Lowes Exterior Paint Guide Exterior Paint and Primer

Painting your home’s exterior doesn’t have to mean hiring a team of professionals. With a few simple steps and the right tools, you can do it yourself and ensure your home’s beauty season after season. A coat of paint not only creates an attractive appearance for years to come, it also protects exterior surfaces from moisture, fading and temperature changes.

A high-quality Lowes exterior paint will provide better protection, complete coverage, easier application and longer-lasting results.

When it comes to buying paint, you have lots of choices, some determined by your  project and others that are based solely on your preference.  Properly applied, new paint should last for about 15 years. Before you learn about all of the options available to you, use the following questions to focus in on the needs of your project:

  • What types of exterior surfaces do you plan to paint?
  • Are they chalky or layered with previous coats of oil paint?
  • Are you painting bare wood, metal or concrete?
  • Does the surface require frequent cleaning or have imperfections?

Quality, Types, Tips and Primer

High-quality paint is important for any project, but it’s especially important for exterior projects, which are subjected to harsh weather conditions day in and day out. Take time to consider long-term benefits of better paints. A good paint will require fewer coats and last longer, saving you money and time in the long run.

Lowes exterior paint brands include Sherwin-Williams, Olympic, Valspar, Rust-Oleum, Valspar Ultra and Valspar Duramax

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based: In general, water-based paints are preferred for most exterior applications, but oil-based paints may perform better under certain conditions. Water-based paints expand and contract with the siding on a house, they’re breathable, so they won’t trap moisture and crack or peel, and they dry faster.

Oil paints usually take between 8 and 24 hours to completely dry, while water-based paints dry in just 1 to 4 hours. Oil-based paints offer better adhesion and stain blocking, so they’re better for chalky surfaces, stained surfaces, and metals that rust.

  • Water-based paint can be applied over oil-based paint, but oil-based paint shouldn’t be applied over water-based
  • On surfaces with four or more coats of oil paint, stick with oil, since a water-based paint may cause the oil paint to pull away and crack
  • Latex paints with an all-acrylic binder hold up to weather better than latex paints with a vinyl-acrylic binder


Paint BaseDescriptionMajor Advantages
Oil-based (alkyd)Consist of a pigment and resin in a solvent thinner. When thinners evaporate, the resins form a hard coating, leaving behind the pigment (which provides the color).
  • Better surface penetration
  • Better adhesion
  • Wearability
  • Better flow and leveling
  • Dries to a smoother finish with fewer brush/roller marks
Water-based (acrylic; latex)Consist of a pigment and binder with water used as carrier.
  • Better gloss and color retention
  • Breathable (won’t trap moisture)
  • Quicker drying
  • Less odor
  • Nonflammable
  • Soap and water cleanup
  • Low VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals)

Primer: Bare wood and some other surfaces need to be primed before you paint them. Like paints, primers come in oil- and water-based varieties. Oil-based primers are suitable for use with oil- or water-based paints, so you could prime a chalky surface with oil-based primer for better adhesion and still take advantage of the benefits of latex paint. Water-based primer is not recommended for use under oil-based paint.

A primer will help paint adhere to the surface, providing a more uniform appearance. Use a primer when painting over new wood, bare wood, or repainting over existing bright or dark colors. Ask your salesperson and read the labels before making this decision.

  • Water-based primers are recommended for most applications, but oil-based primers are preferable for stained wood, bleeding wood and metals that rust
  • Oil-based primers can be used with any paint, but water-based primer should only be used with water-based paint
  • There are specific primers for wood, concrete and certain metals, such as galvanized steel, iron and aluminum

Paint Types: Exterior paint must withstand a variety of harsh external influences. For this reason, exterior paint is offered in several formulas designed to meet the specific requirements of your surface. Use this chart to select the paint that is appropriate for your outdoor painting project:

Paint TypeWhat You Should Know
Floor/Porch Paint
  • Oil and latex available; 100% acrylic latex lends the best results
  • Provides weather-resistant coverage for garages, porches, decks and concrete surfaces
Gutter Paint
  • Oil and latex are both available; oil is better for tin gutters
  • Adheres well to galvanized steel and aluminum
  • A galvanized metal primer must be applied before painting
House/Siding Paint
  • Oil and latex formulations available
  • Will withstand wear and exposure to severe weather conditions
  • Manufacturers offer specific formulations for regional climates
Masonry Paints
  • Usually latex
  • Ideal for stucco, concrete, cement and shingles
  • Most require a special pretreatment or bonding primer
Pool and Marine Paint
  • Look for a polymerized cement-based product for concrete and gunite pools
  • Look for paints that provide stain- and abrasion-resistance
  • Be sure to check for compatibility with your surface (pool, concrete deck or spa)
Roof Paint
  • Look for an acrylic-latex blend
  • Most are mildew- and algae-proof
  • Should not be used for waterproofing or to repair roof leaks
  • Can be tinted to match roof color

Surface Preparation: Even the best paints won’t adhere well if you don’t prepare the surface correctly. If the surface has been painted before, check for peeling paint and scrape it off prior to applying a new coat. The surface always needs to be clean. If unpainted wood is gray or weathered, it should be sanded.

  • Clean, scrape and fill holes in the surface prior to paint application
  • Sleek surfaces may require light sanding to improve adhesion with primer or paint
  • Prime all bare wood, including bare spots and nails on previously painted surfaces

lowes exterior paintWeather: Just like proper surface preparation, applying paint in the right weather can make or break a project. In temperatures colder than 50˚F most paint won’t dry. In direct sunlight paint may dry too fast, causing lap marks.

Temperature is an important consideration as paint must dry before the temperature drops below 50 degrees. For that reason, it’s best not to paint within 2 hours of sundown if nighttime temperatures  look like they could go below that level.

Unusually high temperatures are a problem as well, because surfaces that are too hot can cause paint to blister. The best way to avoid strong sun is to paint in the shade: paint the south face early in the morning; then the west face, the north side at noon; in the afternoon, work the east face and any part of the south face that you didn’t finish earlier. Avoid panting in temperatures above 90 degrees.

Wind can also cause paint to dry too quickly, in addition to blowing dirt onto the surface.

  • Direct sun and wind can cause paint to dry too fast, especially fast-drying latex paints
  • Cold temperatures, rain and humidity can prevent paint from drying properly
  • Check the label for recommendations on temperature ranges before starting

Characteristics of Quality Lowes Exterior Paint

  • Hiding power is the ability of the paint to sufficiently cover or conceal the surface where it’s applied. Hiding power comes from the paint’s pigment and is affected by the manner and thickness of the application.
  • Color retention refers to tinted paints only. The paint’s ability to maintain its original color during exposure determines its color retention.
  • Chalking resistance prevents the white chalky powder from forming on the surface and lightening the color of the paint. Chalking occurs over a period of time by the binder slowly degrading. The telltale streaking of a paint chalk run-down  is one sign using a paint that isn’t chalk resistant.
  • Blister resistance will keep excessive moisture from coming through the substrate and affecting the paint layer. If paint is applied over a damp or wet surface, blistering is likely.

Paint Finishes

Paint sheen is the term used to describe the degree of light reflection paint has. Usually the less sheen paint has, the less stain-resistant it is. Different manufacturers may have various trade names for them, but in general sheens are classified as:

  • Gloss is the toughest. It cleans easily and resists scuffs better. Therefore, it’s a good choice for areas of high traffic or constant use, like door jambs and window casings. For shutters and other trimwork, gloss paint provides a sleek, eye-catching look. Gloss paint will, however, show imperfections in the surface more than other sheens.
  • Semi-gloss paints are also durable and easy to clean, but have less shine than gloss. They are just as suitable for trimwork and casings.
  • Satin, eggshell or low luster offers a good combination of easy-clean and moderate sheen. It’s a popular choice for siding that is in good condition.
  • Flat paint is the best choice for vinyl and aluminum siding that is scratched or dented as it hides imperfections and spatters less when applied. It’s also easier to touch up.

Lowes exterior paint. Everything you need to turn your dreams into reality. From rollers and brushes to the paint and primer itself, we’ll help you choose the color, type and tools to get the job done. A fresh coat of exterior paint gives a home an instant facelift and a clean, bright exterior.

Need help with Lowes interior paint?  Click here.

By Victoria Stone-Easy Expert Staff