Buying Guide

How To Choose Exterior Paint

Things To Consider

Climate

Paint in the right weather. In temperatures colder than 50 degrees, most paint won’t dry, but cold-weather paints are available for cooler climates. In warm temperatures or direct sunlight, paint may dry too fast, causing lap marks. Wind, rain and humidity can also affect the drying time and final appearance. Check your paint label for recommendations on temperature ranges before starting.


Timing
Water-based paint will dry faster than oil-based paint, so if you are in a time crunch you may opt for water-based. 


Color Choice 

Looking to change up your color?
Purchase a small sample of the new color so you can try it before applying a larger amount to the entire area. Wait a day or two to let the color settle. Certain paints can react differently and cause colors to look different. This will also help you determine if the new color is right for you. 


Toxins
Low-VOC exterior paints will keep toxin levels lower. Water-based or acrylic tend to have a lower-VOC by nature. 


Finish

Do you want a more matte look? 

Are you searching for a slight gloss finish for curb appeal? 


Paint Quality

No matter what area of your home you are painting, it’s important to know whether or not you are choosing a high-quality paint. Looking for things like hiding power (the ability of a paint to fully cover the surface), chalking resistance (the paint’s ability to resist the white chalky powder that occurs over time when the binder begins to break down), color retention (paint’s ability to retain its pigment) and blister resistance (keeps moisture from breaking through the paint surface).  

Types of Exterior Paint

Tip: Water-based paint can be applied over oil-based paint, but oil-based paint shouldn’t be applied over water-based paint. On surfaces with four or more coats of oil paint, stick with oil, since a water-based paint may cause the oil paint to pull away and crack.


Water-Based/Latex Paint 

  • Consists of pigment and binder with water used as carrier 
  • Expands and contracts with siding on house 
  • Breathable and won’t trap moisture and crack or peel 
  • Dries faster, usually in 1-6 hours, with less odor 
  • Latex paints with an all-acrylic binder hold up to weather better than those with a vinyl-acrylic binder 
  • Can be cleaned with just soap and water
  • Will expand in warm weather and contract in cooler temperatures
     

Oil-Based Paint

  • Consists of pigment and resin in a solvent thinner. When thinners evaporate, the resins form a hard coating, leaving behind the pigment that provides the color
  • Better surface penetration 
  • Better adhesion and stain-blocking
  • Ideal for chalky or stained surfaces, bleeding woods (tannin or sap) and metals that rust
  • Longer dry time (8-24 hours)
     

Primer

Primer is a base coat for paint. It smooths out the surface and helps with paint adhesion. Like paint, primers come in oil- and water-based varieties. 


Oil-based primers

Suitable for use with oil- or water-based paint, so you can prime a chalky surface with oil-based primer for better adhesion and still take advantage of the benefits of latex paint.
Like oil-based paint, these primers are preferable for stained wood, bleeding wood (sap or tannin) and metals that rust. 

  

Water-based primers
Recommended for most applications, but should only be used with water-based paint. 

Look for specific primers to be used wood, concrete, and metals such as galvanized steel, iron and aluminum.

Finishes

Your home's exterior material will determine which paint type you choose

When it comes to paint finish, there are four choices available: flat, semi-gloss, glossy and satin. 

  

Tip: The less sheen (or gloss) a paint has, the less stain-resistant it will be. 


Flat/Matte Finish

  • Hides imperfections better than a glossier finish 
  • Doesn’t clean as well flat finishes  
  • Generally used for siding


Semi-Gloss Finish


  • Less shine that a gloss paint but durable and easy to clean
  • Semi-gloss works well on trim and window casings 


Glossy Finish

  • Glossy paint creates a hard, shiny, durable finish that is easy to clean
  • Brings out details, so it is usually preferred for trim and doors
  • Also accentuates imperfections, so it is not well-suited for siding or walls


Satin Finish

  • A satin finish has a slight gloss and is easier to clean than flat paint 
  • Hides imperfections well


Specialty Formulas 

Exterior paint must withstand harsh weather, sunlight, temperatures and more. For this reason, some formulas are designed for use on specific parts of your home.

Paint Types

A front door freshly painted in a bold red color.

The paint type you choose will depend on which area of your home’s exterior you will be painting as certain exterior paints work best on certain surfaces. Here’s what you should know. 


Gutter Paint

  • Oil and latex are both available; oil is better for tin gutters
  • Adheres well to galvanized steel and aluminum
  • A galvanized metal primer must be applied before painting


Floor/Porch Paint

  • Oil and latex available; 100% acrylic latex lends the best results
  • Provides weather-resistant coverage for garages, porches, decks and concrete surfaces


Front Door Paint

  • Oil and latex are both available
  • Glossy finish is ideal for doors and trim because it can withstand nicks and everyday use, adds shine and highlights details 
  • Primer should be applied before painting


House/Siding Paint

  • Oil and latex formulations available
  • Will withstand wear and exposure to severe weather conditions
  • Manufacturers offer specific formulations for regional climates


Masonry Paint

  • Usually latex
  • Ideal for stucco, concrete, cement and shingles
  • Most require a special pretreatment or bonding primer


Pool and Marine Paint

  • Look for a polymerized cement-based product for concrete and gunite pools
  • Look for paints that provide stain- and abrasion-resistance
  • Be sure to check for compatibility with your surface (pool, concrete deck or spa)


Roof Paint

  • Look for an acrylic-latex blend
  • Most are mildew- and algae-proof
  • Should not be used for waterproofing or to repair roof leaks
  • Can be tinted to match roof color 

Surface Preparation

Even the best paint won’t adhere well or produce professional-looking results if you don’t prepare the surface correctly.   

  • Remove things like address numbers and shutters prior to painting. 
  • Pressure wash before the big paint job starts so you can notice any cracks that need to be sanded, any paint that is flaking and any other imperfections. 
  • If the surface has been painted before, check for peeling paint and scrape it off prior to applying a new coat.
  • Cover plants, sidewalks and driveways with a tarp to prevent them from getting stained from the paint 
  • Clean, scrape and fill holes in the surface prior to paint application.
  • If unpainted wood is gray or weathered, it should be sanded.
  • Sleek surfaces may require light sanding to improve adhesion with prime or paint.
  • Prime all bare wood, including bare spots and nails on previously painted surfaces.

Maintaining Your Exterior Paint


KKeep
To keep your paint job looking fresh, be sure to clean your home’s exterior a couple times a year by hosing off dirt, leaves and rainwater that accumulates over time. It’s also helpful to pressure wash your home’s exterior about once every five years to keep mildew at bay. 


How long will exterior paint last?
A good paint job with high-quality exterior paint can last up to 10 years, depending on your home’s material and the climate you live in. While wood surfaces will need to be painted as early as 5 years, homes with stucco will last a bit longer