Outdoor Wood Paint Ideas For Exterior Surfaces

Deciding which outdoor wood paint to use is important. Your exterior surfaces add curb appeal, so you want to select the best paint possible. Paint protects wood from UV rays and snow, for example.

To assist with your next DIY outdoor paint project, we’ll show the best types of paint and why they’re great. Before you begin wood painting, you’ll have enough information to complete the job yourself. 

outdoor wood paint

There is much to be learned about working with outdoor paint. However, it isn’t complicated. If you want to paint outdoor furniture, for example, we can show which paint to use.

We’ll walk you through the different paints that can make your exterior surfaces shine. 

Indoor Paint Vs. Outdoor Paint

What's The Difference In Indoor Paint And Outdoor Paint?

Outdoor paint is meant to protect against natural elements. So using indoor paint in place of it will not end well. Try to stick to using outdoor paint outdoors and indoor paint indoors the way they were intended to be used. 

Exterior Latex Paint

Water-based paint is known as exterior latex paint. It consists of pigment with water as a carrier. They are perfect for those who want something weaker and more eco-friendly.

Most water-based paints are indoor paints as they are less durable, and have a light odor.Today, they are chosen because they don’t yellow or crack. It also protects against sun exposure.

Oil Based Formula Wood Paint 

Solvent-based paint uses organic compounds as solvents. This means they are not for those who are susceptible to reactions to chemicals nor those who want a fast-drying paint.

Another term for solvent-based paint is oil-based paint. This should be noted in case you’re trying to choose between the two. Oil-based paint is often used outdoors because it is durable and offers weather protection.

Acrylic Outdoor Wood Paint

Acrylic paint isn’t often used in the home interior or construction world. However, companies are making acrylic paint because it acts as a hard shell and safeguards surfaces against scratches.

Acrylic paint isn’t as simple as other paints. They are made of pigment “suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion,” along with an array of other things.

Enamel Outdoor Wood Paint

Enamel paint can be similar to acrylic but it dries much harder, creating an enamel shell. Hence the name it was given. Enamel paint is the hardest paint you can find and is like nail polish.

However, it does have its flaws. The problem is it is costly and has a longer drying time. So, if these two things are important to you, then you want to choose a something easier for your DIY project. 

Outdoor Paint Material

Does The Material Matter For Outdoor Paint? 

The material of the surface you are painting may be wood, or it may be something like metal or even plastic. 


Concrete is exhilarating to paint. Wash it first and if there are any old paints or stains on it, you should use a stripper to remove the concrete paint. Then, you can wash it well and begin.

For example, concrete floor paint will be labeled as basement, garage, or simply concrete paint. Cement paint works too. The formula doesn’t matter this time as long as it says it’s made for concrete.


Laminate should be sanded with around 150-grit sandpaper before painting. After sanding, make sure you dust the surface very well, or else the paint will not stick at all and become a very gummy mess. 

After it is dusted and washed, begin with a primer that says it is made for non-porous surfaces. You will need at least two coats of either acrylic or  Finish with at least two coats of acrylic or latex enamel paint.


Brick needs to be cleaned and sanded before being painted. It should also be primed with a latex primer. After the primer dries, you can add latex paint. You need to use at least two coats of paint after the primer. 

Tip: For brick, it’s a good idea to use something soft like a limewash. Limewash is a gorgeous way to upgrade your home’s exterior or fireplace. Anywhere you have brick can be limewashed, either indoors or outdoors. 


Ceramic isn’t the easiest to paint but if you have ceramic tile, then you might want to paint it. Start by sanding it and cleaning it. Then use an acrylic primer and apply it evenly before you paint.  

Finally, apply a coating of acrylic paint. It’s a good idea not to use the floor for a week after you do this. But if you need to, use a sealer or cover it with a carpet or rug for a few weeks.


Drywall is easy to paint. All you have to do is dust the drywall and then use latex paint to paint it. A primer is recommended and will make the surface look much smoother when you’re finished. 

If you want to cover any mistakes, then go ahead and use a drywall texture over the wall with drywall mud before you add the primer. This will ensure that the drywall looks good no matter how experienced you are. 


Metal has been known to be difficult to paint evenly. But it can be done. First off, sand with 220-grit sandpaper before rinsing and drying the metal surface.
Most metals should be painted with exterior paint. There are metal paints, both spray paint and canned paint that will work. This is another type of paint that is always labeled for metal. 


Glass is also difficult to paint. But if you clean it and dry it, then you can use either acrylic or enamel to work best. Spray painting is not ideal but any type of paint designated for tile will work out. 


Sand the plastic with 320-grit sandpaper to prep it for paint and remove any rough spots. While you can get by with some other types of paint, most of the time, spray paint works best for plastic surfaces.

Despite popular belief, unless using paint that isn’t good for plastic, like oil-based canned paint, then plastic is easy to paint. So use spray paint, and practice beforehand on cardboard or some other surface. 

Outdoor Wood Paint Vs. Outdoor Wood Stain

Outdoor Wood Paint Vs. Outdoor Wood Stain

Wood stain is another option for decks that adds beauty while protecting the surface from snow, for example. Each of them has its own benefits and not everyone has the same desires. 

Natural Look: Wood Stain

If you want the most rustic and natural look possible, then you should use wood stain. Painted wood can look great but wood stain looks natural. 

Orange-toned stains do not look natural. Stick to thinner stains with colors similar to the color of the natural wood for the most natural look. Finish with a thin sealer for best results. 

More Color Options: Wood Paint

If you want to customize your project, paint is the better bet. You can choose from dozens of stain colors but there are millions of paint colors to choose from because there are millions of colors in existence.

Hearing that there are millions of colors may overwhelm you but if you start with a shade then you can narrow it down quickly to two or three. From there, you see what is available and get someone else’s opinion.  

Price: Wood Stain

Wood stain is surprisingly cheaper than paint most of the time. Most of the time, you’ll pay around $5 to $10 for a half-pint of wood stain, and though the price per gallon isn’t that much different, there is a catch.

You almost always need more than one coat of paint but you don’t always need more than one coat of stain. That said, wood paint goes on sale much more often than wood stain does. So keep an eye out.

Redo Ability: Wood Paint

Wood stain does not make it easy to redo the surface if you should choose another path later on. It can be stripped but it is much easier to strip wood paint. So use outdoor wood paint if you change your mind.

You can even paint right over almost anything on wood, including a stain. But if you want to stain something that has been painted, then you will have to remove the paint first. So paint covers better.

Easier: Wood Stain

Wood stain is easier to use because it’s difficult to see the mistakes. When you use wood stain, you will easily be able to paint it on and it should dry even if you did make a few mistakes.

With flat paint and with glossy paint, every mistake will show. So, make sure you paint in the direction of the wood grain and use the right number of coats. Take care not to use too much on the brush too. 

Wood Paint 

Wood paint is far more personalizable. With wood stain, you only really have one option. You paint on the stain and you let it dry. But with paint, you can use stencils and have an amazing look.

While you may try using stains with stencils, it won’t have the best result. It may run or bleed. Paint is made to use with stencils and this gives you complete creative freedom for your wood project. 

How To Choose The Right Paint

When choosing the best paints, you first must know what they can do and how they should be used. 

How To Choose The Right Paint

Choosing the right paint isn’t as easy as it sounds. After all, there are so many questions you need to ask yourself before you even buy paint. Check out these questions to help you with your checklist.

What Is The Material?

This is the first question you should ask yourself and it’s the question we focused on today. There is metal, glass, wood, and so many more materials and most of them require a different type of paint.

Quality Condition

This also affects the paint you use and how you go about using it. If your item isn’t in great condition, then the first thing you should do is sand it down. After that, you want to clean it really well so you can appraise it.

From there, it’s a good idea to try a section first. It may not be in good enough condition to paint but you can always try an underside that won’t be seen or simply have paint remover on hand to remove it.

How Porous Is It? 

Porous surfaces paint much differently than any other surface. They will absorb a lot of paint. To prevent this from using up all of your paint and requiring so many coats, start with something to feel the pores.

This can be a thin coat of wood filler which can help significantly. Or, you can invest in primer. You can use as many coats as the can you purchases allows or stick with one coat and then use multiple coats of paint. 

How Much Texture Do You Want?

The texture of the paint will affect the overall look. This is similar to drywall textures but it can also be done with paint. Swirls and strikes can give an eclectic look to a normally flat surface if you are feeling artistic. 

But if you want to keep it basic, simply paint it on after a white primer. Alternatively, you can use different shades of the same color for a really interesting look. Paint a thin coat of one then haphazardly use another. 

What Finish Are You Looking For?

Do you want matte, semi-gloss, or something different? There are five main finishes. Matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss are the five primary finishes to choose from and they are all different. 

Learn about the finishes so you will know how each of them reflects light and what are the benefits of each one. Some cover mistakes better while others are more impressive. It’s all up to you and your project’s needs. 

Do You Want To Dilute It? 

There is a type of painting known as whitewashing and despite the name, it can be done with any color. It involves diluting the paint with water and using it that way.

Most whitewashing only requires one coat. However, it is not for those who are looking for something modern at all.

How To Clean Outdoor Wood Paint In 5 Easy Steps

Before you paint a wood surface, it must be clean. Here’s are the best methods to prepare exterior wood surfaces.

Vacuum Wood Surface

Before you begin using water on painted wood surface, vacuum the surface with a hose attachment. Vacuum any debris or other things that shouldn’t be on your deck. 

After you finish vacuuming, vacuum the floor around it, then the surface again, then the floor one more time. This should take care of anything loose that will get in the way of a clean wood surface. 

Dust Wood Surface

With a damp rag, wipe the wood’s surface. This should pick up the top layer of dust and will do most of the cleaning for you. Don’t get the rag too wet though.

You can use a dry rag, but a damp one would be better. That way, if you like, you can stop here if you believe that the surface is clean enough and doesn’t need anything further. 

Make Cleaning Mix

Now what you should do is get a bucket of warm water. Add dishwashing liquid and lightly stir it. Keep in mind that this means dishwashing liquid, not dishwasher detergent which is different.

When a tutorial asks for dishwashing liquid, always assume that they mean Dawn and not something that goes inside the dishwasher. Doing so may harm the surface as it can be too textured and have further chemicals. 

Wipe With Microfiber Cloth

After you get the water and dishwashing liquid ready, you should dip a microfiber cloth in it. Ring it out and then dip it again. You want it to be saturated throughout, but not so wet that it drips on the floor.

Wipe the surface with a microfiber cloth. This will definitely get rid of anything except for deep stains. All surface stains should be removed this way, so scrub any stains a little more intensely. 

Wipe With Water

After you wash with the dishwashing liquid, then you should rinse the surface with water. Don’t powerwash as this could remove the paint. Instead, stick with a simple wet microfiber cloth and wipe over the surface.


Dry the surface with a microfiber cloth. You don’t want to let it air dry as wet wood often ends up peeling or growing mold. Even if it is outdoors, it’s always better to keep it dry whenever possible, no matter the water-resistance level. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Do I Need To Prime Exterior Wood Before Painting?

It is of utmost importance to prime bare exterior wood surfaces before painting. Primer seals wood grain, preventing bleed-through while increasing adhesion. 

How To Paint Wooden Screen Doors?

Just like with any wood surface, use primer first. After it dries, sand it with 100 grit sandpaper. Now you’re ready to paint. Make sure the door’s edges are sealed. 

The consensus is that oil-based paints are the best for wooden screen doors. When applying, make sure you apply your brush strokes according to the wood grain and in the same direction.  

What Is The Best Spray Paint For Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Spray paint that contains primer is the best choice. When spray painting wood surfaces, you don’t need to use a primer. With spray paint that contains a primer, you’re protected. Another thing that makes spray paint a great option is how it dries faster. 

Does Exterior Paint Waterproof Wood?

Exterior wood paints contain chemicals that make them waterproof. The wood paint can also withstand harsh weather conditions. Often, you won’t need to worry about sealing painted wood surfaces.  

What Kind Of Paint Is Best For Siding?

Acrylic paint offers excellent coverage for house siding. It should be 100 percent acrylic. The paint style has adhesion qualities that provide good coverage for siding, and also the paint lasts longer.

Outdoor Wood Paint Conclusion

Painting exterior wood surfaces help preserves the wood and improve the appearance of your outdoor area. If you don’t have experience, start small and paint your patio furniture. Outdoor furniture offers room to make mistakes. 

For inexperienced DIY painters, the best way to improve your painting skill is by practicing. Nobody will care if you paint your outdoor bench and it doesn’t look good. 

If you have a big home and anticipate painting, investing in a paint sprayer would be a good idea. If you have an outdoor wooden deck, a power washer would be another good investment. Painting wood doesn’t have to be hard. It requires effort, but that’s what DIY aesthetic is all about.