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Stealth Inflation: A Gallon of paint no longer a gallon
Old 02-11-2015, 11:51 PM   #1
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Stealth Inflation: A Gallon of paint no longer a gallon

This was a surprise to me. A Gallon is 128 fluid Ounces. It was not uncommon for a tint base can to be a bit less than a gallon, as the addition of the tints would bring it up to a gallon. But...

Today I was at Home Depot and saw Glidden, Behr, and probably others, too many to check as I needed to get going:

Saw 124 Oz., 122, 120, 118, even 116 Oz. cans! I think they are the same diameter as a standard true gallon can, just shorter. After I tuned into this, I could walk around the paint rows and notice squatter cans. This is ridiculous. The whole calibration of people is thrown off, as how much paint to do what job.
I really DOUBT that a 116 Oz. "gallon" can is going to have 12 Oz. (1 1/2 cups!) of tints added to it that will bring it up to 128 Fl. Oz.! Of course not, it wouldn't all fit into the squatter can anyway. And the tints themselves are very expensive.

I assume for color mixing the paint person scans the base can, which tells the mixer program what the fl. Oz. of the base can is, so the quantity of tints are adjusted properly... making it invisible to the operator.

I recently bought Glidden PVA Drywall primer from HD, and they were true gallons, and Glidden ceiling paint that goes on pink from W-M, they were also true gallons. So I don't know if this is trending through all lines, or for now, only on tint-to-order paints.

I did notice that the HD website shows a 122 Oz. (6 Ozs. short) can for the Glidden tracking ceiling paint, where at W-M it was a true 128 Oz. gallon, those are use straight from the can paints, no tinting, due to their indicator formula.

How about 11 inch rulers? 33 inch yard sticks? 43 foot garden hoses? 17 1/2 foot tape measures? Or gas stations selling gas per "Unit", where each "Unit" is defined by the retailer? The possibilities are endless.
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Old 02-12-2015, 12:39 AM   #2
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I'm no expert, but you may be jumping to some unfair conclusions, so I'd encourage you to go to a store that specializes in paint if you really want to understand more.

If you're buying a gallon of pre-tinted paint, primer, etc. - it will be 128 ounces. But most paint sales are custom tinted, so most of the "paint" you see on store shelves are base paints that leave room for a) pigment/tint and b) proper mixing (it would be hard to shake/mix if the can was too full). Each custom color paint requires more/less tinting, so it's inevitable the final total ounces will vary - some customers will get less than 128 ounces, some more for a "gallon" of paint. That's not new.

You're not charged extra for tinting even though the producers cost can vary considerably by color/tint. The dark tint bases will have fewer ounces (as base) and they're formulated differently (less "white") because dark colors will take more pigment/tint so you may still end up with 128 ounces more/less after all. Medium tint bases will have ounces in the middle of the range (between light and dark base). It's not an attempt to short the customer ("stealth inflation"), it's meant so customers get 128 ounces on average (exact is impossible with infinite custom colors) after mixing across the spectrum from white to black and everything in between.

From someone involved in the retail side of paint for a decade:

You're reading waaaaayyy too much into this!
* Tint-bases (tb) have varying fill-levels ON PURPOSE.
* Whiter/Lighter colors go into a "fuller" tint-base (often @ 124-128 oz. fill).
* This allows 2 oz. of colorant to be added...and leaves 2 oz. worth of "shaking/over-tinting" wiggle-room.
* You could view 132 oz. as a TOTALLY full gallon, but mixing would be very difficult!
* For medium colors, there's usually a couple medium-fill bases.
* The darkest colors go into the least full base, often @ a labeled 114-116 oz's!!
* This leaves room for a LOT more colorant for the real dark colors.
* Another "wrinkle" on the deeper tint-bases...they have proportionately LESS White (TI02), making these bases fairly SHEER. TINTED-primers are often required underneath deep/jewel-toned colors.
* Each step down (fill-level wise!) in tint-bases has less White pigment, allowing colorants to fight against less white to get to a desired color.
* If you shook up an untinted dark tb, and brushed it out, you'd easily see through it!
* A White-tb would be very opaque.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:42 AM   #3
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Midpack, nice explanation of different tint bases. I will add something--you touched on it a little.

The deeper colors do not hide as well as whites and pastels because they contain less titanium dioxide. TiO2 is the white stuff that scatters light and thus hides what is underneath. But the presence of TiO2 would make it impossible to produce a deep, rich color. If one tried to make a red paint from a white base, the best you could get would be pink no matter how much red you dumped in.

This also results in the counter-intuitive situation where it is easier to paint over a very dark wall with white than a white wall with a deep tone.

I am still w*rking in the paint industry, but far from retail. I work in research for a raw-material supplier, focusing on exterior coatings. Yes folks, I watch paint "weather".
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:53 AM   #4
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I learned something about paint today, rather unexpectedly.

Thank you!
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:40 AM   #5
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That stealth inflation has been going on for many years. I first noticed it when my can of tuna went from something like 7 oz to 6 1/2. You can still get half gallon of orange juice, but some brands are now less than 64 ounces.
And as an ice cream "aficionado," that 1/2 gallon went to 1 3/4 quarts down to the present 1 1/2 quarts.
I guess from a marketing perspective it's better to shrink the size than increase the price.
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:52 AM   #6
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Now I'm going to go home and check my paint. The tint-add makes some sense.

In any case, this game is in full force with ice cream. It is now impossible to buy a 1/2 gallon of ice cream. And this is a problem because it ruins every jello-mold recipe out there! I'm serious!

We've had a small crisis the last few holidays because my sister couldn't make jello molds anymore. They were coming out like crap. We were at the store, and it hit her like a ton of bricks. The stealth inflation ruined her time honored recipe!
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:13 AM   #7
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While I don't fully agree with the OP's "stealth inflation" "observation" WRT paint, it's certainly happened with a lot of other products. The labels are accurate, but presumably manufacturers are hoping consumers won't notice. Unfortunately once one ice cream maker reduces package size/fill weight, EVERY other ice cream maker has to react - with no obvious right choices.

That's how these things happen 9 times out of 10, consumers see cheaper way more often than they notice unit cost has been changed thru reduced volume/weight. Playing those stupid games was an unavoidable part of my career, and consumers immediately assumed guilt on our part without ever bothering to understand why 9 times out of 10 too. Unfortunately this is an instance where uninformed consumers drive the price/value proposition before on the ball consumers...

I remember being very surprised as a kid when I found out a 2x4 was actually 1.75" x 3.75". Now they're 1.5" x 3.5" and an 8 foot stud is 92-5/8" long (though for other reasons). I wonder how long it's been since a 2 x 4 was a 2" x 4"?
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:19 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
I remember being very surprised as a kid when I found out a 2x4 was actually 1.75" x 3.75". Now they're 1.5" x 3.5" and an 8 foot stud is 92-5/8" long (though for other reasons). I wonder how long it's been since a 2 x 4 was a 2 x 4?
Just to clarify, the 92-5/8 is a pre-cut length for an 8 ft wall, to allow for header and footer. You can buy full 96 inch length 2x4 studs as well. The 92-5/8 saves the framer from having to trim the 96 inch lengths down.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:21 AM   #9
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Just to clarify, the 92-5/8 is a pre-cut length for an 8 ft wall, to allow for header and footer. You can buy full 96 inch length 2x4 studs as well. The 92-5/8 saves the framer from having to trim the 96 inch lengths down.
Thanks, that's what "though for other reasons" meant.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:34 AM   #10
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That stealth inflation has been going on for many years. I first noticed it when my can of tuna went from something like 7 oz to 6 1/2. You can still get half gallon of orange juice, but some brands are now less than 64 ounces.
And as an ice cream "aficionado," that 1/2 gallon went to 1 3/4 quarts down to the present 1 1/2 quarts.
I guess from a marketing perspective it's better to shrink the size than increase the price.
Do you go ahead and buy the reduced size product anyway? or do you switch to a brand that doesn't play size games?

I think most of the items I buy are still in even size units (in imperial measures). I.e. 1lb, 2lb, 1 gallon, etc.

Some tags at stores list the per unit price. So that may help identifying the most costly.
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:37 AM   #11
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Do you go ahead and buy the reduced size product anyway? or do you switch to a brand that doesn't play size games?

I think most of the items I buy are still in even size units (in imperial measures). I.e. 1lb, 2lb, 1 gallon, etc.

Some tags at stores list the per unit price. So that may help identifying the most costly.
Rhetorical questions I assume. The collective answer is well established...
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:41 AM   #12
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I remember being very surprised as a kid when I found out a 2x4 was actually 1.75" x 3.75". Now they're 1.5" x 3.5" and an 8 foot stud is 92-5/8" long (though for other reasons). I wonder how long it's been since a 2 x 4 was a 2 x 4?
Just to clarify, the 92-5/8 is a pre-cut length for an 8 ft wall, to allow for header and footer. You can buy full 96 inch length 2x4 studs as well. The 92-5/8 saves the framer from having to trim the 96 inch lengths down.
Correct, the 92-5/8 isn't an 8' stud with some sort of shorting - if you want an 8' stud you buy one. They are all clearly marked, and each has their purpose.

As far as a finished '2x4' being smaller, that has a long history. Starting with green 2x4 dim, and drying and finishing them down to reduce warping in the finished product.

www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/misc/miscpub_6409.pdf

Looks like the 1 5/8 was common, and standardized by 1923. Not sure when 1 1/2 became common?

-ERD50
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Old 02-12-2015, 09:49 AM   #13
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I remember being very surprised as a kid when I found out a 2x4 was actually 1.75" x 3.75". Now they're 1.5" x 3.5" and an 8 foot stud is 92-5/8" long (though for other reasons). I wonder how long it's been since a 2 x 4 was a 2" x 4"?
A friend and I owned a house built just before 1900 in the late 1970s. We found when we redid the bathroom that the 2 X 4's really were 2" by 4". My friend, who had been doing DIY for years, knew that the ones they sold at the home improvement store were "nominal" 2 by 4s but that was the first time I'd heard of it.

I agree on the hidden inflation in food packaging. It started with candy bars; they kept the price constant for years but kept shrinking the size. Some food products have recipes on the label that call for a quantity of the product that's greater than what the package contains- because the quantity shrank after the recipe was developed and they never adjusted it!
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:35 AM   #14
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Correct, the 92-5/8 isn't an 8' stud with some sort of shorting - if you want an 8' stud you buy one. They are all clearly marked, and each has their purpose.

As far as a finished '2x4' being smaller, that has a long history. Starting with green 2x4 dim, and drying and finishing them down to reduce warping in the finished product.

www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/misc/miscpub_6409.pdf

Looks like the 1 5/8 was common, and standardized by 1923. Not sure when 1 1/2 became common?

-ERD50
I buy lumber fairly often (a few times/year) from HD and Lowes for various projects. My pine 2x4s are still 1 5/8" dried. Standard size. I'm not sure where the 1 1/2"boards are coming from either.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:47 AM   #15
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Correct, the 92-5/8 isn't an 8' stud with some sort of shorting - if you want an 8' stud you buy one. They are all clearly marked, and each has their purpose.

As far as a finished '2x4' being smaller, that has a long history. Starting with green 2x4 dim, and drying and finishing them down to reduce warping in the finished product.

www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/misc/miscpub_6409.pdf

Looks like the 1 5/8 was common, and standardized by 1923. Not sure when 1 1/2 became common?

-ERD50
ERD50 leave it to you to come up with something mentioning the American Lumberman, thank you. I was(still am) a certified National Hardwood Lumber Inspector(NHLA). Of course softwood is graded and used different.

4/4 (1 inch)hardwoods for grade lumber used to be cut 1 1/8" thick to allow for shrinkage during drying. Of course you had to allow for saw kerf. That was 1/8" on band mills and 1/4" on circle rigs. So inspecting 4/4 kiln dried it was supposed to be 1" thickness, with 4% allowed to be scant 1/8" inch. The same overage rules applied to 5/4, 6/4, and 8/4. This was before planing occured, not unrealistic to expect 3/8" loss for two sided planing. Not sure what todays rules for hardwood are, haven't been on top of a board pile in 32 years.

Custom sawed, mostly softwood in our area, was a different story. Many customers, expecially farmers expected the full 2x4 or whatever dimensions. Might explain older construction and some dimensions.

There were other oddities regarding lengths, an 8' veneer log had to be 8'6". Same with 8' railroad ties, 8'6". The board footage did not include that extra 6". Other log lengths were expected to have an extra 2" on the length to allow for trimming.
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Old 02-12-2015, 10:58 AM   #16
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We call it stealth inflation but MegaCorp calls it cost savings. Paper towel and toilet paper manufactures have been doing this for years. Less material in a "perceived" unit of measure while increasing the price.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:35 AM   #17
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We call it stealth inflation but MegaCorp calls it cost savings. Paper towel and toilet paper manufactures have been doing this for years. Less material in a "perceived" unit of measure while increasing the price.
If consumers collectively really cared, they could have put a stop to it at any point along the way, but they don't for a variety of reasons. So "MegaCorp" just does what consumers have rewarded them to do, plain and simple.
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Old 02-12-2015, 11:59 AM   #18
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Rhetorical questions I assume. The collective answer is well established...
I hadn't meant it to be a rhetorical question but I guess the frugal answer is obvious.

I dislike companies that play these marketing games and try to avoid patronizing them. Particularly annoying to me are companies that have two prices depending on if you have a "club card".
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Old 02-12-2015, 01:51 PM   #19
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We call it stealth inflation but MegaCorp calls it cost savings. Paper towel and toilet paper manufactures have been doing this for years. Less material in a "perceived" unit of measure while increasing the price.
Yeah, I'm frugal enough that I actually calculate unit pricing since it's not required to be posted in our state. On paper goods, I calculate it per ounce. they play so many games with roll sizes, number of sheets, sheet sizes, thickness, etc. that it's the only measure that makes sense.
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Old 02-12-2015, 02:29 PM   #20
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Our grocery store shows price per ounce or whatever on the shelf pricing label, so it's easy to compare prices.
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