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Valspar Reserve vs. Signature: Which Paint Is Better?

Reserve and Signature are two of Valspar’s most popular paint lines.

But which one is better?

In this comparison of Valspar Reserve vs. Signature, you’ll learn how these paint lines differ in durability, color options, coverage, price, and more.

Plus, I reveal which option the paint experts at Lowe’s recommend.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Valspar Reserve vs. Signature: Comparison Chart

Valspar ReserveValspar Signature
TypeInterior onlyInterior only
Paint and PrimerYesYes
VOCs< 50 g/l< 50 g/l
Colors1,800 options1,800 options
Dry Time2-4 hours before recoat2 hours before recoat
Coverage per Gallon400 square feet200-400 square feet
Interior Volume Solids42-47%37-46%
FinishesFlat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss.Flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss.
Unique FeatureColor Stays True LongerScuffShield Technology
Appearance✔✔✔✔✔
Easy to Clean✔✔✔✔✔✔
Mold & Mildew Resistance✔✔✔✔✔
Ease of Application✔✔✔✔✔
Durability✔✔✔✔✔
Coverage/Hide✔✔✔✔✔
Price$$$ (Lowes.com)$$ (Lowes.com)

Similarities Between Valspar Reserve and Signature

Before I review the differences between Valspar’s Reserve and Signature paints, let’s look at their similarities and shared features.

Paint and Primer in One

Valspar Reserve and Valspar Signature are both all-in-one, 100% latex paints that include primer.

Having primer in the formula saves time since you don’t need to prime the walls first. It also does a better job hiding the underlying color of the surface you’re painting than paints without primer included.

Interior Only

While some Valspar collections are dual interior-exterior paints, both Valspar Reserve and Valspar Signature are strictly meant for indoor painting. Some of Valspar’s other paint lines, such as Ultra, offer both interior and exterior formulas.

VOCs

Valspar Signature and Reserve paints are both “low-VOC,” GREENGUARD Gold Certified paints.

Valspar Reserve and Signature GREENGUARD Gold Certified

They contain less than 50 grams per liter (g/L), which is well below the United States federal government caps of 250 g/L for flat finishes and 380 g/l for eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss finishes.

VOCs, short for “volatile organic compounds,” are solvents that dissipate into the air as the paint dries.

Breathing these compounds can cause problems like headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Some VOCs are suspected carcinogens, according to the EPA.

Finishes

Valspar’s Reserve and Signature paint both come in four finishes: flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss.

Flat has no sheen but the most pigment, making it ideal for hiding surface imperfections. However, its matte texture means it’s more difficult to clean and less stain-resistant.

Eggshell has minimal sheen giving surfaces a soft look. It’s slightly better than flat in terms of stain resistance and washability. 

Satin has more sheen than eggshell. It doesn’t hide imperfections as good as flat but offers superior stain resistance and a lustrous look.

Semi-gloss offers the most sheen and the best stain resistance of all the options. It’s ideal for playrooms, hallways, and any high-traffic area of your home.

Valspar provides a helpful guide to refer to while choosing between finishes.

Colors

There is no difference in the color options you get with Valspar Reserve and Signature. With both, you can choose between nearly 2000 hues.

Valspar Paint Colors
Valspar Paint Colors

Valspar provides several valuable tools and color resources on its website, including a virtual “color visualizer” that lets you “paint” one of its preset rooms with a color of your choice.

In addition to this resource, Valspar’s Color Consultation tool allows you to remotely contact a paint expert and consult with them from the comfort of your own home.

Sizes

Valspar Reserve and Signature paints come in one quart, one gallon, and five-gallon sizes.

Cleaning

You can wipe Valspar Reserve and Signature paints with plain soap and water. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners. Doing so will reduce the paint’s lifespan and durability.

Differences Between Valspar Reserve and Signature

Now that we’ve reviewed the similarities between Valspar Reserve and Signature paints, it’s time to take an in-depth look at how they differ.

Volume Solids

All paints are a mixture of heavy solids (binders and pigment) and lighter liquid ingredients (water, thinner, and solvents) that largely evaporate once the paint dries. The volume solids percentage indicates the amount of pigment and binders in the formula.

Essentially, a paint’s volume solids content indicates the amount of the formula “left behind” once a paint fully dries. A higher percentage of solids means better color, higher coverage, and increased durability.

One of the most significant differences between Valspar Reserve and Signature is that Reserve has a higher percentage of volume solids. And, because of that, Reserve paint requires fewer coats, provides better overall coverage, and lasts longer.

The one exception is the version of each paint with a flat finish. In that case, Signature has a slightly higher volume solids percentage than Reserve.

The chart below shows the volume solids percentage for Valspar Reserve vs. Signature across all finishes.

FinishesReserve Volume SolidsSignature Volume Solids
Flat43%46%
Eggshell47%43%
Satin46%40%
Semi-Gloss42%37%

Coverage Per Gallon

Valspar Signature covers between 200 and 400 square feet per gallon, while the Reserve covers 400 square feet per gallon.

So, in most cases, you can expect to get more out of each gallon of Reserve.

One-Coat Coverage

Valspar Reserve paint is labeled as a “one-coat coverage” option. Alternatively, Signature comes with a two-coat recommendation.

Valspar Reserve One-Coat Coverage
Valspar Reserve One-Coat Coverage

In reality, Valspar Reserve paint may still require more than one coat depending on the job –– changing from a darker to a lighter color usually requires more paint, for example.

It’s also worth noting that porous surfaces such as plywood or fresh drywall will need a base coat, as these materials tend to absorb paint.

Dry Time

The dry time for Valspar Signature is shorter than that of the Reserve line. Signature paint takes approximately 30-60 minutes to dry (to the touch) and up to 2 hours to dry before you can recoat.

Reserve paint takes 1-2 hours to dry to the touch and between 2-4 hours before recoating.

So, if you’re short on time and need to get the job done fast, Signature is the better option.

Color Stays True Longer™

Valspar Reserve paint is made with the brand’s proprietary Color Stays True Longer™ technology, which Valspar claims will slow the paints fading more significantly than other paints.

Valspar Reserve Color Stays True Longer
Valspar Reserve Color Stays True Longer

Paint fades naturally in response to UV light exposure, but it can also become dull if exposed to things like cigarette smoke, harsh cleaners, or large amounts of grease and dirt.

General wear-and-tear will also fade your paint and cause visible damage over time. High-traffic areas like hallways will need to be repainted more often than lower-use spaces such as formal dining rooms.

ScuffShield Technology™

Valspar’s Signature paint includes ScuffShield technology™, which reduces the appearance of scuffs, stains, and other damage.

Valspar Signature ScuffShield
Valspar Signature ScuffShield

This feature makes Signature paint ideal for high-use areas in your home or frequently-touched surfaces like doors and cabinets.

When I spoke to paint experts at Lowe’s, they confirmed that Reserve includes the same scuff prevention in its formula (it’s just not marketed as heavily). Valspar Ultra, the brand’s low-cost formula, does not include ScuffShield.

Price

Valspar Reserve is more expensive than Signature due to its higher volume-solids percentage and one-coat coverage.

Generally, Valspar Reserve will run between $5-8 more per gallon than Signature paint.

The chart below makes it easy to compare the price of Ultra vs. Signature for each finish.

FinishValspar ReserveValspar Signature
FlatLowes.comLowes.com
EggshellLowes.comLowes.com
SatinLowes.comLowes.com
Semi-GlossLowes.comLowes.com

What Paint Experts at Lowe’s Say

I spoke with the paint department at several Lowe’s stores (Lowe’s is the primary retailer for all Valspar paints) to get an expert opinion on Valspar Reserve vs. Signature.

I asked each paint expert the same questions:

  • What’s the difference between Valspar Reserve and Signature?
  • Is Reserve worth the higher price? 

First, I spoke with the paint department at Lowe’s in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. The expert there told me the main difference is that Reserve is a one-coat paint while Signature is a two-coat paint.

She mentioned that both are durable and resistant to stains and scuffs, but Reserve provides better coverage.

When I asked if Reserve is worth the higher price, she said, “In my opinion, no.”

She elaborated by saying, “even though Reserve is advertised as a one-coat paint, you need two coats if you’re painting over a dark color with a light color.” She also mentioned that Reserve has a harsher smell than Signature.

I connected with the paint department at Lowe’s in Amherst, New Hampshire, to get a second opinion.

The expert there told me, “Reserve uses a different, higher-quality formula — similar to what Sherwin-Williams uses. Reserve’s formula is more vibrant than Signature’s and includes anti-microbial properties that Signature doesn’t, making it more resistant to mold and mildew.”

He said, “Reserve offers better coverage and durability and is worth the higher cost since you only need one coat in many situations. 

As an alternative, he recommended Sherwin-Williams Showcase, which is $3 cheaper per gallon than Valspar Reserve but offers better performance than Valspar Signature.

Lastly, I spoke with the paint expert at Lowe’s in Bedford, New Hampshire. He said, “Reserve is thicker and more mold and mildew resistant.”

He mentioned, “If you’re painting a dark color over a lighter color, Reserve is a one-coat paint. You’ll likely need two coats if you’re painting a light color over a dark color. Signature is always a two-coat paint.”

I asked if Signature has any advantage over Reserve besides its lower price, and he said, “They advertise its ScuffShield Technology, but the reality is: the Reserve formula includes the same scuff protection.”

When I asked if Reserve was worth the higher price, he said, “Reserve and Signature are both good-quality low-VOC paints, but Reserve is becoming more popular since it offers better coverage and lasts longer.”

He said, “Whether it’s worth the higher cost depends on your budget and the room you’re painting. Reserve is definitely worth the extra cost for high traffic areas like family rooms, hallways, and kitchens. But, it might not be worth it for bedrooms, formal living rooms, studies, and areas you don’t use as often.”

Overall, the impression I got from the paint experts at Lowe’s is that both paints will get the job done, but Reserve is one step up from Signature in terms of coverage, longevity, and overall quality. 

What Others Are Saying

Here’s what other experts and reviewers are saying about Valspar’s Reserve and Signature paints.

Good Housekeeping awarded Valspar Signature paint 4 out of 5 stars in its most recent write-up. The reviewer noted the paint’s fade and stain resistance, but they also cautioned readers about its uneven coverage compared to their top-rated paints.

The Spruce named Valspar Signature the “Best Matte” paint in its review of the “Ten Best Paints for Interior Walls.” The reviewers liked the paint’s scuff and stain resistance, coverage, and opacity.

Bob Vila gave Signature high marks for color quality, hideability, durability, and fast drying time. It also noted that it’s low-VOC and GreenGuard Gold-certified for air quality.

Business Insider listed Valspar Signature paint as one of its “best interior paints,” specifically noting its strong stain-removal ability and its ability to hide scuffs and other damage. The reviewer also liked the paint’s fade resistance and low VOC content. On the downside, the article mentioned slow drying time as a common complaint.

The Washington Post listed Valspar Reserve as one of its top three store-brand paints, calling it an affordable paint that delivers superior-quality coverage and color.

Bottom Line: Should You Choose Valspar Reserve or Signature?

Now you know the similarities and differences between Valspar Reserve vs. Signature paint.

But which is best for you?

Before I give you my recommendation, let’s quickly review:

  • Both Reserve and Signature are paint-and-primer combos, so you don’t have to worry about applying primer separately.
  • Both paints are low-VOC, making them safe and eco-friendly.
  • Both paints come in flat, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss finishes.
  • They both come in the same range of proprietary Valspar colors.
  • Both can be purchased in one quart, one gallon, and five-gallon sizes.
  • You can easily clean both paints with soap and water.
  • Valspar Reserve has a higher volume-solids content, making it thicker, more durable, and better at covering dark surfaces.
  • Valspar Reserve includes anti-microbial properties, making it more resistant to mold and mildew.
  • Reserve delivers better coverage.
  • Valspar Reserve is labeled as a “one-coat” paint, while Signature is listed as needing two or more coats for full coverage.
  • Signature paint has a 30-60 minute initial dry-time and a 1-2 hour recoat time, while Reserve takes 1-2 hours to dry initially and 2-4 hours to recoat.
  • Reserve includes Color Stays True Longer™ technology, which enhances the paint’s fade resistance.
  • Signature paint comes with ScuffShield™ technology, which improves its resistance to scuffs and stains.
  • Valspar Reserve costs $5-8 more per gallon than Valspar Signature paint.

The bottom line — Valspar Reserve is a better quality paint than Valspar Signature. But this premium paint comes at a premium cost.

If you want the very best that Valspar has to offer, go with Reserve paint. It delivers better coverage, more vibrant finishes, and holds up better against everyday wear-and-tear.

If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind applying two coats, Signature is a solid choice. But keep in mind that it won’t last as long, and it’s not as resistant to mold and mildew.

Check out Valspar’s page at Lowes.com (Reserve, Signature) to learn more about both options.

If you’re looking for alternatives, Valspar Reserve paint is comparable to Behr Marquee, and Valspar Signature is similar to Behr Ultra paint. Learn more in my in-depth comparison of Behr Marquee vs. Ultra.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for 10+ years and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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