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Exterior House Paint

Exterior house paint is formulated to stand up to harsh outdoor conditions (direct sun, rain, humidity, mildew, wide temperature ranges, etc). Manufacturers generally offer a range of products from adequate to superior, with the better products being tougher, longer lasting, and better covering. Since the main cost of house painting is labor, unless you want to change the color of your home frequently, buy a top grade exterior paint (never use interior paint outdoors -- it won't stand up) and save yourself the cost and trouble of frequent repainting.

Oil or Latex

Latex paint is the modern choice because of its durability and easy clean up spills and your painting tools(just soap and water). Latex comes in a variety of acrylic mixes with 100% acrylic the most durable. Oil paints dry to a hard and waterproof surface, can adhere better and resist stain better. However, that hard shell may cause the paint to crack since it can't breathe like latex paint; for that reason and because of the advancements in latex durability, oil paints are generally used only on trim. Cleaning up your painting tools after using oil based paints and stains requires a solvent.

To Prime or Not to Prime

Priming is the process of putting on a coat of special paint before the top coat. Priming paint is a thicker paint that covers, fills, seals, and provides a good surface for the top coat to adhere to. If the last coat of paint is in good condition, you can generally skip the prime coat (thus, a good reason to repaint your house before the paint gets bad). However, primers lack the durability of a good top coat, so follow them up with a top coat of exterior house paint.


Paint ranges from flat to satin, semi-gloss, and gloss. Flat finish paint, as the name implies, has virtually no reflectivity, a soft appearance, and thus the choice for most houses with wood siding. At the other

extreme, gloss paint is very shiny. Not only does the shine affect the color (the more shiny the paint, the more it will pick up other colors from its environment), but it also brings out more surface imperfections and may have to be sanded before applying a new coat. Flatter paints are harder to clean than glossier paints because the glossy finishes do not absorb dirt as readily.

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