Best exterior wood paint: 6 top buys for fences, decks, and more

The best exterior wood paint ideal for giving fences, sheds, garden furniture a new lease of life – here are our top picks

Included in this guide:

Best exterior wood paint: 6 great picks for fences, sheds and garden furniture
(Image credit: Getty)

The best exterior wood paint hwill transform tired decks, garden furniture in need of a spruce up, and fences that need a pick-me-up. Paint can make a huge difference to the look of your garden, whether you prefer brilliant white or a more adventurous colour. 

And the colours for exterior wood paint are now more varied than ever. Forget cedar, forest green and pine yellow – soft lavender purples, duck egg blues and even sunshine yellows will help create an on-trend look in your garden. Painting exterior wood yourself is an easy job that most people can do for a quick makeover (and to save a bit of money instead of calling the professionals in).

Read on to see our pick of the best exterior wood paints for any garden paint job, or for painting timber on your home. There is even special anti-slip paint for decking. 

See more of the best decking paints in our specialised buyer's guide.

best decking paint: FirmTread anti-slip deck coat

(Image credit: Paint People)

1. Firmtread Anti Slip Coat Decking Paint

Best exterior wood paint for decking: enjoy freshly coloured decking with all the benefits of a non-slip coating

Best for: Decking
Capacity: 2.5L
Base type: Oil
Colours: 9
Reasons to buy
+Small particles in the paint provide slip resistance+Designed to bring out natural grain
Reasons to avoid
-Colour can be hard to judge if the decking is pre-treated

When it comes to giving your decking some attention, Firmtread is the best exterior wood paint. There are nine colours to choose from, including Silver Birch, Rick Teak and Light Oak, and there’s also the option of a clear version if you’re looking to give your decking’s existing colour, or natural colour, a boost. For anyone wanting to add a stylish shade, see the sage and charcoal choices. All colours contain fine particles that give you a surer footing, and it only requires two coats, so your new decking will look just like new in no time. 

What do we like about it?

The quick drying time: at 15°C , this deck coat will dry in just two to four hours, making the whole process of painting your deck much quicker. This product is also very sympathetic to the natural grain and colour of your wood, and won't obscure it like some other products.

The anti-slip particles in this product are really tiny, and you won't feel them even with bare feet. Firmtread is also economical, as you only need to apply a thin coat.

  • Buy Firmtread Anti Slip Coat Decking Paint


2. Cuprinol Garden Shades Matt Wood Paint

Best exterior wood paint for colour: give your shed and patio set a spruce up with this paint for exterior wood

Best for: Bringing colour to your garden
Capacity: 1L, 2.5L, 5L, tester
Base type: Water
Colours: 11
Reasons to buy
+Up to 6 years weather protection+Can be used on terracotta, stone and brick too+11 ready-mixed colours but colour mixing available
Reasons to avoid
-Coats must be applied no more than 8 hours apart

If your garden shed is looking tired and worn, you can give it a new lease of life with a coat of exterior wood paint. Whether you choose to use a paint brush, roller or even a spray gun, this paint should provide your shed with a rich colour and long lasting protection. This paint is also perfect for fences and other wooden garden features such as benches and furniture, providing you with the option to keep your garden in sync. 

What do we like about it?

It comes in 11 premixed colours and you can use their colour mix service for further options. It therefore offers the widest choice if you want to bring some variety and colour to your garden on the shed, furniture or accessories. It also can be used to add interest to brick walls and stone although you wouldn't want to use this in place of a regular masonry paint.

  • Buy Cuprinol Garden Shades Matt Wood Paint

Ronseal Weatherproof Exterior Wood Paint Dark Oak Gloss

3. Ronseal Weatherproof Exterior Wood Paint

Best paint for exterior timber: weatherproof for up to 10 years, this paint is ideal for doors and windows

Best for: Doors and windows
Capacity: 750ml, 2.5L
Base type: Water
Colours: 17
Reasons to buy
+Protects against cracking, peeling and blistering+10-year protection+Great colour range
Reasons to avoid
-Could need up to three coats

Exterior wood is put through its paces by the weather every day, but you can make sure it remains in tip top condition by using this exterior wood paint from Ronseal. The blend of ingredients allows for the natural movement of the wood, preventing cracking, peeling and blistering, while its weather resistance becomes active just one hour after painting. Suitable to paint on bare or previously treated wood, this Ronseal wood paint is a reliable choice for your home and garden.  

What do we like about it?

With 17 colours to choose from – from Duck Egg to Royal Red – you won't be stuck finding a look to complement your home. It also lasts for up to 10 years so painting your windows and doors can be done this spring and you won't need to worry about them again for a while.

  • Buy Ronseal Weatherproof Exterior Wood Paint


  • Buy Ronseal Weatherproof Exterior Wood Paint

4. Cuprinol 5 Year Ducksback Silver Copse Matt Shed & Fence Treatment

Best wood paint for sheds and fences: quick drying and showerproof in an hour

Best for: Sheds and fences
Capacity: 5L, 9L
Base type: Water
Colours: 9
Reasons to buy
+Water repellent and frost resistant+Quick drying+Good colour range
Reasons to avoid
-Smallest can is 5L so best for big jobs

Whether it’s a summer storm or a hard winter front, your exterior wood should be protected with this paint from Cuprinol's best exterior wood paint. It’s non drip, so don’t worry about the paint dripping on to your patio, and it protects your fence and decking from the damaging effects of rain and frost. It guarantees protection for five years and its water repellency is active an hour after painting. With 5 litres of paint from £11, you can’t really go wrong.

What do we like about it?

It dries quickly, becoming showerproof in just an hour. It is also non-drip and can be applied with brush or roller so if a speedy job is required, you are in luck. There are on-trend greens and greys in the range so you have a much wider choice than the common brown fence ranges.

  • Buy Cuprinol 5 Year Ducksback Silver Copse Matt Shed & Fence Treatment

Best budget fence stain: Colours Timbercare Shed & Fence Stain

5. Colours Timbercare Shed & Fence Stain

Best budget fence stain: for a quick, cost effective fix, choose this stain from the Colours Timbercare range

Best for: Budget
Capacity: 5L, 9L
Base type: Water
Colours: 3
Reasons to buy
+Cheap and cheerful+Quick drying time+Safe around plants and pets
Reasons to avoid
-Limited choice of colours

Providing your fence with basic protection, the Timbercare range from B&Q is a great fence stain if you can’t justify the outlay of the others. It’s incredibly quick drying, too, which means your fence can be given a new lease of life after just one morning in the garden. With its lower solvent levels, you benefit from fewer air pollutants and, according to the brand, it’s safe to use around pets and plants. 

What do we like about it?

Quick and easy to apply, you can refresh your fence (or shed, or garden furniture) in just a matter of hours and for less than a tenner. Although the product is recommended to be applied by brush, some users said it was a thin solution so could be sprayed with the right tools.

  • Buy Colours Timbercare Shed & Fence Stain

Best one-coat decking paint: Cuprinol Less Mess Fence Care

6. Cuprinol Less Mess Fence Care

Best one-coat exterior wood paint: a cost-effective fence paint that looks great after one coat

Best for: One coat
Capacity: 5L, 6L, 9L
Base type: Water
Colours: 5
Reasons to buy
+Quick drying +Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-The colour range is limited-Only for rough sawn timber

With its one-coat wonder and fast-drying properties, Cuprinol's Less Mess Fence Care is the best exterior wood paint if you want the job done quickly. It works best on new wood, and with Autumn Red, Rich Oak and Rustic Brown as the colours of choice, it enhances the wood’s natural colours. 

What do we like about it?

The more coats you apply, the darker the effect, and with such a large tin for such a great price, you can afford to paint your shed and fence, too. It is very easy to apply, even on the rough sawn timber fencing it is intended for.

Exactly what it says on the tin, if we may steal that phrase. Easy, one-coat application with very little mess and great coverage, as confirmed by many happy users.

  • Buy Cuprinol Less Mess Fence Care

Where to buy the best exterior wood paint

Amazon: loads of great brands and quick delivery
B&Q: plenty of options for specialised outdoor paint
The Range: a great place to shop good quality paint on a budget
Wickes: You will all of our best picks and more at Wickes

How to choose the best exterior wood paint

The best paint for exterior wood will depend on the use. Timber windows and doors need a coating that will protect the wood and give a smooth finish – look for an exterior gloss, satin or eggshell paint. 

For fences you can use stains and specialist fence paints that soak into the wood to protect it and colour it. Some of these can be used for decking too but keep an eye out for antislip decking paints to create a safer layer for walking on.

Furniture can be painted with satin or generic matt exterior wood paint. If you are painting wood that has become impermeable from previous coatings, a smooth satin or gloss might be best and will be easier to maintain.

Look for paints with a long guarantee to reduce how frequently you need to repaint.

Can I use one exterior paint for everything in the garden?

Ideally not, unless you're using the more expensive, durable paint on everything – which not everyone will be willing to do. As a rule, the heavier the use, the more hardworking and durable the paint will need to be, and this applies especially to decks and windows. However, because decking is for walking on, the formula will be quite different from the exterior glosses used for windows. Furniture paint perhaps doesn't need to be quite so hardwearing, but you may be pickier with the colour and finish, so look for paints with the best offering for both. 

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Lindsey Davis
Lindsey Davis

Lindsey is Editor in Chief for Home Ecommerce at Future, meaning she works with her team to help you get the best product advice. From soft furnishings to refrigerators, she knows where to find a bargain and the brands to go for (and those to avoid). 

She started her career in children's publishing in 2010 then worked on a number of marketing and digital publishing projects, before joining the Homebuilding & Renovating team in 2013 where she cemented (no pun intended) her love of amazing home design. When she bought her own Victorian cottage the following year, she become a pro at finding the best buys for small spaces and can often be spotted watching home organization videos on Instagram. One day she hopes to build her own home where space will be less of an issue – she just has to decide what style to go for. In the mean time, she is happy trying to bring some modern style to her period home, and covering every available surface with houseplants.