Duration Exterior Paint Usage & Review

Duration exterior paint is one of the best exterior acrylic paints to use, providing thick coverage, outstanding adhesion, and the best long-term durability. 

For several years, Duration has been the benchmark other paint brands could only aspire to. However, after being available for two decades, Sherwin-Williams continues to introduce subtle changes and enhancements. Could these changes result in throwing this long-lived king off its throne?

The History of Duration Exterior Paint

Until early 2003, most exterior painters used SW Super Paint, the better offering of its time. Then in 2004, Duration was introduced, and painters highly anticipated its promised performance enhancements.

Sherwin-Williams Duration exterior was marketed based on substantial improvements, and each claim was exceeded in every way. However, some painters viewed its thickness and quicker dry times as application drawbacks. Painters had to be faster and more accurate using the first iteration of Duration. Using this product in direct sunlight or temperatures exceeding 90 degrees was challenging for some. 

Many painters currently scrutinize Duration for being “hard to work with.” Still, in our experience, those statements usually come from painters who don’t understand Duration or how to apply it correctly.

Duration has always provided a thick coating and class-leading single-coat coverage unparalleled to any other exterior paint we have used.  

Since 2020, Sherwin-Williams has modified Duration, making brush applications much easier and more suitable for detailed painting, such as windows, doors, and minor trim.

The Limitations of Duration

Since its introduction, we have used Duration and consider it one of the best exterior trim paints. However, duration is not always the best option for dark colors or larger surfaces. 

Due to it upholding its value as a thicker coating, it contains high levels of paint surfactants, which are attributed to its ease of application. While these additives aid in easy brushing, the heavy concentration of paint additives introduces other application limitations.


Surfactant leaching can occur when a freshly painted surface is exposed to humidity, moisture, or cold temperatures before additives within the paint have dissipated (also known as curing). Duration suffers from surfactant leaching under these conditions, which is exacerbated when darker colors are applied. 

While surfactant leaching does not adversely affect the paint itself, it does leave unsightly white streaks or circles that appear as watermarks. 

Duration is more durable, but SW Latitude is more versatile when painting with rain or humidity in the forecast. Whether it’s rain, humidity, or ground-level moisture, all exterior painting is subjected to whatever the weather brings, and it’s hard to predict or schedule around such conditions. 

Duration Exterior Performance Improvements

When it’s time to clean brushes, Duration exterior can be an issue, but it offers surface adhesion superior to any other SW exterior latex acrylic house paint. 

Overall, Duration costs slightly more for painting contractors to apply, considering the extra time and tool wear. But when homeowners are looking for a long-lasting paint job, Duration is worth the additional cost in every way. We extend our warranty terms when we apply Duration paint.

Duration also bridges hairline gaps better than other comparisons. Visible wood cracking and splitting are virtually non-existent when two coats of Duration exterior paint are applied.

Slight fade is an issue with exterior paint in all product lines from all manufacturers. Color retention is also on par with other high-quality exterior SW paints. However, dark colors will eventually fade when exposed to UV. 

When painting surfaces with glossy finishes, Duration will retain sheen better than its lower-end counterparts.

Duration Exterior Specs

Considering how thick Duration is, at first glance, painters often think it has increased solids. But to surprise, the solids are comparable to thinner paint products. Durations’ solids by weight range from 39 – 44%, depending on the base and sheen, compared to other SW offerings of 41 – 50% or greater for elastomeric coatings.

But don’t let the numbers alone mislead you. While the lower percentage of solids may appear to be a disadvantage, Duration compensates for the lack of solids by increasing total surface solids with its thicker application.

Because of its thickness, it also covers less square footage, ranging from 200 to 300 sqft per gallon. In our experience, these numbers are reduced by 30% on heavily textured surfaces.

Wet mil applications range from 5 – 7 mils thick, which is outstanding. But the dry mil thickness of 2.1 – 2.7 is less than impressive. Therefore, we do recommend two coats of paint for ultimate durability. 


Duration is best sprayed using a .13 – .21 size spray tip and can be recoated in 4 hours.

While Duration’s new formula offers improved brushing abilities and open times, it still leaves brush marks and paint stipples when rolling or brushing in hot conditions, which is to be expected. 

Vinyl Safe

A few qualities remain to stand out with Sherwin-Williams exterior paints that we have grown to appreciate over the years. The first quality is vinyl-safe exterior paints. 

Duration is considered a vinyl-safe paint, but we don’t recommend painting vinyl in dark colors with any paint. The newer formulations have substantially increased its versatility, but we still recommend SW Super Paint for vinyl painting applications.

Application Temperature

Low-temperature paint application is the second quality we appreciate over the SW exterior paint lines. Among other SW offerings, Duration can be applied at temperatures as low as 35 degrees while offering a high-quality thick coating. 

Duration will dry to the touch within one hour, even when painting in low-temperature situations. The efforts to make painting applications more straightforward and versatile are a massive advantage for painters across the US and other regions when using Sherwin-Willams exterior paints. 

Primer Usage

Durations improved adhesion doesn’t mean it can be painted over raw wood. When applying acrylic latex paint over unpainted substrates, primer is needed in interior and exterior situations. 


Self-priming refers to the paint’s ability to coat and adhere to pre-painted surfaces. Zinsser primers are among the best for bonding exterior paints to raw wood. 

Applying Duration to Brick & Concrete

Since brick and concrete are porous surfaces prone to water absorption, it’s essential that whatever paint is used allows moisture to transfer and dissipate.

Duration does allow moisture transfer but at a slower rate. For this reason, we typically do not recommend it for brick house painting applications, although it can be applied on high-textured brick surfaces. Using Duration on smooth-face brick, on the other hand, will lead to peeling paint. 

Loxon masonry primer pairs well with SW exterior paints when painting exterior brick substrates.

Using Duration for Doors & Shutters

We previously recommended against Duration when painting doors, shutters, and other accents. Due to the paint’s thickness, it left heavy brush strokes, but it lays flat better than ever before with the new formulation. 

However, for darker color accents, we still recommend against using it unless the areas are covered from the elements or painted and stored indoors for a few days until the paint has cured.

Duration Exterior Cost

Duration exterior paint varies in price depending on sheen and quantity. A gallon will range from $60 – $93. Contractor pricing and seasonal sales will influence the cost.


In years past, contractor pricing and promotions were more beneficial than today, but the saving is appreciated nonetheless. 


Sherwin-Williams Duration exterior remains a crucial component of our exterior painting services

Don’t let the pretense of saving a few hundred dollars off large painting projects deceive you. Duration is the best exterior paint for most exterior painting projects, saving you money in the long term. 

The added protection of Duration helps siding and wood trim last longer and reduces future potential repaints.

Similar Posts