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5 Types of Exterior Paint Finishes: Choosing the Perfect One for Your Home

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Your home is more than just a structure; it's an expression of your unique style and personality. And when it comes to creating that wow factor, the exterior paint finish plays a starring role. Not only does it determine how your home looks, but it also safeguards it from unpredictable elements. So, let's dive into the colorful world of exterior paint finishes and find the one that will make your home shine like never before!

Choosing the right paint finishes for the exterior of your house is like trying to find the perfect accessory to go with your outfit. You want it to look awesome and protect your home from whatever Mother Nature throws at it. You've got lots of options, like flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and glossy finish, to help turn your house into a beautiful masterpiece.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the unique characteristics of each finish, making it easier for you to decide which one will best suit your home. Let's embark on this paint-filled journey and discover how to bring out the very best in your beloved abode. Your home is eagerly waiting to flaunt its new look to the world!

Understanding Exterior Paint Finishes

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's understand what exterior paint finishes are all about. Simply put, it's all about the shine or sheen of the paint after it dries. Different finishes offer different levels of glossiness, texture, and durability. The right finish can make a big difference in the appearance and performance of your paint job.

1. Flat Finish: Smooth and Velvety

  • Appearance: Picture a smooth, velvety surface with a low sheen - that's the allure of a flat finish! It's perfect for hiding any surface imperfections and creating a seamless look for your walls. Flat finishes generally reflect around 12% of light, which gets absorbed by the surface of your home. If you run your hand over it, you may notice a slightly chalky and rough texture.
  • Best For: If your home has a lot of texture or you're dealing with an older house, a flat finish will work wonders by camouflaging flaws and making them a distant memory. However, it's not suitable for high-traffic areas like doors, windows, and floors. Save the flat finish for painting exterior siding and embrace its charm!
  • Considerations: Keep in mind that flat finishes may not be as durable as others, so they're best suited for low-traffic areas with minimal exposure to the elements.

2. Eggshell Finish: Subtle Glow

  • Appearance: Among the most popular choices for exterior paint, and rightly so. The eggshell finish strikes a delightful balance between flat finish and high sheen finish. Imagine the smooth texture of an eggshell with a subtle shine - that's the magic of an eggshell finish! It's versatile and works wonders on various materials, from wood to stucco, adding a touch of elegance without being too shiny or dull.
  • Best For: Looking for that sweet spot between durability and aesthetics? Eggshell finishes strike a perfect balance, making them ideal for most exteriors.
  • Considerations: Though more durable than flat finishes, eggshell finishes might not be best for extremely rough or uneven surfaces. Additionally, they can be tricky to touch up.

3. Satin Finish: Soft and Gentle

  • Appearance: Satin finishes offer a soft glow that enhances your home's beauty with a gentle shine, creating a classy and sophisticated appeal. They have between 25% and 40% reflectiveness, striking the perfect balance without being overly glossy, even under the bright sun.
  • Best For: These finishes work like magic on various exteriors and are especially loved for modern and contemporary homes, adding a touch of elegance to your surroundings. They are perfect for painting shutters, wood and cement siding, trim, and doors, giving your home a stylish upgrade!
  • Considerations: While offering better durability than flat or eggshell finishes, satin paints might show surface imperfections more clearly, so make sure your walls are in good shape.

💡If you're also thinking about checking out a guide on interior paint finishes, take a look at "The Importance of Choosing the Right Paint Finish: Matte, Satin, or Gloss?".

4. Semi-Gloss Finish: Radiant and Elegant

Semi-gloss finished black front door.

  • Appearance: Semi-gloss paint is less shiny than glossy paint.
  • Best For: This finish is often chosen for doors, trim, and accents, as it adds a touch of elegance and draws attention to architectural details, making them the stars of your home's façade.
  • Considerations: While semi-gloss finishes offer excellent durability and moisture resistance, they may highlight surface flaws more prominently. Ensure a smooth surface before application for the best results. It's essential to note that semi-gloss paint isn't the best choice for covering large sections of siding.

5. Glossy Finish: High Shine Luxury

Glossy finished sky blue front door.

  • Appearance: This finish provides high definition to architectural details and has an extreme reflectiveness of over 85%.
  • Best For: Glossy finishes are less commonly used for entire exteriors and are usually reserved for specific accents, like front doors, door frames, handrails and shutters, giving them a striking and captivating look.
  • Considerations: While highly durable and easy to clean, glossy finishes might reveal more surface imperfections and be too striking for some homeowners, so use them thoughtfully.

Picking the Perfect Exterior Paint Finish

After examining various paint finishes, it's now time to find the type of exterior paint finish that is best for your home! Here are some key factors to consider:

1. Architectural Style: Take a good look at the style of your home. Traditional homes may rock a softer finish like eggshell or satin, while modern homes can handle a bit more shine with semi-gloss.

2. Climate Considerations: Don't forget to consider the weather in your area. If you deal with harsh weather conditions, a more durable finish like semi-gloss might be your best bet for long-lasting beauty.

3. Maintenance Needs: Think about how much effort you want to put into maintaining your paint job. High-gloss finishes might need more regular cleaning to keep them looking their best, while flat and eggshell finishes can be lower maintenance.

4. Surface Condition: Assess the condition of your home's exterior. If there are many imperfections, a flat or eggshell finish can help disguise them beautifully, creating a flawless appearance.

5. Difficulty: When painting the exterior, a higher gloss can often lead to more mistakes. If you are doing it yourself, consider using a satin finish or lower luster/eggshell finish for an easier job. However, if you hire an exterior house painter, they should be able to work with any sheen.


Congratulations, homeowners! Armed with the knowledge of five great exterior paint finishes, you are now ready to transform your home into a visual masterpiece. The exterior paint finish you choose can truly make or break the appearance and performance of your paint job. So, take your time, explore your options, and let your creativity shine!

Remember, the right finish not only enhances your home's beauty but also safeguards it from unpredictable elements. Whether you prefer the soft glow of eggshell, the subtle shine of satin, or the high-gloss luxury of glossy, each finish has its unique charm.

So, unleash your home's true beauty and create a space that reflects your personal style and personality. The charm of your home will captivate onlookers, leaving them mesmerized by the stunning transformation.

Happy painting, and may your home shine brighter than ever before!