Finding the best paint for wooden gates can be a bit of a head-scratcher for many. Exterior wood paint is notorious for only lasting a couple of years and with the way the British weather is, it’s easy to see why.
So whilst you might be tempted to choose any old paint to freshen up your garden gates, it’s worth bearing in mind the consequences of choosing the wrong one!
After all, if you don’t choose the best paint for the job you could end up with a paint that discolours due to UV exposure, is unable to deal with the natural expansion and contraction of exterior wood, or worse still, a paint job that lasts less than a year.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to put together a little guide that lists some of the best wooden gate paints I’ve used over the last few years.
Also, the paints in this guide are usually used in the trade so if you’re a decorator, this guide should be handy for you and if you’re a DIYer, this guide might convince you to ditch retail paint for good (trust me, trade paint is much better!)
Best Paint for Wooden Gates Overall – Sadolin Superdec
For me, nothing beats Sadolin Superdec when it comes to choosing paint for wooden gates. And I’m sure many other decorators would say the same.
It’s got a massively positive reputation in the trade and there’s a simple reason for that – it keeps delighting customers year after year. Want proof? Check out this gate I painted in the summer of ’22:
Whilst the coloured Superdec paints in satinwood looks easy on the eye, for me, what really sets it apart from other brands is its durability. As you’ve probably seen before (perhaps even on your current gate), exterior wood paint has a horrible tendency to chip and scratch.
Sadolin Superdec on the other hand has incredible flexibility which means it’s able to adjust to the movements of the wood whilst withstanding the elements. This results in a paint job that lasts about 10 years. Sure, the price is steep but it’ll save you painting every other year.
The coverage of the paint is also something to shout home about. It goes on nicely when applied with a brush (which I recommend using when painting garden gates) and cover in a couple of coats.
Having said all this, I’m not particularly fond of Superdec if it’s in white. For some reason, the opacity isn’t quite as good as their competitors and I typically find that I’ll need to apply at least one more coat than normal. Of course, this is purely an inconvenience – you’ll still get the benefit of its durability. Besides, who wants white garden gates anyway?
- Can last for up to 10 years in the right environment
- Comes in a selection of eye-catching colours
- Has great flow and self-levelling properties and thus doesn’t leave any brush marks after application
- Looks average in white
Runner-up – Zinsser Allcoat
Zinsser Allcoat is the paint I’d use on garden gates if I didn’t have access to Sadolin Superdec. And that’s not a bad thing.
Perhaps my favourite quality of Allcoat is the total lack of preparation work that needs to be done when painting. As it’s self-priming and has excellent adhesion, there’s no need to even sand gates before painting. This is ideal for anyone who doesn’t have too much time on their hands or is uncomfortable carrying out the prep work involved with painting wooden gates.
Furthermore, it comes in a few colours but can be tainted to pretty much any colour that suits your fancy. This is great if you have a particular colour scheme for your home exterior and want your gates to fit in with that colour scheme.
In terms of durability, Allcoat is good but isn’t always the best. I’ve found that south-facing gates that get blasted by the sun’s UV rays struggle to hold up after a couple of years due to cracking and flaking and will likely need a freshen-up. In this instance, it makes sense to buy white paint as it does a better job of reflecting the sun.
Other than that, it stands up fairly well to the elements and should last a good 5 or so years.
On the topic of white paint, if you’re using white to cover a darker colour such as brown, you’ll need to be prepared to paint at least 3 coats as the opacity of the white isn’t that great.
In terms of application, as it’s water-based, it does dry a little quickly so try not to get too distracted whilst applying it otherwise you’ll be left with some obvious lines!
It’s worth mentioning that the paint I’m talking about is the water-based variant of Allcoat Exterior. The solvent-based version is a nightmare to apply and often drags. Make sure you get the water-based variant.
- Great opacity and coverage
- Lasts around 5 years before it’s due for a freshen-up
- Can be tinted to any colour to suit your style
- Dries quite quickly
- If using white, it may take 3 or 4 coats to cover a darker colour
Best Stain for Wooden Gates – Sikkens HLS Wood Stain
Whilst the paints recommended above will add a splash of colour and a clean sheen to your exterior, if you want to add some colour whilst preserving key features of your wood such as the grain, there are some options available.
One of those options is to use a wood stain. And for me, there’s only really one choice: Sikkens HLS Wood Stain.
Back in the day, I used to use Sadolin Classic as my go-to wood stain but started to have issues with it, particularly in the sun and had multiple jobs where I needed to sort out blistering. Having been loyal to Sadolin Classic for years, I decided to try Sikkens and to be honest I haven’t looked back.
Highly durable and resistant to the sun’s damaging UV rays, this solvent-based wood stain never blisters and lasts for years and is especially useful for a quick top-up coat every couple of years.
The opacity is somewhat translucent so gives a dash of colour but isn’t opaque enough to cover the natural grain of wooden gates – resulting in an attractive finish.
- Highly resistant to annoying blistering issues
- Lasts years even if it’s been applied to a south-facing gate
- Very reasonably priced
Frequently Asked Questions
Should You Paint or Stain a Wooden Gate?
Whether you paint or stain a wooden gate is entirely up to your style choice. Paint will give you an opaque finish whilst being harder-wearing and requiring less maintenance. Stain on the other hand preserves the attractive natural look of the wood but requires more effort to maintain.
Can You Use a Preservative on Wooden Gates?
Yes, you can use a preservative on wooden gates and I would highly recommend doing so if your gates are made out of softwood. Softwood is not very durable and tends to swell over time so using a preservative is a matter of urgency.
Of course, there’s only so much a preservative can do so if you want to save time and effort in the long run it might be worth looking into purchasing a more durable hardwood gate but be warned that they’re typically more expensive than softwood.
What is the Best Finish on Wooden Gates?
Satin is considered the best finish on wooden gates due to its perfect mix of durability and aesthetically pleasing finish.