High-Quality Exterior House Paint: 5 Things to Look For

Guest Article By Noah Winkles, New Life Painting


Here’s something you should know: high-quality paint will provide better coverage and last longer. In contrast, if you opt for a cheaper type of paint, you risk paint failure down the road.

But, when you walk into a paint store and see rows upon rows of paint cans, how can you determine which are high-quality, and which are not? Should you just choose the most expensive, figuring it must be high-quality? Or, is there something else that can tell you if you’re making the best purchase possible? Read on for 5 things to look for in high-quality exterior house paint.

Here are 5 things to look for in high-quality exterior house paint

1. Sheen matters

First, you need to make sure you select a paint color that will be available in a high-quality paint.

Even though color matching can get you pretty much whatever color you want in any brand, the sheens vary from brand-to-brand, and when you’re painting something as large as a house, a difference in sheen could make the color look completely different than what you were expecting.

Most people opt for warm, neutral palettes on the exterior, but blues and grays are becoming more and more popular, too. If you’re struggling with your color decision, see if you can find a paint company that offers color combination cards. These give you suggestions for your exterior, including siding and trim, taking the guesswork out of your process.

To make sure you’re selecting a brand with a sheen you like, paint sample boards with each paint you’re thinking about. Put them in different spots of your home, watching how the color changes throughout the day. When you have one or two you think you like, paint a swatch in a sunny area and observe it over a few days.

2. Latex or oil?

When it comes to choosing latex (water-based paints) or oil (includes alkyd paints), latex almost always comes out on top. That’s because water-based paints expand and contract with the siding. This is good because it helps your paint job stand up to weather. Oil-based paints block moisture and dry as an inflexible coating, which leads to cracks. However, there is a case to be made for oil if you already have oil-based paint on your house and it’s working out for you.

3. What is the warranty?

You should almost always go for premium paint when painting the exterior of your house. But which brand’s premium paint should you choose? Look at the premium line of a manufacturer and see what their warranty is. This can give you a good comparison because the longer the warranty, the more likely the paint will stand up to time and weather.

4. Pigments

The more coats you have to apply, the more money you’ll be spending. (And time. And effort.)

Choosing a high-quality paint that covers fully with only one coat is not only a smart financial and timely decision, it will give you better results in the long run. Lower-cost pigments in a paint will lead you back to the store for another can—again and again. Higher-quality pigments, like titanium dioxide, will give you better coverage. Find a product that is also fade-resistant so that your paint job will last many more years.

5. Do yourself a solid

Save yourself hassle and money by looking to the level of solids. You want solids above 45 percent. In fact, the higher, the better. Higher solids give you a stronger coating. But this isn’t as easy as snagging any paint off the shelf with a solid above 45. (In fact, grabbing it off the shelf will be hard anyway, because manufacturers don’t always list the solids on the label. For this information, you’ll need to talk to the retailer.) Some companies increase their solid percentage with cheap fillers.

How can you avoid purchasing these lesser products? Avoid inexpensive paints that boast high solids. You’ll have to spend more money for higher solids, but it will be worth it.

Preparation is key

Remember, it doesn’t matter how much you spend or how high the quality of your paint is if you don’t take care to do proper prep work. Repair cracks and other issues, prep the wood, and use a primer. Once your surface is ready, your high-quality paint will bond to it beautifully, giving you a color you can enjoy for years to come.


Noah Winkles is the vice president of New Life Painting. For over 35 years, New Life Painting has provided exterior painting services to residents and business owners living in California’s Central Coast.

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