What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Exterior Trim?

Your exterior trim is one of the most visible parts of your home, making it an essential element of your overall curb appeal. You must choose high-quality paint and primer to protect and enhance its beauty. But what type is best?

To ensure you get the best results, use a combination of paint and primer specifically designed for exterior applications. Acrylic paint is the best choice as it provides a durable finish. An exterior-grade water-based primer is also recommended, as it provides better adhesion and protection against the elements.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 4 factors to consider when choosing paint for exterior trim
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for exterior trim

The 4 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Exterior Trim

1. Durability and Weather Resistance

Exterior trim is exposed to extreme weather conditions such as heat, rain, and snow that can cause premature fading and damage. Therefore, choose a paint that can withstand harsh weather conditions and maintain its color and quality for a long time.

Consider the quality of the paint, the materials used in its formulation, and its ability to resist dirt, moisture, and mildew. High-quality exterior trim paints are formulated with advanced technology that provides durable protection against UV rays, fading, and peeling.

2. Paint Finish

The finish you choose for your trim paint also affects its durability and look. A gloss or semi-gloss finish is more durable and can withstand harsher elements, but it can seem flashy. A satin or eggshell finish provides a more subtle look but may not be as durable.

3. Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is crucial to ensure your exterior trim paint adheres well and lasts a long time. The surface should be clean, dry, and free from loose paint, dirt, and debris. It’s also important to inspect for cracks, holes, or imperfections and fill them before painting.

4. Eco-Friendliness

As we strive to preserve the environment, it’s essential to consider the eco-friendliness of the paint you choose. Look for paints with low or zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as they emit fewer harmful chemicals into the air and are safer for your health.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Water-based Paint

Water-based paint is a type of paint that uses water as the main solvent instead of oil or chemical solvents. It is often referred to as latex paint, but water-based acrylic and enamel paints are also available.


  • Low VOCs, making it more environmentally friendly
  • Quick drying time
  • Easy to clean up with soap and water
  • More flexible than oil-based paints, so it can expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking or peeling
  • Wide range of colors available


  • It can be more expensive than oil-based paints
  • Not as durable as oil-based paints, so it may need to be reapplied more often in high-traffic areas
  • It can be difficult to apply in cold temperatures, so it may require special primers or additives for proper application

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paint, also referred to as alkyd or solvent-based paint, is a paint that utilizes an oil-based solvent as its medium, along with pigment and binder.


  • Ideal for exterior trim that’s exposed to the elements
  • Provides a smooth and glossy finish
  • Excellent adhesion properties and bond well with various surfaces
  • Offers better protection against moisture, mildew, and daily wear and tear


  • Slow drying time
  • Strong odor
  • Cleanup requires solvents
  • Can yellow over time
  • Contain higher levels of volatile organic compounds

What Paint Finish Is Best?

Durability is key since the trim is exposed to the elements and subject to wear and tear. Satin and eggshell finishes offer less shine and are less flashy, but they might not be as durable as higher gloss options. High-gloss finishes are the most durable but can be too shiny for some homeowners. 

For exterior trim, a semi-gloss finish is often the best choice. This option provides a nice middle ground between durability and shine.

Semi-gloss is highly durable, which is ideal for areas exposed to the elements and prone to damage. At the same time, it’s not as shiny as high-gloss finishes, which makes it a more subtle and versatile option. 

Another benefit of choosing a semi-gloss finish for exterior trim is that it is relatively easy to clean and maintain. This is important since exterior trim is often subject to dirt, grime, and other types of debris.

Choosing a finish that is easy to clean can help prolong the life of the paint and keep your exterior looking great for years to come. 

The Best Paint and Primer for Exterior Trim

Best Paint

Sherwin-Williams Everlast Exterior Paint & Primer is the best paint option for exterior trim. Its unparalleled self-cleaning technology ensures that your exterior trim looks fresh and clean as it rinses with rainwater. The one-coat coverage, stain-blocking, and ability to adhere to difficult surfaces make it an ideal choice for trim. 

Everlast is a wise investment for any homeowner as it is fade-resistant and ready for rain just one hour after application. Its mold-, mildew-, and algae-resistant qualities also ensure that your trim stays looking good for years without deteriorating.

The paint can be applied safely in temperatures as low as 35°F (2°C) or as high as 90°F (32°C), making it suitable for any season. 

Moreover, Sherwin-Williams Everlast Exterior Paint & Primer has a lifetime warranty, a testament to its excellent quality and durability. With its mold, mildew, and algae-resistant features, your exterior trim will look clean and fresh for a long time.

Best Primer

Choosing the right primer is crucial for achieving a smooth and long-lasting finish. That’s why Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer is the best choice for exterior trim.

The beauty of Zinsser 1-2-3 lies in its ability to uniformly seal surfaces without the need for sanding beforehand. This feature saves time and energy, making it the go-to option for an efficient primer.

It also has top-notch stain-blocking abilities, preventing stains or discolorations from bleeding through the paint. Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer also seals up stains, making it an ideal choice for trim subjected to external elements.

Another impressive aspect of this primer is its speed. It dries to the touch in 35 minutes and is ready for a topcoat in one hour. This saves time during the painting process and ensures that you can finish your project the same day you started it.

In terms of coverage, the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 is also a top performer. One quart (1L) of the primer can cover anywhere from 85 to 110 square feet (8-10m²), so you’ll need fewer coats to get the job done.

And because it has excellent stain-blocking resistance, you can use it with any oil or latex topcoat to achieve a flawless finish.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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