Best Finish For Exterior Paint

Satin And Eggshell Finish Paints

How to Choose the Best Finish for Outdoor Projects

Satin finishes are relatively low in reflection, which means that they also do a decent job of hiding bumps and imperfections in the siding surface.

To the touch, they still have the chalky feel of flat finishes but with a slight waxy smoothness. The same paint color will appear slightly richer in a satin sheen than it does in a flat sheen. Satin/eggshell finishes can be wiped down or even hosed with water. Because of the hint of shine, satin paints have a somewhat more luxurious appearance than flat paints.

Satin paints require a bit more care during application in order to avoid lap marks. As with interior painting, it is important to keep a wet edge during application. It is important that satin paints be thoroughly mixed before application to keep the resins and pigments in uniform ratio throughout the can. Satin paints should be mixed just before every painting session.

  • Satin finishes are more washable.

  • The finish lasts longer than flat paints.

  • Lap marks may be evident when painting.

  • Sheen can be uneven unless the paint is mixed thoroughly. Have stored paint thoroughly mixed at the store before painting. Boxing the paint can also solve this problem.

Contact Osborne Painting For Exterior House Painting Services

Our team of professional painters is experienced in applying all types of paint when painting the exterior of houses. We can help you decide the best paint sheen for your home. We give expert advice and impeccable service! To get started with an estimate, call us at or fill out our online contact form below.

Exterior House Paint Types

Whether youre conducting a huge home remodeling project or just giving your house a refresh, its crucial to understand the different types of exterior house paint.

Oil or Alkyd

Oil-based paint dries to a smooth, firm finish that is weather resistant. It takes longer to dry than latex, generally 24 hours, and maybe cleaned with turpentine or paint thinner. Oil-based paint is ideal for external doors and metal railings because it gives a long-lasting, weather-resistant surface.


Latex paint comparatively dries faster and is easier to clean than oil-based paint, requiring only soap and water for cleanup. Another benefit is that latex slightly expands in higher temperatures and shrinks in cooler temperatures, requiring less frequent painting. Latex may often be applied over oil-based paint with proper surface preparation.

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How To Choose The Best Outdoor Paint For Your Home

Whether it’s siding, doors or trimming, here’s how to pick the right exterior house paint.

Brian Bennett

Senior writer

Brian Bennett is a senior writer for the home and outdoor section at CNET. He reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from cordless and robot vacuum cleaners to fire pits, grills and coffee makers. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he rides longboards downhill in his free time.

Anyone who’s been to a paint store knows that house paint comes in a seemingly endless variety of colors and textures. And to make matters worse, many brands market products specifically for internal use, external use or even both. All this makes settling on the right paint for your home’s exterior a challenge.

That said, a little research plus a few handy rules of thumb will make the process much more manageable. So whether you’d like to refresh your front door, some window sills or tackle it all, this guide to exterior paint is for you.

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What Is A Flat Paint Finish For Exterior Shutters

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A flat paint finish is the best paint for exterior shutters as it is free from the waviness that the irregular surfaces of certain materials may come with. Unfortunately, in most cases, a flat finish cant be applied to shutters because of how they are put together or what substance theyre made out for. Still, this type of paint finish is what one would want for their home and exterior if not so inclined to show details about down jackets on snowbirds exploring through your property wholly exposed.

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Buying Guide For Best Exterior House Paints

Painting your house isnt something you do often, but when the time comes around again you want to make sure you get the best exterior house paint for the job. These are products that are constantly being improved, and its unlikely that what you bought the last time is still available.

This is good news because todays exterior house paints are almost invariably better than what you used last time. But shopping can get confusing. Its not just a question of colour or sheen . With more and more emphasis on the environmental impact of protective and decorative finishes, you also want to think about the paints chemical composition.

What Is The Best Paint Color

The best color for other things connected with external painting is unexcluded brown tones that work well as accent pieces compared to green tones for exterior shutters for the best paint finish. Besides, choose colors that work well for the size of the main area in your home. Finally, assure you know what is best for exterior shutters will minimize sun damage, so it is much more avoidable when the best paint finish for external shutters is recommended.

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What Finish Is Best For Exterior Paint

A straight or square exterior is best suited for flat surfaces. A high-gloss finish obscures any imperfections as well as providing a smooth appearance. Thanks to its gloss, this brand stays cleaner than flat and matte paints, is more water-resistant, and resists scratching better than flat or matte paints.

Top Exterior Paints From Cr’s Tests

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The best paint in our exterior paint ratings? Behr Marquee Exterior its $51 per gallon at Home Depot and is front-runner for the category.

For around $10 less and almost as good, theres Behr Ultra Exterior, also sold at Home Depot. Clark+Kensington from Ace Hardware is another solid choice with a comparable rating, at just $35 per gallon. Sherwin-Williams Emerald is impressive, too, but it has a harder time resisting dirt than the other two, and its $72 per gallon.

CR members can see more detailed ratings below.

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When To Use Flat Sheen For Your Exterior Paint

Flat paints are currently popular for use in outdoor applications, as they roll on smooth and provide a velvety finish that conceals imperfections, nicks, and other defects. It provides a soft, sophisticated look whether rolled or brushed on, and its non-reflective surface provides a rich, deep finish. Flat finish paint is easy for anyone to apply, as its forgiving texture masks application issues like poor brush strokes and roller lap marks. Because it can hide imperfections, its a good finish to use on older surfaces that you dont yet want to refinish. Because it is somewhat soft and chalky to the touch, its easy to apply additional coats once the first coat dries. Subsequent coats of flat finish paint adhere to previous coats well, which means that touch-ups are quick and simple.

However, there are drawbacks to using flat finish paints on exterior surfaces. While they may look great initially, they are nearly impossible to clean. Therefore, its not advisable to use flat finish exterior paint on any surface that is regularly splashed by rainstorms or located in damp, shaded areas of the structure where algae and mildew may easily grow. If you do elect to use flat paint in those locations, there will be no way to routinely clean the surfaces without damaging the paint. Therefore, you should purchase extra cans of the paint in the same color for touch-ups and additional coats in the future.

What Makes An Exterior Paints Sheen

Paint sheen is created by adding resins and binders into the mix. The level of sheen is determined by changing the ratio of those additives in relation to the pigment.

Paints with a high level of resins/binders in relation to pigment have a high sheen. Paints with high pigment and very little resins/binders have a low sheen. In general glossier paints are more durable for outdoor use, while flatter paints are less resilient. This is because some light and heat bonces off glossy paint while flat paint absorbs it.

Different manufacturers have their own terms for describing sheen levels but in general there are four basic levels to choose from:

  • Flat/Matte. We dont use totally matte paint much for a homes exterior.
  • Satin/Eggshell. Best for siding because its a low-reflective finish thats good at hiding imperfections. It has a slight gloss so it stays clean, is more easily washed, and stands up to abrasion better than flat or matte paints.
  • Semi-gloss. This shinier sheen is easier to clean, more durable, and more moisture resistant than a satin or eggshell paint. Best for trim details like windowsills.
  • Gloss. This resin-rich formula is durable and dirt repellent. The high shine adds richness and depth to colors but it also magnifies surface imperfections. Use it sparingly. We find its best for shutters, doors, and surfaces you touch or come in close contact with.

Beautiful rustic style home using a mix of matte and eggshell sheens.

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Gloss Exterior Paint Finish

High gloss is very shiny and can make imperfections stand out. It isnt generally recommended for home exteriors as the heavy shine can highlight every bump and scratch and make your home look plastic-y.

The plus side is that gloss is very easy to clean and durable. If you have a newer home without a lot of imperfections to hide, you could try using gloss on high touch areas of trim or doors. Gloss holds up well to frequent scrubbing and can handle a fair amount of regular use without looking dingy or dull. It can also withstand harsh weather conditions such as regular, strong sunlight and heavy rains.

Best Uses for Gloss and High-Gloss Exterior Paint Finish

  • High touch areas
  • Metal railings

Hiring A Painter For Your Homes Exterior

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Painting the exterior of your home is a big job! There are techniques to know and special equipment needed, especially if youre going to be painting a large area such as siding. If youre doing something small such as window casings or other trim, it could be worth tackling yourself. But if you want to do your entire homes exterior, it may be a good idea to hire a professional.

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Clay Paint Finishes For A Soft Look That’s Great For Old Homes

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Clay paints are one of the most eco-friendly paints, offering a sustainable choice for painting your walls. However, its environmentally-friendly credentials don’t come at the expense of quality. Clay paints offer good coverage, drying to a soft matte finish that adds a warmth to any interior scheme.

Clay paints are also a great choice for period homes which often benefit from a more breathable paint. ‘The clay content absorbs moisture, helping to regulate the internal humidity of a building so it is ideal where condensation is a problem. It should not be used on damp walls though,’ says Roger Hunt, Period Living ‘s renovation expert and author of Old House Handbook . ‘Clay paints can stain more easily than other types, so avoid using behind sinks or cookers.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On High Traffic Areas

Use paints with a sheen or gloss for high traffic areas of the home, as they are the most durable. Avoid matte or flat paint finishes which will quickly show wear.

When deciding on a paint for high-traffic rooms of the house, cleanable paint finishes are also vital. There are specific formulas that are cleanable, even while offering a matte finish, for example, the addition of powdered marble gives Mylands marble matte emulsion a cleanable finish. The formula used to create a cleanable paint is more durable than that of regular paint, offering better resistance to everyday stains and scuffs, explains Dominic Myland, CEO of Mylands. In terms of the quality of the finish, there should be no compromise when choosing a cleanable paint, the result should be rich in colour with a smooth, thick consistency.’

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What Is The Best Finish To Use For Exterior Paint

As a universal rule, eggshell is the best finish to use for exterior paint. Exterior eggshell combines the durability of gloss without highlighting imperfections in the exterior surface. When choosing exterior paint, it is key that it complements your backyard ideas and the subtle sheen of eggshell paint finishes will help it blend seamlessly into your garden design.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. If you are looking to repaint a particular detail of your home’s exterior, for example garden gate ideas or maybe front door ideas, you may prefer to opt for a more striking and durable gloss finish.

Chalk Paint Finishes For Furniture Upcycling Projects

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Chalk paint is most commonly used in furniture upcycling projects. ‘People often think its called chalk paint because chalk is a key ingredient, but its actually because of how the paint looks. Its luxurious, textured finish and the depth of pigment gives upcycling projects a high-end feel,’ says Annie Sloan, founder of paint company Annie Sloan . ‘Chalk paint dries to a velvety matte finish, and if sealed with either Wax or Lacquer, depending on the look you prefer, will give you a really hardwearing finish.’

Another benefit of using chalk paint is that it can be applied to practically any surface without the need for priming or sanding. ‘Eliminating the hassle of prepping furniture to paint was a complete game-changer, enabling people to restore and re-love their existing furniture in next to no time,’ continues Annie, ‘You can create washes of colour, thick and textured paint, layered colours, or a smooth modern finish.’

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Semi Gloss Exterior Paint

Semi-gloss and gloss paints are very shiny. Especially full gloss. Occasionally we use a semi gloss on a few exterior things like the front door, a trim piece or shutters but its rare. And we never use high gloss.

In our design work we stay away from anything too glossy inside the home and out. Its just too shiny.

If you do want to use some gloss on the outside of your home then only limit it for trim and doors. Surfaces that get a lot of wear or may need to be frequently washed. Higher gloss paints are more durable so they hold up well on surfaces that are more exposed to weather.

Gloss is smoother than semi gloss to the touch and reflects lots of light. Any surface imperfections will stand out with a gloss finish.

Gloss and semi-gloss paints produce the richest color so make sure to get color samples that also have a gloss finish. If you select a color you liked based on a flat sample then you may be surprised how different it appears in gloss.

Dont use gloss exterior paints on main walls or large areas. And never on the siding.

What Is The Best Paint Finish For A House

Eggshell finishes are an extremely popular choice for walls in family homes, as they combine good washability with the ability to hide flaws. Satin: Satin finish paint has a smooth, velvety look with a bit more gloss. It is most often used for windows, doors, trim, or ceilings, but it can also be used as wall paint.

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Distemper For Older Homes That Need A Breathable Paint

Distemper is a heritage interior paint and an early form of whitewash made of water, chalk, pigment and a bonding agent like egg or casein. Highly breathable, it is a great choice of paint for older properties and has a soft, powdery finish. However, it is worth noting that distemper is not particularly hardwearing, so is best avoided in high-traffic areas.

‘Distemper provides a soft, deep matte finish ideally suited to bedrooms, living rooms and dining areas . It is a high opacity, low odour, chalky matte finish, that is available in a wide choice of colors,’ explains Ruth Mottershead. ‘Distemper combines a softness of texture and purity of color perfectly suited to sensitive restorations of older buildings.’

Satin Eggshell Flat Semi


So if picking an exterior paint color wasnt hard enough, allow me to complicate things a bit further. The sheen CAN AND WILL affect color. What, you say?? This is getting ridiculous yeah yeah it is. We want to give you some recommended finishes depending on what you are painting on your homes exterior so here goes!

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Maintaining Your Exterior Paint

To keep your paint job looking fresh, be sure to clean your homes exterior a couple times a year by hosing off dirt, leaves and rainwater that accumulates over time. Its also helpful to pressure wash your homes exterior about once every five years to keep mildew at bay.

How long will exterior paint last?A good paint job with high-quality exterior paint can last up to 10-years, depending on your homes siding material and the climate you live in. While wood surfaces will need to be painted as early as 5-years, paint on stucco homes will last longer.

When searching for the best outdoor paint for your home, consider the parts of your houses exterior you plan to paint, your areas climate and your painting schedule. These factors will help you narrow down which types of exterior paint will be the easiest to work with as you improve your homes curb appeal. Once youve found the right paint, know exactly how much you’ll need with our project calculators.

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