Got peeling paint or a weather-beaten deck? You want the exterior paint or stain that offers the best protection. Consumer Reports just tested 76 products under tough conditions that accelerate the effects of the elements, from spring showers to summer sun to the sleet and snow that can torment siding and decks in colder months. Sherwin-Williams won big among paints, while Behr took home top honors among stains. But we also found other brands that are worth a look, especially if you're dealing with special conditions or have a tight budget.
Our buying guides to exterior paint and wood stain will walk you through the various decisions you need to make to find the perfect product. For example, some exterior paints are particularly mildew-resistant, a benefit if you live in a damp region, while others are adept at repelling dirt, helpful for homes in urban settings. Check the Features & Specs column in our Ratings to see these individual attributes. You'll see that a Glidden paint that costs $21 per gallon stood up better to mildew in our tests than the $63 per gallon Sherwin-Williams.
We give the same performance breakdown for wood stains, which can be applied to a deck or siding. While Behr holds the top spot in the solid and semitransparent categories, Thompson's WaterSeal came out on top for clear sealers. Both brands had other products that didn't perform as well, so you need to check the model names in our Ratings carefully. In the case of Behr, the Premium line did significantly worse than its top-rated, less expensive brandmate.