best masonry paint

Best Masonry Paint for Exterior Walls [UK Buying Guide]

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Masonry paint can transform the appearance of a wall, fence, patio or outbuilding. However, to withstand the worst of the British weather, it needs to be hardwearing – and quick to apply. 

Many DIY jobs are ruined by a sudden downpour leaving freshly painted brickwork or render looking streaky and faded. Because the composition of different masonry paints can significantly affect their performance, our guide pays particular attention to drying times. These range from 30 minutes to several hours.

If you’re in a hurry to get started on 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 with a wide variety of colour choices. Its only real drawback is a relatively long drying time, making this something of a fair-weather friend.

In a Hurry? Here’s our Top Pick for the Best Masonry Paint in 2021:

CROWN SANDTEX 5 LITRE ULTRA SMOOTH MASONRY PAINT - BITTER CHOCOLATE
  • High quality paint formulated in Microseal technology
  • Suitable for most surfaces such as; rendering, roughcast, pebbledash, concrete, building blocks, facing bricks & emulsion/masonry painted surfaces
  • Creamy smooth formulation to cover large areas fast
  • Dirt and mould resistant, resists peeling and flaking
  • 5 Litres / Coverage: 12 to 16meter-squared per litre, dependent on surface texture

Size is Not Everything

We’ve compared five-litre plastic tubs against 500ml metal tins, with the former providing far greater value for money. However, smaller tins can be advantageous in one respect – they create less waste. We explained in a recent guide how emulsion paint can go off in six months while 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, and larger tubs with more leftovers make this job harder.

If you’re buying small tins for a big job, we recommend calculating how much is likely to be needed. Factors will 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 also 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.


Apply Yourself

Even the best 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 has plenty of information on why acrylates are harmful and how to avoid them.


Best Masonry Paint Shortlist – The Top 3

These are our picks as the best masonry paints for exterior walls. We start with a product that offers exceptional value:

1. Crown Sandtex 5 Litre Ultra Smooth Masonry Paint – Bitter Chocolate

CROWN SANDTEX 5 LITRE ULTRA SMOOTH MASONRY PAINT - BITTER CHOCOLATE
  • High quality paint formulated in Microseal technology
  • Suitable for most surfaces such as; rendering, roughcast, pebbledash, concrete, building blocks, facing bricks & emulsion/masonry painted surfaces
  • Creamy smooth formulation to cover large areas fast
  • Dirt and mould resistant, resists peeling and flaking
  • 5 Litres / Coverage: 12 to 16meter-squared per litre, dependent on surface texture

Unless you have strong brand loyalty to the other manufacturers in this shortlist, it’s impossible to overlook the value provided by Crown’s Sandtex range of masonry paint. It’s supplied in a five-litre plastic tub when its rivals come in 500ml 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.

Sandtex can be applied 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, which is 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.

ProsCons
Exceptional valueSome criticism of this colour’s appearance
Suitable for almost any surfaceIt takes up to four hours to dry

2. Polar Masonry Emulsion Paint for Multi-Purpose Use 500ml, Matt White

Polar Masonry Emulsion Paint for Multi-Purpose Use 500ml, Matt White for Interior and Exterior Walls and Ceilings, Durable Performance - Matt White, 500ml
  • Professional and Hard-Wearing Paint Suitable for any Interior and Exterior with durable performance.
  • Create a smooth white matt wipeable finish look with just one coating.
  • Excellent Coverage- transforming and protecting your home.
  • Economically Masonry Paint
  • Coverage: 500ml can cover up to 7.5 square metres depending on the nature and porosity of the surface.

While Crown markets their Sandtex range specifically for outdoor use, Polar’s promotes their masonry emulsion paint as being equally suitable for use on 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 why 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 reports of 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 when used on concrete. 

ProsCons
Generous coverage areaQuestion marks over durability
Works internally or externallyOnly two colours

3. Rustins MASPB500 Masonry Paint Black 500ml

Rustins MASPB500 Masonry Paint Black 500ml, 500
  • Quick drying
  • For interior and exterior use on masonry applications
  • Available in 4 colours
  • Model number: MASPB500

Also available in white, cream and red, the Rustins range of masonry paint shares several similarities with the Polar product. It’s supplied in 500ml tins and works well internally and externally. It also covers roughly the same volume (14 square metres per litre). The manufacturer claims it’s equally suitable for bricks, stone, tiles and cement.

Rustins masonry paint has one significant advantage over its rivals – it can dry in just 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.

ProsCons
Four colour choicesNot suitable for people with acrylate allergies
It dries in 30 minutesRelatively expensive

Final Thoughts

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 inside 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 masonry paint for exterior walls 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.


Best Masonry Paint – Comparison Table

ModelVolumeCoverageDrying timeColoursRating
Crown Sandtex5l14m2/l4 hours179
Polar Masonry Emulsion Paint500m15m2/l2 hours27
Rustins MASPB500500m14m2/l30 mins48