The Best Paints For All Types of Exterior Wood

Transform your home's exterior wood with our handpicked selection of weatherproof paints.
Tried & Tested: See Our Testing ↓
Written & Tested By: Edward Bailey | Updated:
Best Exterior Wood Paint
Edward Bailey/DIY Works
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Exterior wood paint that’s cracked, peeled or blistered can ruin the look and feel of your outdoor space. Luckily, it’s easy to put right and the best way to fix the defective paint is to rub it down and apply a suitable paint that provides long-lasting weather protection.

Whether you’re painting your fence, garden shed, cladding, windows or door, you’ll want it to be long-lasting to make it worth your while. Therefore, most brands state a weather protection guarantee to provide you with an indication of the paint’s durability.

To help you choose the right exterior wood paint, our hand-picked selection features top-performing paints chosen through our first-hand experience painting various exterior wood surfaces. We also thoroughly tested a variety of paints and carried out the latest research.

Ronseal Exterior Wood Paint
Best Overall: Ronseal Weatherproof 2-in-1
Dulux Weather Shield Exterior Wood Paint
Best Colour Selection: Dulux Weathershield
Cuprinol Garden Shades Paint For Wood
Best Matte Finish: Cuprinol Garden Shades Paint
Johnstone’s Garden Colours Paint For Exterior Wood
Best Value: Johnstone’s Garden Colours
Santex 10 Year Exterior Gloss
Best Gloss Finish: Santex 10 Year Exterior Gloss
Rust-Oleum Garden Paint
Best Chalky Finish: Rust-Oleum Garden Paint

How The DIY Works Team Tests & Rates Exterior Wood Paints

From painting front doors to planters, over the years, we’ve used a range of exterior wood paints to transform our outdoor space. Whether we are painting outdoor surfaces in our personal home, in the DIY Works office, our Airbnb’s or rental properties, we’ve had the pleasure of testing out a selection of paints.

As with most paints, exterior wood paint is available in satin or gloss finishes and they can also be applied by brush, roller or sprayer. Therefore, we tested the paints in each application method (where applicable) as well as testing them on both bare and previously painted wood. After the application, we assessed its finish and the time it took to dry.

Below is a recent project where we painted wooden garden furniture and as you can see, it made a huge difference.

best paint for exterior wood

Edward Bailey/DIY Works
best outdoor wood paint

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

To keep up our commitment to reviewing and testing the latest exterior wood paints (for this article), we are continually testing out the latest offerings from top brands. This means that when we notice a brand has released a new paint, we will attempt to test it out on various exterior wood surfaces (i.e. garden furniture, sheds, planters and much more).

best wood paint

Edward Bailey/DIY Works
best paint for outdoor wood

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

As well as our testing and experience with a range of exterior wood paints, we also based our recommendations on the latest research and several factors. Some of the factors that we considered included the paint’s finish, durability, colour selection, the time it takes to dry, ease of application and value for money.

The Best Exterior Wood Paints

At DIY Works, our content is 100% independent and we would never recommend a product that we wouldn't use ourselves (read our editorial standards and how we test products).

1. Best Overall: Ronseal Weatherproof 2-in-1

(How We Review →)

Ronseal is one of the biggest brands in the UK for exterior wood paint and they offer many different types. However, this particular paint is their most rated and the brand claim that it’s weatherproof in just 1 hour and can protect exterior wood for up to 10 years. This protection resists cracking, peeling, blistering and general weathering.

Although the brand has recently released a “Garden Colours” paint, it’s only guaranteed for 5 years whereas this dedicated exterior wood paint last double that with 10 years of guaranteed protection.

Pros
  • Suited for bare or previously painted wood
  • Available in multiple colours
  • Weatherproof in 1 hour
  • Water based formula
  • Large 750 ml tin
Cons
  • During our testing, we found that it required two to three coats for the best finish

To conclude, the Ronseal Exterior Wood Paint is one of the best options if you require fast-drying and long-lasting paint. It can be applied quickly by a brush and you can expect 13 square metres of coverage per litre.

2. Best Colour Selection: Dulux Weathershield

(How We Review →)

Dulux is another highly reputable brand and they are the closest competitor to Ronseal. With regards to their exterior wood paint, it’s known as the brand’s Weathershield paint, which is available as a gloss, satin or undercoat paint. As with the Ronseal alternative, the Dulux Weathershield also provides up to 10 years of weather protection.

Pros
  • Water based formula that's quick drying
  • Multiple colours available
  • Touch to dry in 2 hours
  • Rainproof and mould resistant finish
  • Available as 750 ml or 2.5 litre tins
Cons
  • We found that it was quite runny out of the tin

Overall, the Dulux Weather Shield is an excellent all-round paint that provides a great finish on exterior wood or metal surfaces. It’s also available in a great selection of colours and comes with a 10-year weather protection guarantee for complete peace of mind.

3. Best Matte Finish: Cuprinol Garden Shades Paint

(How We Review →)

The Cuprinol Garden Shades is another fast-drying formula that can be sprayed or brushed onto the exterior wood. According to the brand, the formula is designed to provide weather protection for up to 6 years after the application of two coats. It can also be used to paint terracotta, brick and stone, which is great if you need to paint other surfaces.

Pros
  • 1 hour drying time
  • Colours and protects wood
  • Enhances the natural grain of wood
  • Water based formula in a 2.5 litre tin
  • Multiple colours available
Cons
  • Coverage isn't that great (regardless of whether its brushed or sprayed onto the wood)
  • Only provides up to 6 year of protection

Overall, it’s a high-performing formula that provides an attractive matte finish, which allows the wood grain to show through. The ability to use a fence or power sprayer may also be beneficial if you already own such equipment.

4. Best Value: Johnstone’s Garden Colours

(How We Review →)

If you require affordable exterior wood paint that’s produced by a reputable brand, the Johnstone’s Woodcare is the best option. It’s available in a 1 or 2.5-litre tin and with a choice of 20 different colours.

In terms of long-term performance, the brand state it will protect for 4 years and it’s also fade-resistant.

Pros
  • Suitable for most wooden garden furniture
  • Smooth and easy to apply
  • Allows the natural grain of the wood to show
  • 2 hours drying time
  • Multiple colours available
  • Easy to apply by brush
Cons
  • From our testing, we found that unless you applied multiple coats, the finish is quite pale

To conclude, the Johnstone’s Woodcare is a cheap exterior wood paint that’s fast to dry and easy to apply. Unlike other cheap formulas, the Johnstone’s brand has been trading since 1890 and has a great reputation for peace of mind.

5. Best Gloss Finish: Santex 10 Year Exterior Gloss

(How We Review →)

If you require a durable gloss finish to any exterior wood, the Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Gloss is a great option to consider. This is because it’s formulated to provide an ultra mirror shine that’s guaranteed for 10 years.

Pros
  • 10 year weather protection guarantee
  • Flexible formulation that resist cracking
  • Easy to apply with a brush
  • Covers up to 15 m2 per litre
  • Produces a desirable gloss shine
Cons
  • During testing, we found that it took longer than 6 hours to dry (this may be due to us painting exterior wood in low temperatures)
  • Relatively expensive when compared to the alternatives

For creating a shiny finish to any exterior wood, the Sandtex 10 Year Exterior Gloss is one of the best paints to use. Although expensive, it provides great coverage and the flexible formulation means that it shouldn’t crack, which is very common with other gloss paints.

6. Best Chalky Finish: Rust-Oleum Garden Paint

(How We Review →)

Rust-Oleum is a brand that has become extremely popular in the UK over the last few years for its chalk-based paints and recently, they’ve developed a weather-resistant garden paint that provides the desirable chalky finish.

According to the brand, to apply this exterior paint to wooden surfaces, there is no need to sand or prime the surface and it can be painted straight to the wood. It can also be used to paint plaster, brick, stone and plastic too.

Pros
  • Mould and algae resistant
  • During testing, we were impressed by the fact that there was no odour present when applying it
  • Provides up to 14 m2 coverage per litre
  • Touch dry in 1 hour and fully hardened in 4 hours
  • Available in a unique selection of colours
Cons
  • Weatherproof guarantee is only 6 years
  • We found that it needed a minimum of two coats for the best results

To conclude, the Rust-Oleum Paint is a versatile exterior wood paint that’s easy to apply and provides the desirable chalky finish. If you also intend to paint other surfaces around your garden, it’s certainly a great option to consider.

Exterior Wood Paint Buying Guide

Painting exterior wood with a paint that can withstand the unpredictable British weather can easily transform your outdoor space. Exterior wood paints are available in multiple finishes and colours and can be brushed or sprayed onto the wood.

Repainting the wood not only improves it aesthetically but also adds to the protection. Whether you are painting windows, cladding, doors, fences or other garden components, the paint will provide the surface with many years of protection.

To help you make an informed buying decision, we’ve produced the below guide regarding exterior wood paints.

Gloss vs Satin Finish

Most exterior wood paints are available as a gloss or satin finish where both provide multiple years of protection.

Gloss paint is the best option if you require a high-shine finish that’s easy to clean and hard-wearing. It’s the most popular paint for exterior windows, doors and other bits of trim.

Satin paint doesn’t provide the shine and is great for hiding imperfections due to there being no reflections from the finish. Choosing between satin or gloss is a matter of personal preference as both provide great protection.

Weather Protection

If you are going to all the effort of preparing the wood and applying paint, you’ll want the paint to be long-lasting. The best exterior wood paint will often last for up to 10 years but cheap alternatives will be far less.

It’s important to note that the wood needs to be prepared appropriately and the application needs to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Failing to do so will affect the durability of the paint and it may begin to flake, peel or blister.

If you want to achieve a flawless finish, we would recommend using wood filler on the surface beforehand.

Drying Time

Due to the unpredictable weather in the UK, fast-drying exterior wood paint is highly recommended. There is nothing worse than it beginning to rain as you are waiting for the paint to dry because it’ll ruin the overall finish.

All paint manufacturers will state a drying time on the instructions with Ronseal offering a fast drying time of just 1 hour. Before applying additional coats of paint, you should always wait the recommended amount of time for the best result.

Preparation

Before you begin painting the exterior wood paint, you will want to ensure the surface has been prepped. Ideally, you’ll want to use 120-grit sandpaper on bare wood and sand in the direction of the wood grain to ensure the surface is smooth before painting. If it has been previously painted, you can use lighter sandpaper to prepare the surface or use a paint stripper. If the wooden surface is in a bad way, you may want to use an electric sander to improve efficiency.

Once the wood has been sanded, you then have the option to use a filler to fill any gaps in the wood. Failing to prepare the surface correctly can result in cracks, blisters or peeling appearing like in the image below.

Application

Most of the paints listed in this article require application by brush or roller but some can be sprayed using a fence or power sprayer. Application instructions vary between brands and for the best result, you should follow them closely.

As you are painting, you should always paint in the direction of the wood grain for the best finish. One common mistake that many people make is not allowing enough time for the paint to dry between coats. Therefore, don’t be impatient and ensure that you allow enough time for the paint to dry between coats.

Maintenance

Over the years, the painted surface may suffer from a few knocks and tough dirt. However, you can easily clean most painted exterior wood with warm soapy water with no issues.

If part of the painted surface has become damaged, you can lightly sand the area until smooth and apply another coat.

Conclusion

Updating the exterior wood in your garden with a fresh lick of paint can make a huge difference. Wooden doors, windows, cladding, sheds, fences and other surfaces can be easily painted and protected in just a few hours.

All of our recommendations are suited to a range of budgets with different finishes. However, for the best result, you should ensure the surface has been prepared correctly and that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you require further information regarding any of our exterior wood paint recommendations, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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