Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore are two respected paint brands. While both have Moore in their names, they’re completely separate companies.
So, what’s the difference between Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore? Which paint is better?
In this comparison of Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore, I break down the key differences between the two. You’ll learn:
- The products they offer
- Paint composition and colors
- Where you can buy them
- How much they cost
- Their reputation
- And more
By the end, you’ll understand their key similarities and differences and be able to choose the best paint for your DIY project.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Paint Lines
- Volume Solids
- Where It’s Sold
- What Experts at Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore Stores Say
- What Others Say About Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore
- Bottom Line: Should You Use Benjamin Moore or Kelly-Moore?
Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore both carry multiple interior and exterior paints in a variety of sheens and formulas.
In this section, I’ll review the most popular paint lines so you get a general understanding of each brand’s offerings.
Benjamin Moore Aura: Aura is the brand’s more premium (and expensive) paint line. It’s a paint and primer in one formula that boasts superior coverage and hiding capability. It stands out for its ultra-smooth finish and color depth. It holds up against stains, scuff marks, mildew, and fading. You won’t have to repaint (if ever) with this paint. Aura is available in interior and exterior formulas.
Regal Select: If you want paint that performs like Aura but costs less, consider Regal Select. It’s been around for 50 years, while other Benjamin Moore paint lines have come and gone, so it’s stood the test of time. It’s easy to apply and clean up and has a smooth and uniform finish. Plus, it features a wide variety of sheens in interior and exterior options.
ben: This is the budget option of the brand, but it still offers good results. You’ll just have to use more than you would with Aura or Regal Select. Despite its lower cost, you still get smooth application, zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and vibrant colors. You can buy ben paint in interior and exterior formulas. It’s also worth noting that exterior ben contains leveling technology — it spreads itself out for even coverage.
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DuraPoxy: This interior and exterior formula is described as super-premium. It’s stain and mildew-resistant and perfect for high-traffic areas because it can hold up to washing. It adheres to a variety of surfaces, from drywall to metal. The exterior boasts superior hide and moisture resistance. This is one of the most expensive paints offered by Kelly-Moore.
AcryPlex: One of the top premium interior paints of the brand, this paint line offers primer in the formula and boasts a luxury finish. While this formula can handle trim, walls, and ceilings, 550 AcryPlex is a lower-cost option strictly for walls. It’s an ideal paint for moderate traffic areas, such as bedrooms and living rooms — places where you relax and want a certain level of ambiance.
AcryShield: An affordable exterior paint designed to withstand anything the weather throws at it. Its lasting formula expertly retains color and sheen outdoors. The paint is well-suited for walls, trim, accents, and doors. You can use it on masonry, stucco, metal, wood, and hardboard because it offers so much versatility.
For more information on Kelly-Moore paint lines, please visit KellyMoore.com.
In addition to traditional interior and exterior formulas, both offer specialty paints. Here are some of the standout specialty products from both brands:
- Benjamin Moore ben Chalkboard paint: A low VOC formula that creates an erasable chalkboard finish on just about any interior surface.
- Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes: A line of artistic finishes that includes metallic, glaze, and faux finishes.
- Kelly-Moore Epic: A self-leveling paint for use on trim and accent areas.
- Kelly-Moore DTM: An interior/exterior paint designed to go directly on prepared iron, steel, aluminum, and galvanized metal.
Volume solids are the elements left behind after the paint dries, and when comparing Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore paint, it’s one of the main factors to consider.
Why? Because understanding the volume solids helps you:
- Ensure you get the best value
- Plan how much paint you need for a project
- Gain more control over the outcome of your project
- Gauge the paint’s drying time
Let me explain.
When you pick up a can of paint, there are four main ingredients: water (or solvent), pigment, additives, and a binding agent.
The water (solvent) helps apply paint to a surface. The pigment colors the paint. Additives give special properties, such as mildew resistance or self-leveling. Finally, the binding agent holds onto the pigment and additives.
Only the binder, pigment, and additives remain when the paint dries.
Quite simply, if the paint has a higher number of volume solids, you get better long-lasting coverage from fewer coats. Conversely, lower volume solids mean you could find yourself using multiple coats.
The tables below show the volume solids for select Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore paint lines.
As you’ll see, volume solids differ amongst both paint lines and depending on the finish.
Higher-end paint lines like Benjamin Moore Aura have higher volume solids and are more expensive. Less expensive paint lines like Benjamin Moore ben and Kelly-Moore Magnum and Premium Professional contain lower volume solids.
Note: If a paint line does not offer a specific finish, N/A (not applicable) appears in that column.
Interior Volume Solids
Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.
|Benjamin Moore Aura||N/A||48%||48%||42%||40%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore Regal Select||38%||43%||41%||40%||36%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore ben||32%||N/A||35%||N/A||39%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore Advance||N/A||49%||N/A||39%||37%||42%|
|Kelly-Moore Premium Professional||33%||32%||43%||42%||38%||N/A|
Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.
|Benjamin Moore Aura||46%||44%||N/A||40%||38%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore Regal Select||42%||43%||N/A||N/A||42%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore ben||35%||33%||N/A||N/A||35%||N/A|
|Benjamin Moore Advance||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||42%|
|Kelly-Moore Premium Professional||38%||36%||N/A||37%||34%||N/A|
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Another key factor to consider when comparing Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore is the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in each formula.
More brands are adopting eco-friendly practices as they try to stay in tune with what informed customers want. When it comes to paint, you’ll find that the presence or absence of VOCs is a growing selling point.
VOCs are solvents that turn into gas and get released into the air as paint dries. Some VOCs can take six months or more to finish off-gassing.
Some solvents may cause adverse health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They’re known to impact the respiratory system and cause headaches and nausea.
For safety, choose paints that have zero or low VOCs. A low VOC paint contains less than 50 grams of VOCs per liter (g/L).
The good news is that both brands offer zero VOC paints, including Benjamin Moore ben and Aura, along with Kelly-Moore AcryPlex and Premium Professional interior.
Even with low VOCs, always paint in a well-ventilated area. Let air flow into the room as the paint dries, and stay away for at least a few days.
The following table highlights VOC levels of top Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore paint lines.
Note: If a paint line does not offer a type of paint, you will see N/A in the column.
|Interior Paint VOCs (g/L)||Exterior Paint VOCs (g/L)|
|Benjamin Moore Aura||0||46|
|Benjamin Moore Regal Select||< 50 (Semi-Gloss < 100)||< 50|
|Benjamin Moore ben||0||< 50|
|Benjamin Moore Advance||44 to 48||46|
|Kelly-Moore DuraPoxy||< 50||< 50|
|Kelly-Moore AcryPlex/AcryShield||< 2||< 50|
|Kelly-Moore Premium Professional||< 2||< 50|
Another key difference between Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore is accessibility. Simply put, Benjamin Moore is more widely available.
Benjamin Moore paint is available at Ace Hardware and over 7,500 independently-owned paint and hardware stores across the United States. You can buy it online and pick it up in-store.
While Benjamin Moore is a national paint brand available in most states and Canada, Kelly-Moore is regional. Most Kelly-Moore paint stores are in California, Oklahoma, and Texas. New York is the only east coast state where you’ll find Kelly-Moore.
The map below shows where Kelly-Moore stores and dealers are located, so you get an idea. The yellow icons are Kelly-Moore stores and the blue icons are authorized dealers.
To locate a Benjamin Moore store or a Kelly-Moore store, use the store locator tools:
In a color matchup between Benjamin Moore vs. Kelly-Moore, who wins? While both offer a variety of colors, Benjamin Moore offers twice the color options (3,500+) that Kelly-Moore does (1,700+).
Remember, colors will always vary slightly from brand to brand, so it is best to choose the brand before selecting a paint color.
Also, it’s nearly impossible to match Benjamin Moore’s colors with other brands’ paint. Why? Because they use a proprietary colorant called Gennex designed specifically for Benjamin Moore formulas. Gennex has a zero VOC waterborne tinting process. Therefore, no VOCs are added — only pigment. Learn more about this unique technology on BenjaminMoore.com.
Like Benjamin Moore, Kelly-Moore uses zero VOC waterborne colorants in its formulas. According to Architectural Digest, Kelly-Moore is the first to offer zero VOC waterborne colorants and recycled-reclaimed paints.
Kelly-Moore offers ready-mixed paint to ensure better color consistency, but you can also get custom-mixed paints.
Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore both provide tools to help you choose the right colors for your project.
Benjamin Moore Color Tools
- Color Insights: An educational hub to help you learn more about color schemes.
- Find Your Color: A color search tool that allows you to explore color families, best-selling colors, color collections, and view online color brochures.
- Color a Room: A visual tool to give you an idea of how chosen colors would look in different rooms. Rooms are preloaded, and you can adjust the colors on walls, ceilings, and trim.
- Personal Color Viewer: A close to real-life view of your paint project. You take a picture of the object or room you want to paint and upload it to the tool. From there, you can choose your color palette and get started with the Personal Color Viewer. To use it, you must sign up for a free account.
- Color Portfolio App: If you prefer using apps, try the paint matching app by Benjamin Moore. You can upload an inspiration photo, like a painting or colored pillow, and the tool will extract all of the colors and create a palette of corresponding Benjamin Moore colors. Then you can upload a photo of your room or object and use those colors to “paint” virtually. There is also a video tool to see paint colors on your room’s walls instantly.
- Color Samples: You can purchase paint swatches and samples if you want to see what the colors look like on your wall, trim and other objects.
Kelly-Moore Color Tools
Now, for the color tools. You’ll find that Kelly-Moore boasts just as many options as Benjamin Moore.
Kelly-Moore color tools include:
- Explore Color Palettes: Browse the entire brand’s shades and create a color palette that you can email to yourself.
- Shop by Color Family: Kelly-Moore has put color families together so you can narrow down your search. You’ll find the most popular colors in a variety of hues.
- Inspiration and Tips: There is an entire section of the site dedicated to helping you find the right colors. You can read interviews from pros, see color makeovers, and learn from helpful how-to paint lessons.
- myColorVisualizer: Use the myColorVisualizer tool to see how your chosen Kelly-Moore colors will look in a room. Or upload a photo of your room to get an even better idea of the project outcome.
- KM Paints App: Get started with the KM Paints app to access digital color fan decks. You can also read safety data sheets, product descriptions, and promotions.
- Color Samples: Do you need to see what the paint looks like on the wall? You can order a quart in all available colors and pick them up at a store near you or have them shipped. You can also order color swatches and have them shipped directly to you.
Both brands have more than enough color tools to help you decide on paint colors. These tools are helpful if you want a visual idea of how your project will turn out before ordering paint samples or full cans of paint.
That said, both brands offer a range of prices across their lineup.
- Benjamin Moore Aura is the brand’s most premium and most expensive line, costing around $84 per gallon.
- Regal Select is Benjamin Moore’s mid-tier line, costing between $63 and $68 per gallon (price varies by finish).
- Benjamin Moore ben is the least expensive line, costing between $45 and $47 per gallon.
- Kelly-Moore DuraPoxy is one of the brand’s most expensive paints at $73 per gallon.
- AcryPlex and AcryShield are mid-tier lines, costing $64 and $66 per gallon, respectively.
- 550 AcryPlex is the least expensive option at $55 per gallon.
For comparison, brands like Glidden and Valspar offer paint as low as $20 per gallon. Even their high-end paint lines cost less than Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore. For example, Valspar Reserve, the brand’s top-tier paint line, costs $47 per gallon.
The point is: Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore are priced at the top of the market. Although Benjamin Moore has the most expensive paint across both brands (Aura), it also has the cheapest (ben).
To get an expert opinion on Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore, I spoke with paint specialists at both brands’ owned and operated stores.
I asked each expert the same questions:
- What’s the difference between Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore?
- Is one brand better than the other?
First, I spoke with the paint specialist at Kelly-Moore in Mansfield, Texas. She used to work at Benjamin Moore, so she knows both brands well. She told me that Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore are comparable, and there’s not much difference in coverage, durability, or washability.
She said both brands get the job done for standard household paint jobs. But for a specialty project, such as painting metal, Benjamin Moore offers more options.
I also spoke with the paint specialist at Kelly-Moore in McKinney, Texas. He agreed with the specialist at the Mansfield location, saying Kelly-Moore and Benjamin Moore are interchangeable.
He said Kelly-Moore offers some lower-grade, less expensive paints. But if you’re comparing high-end paints like Kelly-Moore DuraPoxy vs. Benjamin Moore Regal Select, there’s no significant difference.
The paint specialist at Kelly-Moore in Granbury, Texas, told me it depends on the paint lines you compare, but both make excellent paint for new construction, repainting walls, and specialty projects.
He admitted that he wasn’t familiar with all the special features Benjamin Moore offers but said Kelly-Moore DuraPoxy is a 100% acrylic ultra-durable paint that provides excellent washability and lasts long. He noted every contractor knows and trusts DuraPoxy, and it’s been the brand’s top seller for nearly 30 years.
The paint specialist at Benjamin Moore in Richland Hills, Texas, told me the difference depends on which paint lines you compare. He said the main difference is that most Benjamin Moore paints are low- or zero-VOC, while some Kelly-Moore paints don’t have that label.
He mentioned that Benjamin Moore constantly improves its formulas, and that’s why it’s the leading brand in the United States (along with Sherwin-Williams).
He said Kelly-Moore DuraPoxy has been around for a while, but they changed the formula, and it’s not as high performing as it once was. He confirmed that Benjamin Moore could match any Kelly-Moore color, but Kelly-Moore can’t match Benjamin Moore colors (due to Benjamin Moore’s unique colorants called Gennex).
Lastly, I spoke with the specialist at Benjamin Moore in Mesquite, Texas. He admitted that he didn’t know much about Kelly-Moore and questioned whether they were still in business because they’re not prominent in his area.
He said Benjamin Moore is the top choice of professionals and homeowners and, despite being a premium paint brand, it offers a range of options to fit any budget.
Now that you know what experts at Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore stores say, are you curious what others are saying?
I’ve rounded up a snapshot of how other paint experts view both brands.
Benjamin Moore frequently shows up on “top-ten paint” and “best paint” lists. It is a well-respected brand chosen by DIYers and professionals.
Kelly-Moore paint doesn’t have the same visibility or brand recognition. That’s in part because it’s a regional brand, but also because Benjamin Moore is more established in the market. You’ll see Kelly-Moore discussed more in paint forums than reviewed by consumer brands or home professionals.
In addition, the brand has had some legal battles stemming from using asbestos in paint and other products between 1960 and 1978. But today’s Kelly-Moore is focused on creating eco-friendly paints with multiple certified green products.
Here’s what others are saying:
Bob Vila online chose two Kelly-Moore colors as the top two in The 9 Greatest Grays for Your Next Paint Job. Not My Fault and Granite Canyon were top Editors’ Picks.
The New York Times’ Wirecutter chose Benjamin Moore Regal Select as the Best Interior Paint from a pool of 55 interior paints. It was the choice of half of the professional painters interviewed. They called it a line they would “recommend to friends and family.” The paint was praised for its ease of use, good coverage, and durability over time.
Good Housekeeping reviewed Benjamin Moore Regal Select and rated it five stars for stellar coverage, above-average stain removal, high wear resistance, excellent finish, and low VOCs. It effortlessly covered black and white surfaces, showed excellent fade resistance, and held up to scrubbing.
Good Housekeeping also gave Benjamin Moore Aura five stars. It was praised for smooth application and great coverage resulting in an excellent finish. Testing proved it was easy to remove stains like coffee and crayon. According to Good Housekeeping reviewers, it “looked the best” out of all paints tested.
Good Housekeeping called Benjamin Moore Regal Select the Best Overall among interior paints, ben was named Best Value, and Aura was chosen as Best for Accent Walls. Regal Select was celebrated for its long-lasting coverage and cleanability. Reviewers called ben a great option that will give you paint and primer in one without breaking the bank. With its luxurious finish, easy application, and color hold, Aura was a favorite among testers.
The Spruce recently selected the 10 Best Paints for Interior Walls, and Benjamin Moore Ultra Flat Waterborne Ceiling paint was the top pick for ceiling paint. It is highly resistant to gravitational drip, hides imperfections, contains zero VOCs, and leaves an almost flawless finish.
Architectural Digest shared a list of the Top 10 Best-Selling Kelly-Moore Paint Colors. Architectural Digest called the colors vivid and deep and mentioned they “pair perfectly” with upcoming trends.
You’ve learned about how Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore paint brands compare, and now it’s time to decide which is best for your paint project at home.
Let’s recap the key similarities and differences before you decide:
- Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore both offer a wide variety of paint lines with top-tier, mid-tier, and lower-cost options to fit every budget.
- Volume solids vary by paint line and finish across both brands, but Benjamin Moore Aura has the highest.
- You have a choice of low VOC and zero VOC paint from Benjamin Moore and Kelly-Moore paints.
- Benjamin Moore is available across North America. Kelly-Moore is only available in a handful of states, primarily on the west coast.
- Both offer an array of colors and tools to help you visualize your project outcome.
- Benjamin Moore offers a wider range of prices, but prices across the brands are similar on average. Both brands are more expensive than Valspar, Glidden, and Behr.
- Benjamin Moore is the more recognized brand, frequently winning best paint awards.
Bottom line — Benjamin Moore delivers excellent coverage, durability, washability, and stain resistance. When you paint with Benjamin Moore, you get reliable results every time.
Kelly-Moore paint is good quality, too. The brand has a loyal customer base, and its top paint lines, such as DuraPoxy, perform similarly to Benjamin Moore. However, Kelly-Moore is only available in a handful of states, and its mid-tier lines cost more per gallon than Benjamin Moore’s.
If you are looking for a good value line, go with Benjamin Moore ben. It’s an excellent choice for a primer and paint formula, though you’ll likely have to use more coats than Benjamin Moore Aura or Regal Select.
Aura is Benjamin Moore’s top-performing paint. It leaves a luxurious finish and offers full coverage.
Finally, for a well-rounded and high-performing paint that’s not too expensive, go with Benjamin Moore Regal Select. It’s one of the most awarded paints in the industry and was named best interior paint by the New York Times’ Wirecutter.
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- Kelly-Moore vs. Sherwin-Williams: What’s the Difference?