Household Products

Group 4 Designs a Project-Sized, ‘Ready to Roll’ Paint Container

Posted: December 9, 2009 by
Ron Romanik

Sherwin-Williams knew that a fresh coat of wall paint is a dynamic, inexpensive way to spruce up a room. Yet they also knew that many people dread the mess and fuss associated with metal paint cans and roller trays. So Sherwin-Williams set out to build upon the success of their innovative “Twist and Pour” line with an even more innovative all-in-one paint can and roller tray.

Sherwin-Williams tapped the resources of Group 4, a Connecticut design firm and frequent collaborator with Sherwin-Williams, to help them create the “Ready to Roll” project- sized paint container from Dutch Boy. Among its many features, the clever design features a convenient, built-in tray to accommodate a standard roller, eliminating one big source of messiness—pouring from can to tray—right off the bat.

According to Adam Chafe, Sherwin-Williams vice president of marketing for consumer division, paint group, the company takes pride in being the leader in innovation. “It’s all about making a miserable project a lot more palatable,” Chafe says. “It really does add value.”


The 2.5-gallon container has an easy-to-open, resealable, airtight lid, and a comfortable, ergonomic grip handle for transport. A sloped floor makes the remaining paint to settle toward the front well, while the zipper- like locking mechanism keeps the cover secure for storage and transport. If you need to pour paint into another container, the expertly designed spout will achieve that task virtually drip-free every time.

Listen to the consumer’s concerns
During qualitative research by Sherwin-Williams and Group 4, they discovered many spoken and unspoken concerns and needs directly from the consumer. Concerns such as: “Someone always steps on the tray”, “What if I need more paint—will the paint from different cans match perfectly?”, “All the pouring back and forth usually results in a mess”, or “Can’t you make a large container that’s easy to handle?”

Group 4 studied every aspect of a paint can’s life—from the factory floor, through distribution channels, to the dealers, in the store, mixing the tints, carrying it home, and then actually using it. “They really looked at the whole process,” Chafe explains.

A key element of the research tried to define what was the most versatile “project size”. With the typical room, it was determined that two coats would normally require between 2 and 2.5 gallons of wall paint. Phil Federspiel, principal and CEO of Group 4, explains that computer modeling and design led to a strategy that would price the 2.5 gallon Ready to Roll container similar to what two individual gallon cans would cost total. Subtract from that the possible extra cost of a tray, and Ready to Roll is a bargain.

“All things considered, people would rather have a better paint container,” explains Federspiel. “We wanted something to look pretty, harmonious, and easy to label.” With a total full weight just over 20 lbs., handling was easier with a horizontal configuration. A vertical design was considered, similar to a small wastebasket shape, but some awkwardness was always present.

It was also decided that the container would be made from smooth and smooth semi-flexible styrene to accomplish all the elements of the design. The lid is doublesealed so that the consumer recloses the container with confidence. As for the refinement of the shapes that were incorporated into the paint can, they did extensive research with consumers and contractors over a six-month period. The end result is that all the elements encourage confidence: ease of pour, low risk of spilling, ease of rolling, portability, reusability, etc.

Group 4 continued to press research subjects in the final refinement stages: “Does it really solve a lot of problems for you?” The resounding answer was “Yes!” Group 4 president Frank von Holzhausen explains his firm’s philosophy: “The humdrum of everyday life can be made easier and more exciting through package design that contributes to a product’s efficacy, functionality, and place in our lives.”

Retailers benefit from the new design as well. The container’s square shape and flat label area facilitate easy stacking and storage, with more opportunities for merchandising. And, most importantly, the container is compatible with existing tinting and shaking equipment, except for the single-can shakers still used at some retail location.

Chafe reports that the initial response has been quite positive in limited release. “It’s such an obvious idea that it resonates,” Chafe explains.