The right exterior paint will refresh the look of your home while protecting it from the elements. But with so many options available, how can you narrow down your list? "First, consider your surface—most often exterior paints for, say, metal, won't last long on masonry and vice versa. You should also think about weather conditions in your region to ensure that the paint you pick can survive rough temperature drops or permanently high humidity. Finally, don't forget about impact—high traffic areas, for example, usually require floor-type paints," says Sean Chapman, a professional carpenter and founder of Tools’n’Goods.
We researched the top exterior paints available today, evaluating ease of application, durability, formulation, and color choices. Our pick for best overall, the BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer in One, is versatile enough to be used on a variety of surfaces (such as wood, vinyl, and cement), can be applied even during low temperatures, and resists issues like peeling and mildew.
Here are the best exterior paints.
BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Pure White Exterior Paint and Primer in One
Can be applied in cold weather
Has earned several low-chemical certifications
Generous square-foot coverage
Fast dry and recoat times
Sometimes multiple coats required
Some found it clumpy
Earning our top spot, the BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Pure White Exterior saves you time by combining primer with paint. Plus, it can be used directly on untreated surfaces as well as on an existing, older layer of paint. And unlike some paints on the market, it can be applied during frosty weather, in temperatures as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It's low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and has earned several third-party certifications including Greenguard Gold and LEED. If you need to get a job done quickly, you'll be happy to know it dries within an hour and you can recoat after two.
At 400 square feet, it provides slightly more coverage than some of its competitors, though it's also a bit more expensive. Some found that they needed multiple coats, especially when using lighter colors; a few people also said that it had a tendency to clump, and required diligent stirring. Despite these complaints, Behr Premium Plus won as our top selection for its durability, ease of use, low chemical emissions, and quick drying time.
Price at time of publish: $48
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 400 square feet | Color: Ultra Pure White (many other colors available) | Finish: Flat matte, eggshell, satin, semi gloss, or high gloss
Diamond Brite Oil Base Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint
Highly resistant to moisture
Goes on smoothly
Limited color selection
Long drying time
If you're on a tight budget and working with a large surface area, you’ll want an affordable option like this enamel paint. It can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces, and it's versatile enough to work on wood, concrete, masonry, and metal. Note that because it's oil-based, you'll need to use mineral spirits for cleanup rather than water. There are 12 colors to choose from, and most are simple neutrals like white, black, gray, and brown tones.
The price is attractive (it's the most affordable on our list by far) but there are some things to know before you commit. Because of the oil formulation, this paint dries fairly slowly (10 to 12 hours) and you can't recoat until 24 hours have passed. The coverage area is a bit lower than some competitors (200 to 300 square feet) and some people also found that it went on thin, so they needed more paint than planned. But given the price and its durability, we think it's a worthy choice.
Price at time of publish: $39
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 200 to 300 square feet | Color: 12 options available | Finish: Glossy
Best for Porch and Patio
TotalBoat TotalTread Non-Skid Deck Paint
Low sheen formula reduces sun glare
Limited color choices
Originally intended for use on boats and docks, this paint is designed to be slip-resistant, which is especially important for a walking surface like a deck. It can be used on fiberglass, wood, metal, or surfaces that have been previously painted. And while it has a gritty texture to help prevent slipping, it's smoother than traditional silica products and comfortable to walk on barefoot.
It contains one part polyurethane, so it has a bit of sheen but won't create a harsh glare when the sun hits it. Because the non-skid particles have a low density, they stay suspended in the paint rather than floating to the top or sinking to the bottom, which means you won't have to constantly mix it as you're painting. The color choices are somewhat limited, but they can be mixed with each other to create your own custom shade, or even with Total Wet Edge paint, which comes in many more hues.
Price at time of publish: $115
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 250 to 300 square feet | Color: White, light gray, kingston gray, sand beige | Finish: Flat, gritty
Best for Brick
ROMABIO Bianco White Limewash Interior/Exterior Paint
Contains no VOCs
More complicated application technique
If you've been oohing and ahhing over painted brick exteriors on Instagram, this limewash paint—made with stone sourced in Italy—is designed to transform the look of masonry. The UV-resistant formula is meant to allow brick, stone, and other similar surfaces to breathe, so moisture doesn't accumulate. It also helps guard against peeling and chipping that can occur over time.
We also like that it's a zero-VOC paint and doesn't require primer. Note that the application is slightly more involved than traditional exterior paint. You'll need to dilute the paint with water before applying (they recommend using a large masonry brush) and spray with a hose afterward to get the classic lime wash look. One gallon covers between 200 and 250 square feet, depending on how porous the surface is. It dries in 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the weather conditions.
Price at time of publish: $53
Size: .67 gallon (water required for dilution) | Coverage Area: 200 to 250 square feet | Color: Limewash Bianco White | Finish: Flat, whitewash effect
Best for Vinyl Siding
Sherwin Williams Duration Paint
100 color options, including dark ones
Can be applied in cold weather
Although vinyl siding is often touted as a no-fuss option that doesn't require painting, some people want to customize the look or freshen up the appearance after a few years. Sherwin Williams Duration is an acrylic latex formula that comes in more than 100 color options, including a few darker shades if you want to give your vinyl a distinctive look. It can also be used on aluminum, steel, and wood, making it easy to coordinate hues for different parts of a house.
It's self-priming, so you won't need a separate product, and designed to resist mildew. As the name suggests, it's expected to be durable—some report as long as eight to ten years. It's recommended to use two coats for a new project, and one coat for repainting, and it's safe to apply even in chilly temperatures down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
Price at time of publish: $94
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 250 to 300 square feet | Color: 100 options available | Finish: Flat, low luster, satin, or gloss
Best for Wood
Valspar Duramax Satin Exterior Tintable Paint
Resists rain almost immediately
Easy to apply
Can be used on a variety of surfaces
Not low in VOCs
May fade in harsh sunlight
This tintable acrylic paint is safe to use on wood siding or trim as well as hardboard, fiber cement board, vinyl, primed metal, brick, cement, cinder block, and stucco. Plus, not only does it protect well against the elements, it's “rain-ready” in 1.5 hours and can be applied in temperatures ranging from 35 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It includes primer, so you won't need an additional product, and it's designed to protect wood from issues like mold, mildew, and algae.
Although it is somewhat expensive, it has a fairly expansive coverage area of about 400 square feet. Some customers did report issues with the paint seeming thin and needing more than originally planned, and others in warm climates noticed fading and peeling after only about a year. The paint dries to the touch in about an hour, and you can apply a second coat after four.
Price at time of publish: $54
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 400 square feet | Color: Many options available | Finish: Flat/matte, satin, or semi gloss
Best Color Selection
Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint
Thousands of colors
Some find it too thick
If you're particular about color and tend to follow trends carefully, you'd be remiss not to investigate Aura, an acrylic paint that comes in more than 3,500 hues. Its thickness, which may bother some people during application, is also what helps it hide imperfections and last for many years, even in high-humidity climates. Although it's somewhat expensive, depending on where you purchase it, we find the rich color saturation and high-quality formula make it worth considering.
Aura has a fairly large coverage area of around 400 square feet, and due to the viscosity, most people did not find themselves needing more than their estimate. To resist fading, Benjamin Moore uses a technology called "Color Lock," which helps bond the pigment to the dry paint. It's available in several different finishes and can be applied in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Price at time of publish: $89
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 400 square feet | Color: More than 3,500 options | Finish: Flat, low luster, satin, or soft gloss
Best for Front Door
Modern Masters Front Door Paint
Dries fast so you can use your door
Available in 16 colors
Limited color options
When you've settled on the perfect exterior shade and finally get to choose the front-door color for your home, you can breathe a sigh of relief: This is the fun part, where you can infuse a bit of your personality. This popular choice from Modern Masters comes in 16 different colors that are each based on the emotional color wheel and have names like Ambitious (red), Fortunate (green), and Tranquil (aqua). The satin finish is designed to last for many years.
Note that it is pricey—at press time, if you bought enough for a gallon it would cost close to $200—but luckily you won't need too much, and you can also use it on other areas of your home, such as trim and shutters. It can be applied to either wood or metal, and the fast drying time (one hour) means you'll be able to close your door fairly quickly after you finish the project. Modern Masters paint is also low in VOCs and can be applied with a variety of painting tools, such as a quarter-inch roller, angled sash brush, or sprayer.
Price at time of publish: $50
Size: 1 quart | Coverage Area: 80 to 100 square feet | Color: 16 colors available | Finish: Satin
Best for Stucco
BEHR Indoor/Exterior Masonry & Brick Paint
Many color options
Resists mildew, fading and alkali damage
Can't be applied during cold weather
Long drying time
Painting stucco requires a specific type of product, and this self-priming one comes in two different finishes (flat and satin) as well as many different colors to you can pick the right one for your needs. Besides stucco, it will also work on brick, concrete, and other types of masonry. Behr offers a 20-year satisfaction guarantee, so you'll be able to tackle the project and then not worry about it for a while. Note that you'll have to wait until the thermometer is above 50 degrees, which tends to be a popular time for house-painting.
This paint is designed to resist alkali damage, mildew, and fading, all of which are common issues if you have stucco. We also love that Behr offers coordinating matching colors if you are also painting other areas of your home. Note that with any type of stucco paint, it's important to follow the directions and prep your surface carefully and that in some cases, people needed more paint than they originally estimated.
Price at time of publish: $32
Size: 1 gallon | Coverage Area: 250 to 400 square feet | Color: About 100 shades available | Finish: Flat/matte or satin
BEHR Premium Plus Exterior Paint and Primer in One is our top choice for its resiliency, ease of application, low VOCs, and fast drying time. Our budget-friendly pick, The Diamond Brite Oil Base All-Purpose Enamel Paint is durable and can be used on a variety of surfaces. Just note that it will take longer to dry and comes in fewer colors.
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. Let a paint calculator help you with your decision.
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. "Acrylic paint adheres best to vinyl and is also generally the best option for exterior wood, since it's formulated to reduce cracking, blistering, and peeling," says Sean Chapman, a professional carpenter, and founder of Tools’n’Goods. For brickwork, Chapman suggests a flat-finish masonry paint. "This will reduce cracking and also prevent a white, chalky coating from appearing," he says.
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. "Semi-gloss offers excellent resistance to stains and the elements. Gloss finish is shinier and more resistant to scuffs, but will highlight imperfections if any. It’s also very easy to clean," says Chapman. Flat paints hide imperfections in texture and absorb light but are difficult to clean and may require more regular touch-ups. "Flat finish is often used for scratched siding and it's also easier to touch up periodically," says Chapman. Satin finishes can be washed but require more care when painting to ensure an attractive final result. "Satin is great for brickwork and concrete since it has a low sheen and cleans up easily," says Chapman.
Type of Wood
If you're using paint on exterior wood, 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. "Oil-based paints are more resistant to moisture and solvents, which makes it a better option for surfaces that need to be cleaned often, like doors and railings, but it's weaker against temperature fluctuations than latex paint and may crack over time," says Chapman.
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. "You also opt to cover oil-based paint with latex paint for higher durability," says Chapman.
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 it 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, vinyl, or stucco
"With vinyl and aluminum, you'll want a specialty primer to help the surface withstand the paint's PH level," says Chapman. 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. "Paint longevity depends on how well you maintain it as well as the harshness of the elements in your region. Rain, sunlight, and humidity can make exterior paint fade, chip, and peel faster, but you can find specially-formulated paints that withstand the elements better than standard exterior emulsions," says Chapman. 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. "If needed, scrub the surface gently with a soft-bristle brush and finish by hosing the dirt off," says Chapman. Besides a regular garden hose, Chapman also recommends a power washer with a 15-inch nozzle. "It will add extra precision," he says. Harsh cleansers are generally not recommended, but if your surface is extremely soiled, Chapman suggests adding a teaspoon of bleach to your cleaner.
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. "Exterior paints may emit toxic fumes even after drying, and these could make family members or pets sick," says Chapman. 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 Lexi Dwyer, who has been writing for The Spruce since 2019 and has covered topics like home decor shopping sources as well as products like clotheslines, gardening shoes, and woodworking benches. To make this list, she considered the formula, ease of application, drying time, color choices, and durability. For tips on buying and maintaining exterior paint, she also spoke to Sean Chapman, a professional carpenter and founder of Tools’n’Goods.