

  10. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the can slightly larger, to accommodate the tint? That way, everyone would get at least a gallon of paint and there wouldn’t have to be special labels for pre-mixed colors. This sounds like another subtle way to profit from a public that doesn’t pay attention to the “fine print.”

  11. I think you are all being a bit over-critical on this one. Paint companies are trying to increase their level of service to you by allowing to to mix virtually any color under the rainbow at the point-of-purchase and all you want to do is bitch about being shorted a few ounces of paint!

    I’d much rather have my chioce of colors and know that it is going to all match properly than to get an extra few ounces of paint in each of my cans.

    Get a life losers!!!

  12. There also appears to be a legal issue in terms of disposal of paint. I once tried to bring a full quart container of paint to a store to tint and they refused because it would spill over. I asked if they could dump out a bit of paint and they said that was illegal. I had to purchase a can that could be tinted. There are actually two different item numbers or part numbers assigned to cans of paint with the same content, but different quantity to accomodate tinting. The best idea I saw was to increase the can size, but from a manufacturing perspective that could truly be expensive not only for the tooling to make the can, but all the machines that fill them would need to be changed as well.

  13. Shawn and Knight…it’s the principle of the thing. If they advertise a gallon and don’t give you a gallon, should they be let off the hook?

    If you bought a car and it had no spare tire but only a rim, would you be fine with it if the list showed that it contained a spare tire? The cost difference is only a small percentage of the overall price so who cares, right?

    If you bought a house with no door but the agreement said that it includes the entire house, would you feel ripped off?

    The problem is not the price–it’s the implied promise.

    As for the wood industry, I was pretty annoyed the first tmie, but I came to realize that this really doesn’t impact the reason you buy a 2x4x8…it’s rarely to create something that’s 2″x4″, but the 8′ could be an issue if you don’t get the full length.

  14. FYI…I just saw some paint at BigLots and they were all marked as “One Gallon”. However, they do not seem to offer a service of mixing these white gallons with any tints.

  15. I’ve always known a “gallon” paint can actually contains a little less so they can add tints, and I’m surprised this seens to be a news flash to so many people. Even if they charge the same for a full gallon and the “shorted” gallon, that makes sense too. If you don’t need the paint tinted, you buy the full gallon. Normally you don’t get charged for the tinting, so even though you buy less paint initially, the fact that you end up with nearly a gallon, and the work involved in tinting it, to me makes it worth it.

    Im sure if they were given a choice, the paint store would rather sell full gallons pre-tinted instead of having to tint it themselves. Not only is there labor involved, but the tinting process is not fool-proof. They have the hassle of dealing with customers who keep bringing the paint back for “just a smidgen lighter color”, or trying to match another batch of paint because the customer didn’t buy enough originally (almost impossible to do precisely). Not to mention the store has to absorb the mixer’s mistakes (oh you wanted color #2718? I thought you said #2719…)

    Bottom line… I think you’re way off base here.

  16. Dave, I think YOU’RE way off base.

    As a retailer, you take on the risks of what you sell. If you don’t want the risks then don’t sell the product. If you want the customers that buy that you either accept the risks or convince the vendor to do the work for you.

    If I pay for a gallon, I expect to get a gallon. However, I understand that it is not the vendor’s responsibility to ensure that what their vendor gives them matches what it says, but as the middleman (collecting profits) they should be responsible for unahppy customers coming back and complaining about not getting what they paid for.

  17. To protect the consumer, size standaeds should be set so companies can`t give you A Price increase by lowering the amount of product your puchasing. I know this may seem dificult, but it would`nt if they only allowed 3 to 4 sizes per poduct instead of multiple sizes like they do now.

  18. There’s an easy solution to this: give the tinting machine the ability to “top off” a can to a full gallon with additional base. That way, the consumer gets exactly a gallon, no matter what color he buys.

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