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June 15, 2014

Consumer Reports: Spruce up your home and deck

Your grill (and what’s on it) may be the star of your next barbecue, but your house and deck could get less-than-rave reviews if their finishes have faded, notes Consumer Reports.

More manufacturers are promising greater longevity with long warranties that cover the cracking and dirt most homeowners gripe about. Paints that brush on without priming first and a stain you can roll over wet wood are time-savers, whether you hire a pro or do the job yourself. Roughly 25 percent of homeowners paint their own house, and 75 percent do the deck.

Ace Hardware’s Royal Exteriors now rivals Home Depot’s Behr and Lowe’s Valspar, two of Consumer Reports’ top satin and semigloss paints. As with the Behr and Valspar, both Ace paints have a lifetime warranty and endured the equivalent of nine years outdoors without cracks. And at less than $30 per gallon, they cost up to $11 less. But the home center brands proved to be better at fending off dirt and mildew.

Home Depot is also facing tougher competition among the solid color deck stains that last longest and sell best at stores. Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat Solid Deck and Siding, $46, looked better than Behr’s Solid Color Waterproofing Wood Stain after two years of tests, and it fared just as well after three. But the Behr still wins in the war against dirt and mildew, and it costs almost $20 less.

Consumer Reports’ relentless outdoor tests under broiling sun and freezing snow also confirm that even top-performing brands could leave you cold if you buy the wrong line or shop at the wrong store.

HOW TO CHOOSE

Pick a paint based on your project. Flat and satin are what most people choose for siding, and semigloss adds sheen and contrast for trim. Among stains, solids hide the beauty of the grain in exchange for longer life; clear finishes show it all, but usually last no longer than a year. A smart compromise: Semitransparent stains, which show some of the grain and can still look good after two years. Here’s what else to keep in mind as you’re shopping:

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