When it comes to choosing paint for the exterior of your house, go with a semigloss finish for doors and trim. This kind of paint is more durable than lower-sheen finishes, and it adds shine, providing a visual contrast.

“Semigloss holds up well, and years later you can scrub away any dirt and the finish will still look good,” says Rico De Paz, Consumer Reports’ resident paint pro. He also recommends a semigloss finish for porch ceilings, railings, and stairs, adding that you should use a porch-and-patio paint for the porch floor.

Before you tackle this project, check the paint can for information on the ideal conditions for application. Daytime temperatures between 50° and 90° F with little or no wind or humidity are generally best for exterior painting.

Best Exterior Paints From CR's Tests

In our tough exterior-paint tests, we evaluate how the finish will look after three, six, and nine years. Here’s a list of some of the highest-scoring exterior semigloss paints we’ve tested and the price per gallon. They appear in alphabetical order:

Behr Premium Plus, $31 at Home Depot
Behr Premium Plus Ultra, $43 at Home Depot
Clark+Kensington, $37 at Ace Hardware
Sherwin-Williams Emerald, $77 at dealers and independents
Valspar DuraMax, $39 at Lowe's

For more choices, see our exterior-paint ratings and click on the Features & Specs tab to see how well the paints resist cracking, fading, dirt, and mildew. Now is a good time to look for sales online. Sherwin-Williams, for example, is offering 40 percent off paints you buy from July 14 through July 17.

Paint Your Front Door Like a Pro

Repainting your front door is easy—and important, because the entrance to any home draws attention. Here’s what De Paz recommends. 

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.

Prep the surface. Wash the door with a sponge and a mixture of water and Spic and Span. Rinse the surface, then dry thoroughly. Gently scrape away peeling paint with a putty knife. Sand with 200-grit sandpaper and wipe clean with a tack cloth designed to remove dust, then tape around the hardware.

Paint a section at a time. If your door is paneled, start with the panels. Using semigloss exterior paint and a 2-inch angled sash brush with synthetic bristles, paint around the edges of the panels. Switch to a mini-roller for the flat areas. Finish with the outer sections, following the grain of the wood. Allow to dry for an hour or 2 (check the instructions on the paint can), then apply a second coat. The door will take several hours to dry completely, so leave it open to prevent it from sticking to the doorframe.

If you’re debating which color to paint your door, check out the front-door gallery on Houzz.