What is Exterior Latex Paint?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Latex paint is often used on a structure's exterior surface.
Latex paint is often used on a structure's exterior surface.

Exterior latex paint refers to certain types of paint suitable for painting many home exteriors. Though the name latex is used, ingredients in the paint usually don’t contain any material from rubber trees. Instead they may be a combination of plastic resin or other manufactured chemicals and water.

Would be painters may be interested in specific ingredients in exterior latex paint, and here there will be some variance depending upon brand and color. Some common ingredients are relatively benign like calcium carbonate, which is often used in antacids, and aluminum silicate or kaolin. Others main ingredients may include things like quartz or sand which helps add volume to the paint, and of course water.

Latex paint is easier to clean.
Latex paint is easier to clean.

In many instances latex paint is preferred because it can be cleaned up easily and it doesn’t usually require the use of paint thinners or removers that can pose a fire hazard. A person who gets latex paint on clothing or hair will have a relatively easy time removing it, especially if the paint is still damp. This type of paint is also preferred because it is relatively durable and quick-drying as compared to oil-based or alkyd paints.

Exterior paint have stronger odors and are not recommended for indoor projects.
Exterior paint have stronger odors and are not recommended for indoor projects.

There can be numerous advantages to using exterior latex paint for things like the outside of homes. In addition to easy cleanup, these paints are called opaque because they will cover others colors completely. People will note that any paint designated as exterior tends to be more expensive than interior paints. This is because they must contain more of the resin than do interior types. This additional resin keeps them moisture resistant when dry and makes them more durable in various types of weather conditions.

A face mask should be worn when working with latex paint in confined spaces.
A face mask should be worn when working with latex paint in confined spaces.

Even though exterior latex paint has numerous advantages, it isn’t suitable for all exteriors. If the paint is being applied over alkyd paint, the results may not be as desirable. Experts on painting recommend covering the existing paint with the same type for best finish and look.

Certain surfaces should not be painted with exterior latex paint because it is water based. Rusting may occur if the paint is used on steel. Anyone who may be painting a whole house or building with various types of material should determine the type of paint that works best on a variety of surfaces. This may very well be exterior latex paint, but other paint choices may be more suitable in some circumstances.

Paint thinners are not needed to remove latex paint.
Paint thinners are not needed to remove latex paint.

Thrifty folks who’d like to paint some interiors may wonder if they can use exterior latex paint for this purpose. This is generally not recommended because odors will be stronger and the paint won’t dry as quickly. The practice isn’t unheard of though, and people who do plan to use an exterior paint indoors should make sure the home is adequately ventilated, and should also plan for extended drying time. Final results may not be as visually appealing as when interior paint is used instead.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

Wisedly33

@Scrbblchick -- Everything is cheaper about exterior latex paint! You can use any kind of roller and usually, water will take it off hair and clothes. Oil based paint gets on everything and will not come out. I've seen people use everything from gasoline to turpentine to get oil paint out of clothing, or from a floor surface. It's pretty bad.

Plus, oil-based paints *stink*! Latex doesn't smell nearly as much, and as the article said, it dries a lot quicker. Even exterior oil paint takes forever to dry, even if it's 90 degrees outside! And six weeks later, you'll still find paint spots where you thought you removed them. It's insidious.

Scrbblchick

House paint is expensive, no matter what's in it! I was looking at house paint not long ago and I couldn't believe the prices! Exterior latex paint was running as high as $50USD a gallon! What? Who can afford $50 a gallon for house paint? Well, I guess if you have a really nice house, maybe you can. I can't.

I did see some of the cheaper paint priced for less, and I'm sure it would be just as good. I think for the most expensive paint, you're paying for the name, for sure.

I've used oil-based exterior paint, and I prefer latex. It rolls on much easier and doesn't drip like the oil-based paints do. I can see not using it on metal, but for most other finishes, I'm a fan of latex paint.

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    • Latex paint is often used on a structure's exterior surface.
      By: Theresa Martinez
      Latex paint is often used on a structure's exterior surface.
    • Latex paint is easier to clean.
      By: sima
      Latex paint is easier to clean.
    • Exterior paint have stronger odors and are not recommended for indoor projects.
      By: mrallen
      Exterior paint have stronger odors and are not recommended for indoor projects.
    • A face mask should be worn when working with latex paint in confined spaces.
      By: Johan Larson
      A face mask should be worn when working with latex paint in confined spaces.
    • Paint thinners are not needed to remove latex paint.
      By: Rob
      Paint thinners are not needed to remove latex paint.