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As I’ve learned from years of DIY experience, masonry paint can transform the appearance of a wall, fence, patio or outbuilding. However, it must be hardwearing and easy to apply to withstand the worst British weather.
If you’re in a hurry to start external painting, we recommend Crown’s Sandtex range of smooth masonry paint. Delivering a consistent finish across diverse surfaces, it’s excellent value for money and offers a wide range of colour choices.
Best Exterior Masonry Paint Reviews — The UK’s Top 3 in 2023
These are our picks as the best exterior masonry paints for exterior walls. We start with a product that offers exceptional value:
1. Crown Sandtex Masonry Paint
- Covers 12 to 16 square metres per litre
- Dry and recoat within 3 to 4 hours
- Apply with a synthetic bristle brush, masonry roller or spray gun
Unless you have strong brand loyalty to the other manufacturers on this shortlist, it’s impossible to overlook the value provided by Crown’s Sandtex range of masonry paint.
It’s supplied in a 5 litre plastic tub, while its rivals come in 0.5 litre metal tins. We’ve chosen the Bitter Chocolate colour from a range that includes the usual creams and magnolias, plus variations on brick and terracotta shades.
You can apply Sandtex to almost any external surface, from concrete steps and facing bricks to render and gate posts.
Crown claims this range’s flexible microseal coating makes it waterproof yet breathable while resisting flaking and dirt more strongly than comparable products.
Coverage averages around 14 square metres per litre, similar to other products on our shortlist. However, it does require up to four hours to dry, which is a significant drawback if you’re attempting to decorate in the low seasons.
|Exceptional value||Some criticism of this colour’s appearance|
|Suitable for almost any surface||It takes up to four hours to dry|
2. Rustins Masonry Paint Black
- Smooth matt finish
- For walls, cement, stone tiles and brick
- For interior and exterior use
- Four colours
Also available in white, cream and red, the Rustins range of masonry paint shares several similarities with the Polar product. It’s supplied in 0.5 litre tins and works well internally and externally. It also covers roughly the same volume (14 square metres per litre).
Rustins masonry paint has one significant advantage over its rivals — it can dry in 30 minutes. That’s hugely significant in our wet climate, especially since there are criticisms of other products running in showery conditions. This rapid drying is partly attributable to the acrylic composition of this paint, which may be worth noting for allergy sufferers.
Note: Polar claims this paint is equally suitable for bricks, stone, tiles and cement, but we could not test on all four surfaces.
|Four colour choices||Not suitable for people with acrylate allergies|
|It dries in 30 minutes||Relatively expensive|
3. Polar Masonry Emulsion Paint
- Easy to apply
- Quick drying
While Crown markets its Sandtex range specifically for outdoor use, Polar promotes its masonry emulsion paint as equally suitable for internal walls and ceilings. That’s a massive advantage if you’re looking for consistency on either side of an external door, for instance.
Coverage of 15 square metres per litre is slightly better than Crown’s offering, though you’ll pay far more for ten tins of Polar than one bucket of Sandtex. Crown also promotes this paint as low-odour — another reason it’s suitable for interior painting.
Note: A single application should be sufficient, and it’ll be dry within two hours.
There are concerns that its water resistance is limited, with some reporting flaking a few weeks after the first application. There’s also no colour choice in this range — Polar only sells white or black paint.
Pro Tip: This water-based one-coat masonry paint may benefit from a sealant if used on concrete.
|Generous coverage area||Question marks over durability|
|It works internally or externally||Only two colours|
Best Exterior Masonry Paint — 2023 Comparison Table
|Crown Sandtex||5 litres||14m2/litre||4 hours||17||9|
|Rustins MASPB500||0.5 litres||14m2/litre||30 mins||4||8|
|Polar Masonry Emulsion Paint||0.5 litres||15m2/litre||2 hours||2||7|
Exterior Masonry Paint Buying Guide
We’ve compared 5 litre plastic tubs against 0.5 litre metal tins, with the former providing far greater value for money.
However, smaller containers can be advantageous in one respect — they create less waste. We explained in a recent guide how emulsion paint could go off in six months, and disposing of leftover paint is a real challenge. Councils won’t collect it; recycling centres won’t touch it; you can’t add it to your non-recyclable waste bin or even a skip. Any surplus will have to be thoroughly dried out or mixed with sand before it can be disposed of safely. So more oversized tubs with more leftovers make this job harder.
We recommend calculating how much is needed if you buy small tins for a big job. Factors include how porous the surface is, how much of a colour change you’re implementing and how thickly you’ll be applying it.
Masonry paint is far thicker than conventional domestic gloss or matt, though two of our shortlisted products advertise themselves as suitable for internal use. This multiuse is especially handy for consistency — ensuring exposed brickwork inside and outside an outbuilding is the same colour, for instance.
Remember, even the best exterior masonry paint suffers from improper application. Our guide to the best paint brushes in the UK helps you choose the right products for edging, detailing, corners and small surfaces.
You should invest in a paint roller for larger surfaces since blank gables and smooth render rarely benefit from the delicacy a hand-held brush imparts to a painted surface.
Also, be aware of allergies before splashing out on certain products. Some masonry paints contain acrylates, which can trigger severe allergies. This blog post has plenty of information on why acrylates are harmful and how to avoid them.
Final Thoughts — Best Exterior Masonry Paint
Although it has merit, Polar’s contribution to our shortlist is the weakest link. It’s the most expensive per square metre, there are question marks about its durability, and it only comes in two colours.
Choosing between the Crown and Rustins offerings is harder. The latter is touch-dry within half an hour, which is highly impressive, especially for outside work in autumn or winter. However, it comes at the cost of acrylic composition, which may put off people who suffer from related allergies.
Crown’s Sandtex deservedly takes top billing as the best exterior masonry paint in the UK for sheer value. It’s an order of magnitude cheaper than its competitors, works on almost any surface, and strongly resists peeling or flaking. The only real drawback to this diversely-coloured product range is a drying time of up to four hours. However, if you can live with that, it’s a strong product at a competitive price.