Exterior Paints

Note:  The single most important factor in painting is preparation.  I don't have an article on exterior painting preparation, procedure & considerations here because such write-ups are available many other places, such as, hand-outs at your paint store or this site or this one or this one or other links given at the end of the main home repair page.  You can find a recommended how-to book on house painting at the bottom of this page

I don't know what to think about that respected, nationally known, consumer product rating magazine's paint ratings.  They are very different every time a new rating comes out.  I try to summarize the '93 and 2000 ratings further down so, you can see for yourself but, this table gives some examples of the scatter of top brand paints:





Pratt & Lambert Accolade Very Best Below Average At the Top
Benjamin Moore   Middle of 28 paints Very Best Worst
Sherwin-Williams High Low Not Rated


With this kind of scatter I'm about to conclude their specific paint ratings are pretty meaningless.  If their explanation for this scatter is, "Paint companies change their formulas accounting for the differing results."   I say, it takes 5-10 years to test them and to report results.  If the paints are changing while the test is going on, by the time the test results are available you can't buy the paint that was tested anyway.

If I were choosing an exterior paint I would pick the best paint from Pratt & Lambert or California.  Though there's a lot of scatter from rating-to-rating, over time these two brands tend to fall in the top ratings (California is consistently at or near the top.)

Though I used Sherwin-Williams a few years ago, I regret it and would no longer choose them.  Benjamin Moore, once a premium brand, has fallen from it's lofty position. 

Rating results are difficult to summarize effectively. The ratings are different for every variable--flat, low-luster, semigloss, white, blue, tan, applying over chalked paint or not painted, but here goes:

I have begun to keep the older ratings and just add the latest rating to the top of the list.  This let's you see any trends you can find and the variation from rating to rating.  Remember it takes 5-10 years to test a paint, so whatever results you are seeing are for a paint the company was making that long ago.

Note: Exact Names Are Critical

2010 Results

Best paints -- California Fresh Coat Velvet (flat), Valspar Duramax Satin, Behr Premium Plus

Worst paints -- Olympic Premium Satin, Olympic Premium Semigloss

NOTE:  A paint in testing Sherwin-Williams Duration Semigloss is looking pretty good

Sherwin-Williams, Glidden, Dutch Boy Sears & Benjamin Moore are still in test, but so far Sherwin-Williams (other than Duration) & Benjamen Moore look pretty bad.

2007 Results
Suspiciously Similar to 2006

Best paints -- California Fresh Coat Velvet (flat), Glidden Endurance (semigloss), Pratt & Lambert Accolade Eggshell (flat) and Glidden Endurance Satin (low luster) and , Glidden Spread-Dura (gloss) [a best buy], Glidden Spread-Dura Satin (low luster) [a best buy]

Worst paints -- True Value Weather All (semigloss) & Weather All (satin),  McCloskey Multiuse (low luster) , Cabot The Finish (low luster).

2006 Results

Best paints -- California Fresh Coat Velvet (flat), Glidden Endurance (semigloss), Pratt & Lambert Accolade Eggshell (flat) and Glidden Endurance Satin (low luster) and , Glidden Spread-Dura (gloss) [a best buy], Glidden Spread-Dura Satin (low luster) [a best buy]

Worst paints -- Glidden Evermore (flat), True Value Weather All (semigloss) McCloskey Multiuse (low luster) , ALL Benjamin Moore paints.

Note:  Care must be taken to select exactly the right Glidden paint.  Some are rated best, some worst.

Pittsburg, and Devoe paints weren't rated.

2005 Results

Best paints -- California Fresh Coat Velvet (flat), Glidden Endurance (semigloss), Pratt & Lambert Accolade Eggshell (flat) and Glidden Endurance Satin (low luster) and , Glidden Spread-Dura Satin (low luster) [a best buy]

Worst paints -- Dunn-Edwards Permashell Eggshell (low luster) [clearly the worst paint], Para Ultra Velvet (flat) and Glidden Spread-Dura Satin (flat)

Several well known  paints weren't rated.  Benjamin Moore, Pittsburg, Sears and Devoe, for example.

2003 Results

The best flat paints across colors were M.A. Bruder Sea Shore, California Fresh Coat Velvet, Glidden Endurance Satin (low-luster), Pratt-Lambert Accolade.

Worst paints -- Sherwin-Williams Super Paint and multiple Sears paints.  I think this tolls the death knell for Sherwin-Williams quality.  They've rated poor for several years now.

Many paints weren't rated.  Benjamin Moore, Walmart, and Devoe, for example.

2001 update

The 2001 report isn't particularly helpful.  Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams are not included -- apparently because of recent formulation changes. 

In this report California Premium Velvet Acrylic Flat (flat), Pratt-Lambert Accolade (eggshell) and Glidden Dulux Endurance (satin) were the best paints.

The worst paints were Sears Premium Weatherbeater (flat), Glidden Spread Dura (flat) and True Value Weatherall (all) were

2000 results

The best flat paint across colors was California Premium Velvet Acrylic Flat, but it doesn't adhere well to chalked paint. For low-luster, aka eggshell, Sears Best Weatherbeater Satin is pretty good overall. In semigloss Benjamin Moore MoorCraft or MoorGlo are probably best overall.

The new results varied quite a bit from the '93 results.  Pratt-Lambert Accolade was a clear winner then and is no better than mid-quality now.  Sears Best Weatherbeater Satin came up some from '93 and Sherwin-Williams Super paint fell sharply.  Benjamin Moore came back up a little.

Sherwin-Williams A-100, Wal-Mart and Devoe paints weren't rated this time.

The '93 results are summarized below:

BEST: Pratt & Lambert Accolade Eggshell (flat) [Yes, it's named eggshell. It's actually flat.], Pratt & Lambert Vapex (flat), Sherwin Williams A-100 (flat)

WORST: Devoe Wonder-Shield (flat), Glidden Spread House Dura-Gloss (semi-gloss), Sears Best Weatherbeater Premium (semi-gloss)


Sears paints illustrate why you can't simply judge by brand, or even product within brand.

Weatherbeater Premium in flat rated pretty good (6th of 28) This was their mid-priced paint.

Best Weatherbeater Satin was OK -- 10th This was their expensive paint.

Weatherbeater Premium Low Luster Satin wasn't so good -- 23rd This was their cheaper paint.

Weatherbeater Premium in semigloss was the worst paint tested -- 28th of 28.

Go figure.

So now it should be clear exactly which exterior paint to use. :-)


On 25 Sep 1997 (Mike) wrote:

I'm trying to select an exterior flat latex paint and I am getting a real bad headache. Naturally everyone says their paint is the best while downplaying everything else. I'm looking for some unbiased answers.

I understand the headache. I struggled with this confusing decision a couple of years ago.

What is the difference between Latex and Acrylic Latex. Will either hold up better in hot sunny Texas summers?

Acrylic is the best.  I think all major brand latex paints are Acrylic nowadays.  

Has anyone ever tried "House Beautiful" from Wal Mart? This stuff is suposedly warrented for 20 years and [that respected, nationally known, consumer product rating magazine's name expunged] seemed to love their interior paint. Price wise it is very attractive (~$13/gallon). 

The consumer product rating magazine you mention liked Wal-Mart's interior paint in '94; however, in '93 they rated Wal-Mart's best exterior very poor.  But, in June 2000 they rated House Beautiful above average.

One last thing...The warrenty on paint seems to be pretty much useless, but can they be used to judge paint quality (ie: will a 10 year paint really last 10 or more years, what about 15 years)?

I think paint warranties are advertising/marketing BS.

A tip -- If you do two coats (recommended), make the first coat a white primer such as Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 (Primer can be tinted to your color.  If you're changing from a dark to a light color, leave it white).  It hides and holds-up better and longer than two finish coats . Note:  You cannot leave the primer exposed to weather, you have to add a topcoat of paint.  If you are starting from bare wood make it a primer plus two finish coats.  The second finish coat makes a big difference in endurance.  Good luck.


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