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Sherwin-Williams Duration vs. Emerald: Which Paint Is Better?

Are you confused about which Sherwin-William paint to use for your project?

Duration and Emerald are two of the brand’s top paint lines. Both provide excellent coverage, durability, and overall performance.

But there are key differences you should know before choosing.

In this comparison of Sherwin-Williams Duration vs. Emerald, you’ll learn how they differ across all key categories. I compare their VOC levels, volume solids, application, dry time, colors, price, and more.

I’ll also share what experts from Sherwin-Williams retail stores have to say about Duration and Emerald paint.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison:

Sherwin-Williams Duration vs. Emerald: Key Takeaways

If you only have a minute, here’s what you need to know about Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald paint.


  • Duration and Emerald are both water-based acrylic latex self-priming paints. Both come in various colors and finishes.
  • Both offer the same dry time, stain blocking, mold and mildew resistance, and washability.
  • Both are low-VOC formulas.
  • Both paint lines work with VinylSafe, a collection of colors designed to resist buckling and warping on vinyl surfaces.


  • Emerald interior paint has a higher volume solids than Duration interior, while the exterior versions of both lines have similar volume solids.
  • Sherwin-Williams Duration has Moisture Resistant Technology, making it better for damp environments.
  • Duration is recommended over Emerald for high-traffic areas.
  • Duration is made with PermaLast Technology, an innovative additive that makes the paint 70% thicker and, therefore, longer lasting.
  • Due to its thickness, Duration doesn’t go on as smoothly, and it is more difficult to clean out of brushes and rollers.
  • Emerald paints are slightly more expensive than Duration.

Should You Use Sherwin-Williams Duration or Emerald?

Sherwin-Williams Emerald and Duration both offer high-quality paint, but they serve different needs. If you’re after the best coverage and ease of application, and cost isn’t a concern, choose Emerald. It’s comparable to high-end brands like Benjamin Moore Aura. On the other hand, if your project involves high-moisture areas like bathrooms or kitchens, Duration’s moisture-resistant technology makes it the better pick. Assess your project’s specific requirements and budget to make the right choice.

Comparison Chart

If you only have a minute, here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of Sherwin-Williams Durations vs. Emerald.

TypeInterior and ExteriorInterior and Exterior
Paint and PrimerYesYes
VOCs< 50 g/l< 50 g/l
Colors1,700 options1,700 options
Dry Time4 hours before recoat4 hours before recoat
Coverage per Gallon350-400 square feet350-400 square feet
Interior Volume Solids33-40%37-41%
Exterior Volume Solids38-43%38-42%
Interior FinishesFlat, low lustre, satin, and semi-gloss.Flat, matte, satin, and semi-gloss
Exterior FinishesFlat, satin, or gloss finishFlat, satin, or gloss finish
Easy to Clean✔✔✔✔✔✔
Mold & Mildew Resistance✔✔✔✔✔✔
Ease of Application✔✔✔✔✔
Key FeatureMoisture resistant technologySmooth, professional-looking finish
Price$$$ (view on Sherwin-Williams.com)$$$$ (view on Sherwin-Williams.com)

Similarities Between Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald

First, let’s explore how Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald are similar. I’ll cover details such as paint composition, colors, drying time, and other elements to consider.

Acrylic Latex Paint

Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald are both water-based acrylic latex paints. Although it contains no actual latex (rubber), acrylic latex paint uses plastic resin as a binding agent in its formula.

Sherwin-Williams Emerald and Duration Acrylic Latex Paint

It’s an excellent choice for DIYers because of its ease of use and cleanability. Unlike oil-based paints, which can take several days to dry, this paint dries in a few hours. This type of paint takes several weeks to cure, but it’s durable once it’s set.

Paint and Primer

If you want paint that includes primer in the formula, both Duration and Emerald are good choices. However, a coat of primer is necessary when you are painting over drywall, going from high gloss finish to low gloss, or painting light colors over dark colors.


Since they are both acrylic latex paint lines, Duration and Emerald are available in the same colors. Sherwin-Williams has over 1,700 color options.

Sherwin-Williams Colors
Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

And to help you choose just the right colors, Sherwin-Williams has a variety of color tools. For example, you can use the ColorSnap Visualizer on your desktop or as an app to paint a room virtually with Sherwin-Williams colors of your choice.

Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer
Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Visualizer

Dry Time

Drying times for Duration and Emerald interior and exterior paints are identical. Of course, paint drying times can vary depending on the atmospheric conditions or your general climate.

Interior paints are dry to the touch in one hour and ready for a second coat after four hours. Exterior paint is dry to the touch after two hours. You can apply a second coat after 24-48 hours.


Since Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald are water-based acrylic latex paints, they initially show brush strokes and roller marks. This is why it’s recommended that you apply two coats of paint on interior drywall for a flawless finish.

Although both paints are self-priming, an initial coat of primer will provide the best results if you are painting over a drastically different color.

For exterior painting, use two coats on a new, bare surface and one coat on a repainting job.

According to Sherwin-Williams, you can expect Duration and Emerald interior paint to cover 350–400 square feet per gallon. The exterior versions of both lines can cover 250–300 square feet per gallon.

You can use the Sherwin-Williams paint calculator for your project to make sure you have enough paint to handle the job.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are solvents that get released into the air as paint dries. They are part of the element of paint that dissipates, while the binding agent, pigment, and additives remain.

While these solvents are necessary, there are health risks associated with over-exposure. Thus, paint companies, including Sherwin-Williams, are trying to limit VOC levels in their products.

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many VOCs are known carcinogens.
  • Exposure to VOCs can have short- and long-term health effects.
  • While some VOCs release gas quickly, some may take years.

To limit exposure, there is a federal limit of 250 grams per liter (g/L) for flat finishes and 380 g/L for other finishes, such as low-luster and semi-gloss.

Both Duration and Emerald interior and exterior lines are not only compliant with VOC regulations, but they have significantly fewer VOCs in their formulas. According to the safety data sheets, both contain less than 50 g/l.

You can view the data sheets below for flat finish in Extra White:

Note: The phrase “less exempt solvents” on those sheets refers to solvents that the EPA has excluded due to negligible reactive compounds.


Both paint lines feature VinylSafe. It’s an additive that offers more flexibility with painting colors on vinyl.

Sherwin-Williams VinylSafe colors eliminate the issues of warping or buckling on a vinyl surface when applying dark color on top of a lighter color.

With VinylSafe, you have 100 color options to choose from, all of which perform well in vinyl painting scenarios. You can even use it to repaint vinyl siding as long as it’s in good condition.

Stain Blocking Technology

Both Duration and Emerald contain advanced stain blocking technology. It helps keep the paint looking fresh and new, but it also covers up stains that were present before painting. Stain blocking additives can also provide leveling for a smooth finish.


Duration and Emerald interior paint formulas contain antimicrobial agents to prevent the growth of mold and mildew on the surface of the paint. This is an ideal additive for rooms exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.


Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald paints are designed to be washed without causing harm to the paint surface. You can wipe with a damp cloth or use a little mild detergent and warm water for a deeper clean.

It’s a good practice to wipe any spills or dirt away with a damp lint-free cloth immediately. Never use harsh cleansers on the paint’s surface. It might strip the finish.

Differences Between Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald

Next, let’s explore the difference between Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald paint lines.

Volume Solids

What are volume solids? They are the substances left behind once the paint dries.

Paint consists of water (or solvent), pigment, additives, and a binding agent. The solvent helps apply paint to a surface, pigment gives the paint its color, additives give the paint qualities such as stain blocking or mildew resistance, and binder holds onto the pigment and additives.

The water or solvent dissipates as the paint dries. Only the binding agent, pigment, and additives remain — they are the solids.

Volume solids vary based on the formula (interior or exterior) and sheen or finish.

Paints with higher volume solids are thicker and offer better coverage with less product. Paints with lower volume solids tend to require more coats.

Overall, Emerald interior paint has higher volume solids than Duration. Therefore, it’s thicker and can cover existing colors better. Duration and Emerald exterior paints have similar volume solids.

The following tables show the volume solids for Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald interior and exterior paints in multiple finishes.

Note: If a paint line does not offer a specific finish, you’ll see N/A (not applicable) in that column.

Interior Volume Solids:

FinishDuration InteriorEmerald Interior
Flat40 +/- 241 +/- 2
Matte40 +/- 241 +/- 2
Satin38 +/- 240 +/- 2
Semi-Gloss33 +/- 237 +/- 2

Exterior Volume Solids:

FinishDuration ExteriorEmerald Exterior
Flat43 +/- 242 +/- 2
Matte39 +/- 239 +/- 2
Satin38 +/- 238 +/- 2
Semi-Gloss42 +/- 2N/A

Exterior Finishes

Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald exterior paints are both available in flat, satin, gloss finishes. Duration is also available in low lustre, which is slightly less shiny than satin.

Interior Finishes

Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald interior paints are both available in flat, matte, satin, and semi-gloss. But there is an exception — Emerald Designer Edition interior paint is also available in gloss and eggshell.

Moisture Resistant Technology

Sherwin-Williams Duration interior paint includes moisture resistant technology. Emerald’s formula does not include this additive.

Sherwin-Williams Duration Moisture Resistance Technology

The moisture resistance makes Duration an ideal paint for places with excessive moisture, such as a bathroom or basement. It also ensures the paint is not affected by weather, such as rain or morning dew, giving you more flexibility around the times of day you can paint.

High Traffic Areas

Of the two paint lines, Sherwin-Williams recommends Duration interior for high traffic areas. Duration is designed to resist stains, thwart the growth of mold and mildew, and can easily be wiped clean or washed with mild soap.

These qualities are perfect for high-traffic areas like bathrooms, playrooms, recreation rooms, kitchens, or anywhere your family gathers the most.

PermaLast® Technology

Sherwin-Williams Duration exterior paint is formulated with PermaLast Technology. Emerald does not offer this.

Sherwin-Williams Duration PermaLast Technology

PermaLast technology thickens the paint by 70% with acrylic copolymers. It makes the paint more flexible and long-lasting and offers superior hide and durability.

The downside is that the thickness of Duration paint makes it sticker and more challenging to apply. It doesn’t go on as smooth as Emerald, and it won’t wash out of rollers and brushes as easily.


So, how do prices compare between Sherwin-Williams Duration and Emerald?

Emerald is the brand’s most premium and expensive paint line. Prices vary by finish, but Emerald is about 7% (or $5 per gallon) more costly than Duration.

Emerald costs between $77 and $83 per gallon and Duration costs between $72 and $78 per gallon.

Exact pricing will vary based on where you purchase the paint and whether a sale or other promotion is running. Sherwin-Williams frequently runs sales, so the actual price you pay could be significantly less.

To compare the current prices, go to Sherwin-Williams.com (Emerald, Duration).

What Experts at Sherwin-Williams Retailers Say

I spoke to two paint specialists at local Sherwin-Williams stores to get their take on Emerald vs. Duration. I asked both the same two questions:

  • What’s the difference between Emerald and Duration?
  • Is Emerald worth the higher price?

First, I spoke with the paint specialist at the Sherwin-Williams store in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. He told me, “Technically, Emerald is a bit heavier, covers better, and has superior scrubability. Both require two coats, but when you’re dealing with difficult colors, Emerald provides better hide.”

He said, “In rare cases, like when you’re painting over dark colors, you may need three coats with Duration, but Emerald is always just two coats.”

When I asked if Emerald is worth the higher cost, he said, “Duration and Emerald are pretty similar, so Emerald is not always worth it. For easy application, Emerald is the best. But if you’re painting a bathroom, Duration has better moisture resistance.”

I spoke with the paint specialist at Sherwin-Williams in Narragansett, Rhode Island, to get a second opinion. He said, “Both are low-VOC paints, but Emerald is considered zero-VOC since its emissions are even lower. Emerald applies easier and covers better. Both offer excellent washability and durability.”

He mentioned, “Emerald is worth the extra cost because it leaves a professional-looking finish and is a bit more forgiving.” He also said, “Duration is the best option for high humidity areas, like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Overall, though, both are great paints.”

Bottom Line: Should You Use Sherwin-Williams Emerald or Duration?

Bottom line — Sherwin-Williams Emerald and Duration are both premium quality paints with excellent coverage and durability. You really can’t go wrong with either. That said, there are times when you might want to choose one over the other.

Emerald has a higher volume solids, provides better coverage, and is easier to apply, but it also costs more. Simply put, it’s Sherwin-Williams’ most premium paint line. If cost is not a concern and you want the best of the best, go with Emerald. It’s comparable in quality to Benjamin Moore Aura paint.

Duration offers moisture resistant technology, making it an ideal paint for bathrooms, kitchens, and finished basements. And, with PermaLast Technology, it will hold up for a long time. It’s one step down from Emerald in quality, but it’s still a premium paint that’s more than sufficient for most projects.

Ultimately, the right paint is dictated by your project and budget. For the best coverage, go with Emerald. For high-moisture areas like bathrooms, Duration is the better choice.

Learn more about both paint lines and compare current prices on Sherwin-Williams.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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