Painting the outside of your house is a great way to improve its value and make you feel good every time you come home.
But all paints aren’t created equal. To find the best exterior paint for your house, pay attention to these five qualities:
1. Surface Compatibility
Knowing which is the best exterior paint for the job starts with the surfaces you need to cover.
Paint manufacturers specify the materials for which a specific brand or formula is intended. Most homes have a primary surface material such as brick, stucco, vinyl siding or aluminum siding. But don’t forget about trim, which is commonly wood or vinyl.
There are different forms of acrylic paint so read all details on labels. In some cases, you’ll need two different formulas — one for the main surface, another for the trim.
Ceramic-based paints perform well on any surface. An added benefit of ceramic-based paint on wooden homes is Class A-rated fire protection.
When we talk about the thickness of a paint, we mean the depth of each coat. Ordinary water-based paints require at least two coats to provide sufficient coverage and create a finished look.
Wet Film Thickness
- Not all products state the wet film thickness, which is the depth of a properly applied coat of paint. The general recommendation is 3-4 mils per coat. But that can be cumbersome and takes practice to measure accurately.
- Most people find using information about the coverage area (in square feet) per gallon is enough to compare the wet film thickness of paints. But you can buy wet film thickness gauges if you want to paint like a pro.
Dry Film Thickness
- Besides a paint’s wet film thickness, it’s important to know its dry film thickness. Also measured in mils, it’s the depth of coverage after the paint has dried.
- Latex and other acrylic paints — which are water-based — typically offer a dry film thickness of 1-2 mils. In comparison, ceramic-based paints produce a dry film thickness of 8-9 mils.
- Greater thickness contributes to several of ceramic-based paint’s unique advantages such as exceeding federal wind-driven rain specifications and lowering wall temperature.
3. Color Retention
The best exterior paint is one that doesn’t fade. Color retention is more about a paint’s composition than external forces such as weather.
There are three factors to color retention, which is sometimes called fade resistance.
The first factor is the amount and quality of the binder. In good water-based paints, the binder is acrylic. Paints with 100% acrylic binders offer high color retention. Yet, they are often 60% water, which accelerates fading.
In ceramic-based paints, elastomers provide the binding action and outstanding color retention. Plus, they are only 21% water, dramatically reducing the risk of fading.
Oil-based paints, which are suitable for specific materials such as certain kinds of metal, are quick to fade because of weak binders.
The second factor in color retention is pigment. Paints high in durable pigment can perform better against fading.
But there’s one more factor that’s key to determining the best exterior paint when considering color retention. It’s the relationship between the binder and pigment.
Paints that are high in pigment but low in quality binders, will not perform well over time. Yet, some of the best exterior paints have modest pigment levels and strong binders, making them fade resistant.
4. Environmental Performance
You’ll want to make sure your exterior paint is designed to hold up against all sorts of environmental conditions. Here are a few of the most common concerns.
- The best exterior paint can resist moisture in all climates. In other words, it’s not just heavy and frequent rainfall that poses a threat to the durability and longevity of an exterior paint job.
- Moisture can come from micro-environments created by dense tree canopies. Vegetation like you’d find in a courtyard or backyard oasis can also generate higher than normal moisture in the air.
- In many parts of Southern California, the ocean is the source of external moisture — and it comes with salt. Elastomers are also resistant to the corrosive qualities of salt in the ocean air.
- Water droplets that penetrate a painted surface can increase the risk of cracking or blistering.
- High-quality acrylic paints are at least 50% water. Some water will dissipate during application, but not all.
- Once applied, if any acrylic molecules weaken, water molecules in the air can find their way in. As water molecules like other water molecules, they stick together.
- For the greatest protection against moisture, look to ceramic-based paints. The elastomers in these products are natural water repellents. That is, water molecules can’t bind with elastomers.
- Additionally, your best exterior paint in this category will meet or exceed ASTM permeability standards for top performance.
- Water is the chief cause of deterioration and damage to building walls. A ceramic-based paint will seal to the surface, preventing water penetration.
- Wet elastomeric paints are about 20% water. When dry, there is practically no water remaining. This creates a very low risk of external water molecules attaching to any of the paint. In essence, the paint seals to the surface and waterproofs the wall.
Mold and Mildew Growth
- Ceramic-based paint is also breathable. Water vapor that naturally develops in the home can escape.
- This means water doesn’t get trapped and foster the growth of mold and mildew, a common occurrence with other kinds of paint.
5. Sun Exposure
The damaging effects of the sun on exterior paint are common concerns of home owners in Southern California.
Southern California’s climate can cause acrylic paint to blister, crack, or peel. It can also accelerate fading. The high amount of water in acrylic paint is the leading reason for this unfortunate outcome.
Regular exposure to sunlight heats the dry paint. If the heat is intense enough, any water molecules near the surface will break away. Over time, the paint becomes dry and begins to crack or peel.
Blistering occurs when water just under the surface heats to the point of “breaking away” but is trapped by a layer of acrylic.
Elastomeric ceramic-based paint has less water that can heat up. Its composition also reflects UV rays. Think of it as mirrored sunglasses for your exterior walls, reflecting the sun’s rays and preventing exterior walls from heating up.
Solar radiation from the sun’s intense rays can significantly raise a wall’s surface temperature. Ceramic-based paint reflects solar rays away from your home. This lowers the wall’s surface temperature, cooling your home and reducing energy consumption.
More Qualities of the Best Exterior Paint
Acrylic exterior paint is good. But the best exterior paint is ceramic-based.
Along with all the qualities noted above, you only need one coat of ceramic-based paint. That saves time now and thousands of dollars in the long run because the work will last. It also ups the resale value of your home.
Rhino Shield is a reliable brand of ceramic-based exterior paint. Used throughout Southern California, it earns high marks from residential and commercial customers for its durability, visual appeal, protection against wind-driven rain and UV rays plus much more!
It’s also formulated to exceed Federal wind-driven rain specifications at 98 miles per hour and features a proprietary, EPA-registered three-part mold, mildew, fungus, and algae additive. That means no matter what conditions you put it up against, it’s designed to perform.