Choosing the correct type of paint for your home is very important to the  structure of the paint itself, as well as the appearance of the overall result. Whether oil-based or water-based, exterior paints not only define the home’s appearance, but also help to extend the lifespan of the construction materials. This blog will introduce a significant aspect of exterior painting - types of paint and how we identify and recommend each type to meet the specific needs of your home. 

Oil-based vs. water-based paints

Any house paint (interior or exterior) is essentially a blend of pigment and binding agent. For many years, a common recommendation was to use oil-based paint for the exterior walls since it forms a harder, less permeable coating when dried, thus protecting the exterior from the elements. However, water-based paints have become more popular for exterior use for a number of reasons.

As house paints dry, they release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the environment. Oil-based paints are generally much higher in VOCs than their water-based latex or acrylic counterparts. Lower VOCs mean less impact on the atmosphere, and far fewer unpleasant fumes as the paint dries and cures. Oil-based house paints, also known as solvent-based paints, have actually been banned in a number of countries. Water-based house paints formulated for exterior use have been created as an alternative to prevent the release of VOCs into the environment. 

But that’s not all! Although the base of paint you choose is important, the finish or overall look of the project must be fitting as well!


Also known as “finish,” the sheen of an exterior paint is an important consideration, especially when it comes to the underlying material. Many homeowners choose a low-sheen or matte finish when painting uneven surfaces such as concrete or stucco. The duller sheen can hide imperfections and damaged areas. More reflective sheens (semi-gloss, gloss, or satin) work best on smooth surfaces such as wood, aluminum siding, and steel. The higher reflectivity can create unwanted shadows, however, so some experimentation may be necessary to achieve your desired look. The chart below categorizes the different types of sheen and where they should be utilized. 

The bottom line...

If you have a choice between the two products (oil-based paint has been banned in many areas), choose a water-based paint. Water-based paint can be easily removed from skin with soap and water, and any rinse water can be safely poured down the drain. Oil-based exterior paints require chemical solvents and thinners.

Painting nearly anything can seem simple - until it’s not. That’s why hiring pros to complete a job is crucial to a satisfactory result, especially for a huge project like your home. Exterior work can be one of the most complicated painting projects to master, and there are many technicalities the professionals at Pro Painters consider. We hope this provides insight into the complex yet exciting aspects of your project! Our paint pros look forward to embarking on your custom paint journey!