Exterior Black Finishes – Rustic, Smart, On-Trend


Black is beautiful! This week we’re diving into all things black and making two excellent recommendations to help you achieve absolutely glorious black exterior wood.

The beauty of black

Black is a magical colour. It’s always in fashion. Nothing clashes with it and every colour gleams against it, the contrast giving every shade extra depth and richness. It’s subtle too, sitting in the background and letting other colours shine.

Black masks ugly shapes and smooths sharp angles, so it’s kind to landscapes. Paint your wooden garden fence black and it makes your garden look much bigger than a paler colour would. Flowers glow against it and greens are lusciously, mouth-wateringly greener. What’s not to like?

The same goes indoors. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, black can be used to brilliant effect to make spaces look bigger as well as changing their shape and adding interior decor drama. Take one old wooden wardrobe, chest of drawers or dressing table. Transform and update it with a black wood stain or black paint then highlight the carving, door or draw edges and any other sticky-out parts with an antique gold wax. Voila, instant cool. And black floorboards look totally stunning whether matt or glossy.

It’s sophisticated and good-looking, but it’s also practical. Black is great for hiding a multitude of sins, looking handsome long after a pale wood finish has gone all grubby and tatty. So it’s perfect if the exterior wood you want to finish is next to a road, for example a front garden fence prone to car-sprayed mud.

Why is a black finish on barns and beams a tradition?

The elegant, ancient fish smoking sheds on Hastings beach in Sussex are tarred black to preserve the wood from the salty, sandy winds that roar in from the west. Trundle down many a country road in Britain and you’ll pass a lovely old brick barn with a wooden roof that’s as black as your hat, wonderfully saggy and mellow, perfectly complementing the landscape in which it sits. Visual poetry.

The black finish used to create the effect is all down to what people used to use to preserve wood, before today’s refined, modern and more colourful products came along. Depending on the age of an ancient wooden barn, the last people to paint it might have used black tar varnish or some kind of old-school bituminous paint, both of which are naturally black. It wasn’t an appearance thing, it was all practicality, simply about what you had to hand.

A huge choice of contemporary black exterior wood finishes

There’s a remarkable variety of exterior black finishes to choose from these days. The same goes for interior black finishes, a fact bearing testament to the colour’s long-lived popularity, a look you can achieve on barns and beams as well as an endlessly inspirational number of wood-based projects. Whatever you want to do with them, black wood finishes deliver a scrumptious finish that’s rich, deep and subtle.

We thought it’d be handy to take a look at the sheer variety of black wood finishes we have in stock and focus in on two of the finest black exterior finishes in town, a couple of our best-sellers.

What kind of wood finishes in black do we stock?

You name it, you can often get a black version. Here’s a short list of just some of the black wood finishes we sell, carefully chosen by our experts for their exceptional performance and great value for money.

8 exceptional black wood finishing products

  1. Ronseal 10 year exterior black gloss or satin water-based paint – This one colours and protects wood beautifully and, being water-based, it’s really easy to use
  2. Black Cuprinol exterior wood preservative – A brilliant water-based preserver perfect for rough and smooth timber
  3. Morrells two-part coloured wood filler in black – an amazingly strong two part filler
  4. Manns pine wood stain in black– Seriously good quality water-based wood stain
  5. Black Bona gap master – silicon-free, highly flexible mastic for filling gaps in skirting and floor boards
  6. Manns oak wood stain in black – Specially formulated to deliver a glorious black finish to hard woods like oak. Manns also do specialist black floor stains…
  7. Barrettine black decking stain – A top-notch black stain for decking and exterior wood
  8. Sikkens Rubbol XD Gloss – is an exceptionally durable, high build, solvent-borne, opaque coating providing a high gloss finish

Two top-rated black exterior wood finishes

Here are three excellent black exterior finishes. If you have an outdoor wood project coming up, they’re all highly recommended: Ronseal Total Wood Preserver in Black, Cuprinol Exterior Wood Preserver in Black and Barrettine Black Bitumen Paint.

About Barrettine Synthetic Black Timber Stain

  • Microporous, brilliant on rough, sawn exterior wood (not for smooth or planed wood)
  • Solvent-based
  • Ideal for wood barns, sheds, fence and trellis, boats
  • Safe for animals and humans when dry
  • A true matt black finish
  • Minimal preparation
  • Easy to apply with a brush
  • Dries in 12-24 hours
  • 1 coat for standard protection, two for best protection

About black Cuprinol Exterior Wood Preserver

  • Colours, preserves and waterproofs exterior wood
  • Keeps rot and decay at bay and protects against the elements
  • Perfect for rough, sawn and smooth timber
  • Water based
  • Can be brush or dip applied, especially the end grain
  • Treat with fungicidal wash first if necessary and remove any rotten wood
  • Remove any existing stain, varnish or paint
  • 1 coat for standard protection, two for best protection
  • Dry in around 4 to 6 hours
  • Use with care re. children, animals, foods, drinks and water sources

Any questions?

As ever, we’re always happy to talk about your project and recommend the best product for the job. Just give us a call or leave a comment below.


  1. Hi – I’m cladding a new extension in Siberian larch and would like a flat black matt finish that shows the grain and protects the wood. Any suggestions please.

    • Good Afternoon Lisa,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your question. There are a few black products that you can consider and it would depend on the depth of black you are looking to achieve. For a more natural result there is the Osmo Natural Oil Woodstain this is a penetrating product that will be semi transparent, allowing you to see the grain. For Larch I would recommend allowing a minimum of two weeks weathering before application and for the best results Osmo recommend the use of the Osmo WR Basecoat The benefit of using oils is that they are far easier to maintain over time. Simply top up with a refresher coat when the wood needs it, with out the need to sand back.

      Another option for a more intense Black finish is the Sikkens Cetol HLS this is a stain with strong colour results, much more black, however with two coats you are still able to subtly see the grain texture. It will last a little longer than an oil however can be more difficult to maintain and will be have a slight sheen to it.

      I also recommend application of products before construction if this is possible, being able to treat both sides and the ends will benefit the wood more than application to one side after construction. For the end grains it is worth using a product such as the Osmo End Grain Sealing Wax to ensure the wood does not suck up any moisture that will impact on the treatments over time.

      I hope that helps some and if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in touch via our contact us page.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  2. Hi
    Can you advise me?-I want to give my external door sills a durable matt black finish.Can you suggest a product or method of getting this? I hope you can help.
    Many thanks

    • Hello John,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your question. A great product for exterior Joinery and one that I regularly recommend is the Sikkens Cetol HLS Plus one coat followed by the Sikkens Cetol Filter 7 Plus this give good strong colour and is one of the best on the market for long lasting exterior finishes.

      It is slightly Satin in finish however but not high shine by any means. If you really want a flat matt result then you could also take a look at the Barrettine Wood Protective Treatment in black 2 coats will be nearer to the matt result, the more you apply the shinier it gets.

      I hope that helps and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch contact us

      Kind regards Samantha.

  3. Hello,
    I’m looking for a black satin finish for a garden bench (yet to be made). Making out of planned timber, so a smooth finish. Wanted something that would show the grain but would also be OK to sit on once dried and also be OK against the elements as the bench will be left outside.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Col,

      With any exterior wood we recommend that the wood is first treated with a wood preservative like Barrettine Premier Universal Preserver to protect the wood against mould, algae, wood rot and insect attack. It is worth paying special attention to the base of the legs that are in contact with the ground. If possible, pour some preservative into a suitable container and stand each leg in the container overnight to allow the preservative to soak up into the lower legs of the bench. Once fully dry, usually 48 to 72 hours, the bench can be treated with a suitable black stain of finish.

      A popular choice is Sadolin Classic Wood Protection in Ebony. This will stain and protect your bench. Osmo Country Colour in Charcoal is an alternative but gives a more opaque finish.

      Alternatively, you could use a black wood preserver such as Ronseal Total Wood Preservative then once dry, overcoat it with a clear garden furniture oil

      As with the preservative, ensure that the bases of the feet are also treated to give them the best protection.

      I hope the above helps but if you have any other questions or require further assistance with your project. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

      Kind regards,

  4. Good morning,
    I am looking for some black timber treatment paint for a customers fencing but I need it to be safe around plants and soil etc. Can you advise me please?
    Many thanks

    • Good Afternoon Tanya,

      Thank you for your enquiry. All of our products will be harmful during application, once dry however are both plant and animal safe. So care will always need to be taken during application and the drying period.

      I can recommend the Ronseal Shed and Fence in Black for your fence, three coat will give an good black tone and offer a moisture and mould resistant finish.

      The safety data sheet is available on the website if you need it and should you have any further questions please feel free to give us a call or get in touch via our contact page.

      Many Thanks Samantha.


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