THE BEST GARDEN & EXTERIOR WOOD PAINT PRODUCTS
A fresh coat of paint can give a new lease of life to your garden shed, wooden fence or exterior furniture. From clear stains that highlight the natural beauty of the wood to contemporary paint shades that add a touch of modernity, there are dozens of products to choose from.
Unless you’re an expert, choosing the best garden and exterior wood paint is often harder than it seems. At a first glance, most products look similar.
To help you find the right product for your garden renovation, our team has tested and rated some of the best-sold exterior paints in the UK. Check out our top picks below.
OUR BEST PICK GARDEN & OUTDOOR WOOD PAINTS
Best Of The Rest
Speciality wood care paint available in a range of attractive, vibrant colours.
Formulated to protect all exterior wood surfaces, including garden furniture and decking.
Quick drying wood stain provides long-lasting protection and enhances the natural qualities of wood.
POPULAR GARDEN & OUTDOOR WOOD COLOUR PALETTES
There are several factors to consider when choosing the colour palette for your garden and exterior woodwork. The exterior colour of your home, the shade of the pavements and even the colours of the flowerbeds can determine which tonality works best on your exterior wood.
In a traditional environment, highlight the natural beauty of the wood with a clear varnish or translucent wooden stains in shades of brown. Tan and beige also look great in a traditional or rustic garden.
Green is another popular hue. We recommend a darker shade if you have an elegant outdoor space.
White is a timeless choice that looks amazing in all environments. A satin finish adds elegance while a gloss finish gives a contemporary touch to your exterior. Pastel shades, maybe paired with white, give their best in a shabby chic garden. Opt for blush blue, vintage pink or light shades of green.
Contemporary choices include a range of greys but also more dramatic shades like burgundy, purple and electric blue.
White and blue look perfect in a coastal environment. Yellow or orange are perfect for the backyard of a countryside cottage.
One decoration ‘trick’ to achieve a flawless exterior design is to match the colour of the fence with the colour of the roof.
Our favourite product is Ronseal Garden Paint, a water-based paint that forms a water-repellent and rainproof film on a variety of outdoor surfaces, including wood, terracotta, metal and brick.
Of the many features that impressed us, the most surprising was the application ease. Garden Paint is thick yet easy to apply with a brush, it touch dries and becomes rainproof in only an hour, and it can be re-coated after just four hours.
The colours are also amazing, albeit not always true to the shade pictured on the tin. Another slight downside is the covering power, which is lower than expected.
However, on a positive note, the product is formulated to resist cracking and peeling – the low-sheen finish gives a contemporary look to the exterior surfaces – and this paint is amazing to use on sheds, fencing or garden furniture.
A low-cost alternative to our top pick is Cuprinol Ducks Back. This exterior wood paint boasts a wax-enriched formulation designed to protect rough sawn wood from weather and environmental elements for up to 5 years.
The consistency of this paint is perhaps its best feature. Not too thick nor too thin, the product boasts a non-drip easy application, and it becomes rainproof in an hour. Thanks to its surprising covering power, one coat is usually sufficient to achieve satisfactory results.
Ducks Back is supplied in 5L tins, and this is another thing we like. A single tin covers up to 24m² with one coat meaning a tin of paint really goes a long way.
One slight drawback is the limited colour choice. There are nine shades in the range but unfortunately they’re all quite dark.
Johnstone’s speciality Garden Colours is a range of exterior wood paints ideal for sheds and fences, trellises, garden furniture and summer houses. Like most of Johnstone’s products, this paint impresses with its quality and price.
Affordable and long-lasting, Garden Colours paint has a thick, waxy consistency and forms a protective, waterproof film while maintaining the natural grain of the wood.
Harmless to pets and plants, the product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Among the qualities of this paint, we should mention the quick-drying formula. It takes approximately two hours for the paint to touch dry; a second coat can be applied after about four hours.
Another nice thing with this paint is the ability to control the colour intensity. The first coat ensures a decent covering power and a soft shade. If you aim to achieve a bolder look, just apply additional coats until you achieve the desired effect.
Garden Shades by Cuprinol is a superb paint that promises to deliver a great value for money. Retailing at an affordable price and suitable to use on wood and on a variety of properly primed surfaces, this product dries to a contemporary matt finish that enhances the natural grain of the wood.
A wide colour range ensures versatility. Garden Shades comes in 37 ready mixed colours; while the manufacturer also offers a wide range of tint-able shades.
Ideal to use on smooth planed and rough sawn wood, this paint has an excellent coverage which is dependent on the material and application method. On smooth planed wood, a litre of paint covers up to 12m² if applied with a brush.
The coverage drops to approximately 5m²/litre if the product is applied with a sprayer or to rough sawn wood.
Nevertheless, a tin goes a long way. Supplied in 1L tins, Garden Shades is water-based and safe to use in the proximity of pets and children.
Sometimes, a quality wood stain is all it takes to freshen up the look of worn-out exterior and interior timber. Ideal to use on smooth planed wood, Ever Build Wood Stain promises to provide up to 5 years of protection under normal weather conditions.
Whilst “normal weather conditions” is quite a vague definition, we tested the product under temperamental British weather and were satisfied with the results. The product repels water and protects the wood from harmful UV rays without peeling or cracking.
Ideal for internal and external use, this wood stain boasts a water-based quick-drying formulation which touch dries in only half an hour. It is recommended to treat the surface with a minimum of two coats, and the second coat can be applied after approximately four hours.
To ensure the product’s quality, the Ever Build products are also manufactured in accordance with all ISO 9001 standards; this particular product is also subject to a stringent quality control system that assesses the quality and safety of use.
HOW TO PAINT EXTERIOR WOOD & GARDEN FURNITURE
• Exterior wood paint
• Drop cloths
• Paint stripper
• Caulking gun
• Putty knife
Step 1 – Prepare the surface
Whether you’re painting a shed, a fence, or garden furniture – thorough preparation of the surface is key to the success of the project.
The first step is to clean the surface of any dust and existing stains. This step is particularly important if the surface has previously been painted in the past. Use dish soap or another mild detergent to remove all dust and stains. Remove any flaking or peeling paint with sandpaper, then remove the dust with a dry cloth.
In some cases, it may be necessary to remove the old coat completely. For example, if you want to apply a water-based paint on a surface previously painted with a solvent-based product, then you should definitely remove the old coat first.
The easiest way to remove the old paint is with a chemical stripper. Apply the product following the manufacturer’s instructions, let it react, then remove the stripped paint with a putty knife or pressure washer.
You may also have to repair a severely weathered or damaged surface; use a suitable caulk to fill any cracks and wait for the product to dry. Level the surface with sandpaper and remove all dust with a dry cloth.
Step 2 – Prime the surface
Exterior wood is constantly exposed to weather and environmental elements, which is why it is important to properly seal and prime the surface. A sealer is required if the top coat doesn’t provide a waterproof film. Otherwise, priming the surface with an adequate product may suffice.
Apply the priming product as instructed by the manufacturer and let it dry. For the best results, cure the product for at least 24 hours before applying the paint.
Step 3 – Paint the surface
Most exterior wood paints have a thick consistency due to waxes included in the formula, meaning the best way to apply them is with a brush. Thinner products, such as water-based wood stains and some garden paints, can also be applied with a sprayer.
Select the right tool based on the characteristics of the paint and surface to be covered.
With a brush, apply a thin layer of paint, working in small sections at a time. Paint in the same direction as the wood grain to disguise any brush strokes and to enhance the natural beauty of the material. Leave the first coat to dry as instructed and apply a second coat if necessary.
Most garden paints require a minimum of two coats to ensure adequate protection. Unless specified otherwise, we recommend following this rule.
If applied with a sprayer, follow the instructions on the tin in regard to thinning and application. This method provides a superior covering power, but it considerably reduces coverage.
Once the product is dry, you can further treat the surface with a clear top coat to prevent discolouration and chipping.