Which is the best exterior wood treatment?


The sun is out and temperatures are on the rise. This is the time when we venture out to the garden to survey the surroundings and draw up the list of maintenance tasks.

When talking about exterior wood finishes, there’s always an assumption that it’s about the decking, garden shed or fence. Although these are indeed the most common garden features that need maintenance after a winter of wind, rain and freezing temperatures, wooden window frames, doors and porches should also be checked and given attention if required.

dulux trade-opaque-for-windows-and-doors
Dulux Trade Opaque Coating Systems

It’s all about the knowledge

A question we get asked a lot here at Wood Finishes Direct is “What is the best exterior wood treatment?”. Unfortunately, there’s no single product that is better than another for every project and type of wood. In fact, deciding what product should be used can be a complex matter. That’s why we invest heavily in the training of our sales and service team, or as we call them, the SAS team. All of our support staff are rigorously trained so that they’re familiar with the products we stock, their properties and their suitability for any number of given scenarios. This means that we’re always able to give expert advice and guidance on which products and brands are best suited to your project.

Just some of the top brands available at Wood Finishes Direct

Exterior wood finishing types

Essentially, there are two types of exterior wood treatments, those that are absorbed into the surface of the wood such as oil based products and those that form a protective coating on the surface of the wood, both of which have their own unique characteristics and benefits.

Penetrative Wood Treatments

Penetrative wood treatments are the type of products that soak into the wood and protect from within such as decking oils , shed & fence treatments . These products are predominantly oil and wax based. They work by penetrating then drying in the surface grain of the timber to provide a tough, durable, weather resistant surface.

Oil based products are popular for garden decking, sheds and fences.

The key benefit of this type of product is that they are very easy to apply and maintain. When the finished surface starts to look tired and worn, it’s simply a case of re-applying a fresh coat. No need to sand, strip back or remove the old finish. Wood oils are very forgiving for patch repairs meaning that localised areas of wear are very easy to repair and blend in with the surrounding areas. Leading brands that specialise in these types of exterior wood finishing products include Osmo , Ronseal , BarrettineCuprinol  and Holzol .

Exterior coating systems

What was once the realm of paints and exterior wood varnishes is now dominated by an array of ultra modern wood coating systems. Whereas old paints and varnishes had a reputation for cracking, flaking and peeling, modern coating systems have been scientifically developed to withstand the effects of weathering and the constant movement of the timber as a result of moisture and temperature changes.

Sikkens Exterior Wood Treatments Seal and Protect.

Modern exterior wood coatings are flexible and durable meaning that they rarely need to be stripped back to bare wood if maintained correctly, a firm favourite for exterior joinery such as wooden window frames and doors. Brands such as Sadolin and Sikkens are designed in such a way that as the top coat wears over time, it starts to lose some of its colour and sheen. This is an indicator that the finish needs maintenance. Surfaces that require maintenance can be restored by following a few simple steps.

  • Wipe down with Methylated Spirit to degrease the old finish.
  • Lightly sand the surface to remove any ingrained surface dirt and debris. This also provides a key for the new top coat.
  • Wipe down a second time after sanding with Methylated Spirit to remove all traces of sanding dust and any residual grease from hands and finger tips.
  • Ones dry, a fresh top coat can be applied to restore the appearance and maximise protection of the timber.

Other brands that specialise in exterior coatings, translucent and opaque include Dulux Trade and Crown Paints . Also, see Sadolin’s Superdec Opaque Wood Protection finish.

Have a question about exterior wood care projects?

If you have an exterior wood care project to tackle and are not sure which product to choose, give our resident wood experts a call . They’re able to provide free, expert wood finishing advice, so that you can make a well-informed choice on which products are suitable for your project. Alternatively, visit our FAQ page which covers many of our most commonly asked questions.

We love to see before, during and after photos of any wood finishing project. If you would like to share your decking project pictures with us, you can either send us some photos or share on our Facebook , Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram pages.

Other great blogs that discuss exterior wood

  • 16 Exterior Wood Painting Tips
  • How to Use Exterior and Interior Wood Filler
  • To Paint or Not to Paint: Colouring Exterior Wood


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here