Painting the exterior of your home is a sure way to improve its aesthetic appeal and add value to your property. But with different paint formulas and finishes available in the market, it can be confusing to decide on what paint is best for exterior walls.
There are mainly two paint formulas to choose from: water-based and oil-based, and while both are hard-wearing, there are some downsides to each.
When searching for the best paint for exterior walls, the first point of consideration is durability. Both oil-based and water-based paints are resilient, so you can use either of them. However, water-based paints have the added advantage of low VOC levels, which makes them an environmental-friendly choice.
Stick around to explore in detail which paints formula and finish you should use for exterior walls. We will also look at factors you need to consider before selecting one.
Types of Paint Formulas for Exterior Walls
Painting your exterior walls requires considerable time, effort, and money. For this reason, selecting a paint formula that withstands environmental pressures and doesn’t give in to chipping and peeling is crucial.
Here are three types of paint formulas that you can easily find in home stores.
Each has its own properties, advantages, and disadvantages. Which paint formula is the best for your home will ultimately depend on a variety of factors, including local climate and personal preference.
Acrylic paints are very popular among homeowners because they are easy to apply and maintain. The paint consists of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer solution and resin. The formula is chemical-based which means it becomes water-resistant once it dries out.
The chemicals in acrylic paints make them more elastic, allowing them to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations. Since exterior colors must be able to withstand extreme weather, the elasticity of acrylic paint makes it an excellent candidate for exterior walls.
Moreover, the paint formula is durable, long-lasting, and water-resistant- everything you need for exterior walls. And adding a sealer on top of acrylic paint can make it waterproof, which is even better for outdoor surfaces.
Paint recommendation: The Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint is a non-toxic, water-based acrylic formula that can be used on outdoor surfaces, including plaster and masonry. The paint offers a flat finish that resists chipping and hides surface imperfections.
Latex paints work similarly to acrylic, but they are water-based. There was a time when latex paints were frowned upon for exterior surfaces, even by professional painters. Fortunately, the paint formula has come a long way from there.
Today, latex paints are formulated to be more resilient, even against the effects of rain, wind, snow, and other environmental stressors. Even their adhesive capabilities have been improved and now you can use them on masonry walls like bricks, concrete, or stone blocks.
Selecting durable paint is important for homeowners as it helps prevent the expense of repainting exterior walls repeatedly. If you opt for latex paint, you can expect it to last for as long as 15 years, depending on the type of surface it’s been applied to and the application process.
Paint recommendation: The Montage Signature Interior/ Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint is a low-sheen, water-based paint that offers superior hide and coverage to your exterior walls. It has a latex formula that protects against mold and mildew and can be cleaned easily with a single wipe.
If we compare all three formulas, oil-based paints will emerge as a clear winner in terms of durability. This is because oil-based paints dry to a hard finish and shrink less than acrylic and latex paints. They hold up really well in high-traffic areas and are easier to apply as the formula glides on walls effortlessly.
Oil-based paints are hard-wearing, and you can achieve a different level of smoothness and gloss by using them- something latex and acrylic paints cannot deliver. It is also dirt-resistant, which means your exterior walls will look good as new for longer.
However, there’s a major downside to oil-based paints: a higher level of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOCs are responsible for an array of short-term and long-term health issues which is why oil-based paints are not widely used anymore.
Oil-based paints give off hazardous fumes, which can harm the person painting the walls. If you decide to use oil-based paints for a DIY job, you must wear a protective mask to keep yourself safe from fumes.
Paint recommendation: The Diamond Brite Paint Oil Base Enamel Paint delivers a high-gloss finish that can be used on interior and exterior surfaces, including concrete, plaster, and masonry. It is an excellent choice for exterior walls because it resists scuffs, cracking, peeling, and fading.
Which type of exterior paint finish is best?
Once you have decided on the right paint formula for your house, you need to determine the paint sheen or finish you require. The finish affects the wall’s appearance and the paint’s performance, so you should pick one that’s lasting and easy to clean.
Most homeowners recognize paint finish as shiny or matte, but there are variations between the two extremes. There are five primary paint finishes:
Interestingly, the paint finish does not only decide how your walls look at the end but also how well the paint will hold up over the years. You can learn more about ‘what kind of paints are washable’ to figure out which paint sheen is best suited for your walls.
Glossy or Matte- Which way should you go?
Glossy paint delivers rich color, making it a perfect choice for homeowners who want to make a loud design statement. Shinier paints are also more durable than flat, making them a logical choice for exterior walls exposed to fluctuating temperatures, rain, snow, and wind.
However, using glossy paint means highlighting every bump and imperfection on your walls which is never a good idea for large surfaces. Another downside of a glossy finish is that not everybody appreciates shiny walls. Most people gravitate towards a modern semi-matte/ semi-gloss finish for their exterior walls.
A flat finish is completely non-reflective and velvety in appearance. It effectively hides gouges and bumps, giving your exterior walls a clean and smooth look. But the problem is that matte surfaces can become chalky due to weather changes, requiring more frequent repainting.
So, although flat paints have a modern and contemporary look, they may flake off and chip more easily than their glossier counterparts.
Exterior paint finish recommendation
Glossy paints are durable but not as aesthetically appealing; matte colors look fantastic but need to be more durable. So, where does that leave us? Right in the middle!
There are other finishes between high-gloss and flat that look attractive while staying on your exterior walls for many years. I am talking about satin and eggshell finish.
Both these paints have a slight sheen without being overly shiny, making them perfect if you prefer a more contemporary look for your exterior walls. They are also easy to clean and maintain, so your house looks clean and fresh for many years.
However, there are other factors that may sway your final decision.
Are you painting your walls yourself or hiring a professional? If it’s the first case, you’d better stick with a flat finish as it’s more forgiving in terms of application. But if you’re paying a pro to do the job, you can choose any finish you prefer.
Do you have pets, children, and a lot of outdoor activities? You may need to go for a satin finish or even semi-gloss if your home’s exterior is heavily used (Hint: Snow and mud balls crashing on the sides of the house).
Which is better for exterior paint, semi-gloss or satin?
In terms of durability, semi-gloss paint performs better than satin. It also offers better protection against moisture by protecting exterior walls against water damage. However, dents, dings, and marks will be more noticeable on glossy walls than on a satin finish.
Which exterior paint lasts the longest?
Acrylic paint is the best option for painting exterior walls because it’s water-resistant, durable, and easy to clean. It also performs better than oil-based paints, which can fade or lose their luster over time.
What exterior paint fades the least?
Acrylic paints are chemical-based, so they dry to a water-resistant finish. The paint’s formula resists fading due to sun exposure and damage from environmental stressors, making it an excellent choice for exterior wall painting.
What is the best all weather exterior paint?
Oil-based paints are considered the best exterior paint as they can withstand water, wind, and snow without chipping or peeling. However, modern acrylic paint formulas provide similar results without the risk of VOCs.
What exterior paint do professionals use?
Professionals preferred oil-based paints initially, but that has changed with the latest formulations of acrylic paints. Now, pro painters use acrylic paint on exterior walls because it’s durable, long-lasting, and also compatible with a variety of materials.
Painting the exterior of your home means you will have to live with the paint color and finish for over 10 years, so it only makes sense to do your research before jumping in. By now, you have a clearer idea of which paint type and finish best suits your exterior walls. Just remember to pick one that looks good, lasts long, and is easy to maintain.
If you need help selecting a color palette, check out some exterior color ideas for stucco houses.