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Paint Sheens to Use for Exterior Painting Projects

Looking to choose the best paint sheen for the exterior of your house? Many people are familiar with interior paint sheens, however you might be surprised to find out that exterior paint also comes in the full range of sheens. It is important to get the sheen right based on the type of surface you will be painting over, durability, and the look you are going for. The information below will give you everything you need to know to select the right sheen for your exterior.

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The Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint


Before getting into the best exterior paint sheens, let’s take a quick look at the difference between interior and exterior paint. First of all, a paint’s pigment is what gives it its color. Interior paint contains organic pigments that can quickly fade when used on exterior surfaces. Exterior paint contains different pigments, which significantly increases the amount of time before the paint fades.


Next, paint contains binders, which are what binds the pigment together and helps the paint adhere to the surface you are painting. Interior paint binders fight against abrasion. Exterior paint, on the other hand, needs more help adhering to its surface due to the weather and other elements it will be subject to. It contains binders that will better resist peeling, cracking, and have better moisture control.


Interior and exterior paints also contain different levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are solvents in paint that vaporize at room temperature. This is what you breathe in while working with paint. Interior paint is designed to have the smallest amount of VOCs. You want to check the VOC level of any paint you use inside your home and never use exterior paint for interior jobs, because exterior paint has higher VOC levels.


See more information about VOC from the Environmental Protection Agency.


Conversely, do not use interior paint for an exterior project. Although this does not present the same health concerns, you will always get the best results when you use paint as it is intended to be used. Paint has different binders and solvents, so use outdoor paint to prevent excessive peeling, cracking, and fading.


Exterior Paint Sheens


Now that we understand a little about the difference between interior and exterior paint, let’s talk about exterior paint sheens.


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Flat Sheen


Flat is one of the most popular sheens for the exterior of a home. Similar to interior paint sheens, flat exterior paint is best for blemished or uneven surfaces, as it will help hide these blemishes. Flat sheen is commonly used on older homes, particularly those that have wood siding such as cedar. Flat sheen, although it is very durable, is not as easy to clean as sheens that have a higher gloss.


Satin Sheen


Satin is also one of the most popular exterior sheens. It is commonly used for the main parts of the house itself, such as the siding. Satin provides a soft finish on surfaces that are in good condition. It is not overly shiny and is also great for parts of your exterior that you need to clean occasionally, such as trim, window frames, and shutters.


Semi-Gloss/Gloss Sheen


Gloss sheens provide a lustrous, durable finish and are more washable than Satin sheens. However, they also require very skillful application. This is because gloss sheens tend to accentuate any imperfections that might be on the surface. A gloss sheen is a great choice for accent trim, doors, garage doors, decorative metal such as lamp posts and metal trim, and other metal such as gutters and railings.


High Gloss Sheen


High Gloss sheen is the shiniest of all the paint sheen and provides a rich, smooth luster. It is also the easiest to clean. However, it comes with the same concerns as semi-gloss and gloss sheens in that it can display imperfections in the surface more than any other sheen. It can be used for front doors, decorative features, and accent trim.


Check out another blog of ours to help determine when it is time to paint your home's exterior.


Stain Sheens


Similar to paint colors, stain products are available in different sheens. They are also available in different opacities:


Clear/Translucent - enables you to show the natural beauty and look of the wood


Semi-Transparent - a good choice for you when you’re looking to add a hint of color or darkness


Solid - this is used when you need the most coverage. It is the best choice when you need to hide imperfections in the surface. Stain comes in just about any color of tint you could want.


Painter Patch can provide expert advice on how to paint the exterior of a house or any other painting project you might have. Check out our services and get 100% free quotes to get the job done right.






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