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    The 5 best exterior paint finishes for homes

    Achieve durability and style with the right exterior paint finish for your home.

    Chin Suarez | Oneflare
    Created 13 Oct 2023

    Giving your home exterior a fresh coat of paint provides many long-lasting benefits. Various exterior paint finish types add durability and aesthetic value to your home. Moreover, they can protect your home from weather damage while giving it a glow or a noticeable shine. 

    In addition, the best finish for exterior paint can protect siding and trim and ensure longevity. This article will guide you through the most popular exterior paint finishes for homes to help you make the best choice for your house painting project.

    Understanding paint finishes

    A paint’s finish refers to its appearance when it has dried on the surface. The kind of exterior paint finish you choose will impact the longevity of your siding, trim, and other exterior surfaces. In addition, the right sheen can instantly boost your kerb appeal.

    When painting a wall, it’s more crucial to choose the right exterior paint finish than to select an interior finish. The paint finish must withstand day-to-day atmospheric conditions such as cold and hot weather. Moreover, outside dirt and debris can whittle away at inflexible paint over time. 

    Considerations when choosing a paint finish

    A painter painting the exterior wall / Source: iStock

    Exterior paint finishes vary in the ratio of resins, binders, and pigment levels in the paint. When choosing a paint finish for your home exterior makeover, consider these three factors:

    • Luster: This affects how much light reflects on the painted surface. Finishes with low reflectiveness are suitable for hiding blemishes. Meanwhile, finishes with high lustre are best for illuminating places with little sunlight.
    • Appearance: The appearance of paint varies upon drying and the level of sheen a finish has. Matte paint reduces glare and blends with surroundings due to its low reflectiveness. Glossy paint can bring emphasis to outdoor architectural details.
    • Wear and tear: High-traffic areas such as front doors may require paint with higher durability and sheen. More flexible paint finishes, such as semi-gloss, are resistant to stains and are easily wipeable. Less durable finishes, like eggshells, are better for siding.

    Does exterior paint come in different finishes?

    Yes, There are five exterior paint sheens typically used in homes. Deciding on the best paint finish for exterior walls can be confusing at first. Here is a simple guide comparing the most popular exterior paint finishes used in today’s homes. Each finish has unique advantages and disadvantages, so take note of the following comparisons in your next home makeover.

    Best exterior paint finish types

    Flat or Matte 

    A professional painter using a paint roller / Source: iStock

    If you are looking for the perfect paint finish for retouching your paint exterior, look no further than flat or matte finishes. Its velvety and non-reflective appearance can hide imperfections on older walls. This finish performs best on homes in sunny areas. In addition, flat paint finishes are not advisable on homes in harsh summers and winters due to their low durability.

    Best recommended for: Concealing flaws on older wooden siding and trim. 

    Fast drying time
    Smooth texture
    Goes well with contemporary homes
    Easy to retouch
    Tough to clean
    Not suitable for extreme weather conditions
    Unappealing on homes with no sunlight


    Eggshell paint finishes are one of the most popular choices for exterior home makeovers, thanks to it being within the right balance of flatness and sheen. Eggshell paint gives your home a gentle and pleasant glow. 

    In comparison to matte paint, it is more resistant to harsh weather conditions under sunlit exteriors. In addition, eggshell paint lends itself well to outdoor DIY paint applications. 

    Best recommended for: Low reflective finishes while also concealing small imperfections.

    Subtly enhances trim details
    Beginner-friendly application
    Creates an inviting appearance on the exterior than flat paints

    Challenging to touch up
    Not as durable compared to gloss finishes


    Painting the walls of a house beige / Source: iStock

    If you are looking for a durable finish for your exterior, a satin paint finish is a great choice. Its moisture-resistant and reflective formulation makes it a versatile option for exterior as well as interior painting. 

    Satin paint is resistant to dirt, mildew, and peeling. It’s also easy to clean, making maintenance a breeze. For the best results, satin paint must be mixed thoroughly before application to keep the formulation consistent.

    Best recommended for: Achieving a balanced, long-lasting sheen on your trim. 

    Durable and stain-resistant
    Moderate sheen
    Works well in hot climates

    Requires thorough mixing to achieve a professional-looking finish


    Semi-gloss paint is the way to go if you want to give your home exterior a noticeable shine. This is a good choice for painting over surfaces that may experience significant wear and tear, like trim, shutters, and front doors. The tough and shiny finish that semi-gloss paint has makes it easier to clean than satin or eggshell paint. 

    Take note that semi-gloss paints are often oil-based, which may emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When using glossy paints, make sure that the surface is prepared well to prevent highlighting any dings or blemishes. 

    Best recommended for: High-traffic areas such as garage doors, railings, and window frames.


    High weather and moisture resistance
    Great for high-traffic areas
    Easy to clean
    Challenging to apply
    Makes imperfections more visible
    Not suitable for large surfaces like siding
    May contain environmentally harmful materials


    Painting the garage door grey / Source: iStock

    In terms of highlighting architectural details, nothing comes close to the sheen of high gloss paint. This type of sheen offers the greatest durability of all the finishes, making it a great option for emphasising intricate architectural details on your home exterior. 

    However, high gloss paint can make a surface look plasticky when applied on a large exterior feature such as siding. Hence, it is typically used only for features such as trim and doors. Also note that richer paint, such as semi-gloss and high gloss paint, can chip away if not applied properly.

    Best recommended for: Drawing attention to decorative features and accents.


    Maximum durability
    Rich colour on exterior details
    Easy to maintain

    May highlight blemishes
    Gives a plasticky appearance on large surfaces

    Start planning for the perfect sheen

    Colour is not the only consideration when choosing the perfect paint sheen for your home exterior. The right exterior paint finish can ensure your property is not only visually pleasing but also durable and gleaming just right.

    Paint finishes are just as important in ensuring a home makeover that will last for years to come. Consult with a professional painter for your next house painting project for a successful painting job. 

    FAQs on exterior paint finishes

    Is low sheen or matte better for weatherboards?

    Both finishes are good options for weatherboards. Low-sheen finishes such as eggshell paint can add a subtle shine to your weatherboards. This adds a layer of durability against the elements. Eggshell paint is also easier to clean than matte paint. On the other hand, matte paint is easier to apply. It requires fewer coats to paint and dries faster. 

    What type of finish is best for exterior paint?

    The best sheen for exterior painting depends on your personal preferences and project needs. 

    If you live in a climate with harsh weather conditions, durable finishes such as satin or semi-gloss may be the better choice. Meanwhile, low-lustre paints like eggshell or matte are preferred for their ease of use. Semi-gloss or high-gloss finish are great choices if the surface you are painting tends to experience wear and tear. 

    You can take your personal preferences and project requirements into account when considering the cost of professional painting.

    Should exterior house paint be flat or satin?

    Choosing flat or satin paint is a question of appearance and durability. Here’s a quick comparison between the two:

    • Flat paint helps your exterior achieve a more natural look. On the other hand, satin paint leaves an attractive glow on the surface. 
    • Flat paint is easier to apply, while satin paint has better cleanability. 
    • In mild weather conditions, flat paint can be a great option. However, satin paint is a better choice for homes in tougher weather conditions since it is more durable than the former.

    Should exterior paint be gloss or satin?

    While both are suitable choices for exterior painting, knowing the better choice will depend on the area being painted. High gloss finishes will look plasticky and unnatural on the siding, while satin paint is more understated and inviting. 

    Moreover, using a high gloss paint is ideal for fences, doors, and other outdoor details. If you are looking for a more economical paint with a balanced sheen and durability, satin would be the better option. 

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