As with everything DIY, it’s important to always use the right tools for the job. So, when it comes to painting your garden fence, the shed or any other outdoor wooden fixture, you’re going to need a paint that is designed specifically for that. You see, exterior paints are made to withstand harsh weather, sun exposure and uneven surfaces, among other things.
This means it’s probably best that you put that leftover tin from when you repainted the bedroom back in the garage and check out our handy buying guide. After this, we’ll show you the ten best exterior wood paints for windows, decks, outdoor furniture and more to buy online from Amazon and eBay.
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Without further ado, let’s get to the nitty-gritty. In this section, we’ll take a look at the different styles of paint and how long they last, as well as the coverage you'll require and some other aesthetic choices.
First and foremost, you’ll want to decide on a type of paint, and there are a few. Here we’ll break down the main options available to you and their advantages and disadvantages.
Acrylic paints are water-based, and this makes them very popular for a couple of reasons. It's mainly because they’re microporous, which means they let the wood breathe, and this, in turn, makes it less susceptible to flaking or water infiltration.
Another reason many people prefer acrylic paint is that it doesn’t give off an odour. It manages this because of its low levels of VOC (volatile organic compounds), making it a bit more pleasant for you and the environment.
The biggest problem people find is that the colour can be a little darker when it has finally dried, so be aware of this when picking yours out.
As you have probably guessed, oil-based paint uses, well, oil as its base. This style provides a lacquer-like finish, forming a hard, protective cover over the wood. Additionally, you can also expect high moisture-resistance and strong adhesion, so it shouldn't be flaking any time soon.
There are some troubles with this paint though, the primary one being its drying time. Unfortunately, it takes considerably longer than acrylic, averaging at around 8 hours. This paint is also known to be odorous too and will require a solvent, such as white spirit, to clean your brushes and your hands when you've finished.
A wood stain is actually more like a barrier for your wood than a paint. Its main job is to protect against mould, insects and the elements while maintaining the wood's appearance. You can either get a clear finish, which will preserve the natural grain of the wood, or a tinted finish which will try to replicate another style of wood.
Generally speaking, these stains are water-repellent, microporous and have a long lifespan of 5 to 10 years. The big difference is that tinted finishes offer a little more UV protection, as they are designed to prevent their colour fading over time.
Like a stain, a saturator doesn’t have a colour finish and acts as an invisible layer, although they are known to enhance the natural colours a little bit.
However, the main aim of this style of paint, as well as protecting wood from the elements, is to defend the wood against ageing. This is why this is a favourite of those who own boats, as it can protect the decking from the abrasive salt water of the sea, therefore, prolonging its life.
If you live by the sea and have outdoor wood to be painted, a saturator could be a good call as it can help to stave off damage from the salty sea air.
Choosing between a matte or a gloss finish for your wood might appear to be simply an aesthetic choice, but there is a little more to it.
For instance, matte paints have little to no sheen to them, which makes them very good at covering up small imperfections on walls. The problem is that they’re slightly less durable, and therefore require more maintenance.
Gloss paint, on the other hand, will have a soft or hard sheen depending on the product, so check out the label to make sure you get the one you'd prefer. These paints are durable, stable and easy to clean and maintain. However, they will exaggerate imperfections on surfaces, so they might not be ideal for your timber fence panels.
This is pretty straightforward but absolutely worth mentioning: be sure to check the coverage recommendations. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through your job then realising you haven’t got enough goods to get it finished.
Luckily, manufacturers often give ballpark figures when it comes to the coverage, although this can vary, even within the same style of paint. Options range from 3 m2 to 20 m2; bear in mind that buying paint with more scope will save you having to buy two tins. However, it's better to be safe than sorry, and sometimes grabbing an extra can save you a lot of stress!
The next factor to consider is how long the paint is going to hold up. After all, no one wants to be painting their fence once a year because it continues to flake off.
As with the coverage, this varies a lot from company to company, although you can expect most styles to last between 5 to 10 years. In our opinion, the longer the better. But, if you like to spruce up your garden frequently or change up the colours, maybe a shorter time will inspire you to do that more often.
Finally, while it may not seem super important on the ever-grey island that is the UK, having paint that is UV resistant can be useful. When exposed to too much sun, the colour in many things from clothes to paint will begin to drain and become faded.
Therefore, having a UV-resistant paint can save you from having to re-paint your exterior furniture and fixtures as frequently, meaning you can spend more time relaxing in your outdoor space instead of fixing it up.
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A Certified Fan Favourite to Breathe New Life Into Your Garden
Quick Drying Wood Stain
A Bargain From a Company That Thrives on Innovation
Weatherguard Exterior Paint
For Those Who Want a High Gloss Finish
D1 Saturator for Hardwoods
A Saturator That Will Work on the Majority of Woods
Weather Shield Quick Dry
An Easy-to-Work-With Paint for Wood and Metal That Dries Fast
Wood Protection Cream
A Stain Like No Other
A Single Paint for Every Surface if You So Wish
10 Year Weatherproof Wood Paint
Does Exactly What It Says on the Tin
Protect and Preserve Exterior Softwoods
Woodsheen for Interior and Exterior
A Stain and Varnish From the Nation's Biggest Paint Company
This Danish company have slowly assumed a leading position in the UK paint market, and it's not surprising given the quality of their products. This acrylic formula has a highly impressive 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon, and that's after nearly 2,000 reviews!
The paint provides a long-lasting, rich matte colour as well as durable and tough resistance to weather. It can be applied by either brush or spray and is water-based so it's harmless to both you and your garden. Round all that off with decent coverage, durable weatherproof qualities and great colour options, and you're on to a real winner.
Everbild is a company that was founded in the early 90s by a self-confessed DIY addict. From there, they've gone on to establish themselves as a company that thrives on innovation and quality – which is exactly what you're getting in this tin.
This is a phenomenal pot of paint, and three factors caught our eye straight from the off. Firstly, it dries in 30 minutes, which is ridiculously fast. Secondly, with only a small 250 ml capacity, it manages to cover a huge area. And last but not least, it's an absolute bargain!
This oil-based paint from Johnstone's has a high gloss finish, so it could be right up your street if you're looking for a product that will offer a lot of sheen. And while we've opted for this clean, brilliant white, it does come in plenty of other tones.
Moreover, you get a rather large volume with the bigger-sized tin, which, in turn, means a very respectful 15 m2 coverage for a great price. The paint is resistant to weather, cracking and peeling, and works on metals as well as woods, meaning it's a little more versatile than some.
This saturator from Owatrol is transparent, so you can expect your natural grains to be enhanced upon application. Furthermore, it is deeply penetrating, meaning it will stabilise most woods (hard or soft) and protect from moulds and moisture.
The saturator has a matte finish, but it can be overcoated with another of the company's products, the OLJE D2, to create a gloss finish if you would prefer. There's a decent amount of coverage too, and while it is a little expensive, it's clear with this quality paint you do get what you pay for.
Here's another one from the powerhouse of paint, only this time it's a black acrylic mixture for those who would like to have a contemporary feel in their outdoor spaces. This tin covers a fair amount of area for such a little can, and is mould-resistant, rainproof and dries within two hours of application.
Thanks to the chemical combination, the product is easy to work with and easy to clean. Some users have been at odds over the colour though, with a few saying it is more dark charcoal than black. That said, you should be able to look at a paint chart and make your own conclusion.
This stain from Roxil is a little different to the others on this list, in that when applied it looks like a white opaque formula. However, this soon absorbs into the wood, becoming transparent. At this stage, your wood will have instant protection.
The product only requires one coat, which should see your exterior wood secure for a massive ten years, giving you plenty of time to psyche yourself up before you need to do it again. Our only issue is the low coverage, so you'd need to order a few tins if you plan on painting a large area.
This oil-based formula from Rust-Oleum is a universal paint, so it will work on most surfaces from the garden shed to the bathroom tiles. The paint is a primer as well, so no undercoat is required as you can apply directly to the wood, or whichever surface you desire.
We've opted to showcase the rich cobalt blue here, but there are plenty of other colours to choose from, including the classic neutral tones. This is a popular choice, however, many buyers found that it takes a few coats to reach the desired effect, which will eat into the estimated coverage.
If you're looking to add some colour whilst still protecting your wooden outdoor fixtures, there aren't many more trustworthy names to turn to than Ronseal. This offering is quick and easy to apply as it requires no primer, and it will rainproof surfaces in just one hour. So, you should be able to get some done before the next downpour.
Being a water-based acrylic, you get none of the nasty smells or chemicals, and the formula lasts for an extraordinary ten years! The only slight drawback is that it doesn't quite have the same coverage of some of its competitors.
Not only will this saturating paint help to preserve your wood and protect it from ageing, but it will also restore the natural beauty to any garden furniture or decking that has been a little neglected over the last few years. Furthermore, it guarantees no cracking, peeling or flaking too.
The only issue is that we don't know how long that it will remain flake-free, as again, the company doesn't provide this life expectancy. Another factor worth remembering is that this is only for softwoods, so you'll want to check what wood you have before committing to this.
First up, we have this rich, walnut-tinted stain from the country's biggest paint company, Dulux. The product stains and varnishes all at once, and will only require two coats to see the job through. It's also rather versatile and can be used both inside and outside.
We do have some concerns though, and that is that there is no mention of its exact capabilities as an exterior paint. While we trust Dulux as a brand and this paint does claim to be tough and durable, we would still like to know the life expectancy and whether it is waterproof or weatherproof.
Ensuring you order the right exterior paint for your needs is a must, but what about any of the other bits and pieces a painting job requires to go smoothly? From step ladders to sandpapers, our related articles will shed some light on how to find what you need.
Have you decided what finish you want yet? As long as you're aware of what wood you're painting on to then finding a product to suit your needs should be a breeze. Hopefully, you'll find what you want in the ranking, but if not, at least you'll have learned a little and you'll know where to come for some advice and recommendations next time!
Author: Lewis Clark
No. 1: Cuprinol | Garden Shades
No. 2: Everbuild | Quick Drying Wood Stain
No. 3: Johnstone's | Weatherguard Exterior Paint
No. 4: Owatrol | D1 Saturator for Hardwoods
No. 5: Dulux | Weather Shield Quick Dry
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