What You Need To Know About Outdoor Wood Paint

When it comes to painting a new surface, it’s important to get the right paint. Is outdoor wood paint the right paint for your project? There’s a good chance that it is! Let’s learn what we can to find out.

outdoor wood paintView in gallery

Of course, there is a lot to learn about any kind of paint. While the term outdoor wood paint may make it seem like there isn’t, the point is how to find out if something is outdoor wood paint or if it will make your project flop.

What Is Outdoor Wood Paint?

What Is Outdoor Wood Paint?View in gallery

Outdoor wood paint isn’t sneaky or ambiguous with its name. It is used for wood surfaces outdoors. However, not all outdoor wood paint is labeled specifically. In turn, some paints are labeled as such and aren’t the best option.

That’s why we’re going to go over the differences between outdoor wood paint and other paints. We will also explain why outdoor wood paint is used for this and what ingredients make it perfect for outdoor use. 

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

What's The Difference In Indoor Paint And Outdoor Paint?View in gallery

Indoor paint and outdoor paint are often interchanged. But is this okay? In some cases, it can work out. For example, painting an indoor wooden chair with outdoor wood paint should be fine. But this isn’t always the case.

Outdoor paint is meant to withstand the elements. So using indoor paint in place of it will rarely end well. Try to stick to using outdoor paint outdoors and indoor paint indoors the way they were intended to be used. 

Water-Based Outdoor Wood Paint 

Water-based paint is also called latex-based paint. It consists of pigment with water as a carrier. They are perfect for those who want something weaker and more environmentally friendly than the other options.

Most water-based paints are indoor paints simply because they are less durable, and have a weaker smell, than others. However, with new technology, they are becoming better every year. Today, they are chosen because they don’t yellow or crack. 

Oil-Based Outdoor Wood Paint 

Solvent-based paint uses organic compounds as solvents. This is a very thick and very strong paint. This means they are not for those who are susceptible to having 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 generally more durable. 

Acrylic Outdoor Wood Paint

Acrylic paint isn’t used that often in the home interior nor construction world. However, more and more companies are releasing acrylic paint due to the fact that it acts as a hard shell and defends surfaces against scratches. 

As for the makeup, well 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. But this is where it gets its name. 

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 probably the hardest paint you can find and is similar to nail polish.

However, it does have its flaws. The problem is it is quite costly and it takes forever to dry. So if these two things are important to you, then you probably want to choose a simpler paint for your project. 

Does The Material Matter For Outdoor Paint? 

Does The Material Matter For Outdoor Paint? View in gallery

The material of the surface you are painting may be wood, or it may be something like metal or even plastic. This matters a lot as not all surfaces can be painted with the same type of paint. Ask any artist this.


Concrete can be very exhilarating to paint. Wash it very well 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.

The concrete floor paint will actually be labeled basement, garage, or simply concrete paint. Cement paint works too. The formula doesn’t matter this time as long as it does say it is 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 off, you can 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 probably 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 thing to paint but if you have ceramic tile, then you probably will want to paint it one day. Start by sanding it and cleaning it. Then use an acrylic primer to get it ready to paint.

Finally, use a coat of acrylic paint to finish it off. It’s a good idea not to use the floor for a week after you do this. But if you need to, then use a sealer or cover it with a carpet/rug for a couple of 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 highly 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 smoothly. 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. Only use metal paint on metal surfaces or else you’ll have running paint. 


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

Wood stain is another option that you may be interested in. Each of them has its own benefits and not everyone has the same desires. Check out these fast facts to find out which one is right for your project. 

Natural Look: Wood Stain

If you want the most rustic and natural look possible, then you should definitely pick wood stain. Painted wood can look great but wood stain looks way more natural. Of course, you should be careful with it.

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

More Color Options: Wood Paint

If you want to really customize your project, then 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 general shade then you can narrow it down fairly 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 more difficult to see the mistakes. When you use wood stain, you will easily be able to paint it on and it should dry fairly neatly even if you did make a few mistakes.

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

More Personalizable: Wood Paint 

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

While you may try using stains with stencils, it probably 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

How To Choose The Right PaintView in gallery

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.

Read over the section titled, “Does Material Matter For Outdoor Paint?” for more information. Because yes it does. The material affects the base for the paint and not all paints can be interchanged with one another. 

Is It In Good 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.

So this is an excellent way to save money and make your surface look more cottage-like or rustic. However, it is not for those who are looking for something modern at all. In fact, it will always look more rustic than straight painting. 

How To Clean Outdoor Wood Paint

If you wonder how to clean surfaces painted with outdoor wood paint then you’re not alone. This can help you clean your painted wood without damaging it all the while still removing any stains that may be present. 

Step 1: Vacuum

Before you begin using any water with your painted wood surface, you should probably start off by using a vacuum with a hose attachment. Vacuum up anything that you can with this hose attachment.

After you finish vacuuming the surface, 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. 

Step 2: Dust

After you vacuum, then use a very lightly damp rag to go over the surface of the wood. 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.

In fact, you can use a dry rag if you wish but it will be a bit better to use a slightly damp one. That way, if you like, you can stop here if you believe that the surface is clean enough and doesn’t need anything further. 

Step 3: Make Cleaning Mix

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

Step 4: 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 thoroughly, though gently, 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. 

Step 5: Wipe With Water Only

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.

Step 6: Dry

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. 

Cleaning With Cleaner 

Other options for stains include vinegar or an all-purpose cleaner. While this will be a bit harsher, it can take care of stains. But after you do use this method, then ensure that you use the method above to get rid of any residue.