Using Water-Based Paint Outside

Updated Feb 16, 2024 | Posted Oct 11, 2023 | Professional insight, Product Advice | 0 comments

The Decorating industry is slowly switching from oil- to water-based paint products. However, even a lot of Professional Decorators are apprehensive about this, especially when using water-based paint outside.

I’ve been a Professional Decorator for the past twenty odd years, and in that time, I’ve seen paint change dramatically. When I started out, no one would dream of using water-based paint on wood. The products available even a few years ago just weren’t good enough.

Things are different now. Manufacturers have found themselves competing to develop the best products they can. Now a lot of water-based paint products perform brilliantly well.

In this blog I’m going to talk about the things you should consider when using water-based paint outside and recommend a couple of my favourite products. I hope you find it useful.


Is water based exterior paint as good as oil-based?


Yes, in most cases, water-based exterior paint is as good or better than oil-based. This is because water-based has superior flexibility, so it will cope better with expanding and contracting surfaces. Water-based is also more breathable than oil-based in some cases.


The only time I think oil-based exterior paint outperforms water-based is when using it in a high gloss finish. Water-based just doesn’t achieve the same sheen level as oil and can look rather cheap.

The best advice I can give you is to make sure you choose a good quality trade paint, whether it be water- or oil-based. Not just because of the initial finish, but exterior paints are tasked with protecting your house from the elements, which is quite an important job. Also, using good quality paint products will mean you don’t need to repaint as often.


The Best Water-Based Multi-Surface Paint for Exterior Painting


As the name suggests, a multi-surface paint can be used on pretty much anything from composite doors and windows, wood, and even masonry. There are a lot of multi-surface paint products available now, but you shouldn’t rush into buying the first one you see.

After all, you’re asking one paint to cope with adhesion, durability, opacity, flexibility, and UV radiation. So, if you go for a generic or cheap paint, then the chances are it isn’t going to last very long outside.


There are a couple of good trade options available, but for me, the best is Zinsser Allcoat. You can buy this paint as an oil- or water-based, but the water-based version is far superior in my opinion. It’s available in matt, satin, or gloss finishes, it’s self-undercoating, easy to use, and you’ll achieve a great finish with it.

I love Zinsser Allcoat; It’s one of the best water-based paint products you can use outside and it’s very capable on loads of different substrates.

It’s just so easy to use, and it seems to last for years without so much as losing its colour (unlike some other water-based paints).

One thing I will say about Zinsser Allcoat, is that although you can apply multiple coats in a day, it does take a couple of days to harden and fully cure. So, if you’re using it on front doors or outside windows, leave them open as long as you can before closing them.

The Best Water-Based Paint for Exterior Walls


Most exterior walls are render or some other type of masonry, so you need a masonry paint to coat them (some people call me ‘Captain Obvious’). Water-based masonry paint is the best bet unless you’re painting in challenging weather conditions, in which case, you’d opt for pliolite-based.

There are loads of good water-based paints for exterior walls, but I’ll give you my preferred products.

Dulux Trade Weathershield

This is one of the most popular water-based masonry paints on the market. It’s loaded with polymer binders, has great opacity, great adhesion, and is easy to use. You can buy it in just about any colour too. I have used loads of Dulux Weathershield over the years, and I’ve always found it a quality product at a reasonable price.

If you’re going to opt for this paint, make sure you get the ‘trade’ version, because it is a lot better than its retail counterpart.

Emperor Masonry Paint

Dulux Weathershield may be a good product, but Emperor Masonry paint is another level, and probably is the very best water-based paint for exterior walls. (although you do pay a premium price for it). Rather than polymer, Emperor use silicon in their water-based paint, meaning it is water repellent and very breathable.

This has a few benefits; it never traps moisture into your walls, so generally lasts longer, and because it’s water-repellent, it is more likely to stay clean. Any muddy marks are generally washed away the next time you get a heavy downpour. Plus, it has a longer life expectancy, meaning less decorating.

If you do buy this paint, we have secured a coupon code. Use ‘Forum5’ at the checkout.

What Happens if you use Interior Paint Outdoors?


Interior paint is often cheaper than exterior paint, and depending on the product, may be ok to use outdoors. I’d advise against it though! Trying to save money on paint for outside is false economy.

Interior paints are not designed to cope with the challenging environment outside your home. They won’t expand and contract on timber surfaces, so end up peeling. Or UV radiation can quickly cause them to fade.

This will lead you to needing to redecorate sooner than you would do otherwise, costing more time and money.


Is Water-Based Paint Waterproof?


Yes, exterior water-based paints, durable emulsion paints, and trim paints are all waterproof once dry.


Can I Use Emulsion Paint Outside?


No, emulsion paint is not suitable for use outside. It won’t cope with the weather and will soon break down.


Final Thoughts


I hope this has given you some insight about using water-based paint outside. Providing you use a good-quality product, you really don’t have anything to worry about. You’ll find water-based much quicker and easier to apply, it’s better for the environment, and easier to clean from your skin.

Happy decorating!

Using Water-Based Paint Outside – by Mike Gregory

Updated Feb 16, 2024 | Posted Oct 11, 2023 | 0 comments

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