What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Slate?

Slate is an excellent and resilient natural stone that is used for flooring, roofing, walls, and other applications both indoors and outdoors. If you’re planning to paint your slate floor and other surfaces, choosing the right type of paint and primer is important to ensure adhesion, durability, and aesthetic appeal.

For painting slate surfaces, a high-quality acrylic paint is recommended. Acrylic paints are extremely durable and have superior adhesion, good hide, and good coverage. A bonding primer is also recommended before applying the paint, as this will help ensure a stronger bond between the paint and the surface.

In this article, you will learn:

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

The 4 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Slate

1. Type of Slate

The first factor to consider when choosing paint for your slate is the type of slate you have. Slate comes in multiple types, including natural stone, faux, and slate tiles. The type of slate you have will determine the type of paint that will best adhere to it.

For example, if you have natural stone slate, masonry or mineral paint would be an excellent choice. If you have faux slate or slate tiles, acrylic or oil-based paint would work well.

2. Location

The location of your slate surface will also determine the type of paint you choose. If the surface is exposed to direct sunlight, a paint that resists fading and discoloration, such as those with UV resistance, would be ideal.

If you have a slate fireplace or stove, use heat-resistant paint to ensure the finish can withstand high temperatures.

3. Application Method

The method of painting your slate surface is also a crucial factor to consider. Spraying is the quickest method and applies an even layer of paint over your slate.

However, it may be expensive, requiring extensive preparation such as taping. Brushing and rolling, however, provide an excellent finish when done correctly and are more affordable.

4. Paint Quality

High-quality paints provide superior performance, ensuring they are more durable, long-lasting, and require less maintenance. Although high-quality paints cost more upfront, they provide value for your money in the long run.

Cheaper paints may chip, crack or fade more quickly, requiring more frequent repainting. Choose paint with high-quality ingredients.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a type of paint that is water-based and dries quickly. It has pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion.


  • Versatile: Can adhere well to various surfaces, including slate.
  • Affordable: Less expensive compared to other types of paint.
  • Quick-drying: Dries quickly, reducing the risk of dust and debris getting stuck in the paint.
  • Safer: Less toxic compared to some other paints.
  • Water-resistant: Once dried, acrylic paint becomes water-resistant, making it suitable for outdoor applications like slate roofing tiles.


  • Appearance: The finished result might not be as vibrant or glossy as with other types of paint.
  • Absorption: Slate’s porous nature may require multiple coats of acrylic paint for full coverage.

Latex Paint

Latex paint, or water-based paint, is a type of paint where the binder and carrier are primarily water.


  • Low VOCs: Environmentally friendly with fewer volatile organic compounds.
  • Non-flammable: Easier and safer to store or dispose of than oil-based paints.
  • Quick Drying: Allows for faster project completion.
  • Easy Clean-up: Requires only soap and water for brushes and spills.
  • Flexibility: Less prone to cracking as it can expand and contract with the slate.


  • Absorption: Slate is porous and may absorb water-based paint, potentially requiring more coats for full coverage.
  • Durability: May not be as durable as oil-based paints, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • Adhesion: May not adhere as well to slate without proper surface preparation and priming.

What Paint Finish Is Best?

Slate is a unique and natural material that requires careful consideration to ensure a perfect finish. That said, two commonly used paint finishes can offer the best results depending on your needs and preferences.

Gloss is known for being the most durable of all paint finishes, making it an excellent choice for those looking for long-lasting protection. However, it is also the most reflective, which may not provide the desired effect for the slate.

The glossy finish can make the surface of the slate appear too shiny, taking away from the natural beauty of the stone. Therefore, choosing a different finish may be the better option.

A semi-gloss finish offers a good trade-off between durability and shine. It provides sufficient protection without being overly reflective, making it the best paint finish for slate.

Moreover, semi-gloss has the added benefit of being easier to clean compared to gloss and can resist stains better than matte finishes.

It strikes the perfect balance between shine and protection, allowing the slate to retain its natural character while ensuring long-lasting durability.

The Best Paint and Primer for Slate

Best Paint

When it comes to painting slate, Sherwin-Williams Resilience Exterior Acrylic Latex is the top choice for those seeking superb hide and unmatched durability.

The Resilience line offers all the benefits of traditional coatings, with the bonus of being easy to apply without sacrificing workability or open time.

But it doesn’t just stop there. This paint is designed to provide increased resistance to moisture 50% faster than other paints, making it ideal for outdoor use.

What’s more? It meets or exceeds even the most stringent environmental regulations, thanks to its low 50g/L VOC. Rest assured, you won’t have to worry about compromising your health or the environment when using this top-quality product.

Sherwin-Williams Resilience Exterior Acrylic Latex is known for its smooth flowing and leveling properties. It’s perfect for highlighting and accentuating exterior architectural features such as columns, doors, and decorative moldings.

With this paint, you can enhance the beauty of your slate while ensuring long-lasting protection and durability against harsh outdoor elements.

Best Primer

Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 Water-based Primer is the ideal solution for priming slate. This high-hide, styrenated-acrylic water-based primer, sealer, and stain blocker is formulated with advanced stain-blocking resins and is designed to bond to glossy surfaces without scuff sanding.

One of the most significant advantages of this primer is its exceptional performance in low temperatures. With a low application temperature of just 35°F (2°C), this primer is perfect for use in various environments and climate conditions.

It is also mold and mildew resistant, making it an excellent choice for interior and exterior surfaces prone to these issues.

With fast-drying capabilities, this primer allows for top coating in under an hour, making it a time-efficient option for any slate priming project.

Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 Water-based Primer sticks to all surfaces and sands easily, offering a high-hiding formula that can block most stains. Its easy soap and water clean-up feature makes it a cinch to use and clean up afterward.

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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