Self-Priming Exterior Paint

Blue paint colors

Use self-priming exterior paint to cut down on the time you spend repainting your home. While an oil primer should always be used on bare wood, new self-priming paints can save you a step when applying a fresh coat of paint to your home's exterior.

What Primer Does

Primer is used beneath paint to help the paint adhere better to surfaces. For exterior applications where snow, rain and ice come in contact with the siding of your home, paint applied to surfaces that haven't been primed first can bleed, peel and fail quickly.

Until self-priming exterior paints became available, every time a new coat of paint was applied to the home, a primer had to be applied first. This meant that not only the fresh wood, but aluminum, fiber-cement and already painted wood siding had to have as many as three coats of primer and paint applied, extending the amount of time a paint job would take.

What Is a Self-Priming Exterior Paint?

Self-priming paints have polymers added directly to the paint itself, which help it bond better to surfaces. A self-priming paint can be applied directly to existing painted siding, aluminum or fiber-cement siding without fear of it failing before its time.

Primers are still required for any fresh or bare wood to help block moisture and prevent bleeding, but for most homeowners, a self-priming paint is all that is required for the job.

Brands of Self-Priming Paint

In addition to being self-priming, these paints also cover better and have lower amounts of VOCs than their predecessors. This can make them more expensive per gallon, but the money saved on primer and additional paint more than makes up for it.


Duration is a Sherwin-Williams product. It is available in all Sherwin-Williams colors and has a slightly minty smell when wet with no fumes. It covers well and is often the first choice of many professional house painters.


Aura is made by Benjamin Moore. It cost more per gallon than Duration, but comes in all Benjamin Moore colors. It also has low VOCs and can be applied to any exterior surface.

Hirshfield's Platinum Ceramic

Hirshfield's Platinum Ceramic paint uses actual ceramic particles in their paint to help it adhere better, last longer and cover more. It is also used and recommended by many professional house painters.

Tips for Using Self-Priming Paint

While self-priming paint is a great product, and can cut down on the amount of work needed to repaint a home, it isn't perfect. Make sure to take the following steps to help ensure your job comes out right the first time.

Prime Cedar

Self-priming paints will not work on cedar. The cedar must be primed first to avoid having the paint and the first few layers of wood peel away from the siding.

Clean off Chalk

If your paint looks chalky, or is coming off on your fingers when you rub it, you will need to get this off first. Primer can be used to help paint adhere to the chalky surface, or you can power wash the chalk off with a product like Cabot's House Cleaner. Do a thorough cleaning job particularly on faded aluminum siding to help the paint adhere better.

Use Two Coats

While self-priming paints offer better coverage, apply two coats for the best results. Your paint job will last longer and cover better.

When in Doubt, Prime

If you suspect that you have unprimed wood, or a surface that remains chalky despite cleaning, apply a coat of primer first. Using self-priming exterior paint over a primer won't hurt it; it will just make the job take a little longer.

Give self-priming paints a try the next time you need to touch up your home's exterior. You may find the job goes a lot smoother than you expected.

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Self-Priming Exterior Paint