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15 top-rated products that can make your summer project easier Here are some top choices for your summer projects

Plenty of paints, stains, mowers, blowers, and other products do a good job at a reasonable price. Here are top choices from our tests that also trim time and effort from your chores:

Valspar Duramax Satin Finish
Valspar Duramax Satin Finish

No-prime house paint

Lowe's Valspar Duramax Satin Finish, $33 a gallon, is among the first self-priming paints that weathered our tough outdoor testing as well as conventional paints did. And because it goes on without the usual prime coat, you save a lot of effort.

One-coat interior paint

Hiding an old finish with one coat instead of two saves time and money. Behr Premium Plus Satin Enamel, a CR Best Buy at just $24 a gallon, was among the best at covering and outscored other low-luster paints overall. You might also consider Benjamin Moore's Aura, $57 a gallon, for its low level of volatile organic compounds.

Durable deck stain

Opaque stains outlast semitransparent and clear finishes overall. A CR Best buy, Home Depot's Behr Deck, Fence & Siding 200 line, $24 a gallon, looked best in our tests after two years and still looked good after three. Also consider Sears Weatherbeater Deck, Fence & Siding opaque, $18 a gallon, which did nearly as well and has fewer VOCs, which have been linked to pollution.

Multitasking grill

Fiesta Blue Ember FG50069-U409
Fiesta Blue Ember FG50069-U409

A side burner and a rotisserie on the high-scoring Fiesta Blue Ember FG50069-U409, $450, let you grill burgers or roast a chicken and simmer the beans. It's a CR Best Buy.

Work-saving mower

Mulching clippings instead of bagging them cuts time, effort, and up to 30 percent off your fertilizer bills. Toro's Recycler 20330 self-propelled gas mower is tops at this task. At $320, it's a CR Best Buy. Also consider the cordless electric Black & Decker CMM1200, $400, for smaller lawns and the 46-inch Craftsman 28724 lawn tractor, $1,500, for large ones.

Toro Recycler 20330
Toro Recycler 20330

Harder-working blower

Toro's corded Ultra Blower Vac 51599, a CR Best Buy at $70, sweeps, loosens, vacuums, and shreds leaves and other yard debris without straining your arms. (It weighs just 7.5 pounds.) An impeller that's metal instead of the usual plastic helps it gobble tough twigs without wearing down. Also consider the gas-powered blower-only Stihl BG55, $140.

Quick-cutting trimmer

The Craftsman 79957 corded hedge trimmer, a CR Best Buy at $70, is fast, light, and easy to handle. With its long, 22-inch dual-action blades you don't have to reach too far to tame tall hedges.

Craftsman 19, 2-volt 11588
Craftsman 19, 2-volt 11588

Easy string trimmer

Superb trimming and edging make the gas-powered Stihl HomeScaper FS 45, $140, a CR Best Buy. Easy handling and ample cutting power trim tough jobs down to size. For smaller yards, try the corded Black & Decker GH1000, $70, also a CR Best Buy.

Money-saving drill

The Craftsman 19.2-volt 11588 cordless drill, $120, is among the few that come with a battery that can power saws and other tools. That can save you hundreds of dollars in additional batteries and chargers. Speedy drilling and quick recharges also help you finish projects faster.

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