How many people out there think that paint is just paint, and all it takes to select a paint is to run to the store and pick up a can in the color you need? Truth be told, if you feel this way, you're probably in the majority. If you're not one of those people, you should be congratulated.

Beyond the obvious choice of color selection, you need to know various details like your preferred finish (flat, eggshell, semi gloss, high gloss, etc.), necessary chemical makeup (latex, oil/alkyd, low VOC, no VOC, organic, etc.), substrate you are painting over (wood, metal, plastic, etc.), and the brand you prefer to use that will enable you to achieve the look you are shooting for.

As you probably know, we've been working on the final steps of our new front door project for what seems like an eternity. After many, many hours of work preparing our salvaged door for its new home, we've finally arrived at the extremely difficult process of paint selection.

You might be wondering why this step is so difficult? Because we have very specific desires with this project, have invested a ton of time into the prep work up to the point, and we're terrified of making a mistake in the very final step of the project.

Wendy and I have been inspired by the extremely high gloss and mirror like finish on the front door of London's 10 Downing Street, the primary residence of the United Kingdom's Prime Minister.

Photo Credit: Maapu

Though it would be quite difficult to achieve a finish even close to this level of polish without a sprayer and specialized paint, we decided to try to get as close as we can with one of our favorite brands of paint, Benjamin Moore. 

We knew we would need to use an alkyd based paint in high gloss for this project. The improved flow characteristics of the alkyd paint would help promote that shiny and smooth look we are going after. I contacted Benjamin Moore on twitter about their gloss characteristics and they reported a gloss rating of 80 at a 60 degree angle. I looked it up and that is an 80 out of 100, it sounds good to me. So we headed to our local Ace to pick up a can of the Benjamin Moore alkyd high-gloss enamel for Metal & Wood. We used this paint before on one of Wendy's dumpster dive finds in a burgundy color and were really happy with the results (seen below), so we decided to use it in Florida Keys Blue for our new front door

Arriving home I was ready to paint, but not so fast, there was a problem. When we got home I checked out the label and it looked a little different than the black label I was used to. Here's what the old can looked like:

This new label was orange, and it no longer said "wood" on the front, so I decided to read some of the fine print. It seems that the can of paint our local Benjamin Moore retailer sold to us as the "new and improved version of what you had" isn't actually for the same application. The new "N133" alkyd high gloss paint is for metal substrates only!

So, I called the store and they once again tried to reassure me that I could use this product on wood. But knowing the months of blood, sweat and tears I've poured into stripping and prepping our salvaged door, I wasn't willing to take any chances. I decided to go straight to the manufacturer on this one. I tweeted @Benjamin_Moore and they responded quickly that we should use the "C133" for wood and the "N133" is for metal only. So, as I suspected, it turns out, you can only use it on metal! Phew. I'm so glad I went with my gut instinct on this one and didn't jump right in. But it would have been a very, very painful lesson to learn.

We went back to our local store and I was able to find a can of the "C133" in the base we needed for our paint. Even though they don't normally allow exchanges or returns on mixed paint, they allowed it in this situation since the  mistake was on them. I love good customer service and when people accept when a mistake was made. We were finally on our way with the right paint.

Oddly enough, when Wendy went to a different Benjamin Moore retailer this week to pick up a can of the paint in black for back side of the front door, they too tried to sell her the "N133" for metal only paint, insisting that it could be used on wood. Sorry folks. We've been down that road already and know better.

I called one more store in the area and was able to find a can of the C133 Black for use on the front door. When I went to pick that can up, one guy at the store tried to sell me a can of the N133. Luckily I had a can set aside when I called, so it was waiting for me on the shelf behind the register. 

It seems the misinformation/assumption on this new product isn't limited to just one retailer. To prevent anyone going through the agony of making this mistake, I actually contacted @Benjamin_Moore via Twitter again to alert them to the issue. They responded almost immediately, and have requested the retailers' locations so they can clear up the confusion.

So there you have it, paint isn't just about picking a color. You need to keep in mind the finish of the paint, the application in which you're applying it , and the type of paint (latex vs. oil). I hope I've painted the picture for you that it's much easier to do your research ahead of time (bad pun intended) and I recommend that you always read the label of a product before starting a DIY effort. And most importantly, whenever in doubt, make use of Twitter! Twitter is often seen by many as a useless technology, but this is one place where it is wonderful. A good company will be able to leverage the tool as a customer service win for their tech savvy customers.

Benjamin Moore really offered some great customer service on this, something we're quite happy with and a major reason we will continue to use their product. Well, beyond the fact we love the quality of their paint.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Want to learn more about our first-hand experiences with other tools, devices or items used throughout our renovation? If so, check out our complete list of product reviews in our Toolbox Tuesday section. 

Note: We weren't compensated for this review. We simply want to share good products when we see them, and hope that learning from our mistakes can help save you time, money and frustration.

Comments 8


8/30/2011 at 3:32 PM
I actually ran into this SAME ISSUE this past weekend! So funny :-) On the recommendation of a friend, I went into my local Benjamin Moore retailer to purchase the Benjamin Moore Low Lustre Metal and Wood paint only to find that they were no longer making it. Like you, I found out that the Metal and Wood paints had been retired, and that the "same" newer version was to only be used on metal. I asked if I could use the new paint on wood, and the salesman said that he couldn't in good faith recommend the paint for wood since Benjamin Moore had changed the designation. However, since I only needed a quart, he took a gallon of the Metal and Wood paint from the back of the store and put it into a quart-sized can for me. It worked like a charm :-) How funny that my retailer refused to recommend the new metal product for my wooden dresser-painting project! I'll definitely be shopping there again...I really liked how honest the salesman was, even if it meant that I may leave the store without making a purchase!
I've done a bit of research and it looks like there is an N133 and C133 version of the Impervo with a similar label. I think the paint stores may be getting confused about this.

It's amazing how important good customer service is but so many places just don't get it.
9/29/2011 at 10:04 AM
Hi Alex,

Do you mind sharing the name of the paint store you visited? I live in Alexandria and I keep being told that the N133 works fine on wood. I think it's b/c they don't have C133. :(
Sure thing, sorry to take so long to get back to you on this. We picked it up at Alexandria's Potomac Paint & Design Company in the Bradlee Shopping Center. Not sure how many more cans they have, I know I got one of the last few. Benjamin Moore was going to contact their vendors to let them know this wasn't quite right, but I'm not sure if they have yet.
10/9/2012 at 3:22 PM
Does anyone have advice of what to do if you have already painted a wood porch with the metal pain? (Strip, sand, just paint over with a new coat?) Also, seems like the metal paint on wood won't dry....
11/25/2012 at 11:58 PM
This issue appears to be one of government regulation. It is not that the paint is REALLY only useable on metal substrates. Oil-based paints have VOCs and other environmentally harmful characteristics. Since 2005, oil-based paints sold in gallon or larger containers must be labeled for use on "metal substrates only." Some of the Benjamin Moore dealers mentioned might just know that the paint works fine on wood notwithstanding the government-mandated environmentally-friendly "metal substrate only" label. Could it be a wink & a nod?
7/23/2014 at 2:55 PM

I don't recommend the Benjamin Moore Metal paint N133. It forms small wrinkles when drying which ruins the gloss finish. The wrinkles even form on the drips on the side of the can! Benjamin Moore had lots of excuses for this but they didn't apply to my situation. The paint is terrible!

Becky S.
4/21/2015 at 5:53 PM

Hi! I'm getting ready to paint our front door and was wondering what type of roller cover you used with this paint? It looks smaller than the standard 3/8" Purdy.

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