The 9 Best Exterior Paints to Protect Your Home
While some paint brands do have products that are suitable for both indoors and out, you'll want to make sure you're choosing the best paint for the surface you'll be painting, whether that's wood, vinyl siding, a brick wall, or a metal door.
"Getting the right paint for the right surface is important because of moisture," says Mark Savino, renovation advisor at YouthfulHome. "For instance, if the exterior of a home is stucco, brick, or stone, you need a paint that will allow moisture to pass through it and not trap it."
To help you decide which exterior paint is the best option for your home, we researched a variety of picks, keeping in mind each option's base, finish, coverage area, and dry time. We also consulted Mark Savino, renovation advisor at YouthfulHome; Marion Deco, a painting expert at Deco-Furbish with over 20 years of experience; and Michael Clarke, founder of Pulled, an online platform for hiring home improvement contractors
Overall, we recommend Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish. This acrylic-based paint has a low-luster finish that's appropriate for a number of outdoor surfaces, including wood, siding, shingles, brick, stucco, concrete, and even metal. It comes in hundreds of colors and provides excellent coverage that is also resistant to mildew.
Here are the best exterior paints.
- Best Overall: Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish
- Best for Doors: Glidden Door and Trim Interior/Exterior Oil Paint
- Best for Brick: Valspar Duramax Flat Masonry and Stucco Tintable Exterior Paint + Primer
- Best for Stucco: Behr Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Exterior Paint
- Best for Siding: Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint
- Best for Wood: Valspar Tintable Gloss Exterior Porch and Floor Paint
- Best for Metal Doors: Rust-Oleum Door Paint
- Best for Trim: Behr Premium Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint
- Best for Concrete: Zinsser WaterTite LX Low VOC Mold and Mildew-Proof Water Based Waterproofing Paint
What We Recommend
Best Overall: Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish
Best for Doors: Glidden High-Gloss Trim, Door, and Furniture Paint
Best for Brick: Valspar Duramax Flat Masonry and Stucco Tintable Exterior Paint + Primer
Best for Stucco: Behr Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Exterior Paint
Best Siding: Sherwin-Williams Emerald Exterior Acrylic Latex Paint
Best for Wood: Valspar Tintable Gloss Exterior Porch and Floor Paint
Best for Metal Doors: Rust-Oleum Door Paint
Best for Trim: Behr Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint
Best for Concrete: Zinsser WaterTite LX Low VOC Mold and Mildew-Proof Water Based Waterproofing Paint
The Bottom Line
Overall, we recommend the Benjamin Moore Ben Soft Gloss Finish. The exterior paint offers great coverage and a soft gloss finish and can cover up to 475 square feet, which is more than many paint options out there.
What to Know About Exterior Paints Before Shopping
Interior finishes can be chosen based on personal preference, but Clarke says that you must consider the exterior surface and choose the appropriate paint type so that the finish lasts. When it comes to exterior paints, the most popular finishes are satin/eggshell, semi-gloss, high-gloss, flat, and elastomeric.
- Satin/eggshell: Clarke says it's the best choice for siding, thanks to a low-reflective finish with a slight gloss that enables it to cover up any imperfections in the surface. It offers a slight gloss that's easier to clean than a flat or matte finish.
- Semi-gloss: This type of finish is shinier, but it's also more durable, offers better resistance to moisture, and is easier to clean. It's a good choice for any trim that is exposed to the weather, such as windowsills.
- High-gloss: Not only is it rich in color, but it also stands up to dirt and weather. It's good for shutters as well as touchable surfaces, like doors.
- Flat: It offers a natural-looking appearance that's good for stucco.
Color is up to the homeowner, but Clarke does have some suggestions on how to coordinate the color scheme for your home's exterior. He says that there should be three major parts: a field color that covers most of the paintable surfaces; an accent color that provides contrast and makes shutters, doors, and other small features stand out; and the trim, which connects the first two colors in a pleasing palette.
Savino also notes that the paint color you view in the store will look lighter outside because of the natural light. He says homes that appear white are probably painted an off-white or even beige.
It's important to choose the right base in paint so that it provides lasting coverage. There are several options for exterior paint bases. Oil has long been a go-to choice for wooden exteriors and high-touch surfaces like decks. Oil-based paints take a long time to dry, and their high level of VOCs creates unhealthy fumes, so use them in a well-ventilated area only.
Acrylic, latex, and water-based paints all offer good coverage that creates a flexible coating that won't crack or peel as easily as oil-based paints. They are also low in VOCs so there's less of a smell as it dries, which it does more quickly than oil-based paint. These paints are good choices for vinyl siding as well as roofs and masonry.
Your Questions, Answered
Can you use exterior paint inside?
If the can of paint says that you can use the paint for both interior and exterior surfaces, it should indeed be fine to use it indoors. However, if it does not, then you should only use exterior paints outdoors. It's important to choose a paint with a low level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for indoor surfaces to avoid odors and potentially toxic chemicals. You should not use interior paint outside because it's not formulated to hold up against the harsh weather elements, including strong sunlight.
"You need a paint that is going to survive all seasons for a long time," Kaulen says. "Always check the warranty the manufacturer provides when purchasing paint, especially if you're someone with a larger area to cover as it will be a sizable investment."
She notes that exterior painting is redone on average every seven years. While some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty, Kaulen says that's not really the case. "You can gauge the overall quality of the paint simply by accepting that the lower the number of years, the lesser the quality."
How much exterior paint do you need for your house?
As with any painting task, you'll want to purchase enough paint to provide ample coverage and multiple coats, as needed. For painting the exterior of your home, calculate the paintable square footage of your home. Then, divide it by the coverage area that is indicated on the paint container to determine how many you'll need.
How do you remove exterior paint?
To remove paint from exterior surfaces, it must be scraped or sanded off. A putty knife or paint scraper can work on spots that are already peeling, but friction is generally needed to remove the paint in other spots. Sandpaper used on a belt or orbital sander is fine, but avoid harsher abrasions made by rotary sanders, pressure washers, and sand blasters. Anything that uses water to remove paint is not recommended because it could introduce moisture into the material that leads to mold or mildew.
For particularly hard-to-remove exterior paint, you can use a heat gun to melt the paint, making it easier to scrape off. There are chemical-based products that can also strip paint, but these usually have toxic ingredients that could harm the user and the environment, so they are not recommended.
Who We Are
Barbara Bellesi Zito writes about home and garden topics for various lifestyle publications. To compile this list, she researched a wide range of exterior paints from top brands based on their coverage, durability, and compatibility with various outdoor surfaces. She consulted Michael Clarke, the founder of Pulled, an online platform for hiring home improvement contractors; Mark Savino, renovation advisor at YouthfulHome, an online resource for homeowners; and Marion Deco, a paint professional with Deco-Furbish, a home painting and decorating firm in Cork, Ireland.