What’s The Best Finish For Exterior Paint

The best finish for the exterior of a house protects the walls and gives them a fresh and welcoming look. Different types of finishes provide your home with different outlooks and have varying abilities to withstand the elements of nature.

When choosing exterior finish paint for your house, it is crucial to consider that the paint will cover a large area of the house, and as such, your choice may affect many other aspects of your overall deco.

This article seeks to help you make an informed choice on the best exterior paint finish for your house by answering the following questions:

  • What types of finishes are available for painting the exterior walls of a house?
  • What are the main factors to consider when choosing a finish for exterior paint?

A man on a ladder uses spray gun to paint the exterior of a wooden building, What's The Best Finish For Exterior Paint

We may include affiliate links and curated AI content to highlight top design styles.

What types of finishes are available for painting the exterior of a house?

Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!
The painter paints the outer wall of the building with a gray paint roller

While different companies may have different ways of distinguishing their finishes, the four main categories of finishes for exterior paint are:

Flat or matte finish

As the name suggests, this paint has little to zero sheen or luster. It is velvety in appearance and chalk-like to the touch. It is easy to touch up when you need to refresh the exterior of your house.

Click this link to see Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte paint, a flat/matte exterior paint finish available on Amazon.


  • Hides dents, scratches, brush laps, and other imperfections on the siding and exterior walls.
  • It gives your house a modern and contemporary look.
  • Easy to apply and touch up.
  • It dries quickly.


  • Matte finishes fade quickly.
  • It is hard to clean it without destroying the finish.
  • It is not durable.

Satin or eggshell finish

The satin and eggshell types of finish are preferred by many because they offer a good balance of matte and gloss qualities. These finishes give your house exterior a luxurious and modern feel compared to other types of finishes.

Check out the Rust-Oleum 7791502 protective enamel exterior paint in satin finish on Amazon here.


  • Perfect for concealing imperfections on the wall.
  • They are highly durable.
  • Easy to clean.
  • They do not fade quickly.
  • Suitable for use on both wooden and cement sidings.
  • They protect your exterior from harsh weather elements.


  • They require highly professional painting to avoid leaving brush or lap marks on the wall.
  • Requires thorough mixing immediately before use to ensure a balanced finish.

Semi-gloss finish

The semi-gloss finish contains more sheen and luster than the satin options. This particular quality makes it ideal for use in specific parts of your exterior, like doors and window trims. The semi-gloss finish is particularly suitable for exterior surfaces that require frequent cleaning.

Click this link to see the Montage-Signature Interior/Exterior eco friendly paint in semi-gloss finish on Amazon.


  • Highly durable exterior finish.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Stain-resistant.
  • Can withstand excess moisture.
  • It produces a richer color tone than the satin and matte options.
  • It can withstand exposure to weather changes well.
  • You can use it to highlight a specific area of the exterior.


  • It does not conceal cracks, bumps, or other imperfections.
  • It can bubble up or peel off during and after painting.
  • Its high gloss content limits its use for wide coverage sidings.
  • It requires skilled preparation and application.

Gloss finish

This finish is highly reflective due to its high gloss content. Like the semi-gloss finish, this finish may not be ideal for painting large areas of your exterior. However, you can use it alongside satin and matte finishes to give your exterior a detailed and luxurious look.

Click this link to see the Rust-Oleum 206999 Marine Topside Gloss Finish on Amazon.


  • More durable than other types of exterior finishes.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Highly resistant to stains and scratches.
  • Ideal for painting architectural fixtures or specific parts on the exterior that are subject to regular touching and cleaning.
  • Perfect for highlighting specific parts of the exterior.
  • It produces a richer color tone than all other exterior finishes.


  • It does not hide any imperfections on the surface but highlights them instead.
  • Not recommended for wide coverage painting to avoid getting a “plastic” finish due to its highly reflective nature.
  • Requires professional prepping and application to avoid bubbles and bumps while painting.

What are the main factors to consider when choosing a finish for exterior paint?

Old paint cans in front of a garage

As much as the finished look of your exterior is vital to consider, there are other factors to consider before settling for any of the above finishes for exterior paint. The different natures of exterior paint finishes require you to consider the following:

Area of coverage

The surface area of your walls plays a significant role in determining the right exterior paint finish to use for your house. Larger surface areas may require satin or matte finishes to give them a more contained finish, while smaller sections may require reflective finishes to make them pop out.

A combination of two or more exterior paint finishes may help detail specific areas or decorations on the exterior while giving it a composed, modern finish from the outside.

Condition of wall

Paint roller on the wall during painting

Exterior walls and siding that have seen better times may be harder to paint than newly built walls. Old walls may also require more coats of paint to give them a fresh finish and hide imperfections better.

Exposure of the area to be painted

Though on the exterior of the walls, some walls and sidings may be more exposed to other elements or subsequent use than others.

If you have a wall or siding that enjoys full roof coverage or fencing around it, you can use satin or matte finishes instead or in combination with the glossier options.

If your wall is more exposed to the elements near a garage or garden and subject to dirt or scratches, you may want to settle for the glossy finishes that offer you more resistance and durability.

Painting skills

Paint roller on the wall during painting

Another critical fact to consider is how to accomplish the paintwork. Are you looking for a quick fix to your exterior or working on a tight budget? If so, you may be considering painting the house for yourself.

If you are on a time and budget bound or wish to try your hand at painting, you can consider painting your exterior with a flat or matte finish. This finish dries up quickly and gives you flawless coverage, your skills notwithstanding.

If you are more inclined to a more precise and professional exterior finish regardless of your choice of paint, then you can consider hiring a professional painter. Professional painters are better equipped and skilled to paint even the most hard-to-reach areas of your exterior.

Get our FREE 7 design style cheat sheets
Subscribe for home design tips & inspiration
Get your free gift: Downloadable design style cheat sheets
Thank you for subscribing!
Share with a friend -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *