Consumer Reports: Exterior paints that last

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A fresh coat of paint on your house can make a big difference, but you want it to last. (WLS)

A fresh coat of paint on your house can make a big difference, but you want it to last. Consumer Reports tested Benjamin Moore, Behr, Valspar, Sherwin- Williams, and other paints to find which last the longest.

Sure, that color you agonized over looks great. But will it hold up over time? Exterior paints need to do a lot more than just look pretty, says Consumer Reports' Rico De Paz.

"You want an exterior paint that stands up to the elements-the sun, the rain, the snow-and also that it resists dirt and mildew," he said.

That's why Consumer Reports designed some pretty tough tests. Exterior paints are applied to pine boards and placed up on the roof of Consumer Reports' testing headquarters.

They're left up on the roof. Conditions are so harsh that one year of exposure simulates three years on a wall, door, or fence.

Board inspection. The boards are inspected periodically to see how well they resisted cracking, fading, dirt, and mildew. Here's a top-performing paint.

"Even after three years of exposure up on our roof, it still has no cracks. There's a little dirt and mildew, but it's still intact," said De Paz.

When you compare it with one paint, you can really see the difference. After three years, it's cracking and starting to flake off. And one isn't even the same color!

"After one year, it just got lighter; after two years even lighter, and after three years, it actually changed to a completely different color, almost a purplish tint," said De Paz.

Out of the 15 paints tested, Consumer Reports found just two to recommend:

Behr Premium Plus Ultra from Home Depot for about $40 a gallon and Clark and Kensington from Ace for about $35 a gallon.

Consumer Reports' tests show either paint should last about nine years on your house.

If you're a Lowe's shopper, Consumer Reports says Valspar DuraMax Exterior paint is an option. It's just as good as the Behr Premium Plus Ultra and the Clark and Kensington for resisting cracking and dirt. But it's not as good at resisting mildew.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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