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After years of withstanding the elements, a home’s paint can start looking shabby. The remedy is only a few paint cans away. With the right exterior paint, you can give your house a much-needed facelift, leaving it looking better than ever.
When choosing exterior paint, there are a few important factors to consider. Vinyl siding, wood, stucco, and masonry all require different types of paint. Determine if you need a primer or a paint containing primer in it. A primer is often used to cover up bright or dark colors or hide imperfections. Also, decide on the paint finish you prefer. Exterior paints come in gloss, semi-gloss, satin, or flat finishes.
With these factors in mind, the following are the best exterior paints to use on your home.
Best Overall: BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Pure White Exterior Paint and Primer in One
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 400 square feet | Color: White | Finish: Semi-gloss
Greenguard Gold certification
Paint and primer in one
Can be applied in temperatures as low as 35F
May require second coat for even coverage
For a classic appearance, you can’t go wrong with BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer. This handy product includes primer, allowing you to get the paint job done in fewer coats with its exceptional covering ability.
This exterior paint is 100% acrylic with a low-VOC formula that is easy to clean up with soap and water. You can choose from flat, satin, or semi-gloss finishes. The Ultra Pure White is a beautiful light hue to brighten up the outside of your home. This formula resists moisture, mildew, fading, and stains, keeping it looking fresh for longer. It applies easily and provides uniform coverage so that you can tackle the job yourself.
A 1-gallon can cover about 400 square feet, depending on application and surface porousness. It’s also available in 1-quart, 1-gallon, or 5-gallon containers.
Best Budget: Diamond Brite Oil Base Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 200 square feet | Color: White | Finish: Glossy
Can be used on interior or exterior painting projects
Provides hard, shiny finish
Long drying times
Must be applied in conditions above 55F
Certain exterior paints can cost a pretty penny—especially if you’re painting a large home. This enamel paint from Diamond Brite will get the job done for less. This versatile oil-based paint can be used on interior and exterior surfaces, covering wood, concrete, masonry, and even metal. A difference with oil-based paint is that its clean-up requires mineral spirits, not water.
This all-purpose paint is available in a dozen shades, as well as 1- or 5-gallon cans, and it creates a tough, durable surface that resists peeling and cracking. You can roll, brush, or spray the paint onto your home. It has a 10- to 12-hour dry time and 24-hour recoat time.
Best for Porch and Patio: Kilz Interior/Exterior Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 200-400 square feet | Color: Gray | Finish: Matte
Dry to the touch in 1 hour
Easy to apply
May require up to 6 hours before recoating
Because porches and patios are subjected to more traffic than other exterior locations, you’re going to need a tough paint like the KILZ Enamel Porch & Patio Latex Floor Paint. This acrylic paint creates a low-luster enamel surface that resists scuffing, fading, cracking, and peeling. It can also be used on trim, siding, furniture, and trellises.
The KILZ Paint can be applied using a roller, brush, or airless sprayer. A 1-gallon container covers around 300 to 400 square feet on smooth surfaces (coverage will be less on rough surfaces). This exterior paint dries to the touch in 1 hour. It will be ready to recoat in 4 to 6 hours, allowing you to get the job done faster.
Best for Brick: ROMABIO Bianco White Limewash Interior/Exterior Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 200-450 square feet | Color: White | Finish: Matte
Dries within 1 hour
Variable coverage per gallon
Painting the exterior of brick homes is a popular trend. If you’re hoping to transform your masonry, the ROMABIO Limewash Interior/Exterior Paint is specially designed for the job. This product is an authentic slaked-lime paint that allows brick, stone, and other masonry surfaces to breathe, reducing moisture build-up. It’s UV-resistant and durable, resisting peeling and chipping.
This zero-VOC formula has a flat finish that emulates the natural limewash look of historic Europe. You can use a garden hose or spray bottle after painting to achieve this style. One gallon covers around 450 square feet and dries in 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the conditions.
Best for Vinyl Siding: ECOS Exterior Vinyl Siding Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 500 square feet | Color: Varies | Finish: Satin
Zero-VOC formula with no odor
Safe for interior or exterior use
Easy to clean
Not recommended for use on wood
Vinyl siding is a popular plastic exterior siding for houses that imitates the look of wood without the maintenance. If you’re hoping to change your vinyl siding color, you’ll get the best results with a specialty paint like ECOS. This zero-VOC, water-based formula dries into a hard, durable film that’s long-wearing and easy to wash.
This vinyl siding paint covers around 500 square feet per gallon. ECOS recommends applying at least three coats of paint. The formula is self-priming on properly prepared surfaces. But if your initial color is high-gloss or a dark shade, you may also need to use a separate primer.
Best for Wood: Valspar Duramax Satin Exterior Tintable Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 400 square feet | Color: White | Finish: Satin
Apply between 35F and 90F
Rainproof in 90 minutes
Not a low-VOC formula
If you’re painting wood siding or trim, there are a lot of exterior paints you can use, but you’ll want to look for something like the Valspar Duramax Base 1 Satin Exterior Tintable Paint. It is a paint and primer in one and provides maximum resistance against mold, mildew, and algae, all common problems with painted wood surfaces.
This tintable acrylic paint comes in satin, semi-gloss, and flat finishes. Its all-weather adhesion means you can apply it in temperatures as low as 35 degrees or as high as 90 degrees. The exterior paint is “rain-ready” only 1 1/2 hours after application. It won’t run or blister if an unexpected rain shower sweeps through. You’ll be able to cover around 400 square feet per gallon. It provides superior coverage to hide imperfections on wood.
Best Color Selection: Farrow & Ball Exterior Eggshell Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 480 square feet | Color: Varies | Finish: Eggshell
Low VOC formula
Ships from the UK
Farrow & Ball is known for its rich, beautiful paint colors. Its Exterior Eggshell paint is available in 148 colors; you're likely to match the hue you're looking for. This exterior paint is made from a flexible resin-rich formula that expands and contracts with the weather to prevent flaking, peeling, and fading for years. It has a 20% sheen for a silky finish. The water-based formula is quick-drying with minimal VOCs. It resists water, fungus, and algae growth. The only downside is that Farrow & Ball paint is expensive; the cost can add up quickly if you’re painting a large home.
Best for Front Door: Modern Masters 275266 Front Door Paint
Size: 1 quart | Coverage Area: 100 square feet | Color: Black | Finish: Satin
Low VOC formula
Recoat after 1 hour
Must use primer first
You can make a bold statement with a colorful front door. The Modern Masters Front Door Paint is available in just about every shade you can imagine, from black to bright yellow. The water-based formula can be used on interior and exterior metal and wood surfaces. It is ideal for doors and shutters. The never-fade formula ensures it will always be as vibrant as the day you painted it.
Each 1-quart container of this paint can cover up to 100 square feet. The formula dries down to a smooth satin finish. The brand recommends applying two coats for optimal coverage. The best part is that you can paint your door without taking it off its hinges.
Best for Stucco: BEHR Indoor/Exterior Masonry, Stucco, & Brick Paint
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 250-400 square feet | Color: White | Finish: Satin
Longer drying time
If you're looking to freshen up the painted stucco on the sides of your home, then you’re going to need a product like the Behr Premium Masonry, Stucco and Brick Paint. This paint comes in flat and satin finishes. It has an alkali- and mildew-resistant finish, an ideal option for new or weathered stucco.
This self-priming latex paint provides excellent adhesion, water-repellency, and color retention, and you can get up to 400 square feet of coverage per gallon. It’s available in both 1- and 5-gallon containers. It's so durable that Behr offers a 20-year satisfaction guarantee.
For superior coverage, easy application, and long-lasting durability, you can't go wrong with the BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer in One (view at Home Depot). However, if you're hoping to minimize costs, the Diamond Brite Oil Base All-Purpose Enamel Paint (view at Amazon) is another solid choice, although it has a longer dry time since it's oil-based.
What to Look for in an Exterior Paint
Depending on the paint brand, the color, the material of the surface you are painting, and the paint's finish, the square footage a single gallon covers can vary wildly. In addition to considering price per gallon, consider the price per square foot of coverage, including multiple coats, when you're choosing paint and deciding how many gallons to get.
Are you painting brick, vinyl siding, or wood? Are you using a primer or covering another layer of paint directly? Make sure that the brand of paint you're considering is compatible with the surface you're painting, or you'll risk needing to repaint much earlier than you may have wanted.
Paints come in four main finishes: flat, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Semi-gloss and gloss paints may be used on accents, like doors, window sills, or shutters, but are not well-suited for large areas. Flat paints hide imperfections in texture and absorb light but are difficult to clean and may require more regular touch-ups. Satin finishes can be washed but require more care when painting to ensure an attractive final result.
Type of wood
If you're using paint on exterior wood, then pay attention to the type of wood you'll be painting. Softwoods, including pressure-treated pine or cedar, are great candidates for water-based acrylic paints. Alkyd paint formulas might be a better option for wood previously stained with an oil-based formula or hardwoods, like ipe.
Choose between water-based or oil-based exterior paint formulas. Acrylic or latex exterior paints are water-based. These paints have low VOC formulas and dry quickly (usually within several hours). Oil-based paints have a reputation for excellent penetration but require mineral spirits for clean-up, as compared to soap and water clean-up for water-based exterior paint.
While it’s true that oil-based exterior paint formulas offer excellent penetration, acrylic exterior paint is generally considered the most durable option. Why? Acrylic paint tends to have a more elastic formula that allows the paint to expand and contract in response to the environment and therefore has better weather resistance. Oil-based paints have the potential to crack under similar conditions.
Do you need to use a primer with exterior paint?
In many cases, you’ll want to invest the time it takes to prime your surface before painting a surface with exterior paint. This is true in the following scenarios:
- Painting bare wood
- Using exterior paint on a slick surface, such as metal
- Applying paint of a different shade, or when covering stains
- When painting concrete or stucco
You typically don’t need to use a primer before exterior paint if you are applying the same color over a previously painted surface or if there are no bare surfaces or stains you’re trying to cover.
How long does exterior paint last?
On average, exterior paint lasts 5 to 7 years before needing a recoat. In some instances, it may even last for as long as 10 years. Exterior paint on vertical surfaces (such as siding, porch posts, and railings) will last longer than exterior paint used on horizontal surfaces.
How do you clean exterior paint?
To keep surfaces clean and grime-free, you can wash with water and a small amount of dish detergent or mild cleaner. Scrub lightly with a brush, but avoid using an overly abrasive cleaner or high-pressure cleaning tactics.
Can you use exterior paint indoors?
Exterior paint is formulated to stand up to moisture and resist the growth of fungus and mildew, so it might seem like a good choice to use inside, especially in humid or wet areas like a bathroom or kitchen. However, it’s generally recommended that you don’t use exterior paint indoors, due to increased levels of VOCs that can persist for months. Plus, exterior paints are designed to be weather-resistant but may not maintain their finish if scrubbed and cleaned in the same manner that you would treat indoor painted surfaces.
However, some exterior paints can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications according to the manufacturer. Low-VOC or zero-VOC formulas are sometimes recommended for either type of application.
Why Trust The Spruce
This article was researched and written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer who has written for The Spruce since 2017. With a background in interior design, she’s an expert on all things home and has ample experience with residential task lists and completing projects around the home. To make this list, she considered the formula, finish, and price point of each option.