Wooden outdoor constructions such as log cabins and summerhouses are often exposed to the harshest elements. Wind, rain, and sometimes a coastal breeze are anything but gentle with outdoor timber, which is why it’s essential to protect them with a coat of exterior wood paint.

Formulated for use on most exterior timbers, garden paints are often a wise choice.

But choosing from the bountiful range of products is often intimidating. Unless you’re an expert, how can you tell if your paint will live up to your expectations? After testing and rating the best garden shade paints in the UK, our team has put together a list of top picks. Check them out below.

shed painted red


Our #1 Best Pick

Cuprinol fence care

Cuprinol Less Mess

Originally formulated for fences but perfect for sheds. The best-in-class paint for exterior timber.

Low Cost Option

ronseal fence life

Ronseal One Coat Fence Life

Budget-friendly, quality timber paint developed especially for rough sawn wood surfaces.

Best Of The Rest

Sadolin Shed & Fence

Dependable exterior timber paint designed for long-term resistance.

Johnstone’s Woodcare Shed & Fence

One-coat shed & fence paint perfect for sheds, summerhouses and log cabins.

Cuprinol Garden Shades

The wax-enriched formulation provides superior resistance against adverse weather and outdoor elements.

Cuprinol fence care

A superb paint for sheds, log cabins and summerhouses – versatile enough to treat all garden timbers.

Our top pick and the best in its class is the Cuprinol Less Mess Fence Care, a superb paint formulated to provide years of protection to all timbers exposed to adverse weather and elements. It has an excellent covering power and a coat of fresh paint is all it takes to give a new lease of life to your shed or holiday home.

A viscous consistency ensures a hassle-free and mess-free application either with a brush or a roller. The product is incompatible with paint guns and has a rather low coverage of only 6m²/litre.

But even if this makes the project a tad costlier, we still rate the product’s performance and reliability.

Specifically formulated for rough sawn wood but also compatible with its smooth planed counterpart, Less Mess Fence Care is versatile.

You’ll also like the quick drying formula that turns showerproof in only an hour. This is an important feature to look for in an exterior paint if you want to be prepared for whatever the erratic British climate throws at you.


• Water-based, non-toxic formulation is safe to use around plants and pets. The paint has virtually no odour.
• Special pigments dry to rich, attractive colours. The product comes in five contemporary shades.
• The quick-drying formula becomes showerproof in just an hour and it can be re-coated after approximately four hours if necessary.
• Paint dries to a matt finish that disguises minor surface imperfections.
• Depending on wood type and porosity, a tub of paint is sufficient to cover up to 30m². This paint is supplied in 6L tubs.


• Too viscous consistency minimises messes but is a pain to apply. Brush strokes are a frequent occurrence.
• Low coverage is even lower on some types of wood, such as smooth planed surfaces.

ronseal fence life

Rough sawn wood paint provides durable protection to exterior surfaces. Perfect for any homeowner shopping on a budget.

When your wallet won’t allow you to invest in an expensive product but you still want a reliable solution to revive your shed or summerhouse, turn to Ronseal. It’s One Coat Fence Life paint is truly budget friendly and comes packed with unique features.

The most acclaimed characteristic is the quick-drying formulation which is the perfect ally when you’re looking for a speedy revamp of your outdoor timber.

A contemporary matt finish and a selection of 6 splendid shades add versatility, while the coverage power is more than acceptable.

In terms of covering power, the product’s name says it all. One coat is usually sufficient to achieve satisfactory results but for those stubborn areas where a second coat is needed, you’ll enjoy the quick drying time.

Brushed or sprayed, the paint is easy to apply and has a water-based formulation which can be either a positive or a negative depending on your requirements.


• Hardwearing formula developed for rough sawn wood surfaces including sheds, fences, log cabins and more.
• Fence Life becomes water-repellent in just two hours and it becomes 100% showerproof when fully dry.
• Bright colours are UV-resistant and rarely suffer discolouration whilst simultaneously protecting the wood from the harmful action of UV rays.
• Superb covering power for a timber paint. A litre of Fence Life covers up to 6m² when used as instructed. Coverage drops considerably on plane timber surfaces.
• Non-toxic paint safe to use around pets, plants and kids.


• The water-based formula is less resistant than a solvent-based product and is unsuitable to use on smooth plane surfaces or on decking.

Sadolin shed & fence

A resilient wood paint formulated to provide an active barrier against all weather conditions.

Another promising product capable of reviving your exterior wood in a breeze is Shed & Fence Paint from Sadolin. This outstanding paint boasts a non-drip consistency developed to minimise messes and is fairly easy to apply with a brush.

Offering a durable protective barrier against harsh weather conditions, the paint incorporates a UV screen while the film protects timber from frost for up to 5 years.

Another interesting feature is the wax-enriched formulation that protects wood from water infiltration. Wet paint is water resistant and in half an hour you’ll get a showerproof film ready to keep even the harshest rain at bay.

Like most exterior and garden wood paints, Shed & Fence is suitable to use on rough sawn timber but incompatible with smooth planed wood and decking. However, its performance on planed wood isn’t exactly scarce.

This versatile product comes in 5 contemporary colours which, like all translucent paints, get their true shade and sheen from the cut, type and colour of the timber.


• Water-based exterior wood paint is non-toxic and easy to work with. Apply with a brush for the best results.
• Supplied in 5L tubs, the product delivers an exceptional value for money. A litre of paint covers up to 6m².
• Shed & Fence paint can be applied over previously treated surfaces but requires priming on bare wood or when applied over incompatible coats.
• This paint has a great covering power and provides satisfactory results with one coat. However, two coats are needed for full weather protection.
• Speedy dry time allows you to recoat after only 6 hours.


• Shed & Fence is incompatible with smooth planed wood surfaces, including garden furniture and decking.
• Maintenance is sometimes cumbersome.

Johnstone's one coat shed & fence

Quick drying and eco-friendly formula makes this paint ideal for all homeowners.

Johnstone’s has always been renowned for its affordable and reliable products, and their speciality product Woodcare Shed & Fence is no exception. This paint is formulated to withstand adverse weather and offers long-lasting protection to all rough sawn wood materials.

Designed to colour and protect, Woodcare Shed & Fence comes in 4 attractive shades with a 3-year fade-resistant guarantee.

However, this wood paint is only apparently affordable. While it does come supplied in 9L tubs boasting competitive prices, its incredibly low coverage kind of breaks the deal. A litre of paint covers a mere square metre and you’ll need plenty of these to cover an entire shed or summerhouse.

But focusing primarily on quality, this product stands out. The water-repellent formulation offers active protection to all rough sawn timber and excellent resistance against extreme weather.


• The wax-enriched formulation provides superior resistance against adverse weather and elements.
• UV shield prevents colour discolouration. The product is formulated with 3-year fade resistant pigments.
• Developed to colour and protect, Woodcare paint dries to an opaque matt finish and comes in 4 shades.
• Convenience pack includes 9 litres of paint.
• Eco-friendly paint is water-repellent and pet and plant safe.


• Scarce coverage makes this product expensive.
• Unsuitable to use on smooth planed wood.

Cuprinol garden shades

A multiple-surface exterior paint for rough sawn and smooth planed wood and masonry.

Formulated to offer up to 6 years of weather protection for wood, Cuprinol Garden Shades is another noteworthy product. This resilient exterior paint is weather resistant and compatible with a wide range of surfaces, including all types of garden timbers and masonry materials such as terracotta, brick and stone.

Praised for its outstanding coverage, this product can cover up to 12m²/litre depending on surface type and porosity. Do note that this refers to the product’s coverage on smooth planed wood.

Another thing that stands out is the application ease. This paint is made to be applied quickly and adapts to your preferred application method. Be it a brush, roller, or paint sprayer, reviving your summerhouse has never been so easy.

However, Garden Shades paint isn’t all milk and honey. An annoying drawback is the colour inconsistency. The presented colours rarely correspond to what’s in the tin and it could be quite disappointing to discover that your perfect coastal blue is more of a duck egg colour.

The brand allows you the possibility to choose from 26 shades, in the hope you’ll still find one that is satisfactory.


• Garden Shades is supplied in multiple size tins ranging from 1 to 5 litres and boasts an excellent covering power.
• Coverage is also excellent at 12m²/litre for smooth planed wood and 5m²/litre for rough sawn wood.
• Compatible with a wide range of surfaces. This is one of the most versatile paints for outdoor timber.
• Superb consistency makes it possible to apply the paint with a brush, roller or sprayer.
• Rich colours highlight the natural texture of the wood despite their inconsistency.
• Non-toxic water-based formula safe to use near animals and plants.


• Coverage drops considerably when the paint is sprayed. Expect an average of 5m²/litre on smooth planed wood, and even lower on other surfaces.
• Picking the right colour is more of a guess than a certainty.