Best Exterior Paint for Doors and Trim
Here's why semigloss is your best bet—plus, the top four exterior paints from CR's tests
Painting your exterior front door can be a big decision, with several color and finish options to choose from. The aesthetics of the main entryway are so important, in fact, that studies have found when painted the right hue, homes can fetch upward of $6,000 more in resale value. But despite the shade you ultimately select to heighten your home's curb appeal, there's only one real option for the finish.
It has to be semigloss.
The same goes for exterior trim. Semigloss paint gives you a smoother surface than lower-sheen finishes and has a degree of shine, providing a visual contrast.
“Semigloss finishes are usually easy to clean, so they'll continue to look good for years,” says test engineer Rico de Paz, Consumer Reports’ resident paint pro. He also recommends a semigloss finish for porch railings, adding that you should use a porch-and-patio paint for the porch floor and stairs.
Before you tackle this project, check the paint can for information on the ideal conditions for application. Daytime temperatures between 50° F and 90° F with little or no wind are generally best for exterior paint jobs.
Once you have the right conditions, you can take on repainting your front door. It’s a very doable job if you follow the right approach. Here are de Paz’s three key tips:
1. Protect the area. Open the door, then seal the doorway with plastic to keep dust and bugs out of your house. Cover the floor with newspaper or a drop cloth.
How CR Tests Exterior Paints
In our tough exterior paint tests, we evaluate how the paint will look after three, six, and nine years. Our tests have found that a brand's flat, eggshell, and semigloss paints perform similarly overall, so we combine the scores to make it easier for you to compare brands.
You'll find 16 paints in our exterior paint ratings with Overall Scores ranging from 29 to 76, as well as several paints we're still in the process of testing. Another resource: our paint buying guide.
Top Exterior Paints from CR's Tests
The best paint in our exterior paint ratings? Behr Marquee Exterior; it's $51 per gallon at Home Depot and is a new front-runner for the category.
For around $10 less and almost as good, there's Behr Ultra Exterior, also sold at Home Depot. Clark+Kensington from Ace Hardware is another solid choice with a comparable rating at just $35 per gallon. Sherwin-Williams Emerald is impressive, too, but it has a harder time resisting dirt than the other two, and it's $72 per gallon.
CR members can see more detailed ratings here:
How to Paint
Do you have some painting projects planned for your home? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Rico De Paz shows host Jack Rico how to give walls the perfect coat.