A freshly painted side of a house

Exterior paints have improved significantly in recent years. As a group, they're now more durable and less prone to cracking and fading. But there are still considerable differences among the 15 paints in Consumer Reports’ exterior paint ratings.

Our tests are tough, as you can tell by looking at the spread of Overall Scores in our ratings chart. It ranges from 30 to 75 out of a possible 100.

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To determine which paints are likely to last the longest on a home, CR's test engineers paint pine panels and place them on the roof of our headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y. We set the boards to face south and tilt them to intensify the effects of sun and weather. A year of CR’s severe testing is equivalent to about three years in real time. And after three years of testing, the results give us a sense of how paints will look after nine years on a home. 

We rate how a paint resists cracking, color change, dirt, and mildew; all this information is rolled into our Overall Score. Though many of the paints in our ratings are strong in 3 out of 4 categories, there are only two that score well enough across the board to make the Consumer Reports' recommended list. 

“These are the only paints we tested that will resist cracking, fading, dirt, and mildew after nine years," says Rico de Paz, a chemist who oversees CR’s paint tests.

This doesn’t mean they’re the only paints in our exterior paint ratings worth considering. The paints we test cover a wide price spectrum: $19 to $72 per gallon. And performance doesn't necessarily correspond with cost.

The Right Paint for Your Climate

Sunny, hot, dry zones require a paint that resists cracking and fading. Warm, humid areas call for mildew resistance. Desert homes and urban dwellings need paint that resists dirt.

You’ll see which paints did well in each of these tests in the Features & Specs section of our exterior paint ratings.

Consumer Reports’ five top picks, below, earn a rating of Very Good in our test for appearance after nine years.

5 Top Exterior Paints

Top Picks

1

Appearance after 3 years
Appearance after 6 years
Appearance after 9 years

2

Appearance after 3 years
Appearance after 6 years
Appearance after 9 years
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