The garden fence is more than a borderline between your property and the rest of the world. It’s the first thing your guests will notice. Merging a decorative and protective function, the fence has to secure your home against intruders but it must also harmonise with your garden landscape.

Wooden fences are a timeless choice for homeowners. Warm, informal, and versatile, timber fencing can be painted in a rainbow of colours that match with your garden or speak about your personality. But what are the qualities of the best garden fence paint?

Water resistance and durability are definitely the two important features. But there are other considerations. Our expert team has tested and rated an array of popular fence paints for you, with our top picks listed below.

white painted fence


Our #1 Best Pick

cuprinol garden shades

Cuprinol Garden Shades

Versatile paint for use on a variety of surfaces. Offers up to 6 years of protection on wood.

Low Cost Option

Bird brand shed & fence

Bird Brand Shed & Fence

A reasonably priced “one coat protection” paint ideal for most garden timbers.

Best Of The Rest

Cuprinol Less Mess Fence Care

Great value for money – one coat coverage and mess-free application.

Ronseal One Coat Fence Life

Colourful protection for rough sawn wood in a weatherproof formula.

Ronseal Fence Life Plus

Up to 5 years of carefree protection on most exterior wood surfaces.


Choosing the colour of your fence may seem easy, but it isn’t always straight-forward. Beyond preference, the hue must blend with your landscape. As a general rule, the colour of your fence should work in perfect harmony with the colour of your roof.

When choosing the colour scheme for your fence, consider the hue of the other wood surfaces in the garden, including your decking and/or shed. For a stylish effect, use a matching or complementary tone on the fence.

Natural wood is not usually an inspired choice unless you live in a rustic cottage. The light tonality of natural wood gives the impression of an unfinished garden.

White is amongst the most popular colours while contemporary choices include bolder or dramatic shades.

Blue brings freshness and vitality. The colour of the sea, it looks amazing in a coastal environment and pairs well with white, teal, and ocean green. Various shades of grey, but also neutral colours like cream and beige, are also great choices in modern or elegant contexts. Off-whites pair well with almost all tonalities and look great in shabby-chic gardens.

If you like brown, paint the fence in a darker shade that enhances the beauty of timber. Reddish brown or red are often spotted in rustic environments, and these colours also mix and match perfectly in almost all landscapes.

A bold choice is black. Either sheen or matt, this colour makes a statement in a contemporary garden and looks classy in an elegant environment.

cuprinol garden shades

Rich colours and protective formula deliver up to 6 years of flawless results.

Cuprinol Garden Shades is a collection of weather-resistant exterior paints for wood and masonry materials including stone, brick, and terracotta. The high-quality formula provides up to 6 years of protection on wood and makes this paint our favourite.

Easy to apply with a brush or spray, Garden Shades come in a range of vibrant contemporary colours. Special pigments ensure a rich colour that allows the natural texture of wood to shine through, enhancing the look and feel of your fencing.

An elegant matt finish adds just a pinch of elegance to the mix. Supplied in 1L, 2.5L, and 5L tins, the product has an excellent coverage. Its great consistency makes it easy to apply with a brush, in which case a litre covers up to 12m² of smooth planed wood. On rough sawn wood coverage drops to about 5m²/litre.

If you don’t mind wasting paint and want to get the job done faster, the product is compatible with a range of paint sprayers. However, in this case, coverage is only 5m² on smooth planed wood and not more than 3m² on rough sawn wood.

We like that we could use the paint on a variety of surfaces and this allowed us to create unity between various garden elements. The beautiful long-lasting colour provides weatherproof protection and the water-based formula is harmless to plants and pets.


• Specially developed colours protect wood fences and sheds, garden furniture and other outdoor wood surfaces.
• Suitable to apply on stone, brick, and terracotta, this paint brings versatility. You’ll be able to create a unity between various garden elements.
• A selection of contemporary colours comprised of elegant and dramatic choices, but a traditional homeowner can still find their perfect shade.
• Tough and resistant, Garden Shades paint provides up to 6 years of protection for the wood.
• Easy to apply with a paintbrush or sprayer. The product is compatible with almost all paint sprayers on the market.


• The product has a good level of coverage but it can take up to 3 coats to achieve a flawless result.
• Tins are made of a flimsy material. The lid comes off easily and the tin itself may get damaged in transit.
• Colours sometimes dry to brighter shades.

Bird brand shed & fence

Our budget-friendly alternative – a one-coat paint for wooden fences, sheds, and other garden surfaces.

When your heart desires renovation but your wallet is telling you to wait, Bird Brand Shed & Fence paint could be a great compromise. Easy to apply with a roller, paintbrush, or paint spray, the product claims to cover all imperfections with only one coat.

In most cases, the claim is true. However, the paint is thin and watery, and usually requires more than one coat when making substantial colour changes. Even so, the product is still a bargain. Another slight drawback is coverage, which is only 5m²/litre. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend applying with a sprayer.

On a positive note, the product is water-based and safe around kids, pets, and plants. Water-repellent after an hour, Shed & Fence touch dries after just thirty minutes and accepts a second coat after two hours, if required.

Supplied in 5L tubs, the product contains oxide pigments that adhere well to previous paint. When painted over creosote or other treatments, Shed & Fence has a good adherence and won’t peel or crack. However, its longevity isn’t the best. Intense sun and elements, together with the everyday wear and tear, cause the product to fade and peel after about a year.


• One Coat Protection paint is ideal for coating fences, sheds, and other garden wood surfaces. It can be applied with a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer.
• Touch dry in 30 minutes, the product becomes water repellent after just one hour.
• A 5L tub is enough to cover up to 7 fence panels with a dimension of 6x6ft – provided only one coat is required.
• Seven colours bring versatility and match with either traditional or modern environments.


• On previously treated timber the product requires at least two coats, especially when making substantial colour changes.
• Paint can dry darker than pictured.
• On smooth timber, it could be necessary to apply not one or two, but several coats. The product is thin and watery.

Cuprinol less mess fence

Quick drying formula protects all garden timbers. Ideal for fences, sheds and garden furniture.

Less Mess Fence Care by Cuprinol is a high-quality paint formulated to provide years of protection and a hassle-free one coat coverage. Easy to apply, the product is formulated to minimise mess and boasts a viscous consistency that doesn’t drip off the brush.

As you might imagine, the product’s viscous consistency compromises covering power. In fact, a 6L tub is only sufficient for 30m². However, this is enough for most homeowners and the product brings great value for money.

The product has been specifically developed for rough sawn wood, but it can be successfully applied on smooth planed wood. In this case, coverage is also compromised, and more than one coat could be required.

On a more positive note, the product boasts a quick-drying formula that becomes water-repellent in about an hour. In the rare cases in which two coats are required, the second coat can be applied after roughly four hours.

A non-toxic formula makes the paint ideal to use around pets or plants. There is no strange odour and the special pigments ensure a rich colour every time.


• Easy application formula and high viscosity minimise messes. The paint doesn’t drip but it can’t be applied with a sprayer.
• One coat coverage minimises work. The product has a great covering power and hides minor imperfections.
• Specially developed to protect fences, sheds, and other rough sawn garden wood. Smooth planed wood requires two or more coats.
• Quality pigments ensure a rich colour. The paint comes in five contemporary choices that look well in either traditional or modern gardens.
• Water-based formula has a low odour and is safe to use around pets and plants.


• Coverage is only 5m²/litre. A 6L tub is enough for roughly 30m², depending on wood type and porosity.
• On smooth wood, coverage is reduced and the material might need more than two coats.
• Due to viscosity, the paint cannot be applied with a sprayer.

Ronseal One Coat Fence Life

One coat, easy-to-apply timber paint for all rough sawn wood in your garden.

Ronseal One Coat Fence Life is a paint formulated specifically for rough sawn iron. Ideal for fences, sheds, and other outdoor surfaces, this product boasts a quick-drying formulation and is your perfect ally if you want to get the job done quickly.

Coming in 6 attractive colours, the product dries to an opaque finish that hides minor surface imperfections. A single coat is enough in most cases and the paint becomes water-repellent in only two hours, depending on the environmental conditions.

100% showerproof, One Coat Fence Life resists all weathers and delivers a beautiful colour that lasts up to two years. While this is a short time, we think it’s fair when compared to the price. Protection includes UV-screening which prevents the wood from greying over time.

Brushed or sprayed, the product is easy to apply. When applied with a brush, a litre can cover up to 6m², a number that drops slightly when applied with a sprayer.


• Quality paint specifically formulated for rough sawn wood. Delivers a single-coat protection from the weather and elements.
• 100% waterproof paint maintains its brightness for up to two years. Easy to apply with a brush or spray.
• Ideal to use on fences, sheds, trellises, and other rough sawn wood surfaces. It covers up to 6m²/litre.
• Water-based paint is non-toxic and safe to use around children, pets, and plants.


• Water-based formula is unsuitable to use on smooth planed wood or decking.
• The product is excellent, but the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. Be careful how you transport and store it to avoid leaks.

Ronseal Fence Life+

Low maintenance paint to use on rough sawn or smooth planed wood. Withstands elements up to 5 years.

If you’re looking for a paint that requires low maintenance, check out Fence Life Plus from Ronseal. This paint is formulated for both rough sawn and smooth planed timber surfaces. From sheds and fences to trellises and garden furniture, this paint is up for anything.

The product is easy to apply and a litre of paint covers up to 6m². Requiring two coats on rough sawn wood and three coats on smooth planed wood, this paint is made to withstand the test of time and provides up to 5 years of protection.

Perfect for unpredictable weather, the product will become shower-proof in just one hour. We do recommend applying it on a sunny day but should it rain during application, there’s nothing to worry about. This paint adheres to both dry and damp wood and it boasts a beautiful opaque finish.

Another thing we like is the range of colours. With traditional shades and contemporary hues, the palette matches all tastes. No matter which you choose, simply apply the product with a brush, or with a paint sprayer for quicker results.

The only thing we don’t like is the consistency of the paint. This product is watery and it makes a mess. If you don’t mind dealing with dripping paint, then this is an excellent product to consider.


• Fifteen traditional and contemporary colours are easy to mix and match in all landscape styles.
• This product is formulated for rough sawn and smooth planed wood. Two or three coats are usually enough for a flawless coverage.
• Covering up to 6m²/litre, the paint is designed to withstand all weathers and elements. It becomes shower-proof in one hour.
• Up to 5 years of protection on almost all garden timber. Ideal for fences and sheds.
• The sticky formula can be applied to damp wood with exceptional results.


• This paint is very watery and sometimes annoying to work with. Prepare to clean up a mess after you’ve finished.
• As with many other paints, colour is inconsistent and dries to a different shade.



• Fence paint
• Sandpaper


• Paintbrushes
• Roller
• Paint spray
• Wire brush


Step 1 – Prepare the surface
As with any regular painting job, success depends on a thorough preparation of the surface.

New, bare fences usually need minimal surface preparation, and all you must do is to make sure the fence is clean and dry.

On previously painted surfaces, it’s good practice to remove old paint and smoothen the surface with a wire brush or sandpaper. This procedure will remove all flakes and peels of old paint, allowing a new product to penetrate the wood.

Clean all dust with a dry cloth before moving on to the next step.

Step 2 – Paint the fence
Most timber paints are thin enough to apply with a paintbrush, roller, or sprayer. We recommend the roller because it brings the best of both worlds. It allows you to finish work quickly and doesn’t waste a lot of paint. However, it’s up to you to choose the method you like best.

Apply the paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions and leave it to dry as shown before applying a second or third coat. Once applied cure for at least 12 hours before touching the fence. For the best results, avoid painting on rainy days or when the temperature is too low.

If it has rained, leave the fence to dry before starting the job, or the end-result could be extremely poor.