Best exterior wood paint: for fences, furniture and decking

The best exterior wood paint for adding weather protection to garden fences, sheds, furniture, and decking, or for transforming your outside space with colour

Included in this guide:

A painted wooden outdoor bench in front of painted garden fencing
(Image credit: Sadolin)

The best exterior wood paint is the ideal way to upgrade your outdoor space, transforming tired outdoor furniture, fence panels, sheds, and decking from drab to fab, as well as adding extra weather protection to protect your outdoor wood from the elements – and all for the cost of a tin of paint (plus a little painting time). 

However, there are a lot of paint options out there, so to make things simpler, we've curated the very best exterior wood paint, factoring in everything from fade and mould resistance to priming requirements. 

And in terms of colour, we have plenty of options to choose from, whether you want simple and classic or bright and colourful, a glossy finish or contemporary matt. 

If you're looking to overhaul your outdoor living area then while you're eyeing up paint colours why not check out our guide to the best garden furniture. You'll find the best outdoor dining and lounging options over there and can then coordinate your paint choice to match. Then grab a paintbrush, and let's get painting...

Best exterior wood paints for a garden revamp

Best exterior wood paints: Cuprinol

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

1. Cuprinol Garden Shades Matt Wood Paint 2.5L

Best for matt colour: enhances the grain and protects natural wood

Specifications
Size: 1ltr, 2.5ltrs, 5ltrs
Coverage (sprayed on rough sawn wood): 1ltr covers from 2-3m²
Coverage (sprayed on smooth planed wood): 1ltr covers from 10-12m²
Drying time: Touch dry in one hour
Reasons to buy
+In addition to wood, can also be used on terracotta, brick and stone+Up to six years weather protection
Reasons to avoid
-May need several coats to achieve the effect you want-Not suitable for use on decking

Special pigments in Cuprinol Garden Shades ensure a rich colour on sheds, fences, summerhouses, garden furniture and planters while enhancing the grain. Add a fresh feel with a bright Beach Blue or an ice cream flavour with Sweet Sundae. Brush on for greater coverage or spray for a smoother look. Coats must be applied no more than eight hours apart. There is a wide choice of ready mixed colours while a colour-mix service offers even greater options.

Best exterior wood paints: Sadolin Superdec

(Image credit: Sadolin)

2. Sadolin Superdec Satin Opaque Wood Protection 2.5L

Best for opaque coverage: hide stains and marks for a smart look

Specifications
Size: 1ltr, 2.5ltrs, 5ltrs
Coverage: Up to 10m² per litre
Drying time: Touch dry after one hour. Recoat after 16 hours
Reasons to buy
+Opaque finish covers stains and marks+Self priming and undercoating+It won’t crack peel or flake
Reasons to avoid
-Not suitable for decking

If you want to completely cover weathering on old wood, change a colour you’ve grown tired of or hide stains from spills at garden parties, Sadolin Superdec has an opaque finish that will do the job. Highly durable, it is perfect for cladding and exterior joinery. 

It erodes by weathering, so the coating stays flexible and doesn’t crack, peel or flake. Self priming and undercoating, it will protect for 10 years. Available in more than 300 shades, your wood can be as colourful as your flowerbeds.

Best exterior wood paints: Sandtex

(Image credit: Sandtex)

3. Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin 2.5L

Best for enduring coverage: perfect for woodwork (it's even used on lighthouses)

Specifications
Size: 750ml, 2.5ltrs
Coverage: 15m² per litre.
Drying time: Four to six hours. Recoat after 16 hours
Reasons to buy
+Enduring coverage+Suitable for wood and metal+Also available in gloss
Reasons to avoid
-Limited range of colours

A paint brand that’s used on lighthouses certainly has the skills to make products that can withstand blustery and wet weather in the back garden. A Sandtex trade paint was used to decorate the red and white stripes on the Happisburgh Lighthouse in East Anglia. Not surprisingly, it is confident enough in the durability of its low sheen Exterior Satin and Gloss to offer a 10-year guarantee. The paint will give exterior wood a sleek, sophisticated finish, and is tough, waterproof and flexible enough not to crack. It is available in nine colours, including Soothing Green and Gentle Blue.

Best exterior wood paints: Johnstone's Garden Colours

(Image credit: Johnstone's)

4. Johnstone’s Garden Colours Paint 2.5L

Best for bright transformations: great colours at an inexpensive price

Specifications
Size: 1ltr, 2.5ltrs 5ltrs
Coverage: 12 m² per litre
Drying time: Two hours
Reasons to buy
+Easy to apply rich colour+Reasonably priced outdoor paint
Reasons to avoid
-May need extra coats

If you like colour in the garden but also want to appreciate the natural look of wood, Johnstone’s Woodcare Garden Colours offer both. Paint the fade-resistant smooth colour on your garden buildings, fences, arbours, dining sets or planters and you’ll still be able to see the texture and grain of the wood underneath. There are 20 colours to choose, so add a cheerful splash by painting your patio furniture with Merry Berry, or create a backdrop for plants to pop against with Steel Smoke.

Best exterior wood paints: Rust-Oleum Garden Furniture Paint


(Image credit: Rust-oleum)

5. Rust-Oleum garden furniture spray paint 400ml

Best for garden DIY and upcycling projects: transform your furniture in a flash

Specifications
Size: 400ml
Coverage: Approx 2m²
Drying time: Touch dry in one hour. Full dry after 16 hours.
Reasons to buy
+No priming or sanding necessary on most surfaces+Easy to use – shake and spray+Sophisticated chalky finish
Reasons to avoid
-Nozzle can become clogged, wasting the spray remaining in the can

Rust-Oleum is a favourite of DIYers and crafters; their go-to if they want to upcycle battered old furniture or bling up a plain new piece. Take a tin of Garden Furniture Paint, and you can transform a shabby garden bench, table or chairs in the press of a finger. The result is a soft-touch matt finish that is mould-, algae- and water-resistant. With no need to wax or lacquer it, this is durable enough to be scrubbed clean. The paint can be directly applied to wood (bare or painted) but also brick, stone, plaster or even metal and plastic, if suitably primed and rigid.

DULUX WEATHERSHIELD QUICK DRY EXTERIOR GLOSS

(Image credit: Dulux)

6. Dulux Weathershield Quick Dry Exterior Gloss

Best for making a good first impression: welcome guests with a glossy front door

Specifications
Size: 750ml, 2.5ltrs
Coverage: 16m² per litre
Drying time: Touch dry in two hours. Dry after six hours
Reasons to buy
+Glossy and durable+Six-year weather protection+Quick drying
Reasons to avoid
-Will need an undercoat to prime surfaces-Dark colours may need two coats

When painting outside, it's important not to forget the front of the house. Kerb appeal is crucial as visitors can form an instant opinion right on the doorstep. Make sure your front door is smooth, glossy and colourful, not dull and peeling with Dulux Weathershield Quick-Dry Exterior Gloss. The paint has a water-based gloss finish and guarantees six-year weather protection for exterior wood and metal. Its weatherproof paint film is mould resistant to minimise staining and flexible to resist cracking, keeping the paint looking better for longer compared to conventional gloss paints.

Best exterior wood paints: Ronseal Fencelife Plus

(Image credit: Ronseal)

7. Ronseal Fence Life Plus Matt Shed & Fence Treatment

Best for transforming brown sheds and fences: wave goodbye to boring surfaces

Specifications
Size: 5ltrs
Coverage: 6m² per ltre
Drying time: Four hours
Reasons to buy
+Suitable for transforming sheds or fences+Quick drying with five-year lasting colour+Can be used on damp wood
Reasons to avoid
-May need several coats to get the desired colour

Timber fences and sheds can look nice and natural, but try putting on colour to make the rest of your garden really pop. Ronseal Fence Life Plus Matt Shed & Fence Treatment can take your panels to the next level, creating a wonderful backdrop for flowers and uncovering your shed's potential for other uses. 

It gives five-year protection on rough sawn and smooth planed wood, and protects it from rain, frost and snow, and even fading in the sun. It can be brushed or sprayed on, and even be applied to damp wood – useful given our often showery summers – and will be rainproof in one hour.

How to buy the best exterior wood paint

When it comes to finding the best exterior wood paint, you'll want to factor in a few things. To make your search less tasking, we've outlined some of the key considerations. And, for the utmost ease, we've also answered some common concerns and burning questions.

Durability
The paints and treatments often offer guarantees of several years for their long-lasting protective qualities, for example, the Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Satin (or Gloss), which does exactly what it says on the tin. Generally speaking, most paints specify their guarantees on the side of the tin or in the product descriptions, so be sure to check this before buying.

Mould, mildew and algae
It goes without saying: none of these three things looks good on outdoor furniture, garden fence ideas, shed ideas or other garden structures. Fortunately, many of the products we've picked have you covered. By investing in mould, mildew or algae-resistant paint, you can counteract the effects of damp weather or storage in outside spaces that can leave surfaces looking mottled.

Paint and prime in one 
The fewer the preparative undercoats needed, the quicker the job gets done, so if you're trying to complete a quick weekend makeover project, an all-in-one could be the product for you. Our personal go-to is the Sadolin Superdec Satin Opaque Wood Protection, which is both self-priming and undercoating. Perfect, right? If you're planning on painting garden buildings for your weekend project, our guide on how to paint a shed has lots more tips. 

What paint is best for exterior wood?
For us, our all-time favourite is the Cuprinol Garden Shades Exterior Woodcare, which comes in a trio of sizes and almost guarantees a gorgeous, matt colour. Oh, and it accentuates the wood grain, which adds a chic yet rustic touch. Of course, the real answer to this question totally depends on your preference, so we'd encourage you to explore our list, paying close attention to the unique specifications and charms each product has. Big on colour? Try Johnstone’s Garden Colours. Dealing with the standard brown shed and fence set-up? Why not update it with a dash of panache – slate or willow – courtesy of Ronseal Fence Life Plus Matt Shed & Fence Treatment

Do I need to seal exterior wood before painting?
A good question indeed. First off, let's explain why you might want to seal wood in the first place. Because wood contains natural chemicals that gradually degrade paint, it is often wise to apply sealant in advance. By sealing the wood's pores, the sealant ensures that paint sits atop the surface without being absorbed into the wood. In so doing, problems like warping are avoided. Some products state that sanding and priming to smooth and seal the surface are unnecessary and that the paint has self-priming properties. However, not all do, so be sure to check. For a quality self-sealing option that does not require prior sanding, the Rust-Oleum Garden Furniture Spray Paint is a no-brainer.