Best Paint for Untreated Wood Outside

Painting oil-based exterior paint on outdoor wooden furniture.

Outdoor wooden furniture will surely undergo weathering when exposed to moisture, excess sunlight, and UV rays, causing them to warp and decay eventually. But if you know how to protect exterior wood from these harsh elements, you can prolong the life and usability of wood. To protect outdoor wood, you can provide it with treatment, and one way to protect it is by painting it with the best exterior wood paint.

Painting outdoor wood with the best exterior paint is the perfect way to reduce the susceptibility of the wood to outdoor elements. Plus, you can upgrade the style and appearance of your outdoor space if you paint for untreated outdoor wood. 

However, painting outdoor wood is different from painting indoor wood. Exterior wood requires special treatment to ensure they become invulnerable to harsh outdoor elements. With the proper knowledge of painting untreated outdoor lumber, you can produce a highly durable wood surface characterized by a clean and professional look.

The Best Paints Suited for Untreated Outdoor Wood

Not all types of paint are suited for finishing untreated outdoor wood. Thus, if you ever decide to paint untreated wood, it will be best to know the following most suitable paints for untreated outdoor wood:

1) Oil-based Exterior Paint

If you want a paint type that dries hard for excellent durability, you should consider using oil-based exterior paint. Oil-based exterior paint allows for a durable and water-resistant finish. However, it is slow drying and contains chemicals that could feed mildew because it contains resins and oils that could be good food sources for mold.

Oil-based exterior paint also contains highly toxic chemicals. Hence, when working with this paint, wearing your mask and safety gloves will be best. This way, you can protect yourself from the toxic effects of intense VOCs. Besides, you need paint thinner for cleaning your tools and brush afterward. It also might trap blister and moisture. 

2) Acrylic Latex Exterior Paint

The best paint for exterior wood trim, siding, and windows is acrylic latex paint. It is the benchmark for such type of usage. You can use it for painting wood window shutters and garage doors. 

Several decades ago, oil-based paint was the go-to paint for durability. However, latex paint has significantly improved, and its new formulations have made it more durable. Besides, most of the premium latex paints you can buy come with acrylic resins for extended life and durability. 

Hence, you can expect durability from acrylic latex paint. Moreover, it is cheaper compared to oil-based paint. Besides, it offers excellent coverage. You can also opt for some acrylic latex paint that you can use on multiple substrates. 

The most sterling characteristic of acrylic paint is it can contract or expand when applied to weathered wood. Oil-based paint, however, will likely crack under such circumstances. Besides, acrylic paint is easier to clean using water compared to paints requiring thinner. 

3) Acrylic Solid Stain

Stain is not a paint, yet, if you want to provide treatment to exterior wood, you might as well consider the use of acrylic solid stain. You can use acrylic solid stain on your fence or siding. Solid stain and paint look similar, although it is not as thick as paint. You can use it for fences, cedar siding, and decks. 

Solid stain doesn’t provide you with many color or sheen options compared to paint. Nevertheless, it requires not much preparation, for stain doesn’t tend to peel or crack compared to paint. Besides, it is less expensive than oil-based paint. It is also easy to clean using water.

Solid stain is perfect for highlighting the wood’s natural grain and texture. For this reason, it is often used for treating cedar siding. On the other hand, the paint’s thickness can make wood appears smoother, obfuscating the natural grain and texture of the wood. Stain likewise penetrates the wood deeper compared to paint. 

Factors to Consider When Buying Paint for Untreated Outdoor Wood

As you search for the ideal paint for untreated outdoor wood, you might get confused given the myriad of options at hand. Thus, it will be best if you are properly guided in the choosing process by being cognizant of the following factors to consider when choosing paint:


One factor you need to consider when choosing paint is durability. This factor should be foremost because you want your paint to last longer and protect the outdoor wood longer. Three harsh elements can spell doom to a block of outdoor wood. These three elements are water or moisture, UV radiation, and wear and tear. 

Water is unforgiving when it comes to wood. If wood gets exposed to snow or rain, it will absorb water and moisture, leading to its deformation. Besides, it can encourage decay and deterioration. Moreover, mold might develop in the wood if it gets exposed to water for a long time. 

Thus, if your wood is not teakwood or some hardwood known to resist decay and deterioration, you should seal the wood using paint. Paint can create a waterproof layer over the wood surface. 

On the other hand, exposure to UV light over time can lead to the rapid fading of the natural color of the wood. Besides, the wood’s waterproofing capabilities get compromised due to UV radiation. Thus, you need to protect the wood from UV radiation if you want it to retain its color and other sterling characteristics over time. 

Lastly, physical wear and tear can take its toll on the wood. If the wood, for example, is used for decking, it will be susceptible to scratching, scuffing, and fading over time. 

Hence, you need to paint the wood with paint meant for outdoor wood to ensure that the wood gets protected with a hard layer of finishing. For example, if the outdoor lumber is subject to heavy usage and traffic, you can use enamel or strong latex paints. 

Vibrance and Color Options

As you search for the ideal paint for untreated outdoor wood, you will come face-to-face with several vibrance and color options. It will be best to zero in on the color options best for your project. Some paints, however, fade over time. 

Hence, you must carefully select paints that do not fade over time. Besides, your choice should be able to maintain its color and vibrance over time. This way, you don’t need to reapply paint more often, saving you money and time. 

Many experts will suggest that you use semi-gloss paints for your exterior projects because they don’t show much sheen, though you can still enjoy their semi-gloss characteristic. Yet, your choice of color and vibrance boils down to your own preference. 

Low VOCs

Most paints contain volatile organic compounds, especially if they are for high levels of resistance to water. These VOCs emit harmful gases that are unsafe for you to inhale, especially during the curing process. Besides, these gases are harmful to the environment. 

If your primary concern is how the paint you use will impact the environment, it will be best to use paint with low VOC content. However, these more eco-friendly options might offer less protection against moisture and water. 

Coverage and Square Footage

When selecting paint for untreated outdoor wood, it will be best to determine the project size. Project sizes range from small cages to several thousand square feet of wood projects. Hence, depending on your project, you should choose the paint that can give enough coverage of the wood surface. 

You will notice, however, that many wood paints for exterior use come in cans of one gallon. You can paint a mid-size project like a small desk with one gallon of paint. You can also find a five-gallon bucket of paint that could cover sheds, larger decks, and many other large projects. You can also buy paint in one-quart or smaller containers for decorative pieces. 

Aside from the surface coverage, it will also help to consider the color coverage. Better color coverage means the paint’s color suffuses more area, allowing you to use less paint to cover more area. 

Determine the Intended Use of the Paint

Before buying paint, determine the material types the paint can cover. Of course, you can go for paints that you could apply solely to wood. Yet, there are paints likewise that you can use for different surfaces. You can go for such paints, mainly if you paint various surfaces.

Drying Time

Another factor you need to consider is the drying time of the paint. Some paints, of course, dry faster than other paints. Oil-based paints, however, dry slowly compared to water-based paints. Thus, it will take longer to wait until each coat of oil-based paint dries. 

Besides, the curing time will take longer. If the wood surface will be subjected to quick use after you paint it, it will be best to go for quick-drying paint. 

Steps to Follow Before Painting Untreated Outdoor Wood

If you are a beginner in woodworking, you might want to apply paint quickly on the wood surface. Yet, painting untreated wood necessitates preparing the wood for painting. Below are the straightforward steps to follow before painting any untreated wood:

Step 1: Sand the Untreated Wood

The first thing you must do to prepare the wood is to sand it. You can use various sanders depending on the surface area you want to paint. You can use, for example, a belt sander or orbital sander. 

Sanding, of course, helps you apply the paint evenly, allowing you to lessen the number of coats you must apply on the wood surface. 

Step 2: Prime the Untreated Wood

If the wood has not been painted or treated before, you must prime it using exterior wood primer. You can apply the primer using a paint roller or paintbrush. You can also use the exterior wood primer for priming wood used indoors because it can seal the wood and block moisture. 

You can apply the primer by going against the wood grain for enhanced coverage. 

 If you are using woods like mahogany, redwood, maple, or cedar, you must use a primer with a stain-blocking property. 

Remember that some types of wood release tannins over time, bleeding through the ordinary primer. Thus, if you expect the wood to bleed tannins, you should use a stain-blocker primer to avoid the possibility of bleeding. Besides, you should ensure that you brush or apply the paint consistently in one direction for better and even coverage. 

How Long Would Exterior Paint Last?

Many factors can contribute to the longevity of the paint. Hence, it is not easy to give a definite timeframe for the durability of the exterior paint. Nevertheless, the quality of the exterior paint will factor well in the longevity of the paint. 

Besides, the weather conditions in your area will also affect the longevity of the paint. Moreover, the material you are painting also contributes to the durability of the paint. 

However, the typical exterior paint will last anywhere from seven to ten years, depending on the factors mentioned above. If your place is a highly humid area, you might expect the exterior paint to get damaged soon. 

The primer and sealant you use will also figure out the longevity of the paint. However, if you want to extenuate the life of the exterior paint, you should apply primer or sealant to the wood. This way, you can provide the wood with more protection against the harsh elements of nature. 


You typically paint outdoor wood to protect it from the harsh elements of nature and to prolong its lifespan and usability. But since there are many paint types in the market, you must choose the one that could best protect your untreated outdoor wood. Remember that painting wood and protecting it from the harsh elements of nature is better than a total overhaul of timber. 

Thus, the extra effort you exert in protecting any untreated outdoor wood will go a long way in helping you save effort and time. Besides, knowing the best paint for untreated wood and the steps to prepare wood for painting will save the day for you.  

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