How to Choose the Best Exterior Paint Colors

Dan Cavagnaro
Written by Dan Cavagnaro
Updated June 23, 2014
beige house
The durability of paint is something to consider for those willing to make a larger investment in materials. (Photo courtesy of Angi member Joe K. of Atlanta)

When housepainting, here's how to pick the right color of exterior paint.

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The modern-day paint store is like walking into an all-you-can-eat buffet, and with the number of product options on the market increasing daily, making the right choice seems like a never-ending process. 

How do you choose the right paint for your home’s exterior? By using the market to your advantage and making an informed decision. Here are five useful tips to get you started for choosing the best exterior paint color:

Primer paint combos

There are a great way to reduce the amount of time spent and coats applied. It’s the bottom and top coat all in one. Paint plus primer all in one is an especially good option if you’re painting over a deep, rich color with a much lighter one.

Oil-based primer

This is a necessity for bare wood, because not even a paint and primer in one will be enough to “hide” such an area. Whether it’s the result of scraping or it’s entirely new wood clapboard, it must be primed first to seal the wood and create a smooth, even surface for the top coat to adhere to.

Paint additives

Additives for vinyl or aluminum siding will give standard latex paint all the grip it needs to stick to an otherwise slippery surface. In the absence of these additives, latex paint will sag in waves as it slides and dries off vinyl or aluminum. 

Paint durability

The durability of paint is something to consider for those willing to make a larger investment in materials. Sometimes known as “super” paints, these modern wonders are engineered by formula to stand up to the rigors of Mother Nature longer than their standard counterparts. 

If your home gets a lot of sun exposure, or you just want to maximize the time before repainting, a product manufactured to last longer could be the way to go.

Paint finishes or sheen

The finish or sheen of the paint is a final consideration to make. The sheen of paint is determined by how glossy it appears to the naked eye and its “life” or durability. Sheens in the flat, matte and eggshell categories are low on gloss, reflecting little to no light, and are long on durability. 

The downside is that they tend to absorb impurities and are difficult to clean. Sheens in the semi and full-gloss categories “pop” with vibrancy due to their highly reflective quality. 

These sheens look great and are easy to clean, but they tend to make any flaws beneath the paint stand out more than a flat or matte finish. Paints with a satin sheen are a middle of the road option with good durability, fairly easy cleaning and a mild gloss that offers some “pop” while partially masking flaws.

Just remember, while too many options can seem overwhelming, it’s the greatest advantage the consumer can have. It’s okay to be picky — just get all the information first!

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