Can you use gloss paint outside?

Gloss is a popular paint available in a wide range of colours, so it is only normal that you will have considered it for many different uses, including outside. But can it work? Well, there is only one true way to know, test it!

So I got some gloss, lots of different wood samples, painted them with the gloss and then left them outside, taking regular photos to see how the paint handled being outside.

Can you use gloss paint outside?

Yes. Our test showed that gloss works as exterior paint. However, there definitely were issues such as blistering and colour fade. While you can use gloss outside there are better paints available purely for exterior use.

The Test

This test will be simple enough, get some gloss, get some wood scraps, paint them and also paint with a comparison/control paint, then leave them outside. I will take regular photographs to see how the paint is doing.

Pine Primed scratch test
Pine Painted With Gloss and Hammerite
Green MDF Primed scratch test
Green MDF Painted With Gloss and Hammerite
Plywood Primed scratch test
Plywood Painted with Gloss and Hammerite
Brown MDF Primed scratch test
Brown MDF Painted with Gloss and Hammerite

So I have all of my samples painted, now it’s time to move them outdoors. For the test I have the following types of wood:

  • Plywood
  • Green MDF (Moisture Resistant)
  • Brown MDF
  • Pine

I also have two versions of each of the types of wood. One has been primed whereas the other has had the gloss paint applied directly to the wood. This portion of the test is intended to show whether priming the wood before glossing provides any benefit to its long term preservation when used outside.

The wood outside for durability test
The wood outside for durability test

6 Month Results

So six months have gone by since these samples first went outdoors. They have been left exposed to a cold, northern England winter, a good test of the durability of gloss I would say. So lets find out how they got on.

hammerite on plywood 6 months primer
Gloss on plywood 6 months with primer

So here we have the plywood results. As you can see both paints have done well and have “worked”. One thing I will point out is that the colour has changed quite considerably with the gloss, it has gone a lot more “orangey” this is something you will notice throughout the results.

It also seems to me that more mould seems to be growing on the gloss when compared to the Hammerite. I really don’t know the reason for this but you can see it in action.

Apart from these two changes, these paints are looking pretty similar on Plywood.

hammerite on pine 6 months primer
Gloss on pine 6 months with primer

On pine, the paints are both very similar. Again the big difference is the colour fade in the gloss.

hammerite on pine no primer 6 months
Gloss on pine no primer 6 months

When you compare the non-primed pine to the primed in the image before you can see a big difference. Priming the pine before painting really has had an impact. The colour seems a lot more vibrant on the primed piece when compared to the non-primed piece.

Here on the green MDF, the gloss has started to blister quite badly. This is not a great result. This blister would probably peel completely off if knocked. This green MDF is a special moisture-resistant MDF, I am wondering if this may be part of the reason why the gloss has not worked perfectly on this wood?

Hammerite on green mdf 6 months primer
Gloss on green mdf 6 months with primer

When the same moisture-resistant MDF has been primed you can see that the paint hasn’t had the same blistering problem. So I would definitely say priming is important, particularly if you are planning on painting green MDF.

hammerite on brown mdf no primer 6 months
Gloss on brown mdf no primer 6 months

The gloss has worked well here on the more standard MDF, the only major difference again is the colour fading of the gloss.

hammerite on plywood no primer 6 months
Gloss on plywood no primer 6 months

The gloss has done really well here on the plywood and apart from the colour change I would say it has done better than the Hammerite.

hammerite on brown mdf 6 months primer
Gloss on brown mdf 6 months with primer

We have a little bit of blistering here at the top of the gloss and again like some of the other samples, the gloss seems to produce more mould for an unknown reason.


I think this test proves that gloss will work outdoors but is maybe not the best choice. One thing that seems apparent is that Hammerite works really well, even on wood!


Photo of author

Sam Wood

Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!

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