Finishes for Exterior Painting, Explained

Painting the outside of your home? Color isn’t the only factor to consider as you pick your paints. In fact, it may not even be the most important. Your paint finish will determine how your paint looks and lasts, so it’s important to get this part correct from the beginning. Every finish has different effects, from making paint colors look deeper and shinier to making sure the paint sticks on certain surfaces or resists certain elements. As you consider different exterior painting finishes, it’s important to look beyond your preferences for “shiny” or “matte” paint and find the finish that actually fits your home.

Of course, you may need different finishes for different surfaces, especially if you have a mix of different wall textures. Here’s what you need to know about the most popular finishes for exterior paint:

Flat Exterior Paint

Are you painting a wooden house that’s full of warping, cracking, and other lovable imperfections? Do you just want to keep the natural look of new wood, without making it shiny and vivid? Flat or matte paint will reflect the least amount of light, so it’s a great choice for wooden exterior walls and homeowners who don’t want a lot of luster on their surfaces.

Satin or Eggshell Exterior Paint

Flat and matte paints are vulnerable to abrasions and difficult to wash, so many homeowners start their search with satin or eggshell paint. This low-reflective paint finish is a great choice for walls with lots of flaws or texture changes, because there’s little shine to call attention to them, yet enough gloss to resist wear and tear. If your house has siding, cement, or rough edges, consider eggshell paint that will make your walls look smoother with consistent color coverage.

Semi-Gloss Exterior Paint

The next step up from satin finishes, semigloss paint is a little shinier and a little more resistant to moisture and abrasions. This is an excellent choice for trim, especially windowsills and doorsills that are exposed and more susceptible to weather. You’ll be able to wash your trim more easily, but it won’t be so shiny that it calls attention to itself and distracts from your freshly painted walls. It is however a less common sheen for exterior paint products. So choosing this sheen may limit your selection of paint products.

Rich Gloss Exterior Paint

Rich in resin and shine, gloss exterior paint is up to the challenge for surfaces needing high durability. It’s great for surfaces that you actually touch, like your front door and shutters, and its wow-factor shine will make the colors of these surfaces stand out even more, giving you room to experiment with your color accents. Just remember: high gloss paint attracts more light and attention to imperfections too, so don’t use it on huge surfaces with lots of square footage.

Choosing the perfect finish is crucial, but you don’t have to make the decision alone. Professional painters have the experience you need to pick the right paint and finish for every surface of your home. They also know how to apply it evenly and make sure it lasts for years to come.

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