Updated: November 2017

exterior paints

Exterior House Paint Reviews:

  • Choosing the right paint
  • Exterior paint costs
  • Help with color selections

Painting the exterior of your house is something that needs to be done every 10 to 15 years, depending on where you live. Harsher climates with wind and rain could require a new paint job every decade or so while those living in sunny California or Arizona may only need to repaint every 15 to 20 years. On single level homes, the homeowner can take on the task of painting it themselves but those with two stories or awkward awnings will most likely require a professional painter with the right tools and equipment to get the job done right.

Choosing the right paint - Which exterior paint is the best? If you go to do it yourself websites like Diychatroom.com or Gardenweb.com and read the comments in their forums about exterior house paints you will hear opinions on just about all brands and why each is better than the other. If you are having your house painted by a professional, ask them which paint they recommend and prefer working with. If you get 3 bids on the job, then you will have a decent idea of which paints are favored by the true experts that work with exterior paints almost every day. The home impovement stores like Lowes and Home Depot can also help you select the best exterior house paints for your location. Keep in mind that they may push their brands on you (Lowes sells Valspar and Home Depot sells Behr).

The short clip below will give you an overview of what to expect with an exterior paint job:

Exterior Paint Buying Guide

Since the United States has varied weather from region to region, some paints that perform well in the direct sunshine and in hot weather may not do so well in colder climates where it is wet and moist for much of the year. I live in the Pacific Northwest and our homes take a beating with wet weather for at least 6 months of the year and the summers can be hot with temperatures well into the 90's. Finding a paint that will withstand both weather extremes is not easy. When I first moved into our house we had the siding redone and the house was repainted at that time. It's been 7 years now and the paint is holding up pretty well except on a few of the awnings and the side of the house that faces south since that takes the brunt of the storms approaching from southern Oregon with high winds that pelt our homes exterior.

We have had to have our front door and surrounding frame replaced already due to water damage from severe weather that caused the paint to fail and leaking to occur. We know the exterior paint will not last forever so we are looking into our options early. When you go onto the Internet to find reviews of the best exterior paints there are lots of sites for do it yourselfers but not too many that rate and compare the top brands on an unbiased level. We do subscribe to Consumer Reports magazine and found their reviews of house paints to be pretty thorough, although they don't cover regional paints in some areas and they only list paints that haven't reformulated their products (which is rare). You get limited results from CR, but the findings are very informative and helpful nonetheless. I also found some quality discussions on sites like Bobvila.com (the famous house fixer-upper on TV) about exterior paints and what consumers should be looking for in terms of price and longevity.

Lowes.com has a real good buying guide for exterior paints which all homeowners should look at. Prices do range from about $20 to $50 gallon - you can do the math based on an average home being about 2000 square feet which requires roughly 20 gallons of paint ($400 to $1000 for paint alone). Expect to spend $2000 to $3500 for a normal sized house and upwards of $5000 for a larger home. If you are having a professional paint your house, you can still buy the paint at your local store and save money on any markup they may put on it for buying for you. For discount exterior paint prices, buy larger sizes - go with a 5 gallon container versus the regular 1 gallon can. In terms of colors, it's easy to get some samples to put on the side of your house and let them sit for a few days to see how they will look once dried.

Help Choosing Paint Color

For more help with selecting paint colors, check out a video example that explains the steps in color selection - click the image below to go to video. exterior house paint
Some HOA's (Home Owners Associations) have color limitations so check with yours before painting your entire house pink or olive green. Getting back to exterior paints, the one brand that consistently was top rated by builders and contractors was Sherwin Williams. Other brands like California, Kelly-Moore, and Benjamin Moore were also highly ranked, but none received as much praise as the Sherwin Williams Duration and SuperPaint products. Their latest line is called Resilience and it's an exterior latex based paint that resists moisture. It comes in flat or satin finishes. You can see all the paints that Sherwin Williams offers online at Sherwin-williams.com.

house paint The 4 attributes that you want from an exterior paint are - hiding power, color retention, chalking resistance, and blister resistance. When you hear that a paint has "excellent hide" it means that the paint has the "ability to sufficiently cover or conceal the surface where it's applied" per Lowes website. Color retention is fairly obvious, the better the color holds over time the higher the retention value. Chalk resistant paints don't allow the "white chalky powder" to form on the surface. In wet or damp climates, you'll want to avoid the blistering of the paint which occurs when moisture seeps through and effects the paint from underneath. That's what happened to our front door frame over the years. The paint on the surface didn't stop water from getting through and we had signs of blistering after only a year or 2 of moving in.

We found out afterwards that the owners had done the work themselves and repaired a potential dry rot issues without professional help and our home inspection guy didn't catch it for us (oh well). Paints usually come in gloss, semi-gloss, flat, and satin finishes. Your wood and siding will ultimately determine which type of finish you choose. The gloss is by far the toughest and works great on trims or shutters that need to be highlights and stand out. Semi-gloss paints have less shine but are also very durable and work well on home exteriors. Satin paints (also called low luster or eggshell) work well on siding and flat paints go nicely with aluminum or vinyl sidings that have imperfections. You can browse the top selling exterior house paints online here.

Best Exterior House Paints:

If you are going to have your house painted and want it to last a long time, then experts say go with the Sherwin Williams Duration ($50/gallon). The exterior paint from Sherwin Williams is guaranteed for as long as you own your home. Your upfront cost will be significantly higher versus other premium paints, but if you plan on staying in your home for many years to come, then Duration is the best exterior paint to go with. It's a one-cast, self priming product and is pretty much maintenance free with no blistering or peeling. It comes in flat, satin, and gloss finishes. The PermaLast technology behind this paint is what gives it the longest lasting performance on the market today. Duration is a latex based paint. If $50/gallon is beyond your budget and you still want a quality paint with a solid reputation, consider the Sherwin Williams SuperPaint ($42/gallon) - still offering long endurance. Also, the Benjamin Moore exterior paints are well recognized and used by contractors and professional painters. Use the MoorGlo, MoorGard, and MoorLife products which range from $35 to $46 per gallon.

Top Rated Outdoor Paint for Homes:

Consumer Reports does some extreme tests on paints that let you see how the paints will be performing 3, 6, and 9 years down the road. The accelerated testing is done on the roof of their Yonkers, NY headquarters where the paints are exposed to all the weather elements and they rate them based on dirt buildup, mildew, color change, and cracking. Not all paints score so well after the equivalent of 9 years but their top rated choices include California Fres-Coat Velvet ($44/gallon) and Behr Premium Plus Ultra Flat Enamel ($37). The California Fres-Coat rated excellent for appearance after 6 years and the Behr did quite well with the equivalent of 9 years outdoors. Behr is substantially cheaper than Duration and holds up well. Glidden Spred Flat and Glidden Premium Flat were close behind in the ratings.

Value Paints:

If you are painting the house just to sell it now or in a few years, spending a $1000 on Duration (above) is probably not worth it, so go with a bargain brand that will hold up for at least a few years or until you find a buyer. The Olympic and Kilz brands are fairly inexpensive at around $20/gallon and you can find Kilz in Wal-Mart stores. These brands provide great value but may not last as long as the premium products from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore. Olympic is sold through Lowes home improvement stores. and we found some of the 5 gallon containers selling online for $100.

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