Exterior walls, made of brick, concrete, and such, are quite different in substrate material from interior drywall. Moreover, unlike interior walls, they are exposed to the elements.
Specialised Masonry Paints are weather-resistant, permeable, flexible and have other properties expressly designed for exterior walls.
Different Types of Paints
There are paints, and then there are paints. As you would expect, paints differ quite widely in overall quality. However, key by-design features separate paints into various categories: paints are chemically formulated, tested, and made expressly for different surfaces, and for exterior use or interior use.
Emulsion paints are meant for and are most suitable for interior use on drywall because of their superior finish and their far wider choice of hues and tints. However, emulsions are not weather resistant and, if applied on exterior walls, will quickly go dull, flake, and peel in even moderately adverse weather conditions.
Many Masonry Paints, in contrast, are weather-resistant and even water-proof because, though they are water-based, they are made from acrylic resin. Also, as they are meant to coat exteriors, they have insulating qualities and are ‘breathable;’ that is, they allow moisture to pass through instead of locking it in. (Breathability is relative and is dependent on other conditions, such as climate and the properties of the substrate itself. When maximum breathability is the primary consideration one should opt for silicate or silicone masonry paint.)
Masonry Paints and Their Properties
Compared to emulsion, Masonry Paints will thickly coat uneven and porous substrates and leave a smooth, consistent finish. They are suitable for, among other vertical surfaces, stone, brick, concrete, render, plaster, pebbledash and building blocks. They cannot and should not be applied to horizontal surfaces.
Masonry Paints, also known as Exterior Paints, are themselves divided into two main types: smooth and textured. Because of their finish, smooth paints are easier to keep clean and their visual presentation is usually preferred over that of textured paints. Textured paints are usually used when cracks and faults in the substrate need to be covered up and when a highly irregular surface, like pebbledash, needs to be painted effectively. Though smooth paints are weather-resistant, textured ones are even more so.
Leaving textured masonry paints for another day and another review, we present five very fine Smooth Finish Masonry Paints underneath. Masonry paints are one of those products which, after you give one a go, you order more of the same and stick with it for years. Though all our choices, below, fall into this category of products that become lifelong choices, we tease out the finer points, strengths, and weaknesses of each.
We consider the following attributes:–
- Degree of Whiteness
- Coverage (all other things being equal)
- Thickness and consistency
- Number of coats required
- Weather resistance
- Application – how it ‘goes on’
- Specific features and idiosyncrasies
- Price on a per-litre basis
Here’s a top-level comparison of our three favourites:
Last update on 2021-04-12 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
And get more detail on each pick below:
Scoring high on all criteria but particularly on its unmatched coverage and long lasting finish, Sandtex’s Masonry Paint cannot be improved upon.
Sandtex Ultra Smooth Masonry Paint is sold in 5-litre cans.
It is accurately advertised as ‘creamy smooth.’ It leaves a matte finish and the shade of white is truly ‘Brilliant White.’
It goes on ‘smoothly’ and so very well that on concrete walls all you may need is a single coat. Adding to its qualities, it is noticeably fast drying.
Its ‘microseal technology’ is designed to introduce flexibility so as to resist peeling and flaking. It is also rated as being ‘rainproof.’
All said this is a particularly durable paint that will last for a few years; even several years in a benign climate.
Sandtex Ultra Smooth Masonry Paint has a coverage of 12 to 16 square metres per litre. It may seem that Sandtex may be bumping these numbers but no, this paint’s coverage is really quite extraordinary.
Though not an expensive paint, this one is not a budget-class offering either, yet in view of its amazing coverage it equates to a really good value for money.
In a crowded field of contenders, Sandtex’s exterior paint ticks all the boxes and pips the pack for our Best Pick position.
- Particularly durable and long lasting.
- Astonishing, nearly unmatched, coverage.
- Scoring no lower than, say, a ‘B+’ in any category, it nails an overall A.
- Just outranked by other paints in smoothness.
- Just outranked by other paints in whiteness.
Though not particularly smooth or thick, Dulux’s paint is truly a ‘Weathershield’ and is a brilliant ‘extreme’ white – and also an ‘extreme’ value.
Dulux Weathershield Smooth is sold in economical 7.5-litre cans.
It has a matte finish; as for its shade of white, it is a pure, brilliant eye-popping white.
It is easy to apply with brushes or roller, and goes on evenly. It is very thick and one coat suffices on many surfaces. It also dries fast.
It has a ‘high performance acrylic resin’ binder. It is breathable to allow moisture release and is flexible to guard against peeling and flaking. Rated as ‘rainproof,’ this paint is virtually impervious to harsh weather. Though also billed as ‘Mould & Algae Resistant,’ on this count it does not meet its specs.
Two or three coats should be good for about five years.
Dulux Weathershield Smooth’s coverage is given as 14 to 15 square metres per litre, and it probably just about hits its specified coverage on a ‘cooperative’ surface.
Considering its impressive qualities and its white-white colour it is surprisingly low-priced, and on a per-litre computation has the lowest price; as a result, it handily wins our Value Pick slot.
- The brilliant shade of white – call it ‘Extreme White’
- Excellent weatherproofing qualities.
- Very inexpensive product is a fantastic value for money.
- Neither as thick nor as smooth as other paints.
- Does not live up to its claims of mould-resistance.
Scoring low in coverage, Leyland’s somewhat costly Granocryl has a thick, rich consistency, is durable, and is an unusually bright shade of white.
Leyland Granocryl Smooth is sold in 2.5-litre and 5-litre cans. Besides White, it is available in many light-coloured pastel tones.
This ‘Smooth’ paint is especially smooth. Its shade of white is a very bright white; as if it is somehow lit up.
It goes on well and quickly too, and in consistency it is one of the thickest. It spreads in a rich coat and lays down so well that quite often a single coat will be all you need.
It is rated as being breathable, flexible, and ‘weather resistant.’ And indeed it is because it is not only weather-resistant, it is virtually weather-proof as it withstands the fury of the elements. A particular idiosyncrasy of Leyland Granocryl Smooth is that when it rains on masonry coated with this paint, the wet effect is unusually pronounced.
This paint lasts for a few years; even several years.
Its coverage may be just short or perhaps match the manufacturer’s claim of 10 square metres per litre on a helpful surface.
It is on the costly side.
- Extremely thick consistency that spreads and lays in a rich coat.
- Very bright ‘lit up’ shade white.
- Long lasting and durable.
- On the costly side.
- Coverage not quite as good as those of other paints.
Johnstone’s Smooth is fragile in transit but this thick paint goes on easily and is durable; while it isn’t brilliant white, it’s a brilliant value.
Cost: Price not available
Johnstone’s Weatherguard Smooth is sold in 5-litre cans. Besides White, it is available in several tones suitable for exterior walls.
It is a ‘smooth’ paint with a matte finish. The colour is a hard, solid white.
What the makers modestly neglect to mention is that it is very thick and goes on well very easily, and, because of its consistency, does not drip or run.
It is advertised as ‘permeable’ and ‘flexible,’ and resistant to weather. In actual use it seems to have anti-reflectant properties even though it is not a very bright, brilliant type of white. It may be the right choice to lay on south-facing walls in sunny locales.
Whether or not Johnstone’s Weatherguard will offer ‘protection’ for ’10 years,’ it is, in fact, durable and rugged – if a paint can be called that.
It should be mentioned that the cans aren’t rugged – they tend to leak, burst or break in transit more frequently than those of other paints.
Its coverage is, perhaps conservatively, rated as 10 square metres per litre. It meets this spec and on smooth, low-porosity surfaces even exceeds it.
It is an excellent value for money.
- Very thick consistency and relatively drip-free and run-free.
- Long lasting, durable, even ‘rugged.’
- One of the very best values for money.
- The shade of white is not a very bright or brilliant white.
- Cans seem to leak, burst or break en route somewhat more often than those of other paints.
Polar’s Paint may not be white-white but its price is justified by its silky finish, outstanding coverage, and ability to hide cracks and defects.
Polar Exterior Wall Guard is sold in 5-litre cans. Besides White, is available in various light semi-neutral tones.
Advertised as merely ‘smooth,’ its finish is smooth, even satiny, even on rough masonry surfaces. Its silky smoothness is a distinguishing feature. It dries quickly
It also goes on smoothly and though one coat may well be enough, with two coats you will get that silky smooth, satiny finish.
While rated as being ‘permeable,’ ‘water proof,’ and such, two advertising claims do stand out. First, it is possible to observe that it indeed is a flexible and elastic paint that will be resistant to vapour damage, flaking and peeling. And its ‘decorative finish’ really does the job in concealing cracks and other defects.
Polar Exterior Wall Guard has quite amazing coverage, living up to its rating of up to even 16 square metres per litre on smooth walls.
This product’s coverage is so outstanding that though it is relatively expensive on a price-per-litre basis, its superlative coverage capability does compensate for the price, for it is very expensive.
- Identified as ‘decorative,’ it excels at hiding cracks and other structural defects.
- The finish is not just smooth, it’s silky smooth.
- Coverage is truly outstanding.
- The shade of white is not a very bright or brilliant white.
- Very expensive.
How To Paint Exterior Walls
Painting an exterior wall is a curious business. The painting itself is not all that difficult; it’s what you do before you start painting that makes all the difference. To a very great degree, how you prep the wall will give an accurate indication as to how successful your paint job will be.
Be sure to wear a dust mask and goggles. You don’t want to inhale dust, especially small particles of paint, nor do you want droplets of paint getting in your eyes.
Remove all dust, dirt, and embedded debris from the wall, preferably by jetwashing it.
Scrape off or otherwise remove as much as you can of any previous coat of paint.
Inspect the wall for cracks and other structural defects. You would be well advised to conduct all necessary repairs before beginning your paint job.
Inspect the wall for fungus, marks, and mould. If you see any, apply a properly diluted fungicidal wash to the wall, using a brush or a sprayer. Allow it to work for about 24 hours. Then use a stiff brush to remove the growth. Then wash off the fungicidal wash residue with a hosepipe and clean rags.
Before you apply any primer, paint or such, make sure that the wall is free of any flaking or dampness. Also check the weather forecast to ensure that you have a few sunny days ahead of you. Do not undertake an exterior painting project without paying attention to the forecast.
Choose a sealer-primer. You could get away with applying interior PVA primer on some exterior walls but the more porous, rough, and uneven your exterior wall, the greater the need for a proper exterior sealer-primer.
Look into the specifications of the sealer-primer you have chosen as to the time interval within which the paint must be applied on it so you can plan accordingly. For instance, most primers’ instructions recommend that paint be applied from 24 to 48 hours of priming.
Apply one coat of the sealer-primer.
Open the paint can and stir it vigorously. Depending on the paint and the substrate, you may thin the paint by mixing it with water in a 9:1 ratio.
You can apply paint to an exterior wall using a brush, roller, or paint-sprayer. We suggest a roller as the best compromise. (A roller will not do for uneven surfaces such as pebbledash.)
Paint rollers vary in width, texture, and material. You should use a 9-inch (23-centimetre) roller with a rough or very rough blended roller cover.
Pour paint in a paint pan taking care to keep it where you (or anyone else) will not accidentally disturb it, and if it does get accidentally disturbed, where paint spillage will not cause undue damage. Lay plastic sheeting under the pan.
The first time you dip the roller in the paint pan, it will need to be longer than subsequent dips as the paint will need to soak into the roller. Swipe it back and forth and allow it to take up paint but not so much that it gets oversoaked and is dripping wet – paint should not drip. If necessary, squeeze out the excess.
Starting from the top, run the roller across the wall with a smooth, sweeping, side-to-side motion so that you lay on paint in horizontal bands, partially overlapping each sweep or stroke with the next one. Ensure that no gaps or partially painted spots get left behind. Press on the roller only as much as necessary to ensure smooth, even application without running.
Work your way from top to bottom; this way runs will get painted over and will not spoil the previously painted area.
Keep dipping the brush frequently in the paint pan and move it back and forth so that it always has sufficient paint but without oversoaking it.
After you finish the wall, let it dry. Then, unless you are positive that one coat is sufficient, apply a second coat.