What Paint and Primer Is Best for Outdoor Wood Furniture?

Sprucing up your outdoor space can be a fun and exciting project, and one way to do it is by reviving your old wooden furniture. However, choosing the right type of paint and primer is crucial when painting wooden furniture exposed to sun, rain, and other outdoor elements.

For outdoor wooden furniture, the best paint to use is exterior-grade latex paint. Primers are also important for outdoor wooden furniture because they provide extra protection against the elements. When selecting a primer, look for a water-based sealant or stain-blocking primer.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 7 factors to consider when choosing paint for outdoor wood furniture
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for outdoor wood furniture

The 7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Outdoor Wood Furniture

1. Type of Wood

The type of wood used in your outdoor furniture will also influence what kind of paint you should use. Softwoods, like pine or fir, require a special primer to ensure that the paint adheres properly and doesn’t crack or chip.

Hardwoods, such as teak or mahogany, can be painted with most types of paint but may require sanding or priming to ensure a professional finish. Once you’ve determined the type of wood used in your outdoor furniture, select a paint that is suitable for that material.

2. Weather Resistance 

When choosing paint for your outdoor wood furniture, you need to consider the weather conditions your furniture will face. If you live in an area with high humidity, frequent rain, or hot summers, you must choose a paint designed to withstand these conditions.

Look for a paint that is fade-resistant and can withstand extreme temperatures. Acrylic and oil-based paints are popular because they can withstand various weather conditions.

3. Moisture Resistance

Wood furniture is prone to water damage when exposed to the elements. To protect your furniture, you need paint that has waterproof capabilities. Choose moisture-resistant paint, preventing water and humidity from penetrating the wood.

4. Paint Finish

Choose a paint finish that matches your personal preferences and the style of your furniture. Paint finishes such as matte, gloss, or semi-gloss can protect outdoor wood furniture from potential damage and increase its lifespan.

5. Maintenance 

When selecting paint for your outdoor furniture, you need to consider how easy it is to maintain.

The last thing you want is to spend hours painting your outdoor furniture only to have it weather quickly and require a new coat of paint every year. Choose a paint that is easy to touch up and maintenance-free for at least a few years.

6. Brand, Quality, and Price

When it comes to painting, brand and quality often go hand-in-hand. When selecting paint for outdoor wood furniture, it’s important to do your research.

High-quality paints are more durable and will last longer in extreme conditions than cheaper brands. However, higher-quality paints may be more expensive, so you must balance the cost versus performance benefits when selecting paint.

7. Application Method

When choosing paint for outdoor wood furniture, consider the application method. Spray paint is the most popular method, but it often requires multiple coats and can be messy.

Other methods include brushing, rolling, or dipping. Choose a method that is easy for you and will give you the desired finish.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Exterior Latex Paint

Exterior latex paint is a type of water-based paint that is highly versatile and suitable for outdoor use. It’s composed of latex (a stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium), pigments, and other additives.


  • Environmentally Friendly: Latex paint contains fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based paints, making it a more eco-friendly option.
  • Easy Clean-up: As a water-based paint, latex paint can be cleaned up easily with soap and water.
  • Quick Drying: Latex paint typically dries faster than oil-based paints.
  • Versatility: Comes in a wide range of colors and finishes.


  • Durability: While latex paint is fairly durable, it may not hold up as well as oil-based paints.
  • Coverage: Depending on the color and quality of the paint, you may need multiple coats to achieve the desired look.
  • Swells Wood Grain: A disadvantage of latex is that it swells the wood grain, making it necessary to sand between coats.

Exterior Acrylic Paint

Exterior acrylic paint is a type of paint made from acrylic resin. It is specifically formulated to withstand outdoor conditions and is known for its durability and longevity. It can resist the damaging effects of changing weather conditions, UV rays, and mildew.


  • Versatility: Acrylic paint comes in a wide variety of colors, offering many options for customization.
  • Mold and Mildew Resistance: Many exterior acrylic paints have mold and mildew inhibitors, making them ideal for outdoor furniture.
  • Easy Application: It’s generally easier to apply than other types of paint, making it a good choice for DIY projects.
  • Quick Drying: Acrylic paint typically dries quickly, which can be beneficial when working on outdoor projects.
  • Water-Based: Water-based, acrylic paint is easy to clean with soap and water.
  • Non-Toxic: It does not have toxic fumes or chemicals, making them safer than other wood or furniture paints.


  • Durability: While acrylic paint is fairly durable, it may not hold up as well as oil-based paints in harsh weather conditions.
  • Coverage: Depending on the color and quality of the paint, you may need multiple coats to achieve the desired look.
  • Maintenance: While acrylic paint is fairly easy to maintain, it may require regular touch-ups or reapplication over time, especially on outdoor furniture exposed to the elements.
  • Adherence: Acrylic paint may not adhere as well to certain types of wood without proper preparation, such as sanding and priming.

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paints may be the better option for surfaces requiring a higher level of protection. Oil-based paints are well-known for their durability and protection against the elements, making them a good choice for outdoor furniture.


  • Durability: Oil-based paint is known for its superior durability and resistance to wear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas and furniture.
  • Smooth Finish: It provides a smooth, glossy finish that can enhance the look of wood furniture.
  • Adhesion: It adheres well to surfaces, providing a strong bond that can help protect the underlying material.
  • Stain Resistance: It resists stains and damage better than many other types of paint.


  • Drying Time: Oil-based paints take longer to dry than water-based paints, which can slow down your project.
  • Strong Odor: These paints produce strong fumes that some people find unpleasant or hazardous. Adequate ventilation is necessary when using them.
  • Clean-up: Cleaning brushes and other tools require solvents like mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Environmental Impact: Contains more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than latex or acrylic paint, which can harm the environment.

What Paint Finish Is Best?

When it comes to finishing outdoor wood furniture, choosing the right paint type is crucial for its protection and appearance. At the same time, semi-gloss and gloss finishes are usually recommended for their durability and resistance to weathering.

First, it’s important to understand the differences between the various paint finishes. Flat or matte finishes have little to no shine and tend to absorb light rather than reflect it.

They are popular for their smooth and even coverage but are typically not the best choice for outdoor furniture due to their lack of protection against moisture and UV rays.

Satin finishes have a soft sheen that adds a subtle glow to the wood while remaining relatively less glossy than semi-gloss. They can be a good option if you want a compromise between gloss and flat finishes, as they offer moderate protection and are less likely to show imperfections than more reflective finishes.

Semi-gloss has less shine than gloss but still offers good protection against moisture and UV rays. This makes it the most popular choice for outdoor furniture, as it’s both attractive and functional.

Lastly, we have the gloss finish. This is the most reflective and highest-shine option, but it can highlight imperfections in the wood. It does offer good durability and protection, so it may be a better option for more detailed pieces.

While there is no “best” paint finish for outdoor wood furniture, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes are the most protective, followed by satin finishes for a more subdued look. Make sure to use paint that is designed for exterior use.

The Best Paint and Primer for Outdoor Wood Furniture

Here is a list of my top picks for a brush-on paint, spray paint, and primer for your outdoor wood furniture.

Best Brush-on Paint

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Multi-Purpose Brush-On Paint is ideal for painting outdoor wood furniture.

This high-quality brush-on paint provides exceptional durability and long-lasting protection against the elements. Its water-based formula is low odor, making it safe and easy to use. 

With excellent coverage and chip resistance, this paint allows you to achieve high-quality finishes on various indoor and outdoor project surfaces like wood.

This brush-on paint covers up to 120 sq. ft. (11m²) and dries to the touch in 30 minutes, making it perfect for quick project completion. 

When it comes to outdoor wood furniture, Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Multi-Purpose Brush-On Paint is the best choice for achieving a high-quality, long-lasting finish.

With its waterproof capabilities, you can be confident that your furniture will be protected against rain, humidity, and other water-related damage.

Best Spray Paint

Krylon COLORmaxx Spray Paint and Primer is an ideal choice for anyone looking to paint their outdoor wood furniture.

This premium spray paint is designed to deliver superior coverage, waterproof protection, excellent adhesion, and durability, ensuring long-lasting results.

Furthermore, it is incredibly easy to use, thanks to the large push button spray tip that allows you to spray your furniture from any angle, including upside down, making it perfect for hard-to-reach areas.

The spray paint also dries to the touch in 20 minutes or less, making it ideal for fast coverage to complete your outdoor furniture project quickly and efficiently.

As America’s first spray coating, Krylon spray paint has earned consumers’ trust since 1947, and with the widest color offering in the Krylon product family, it is the perfect solution for restoring, refreshing, and protecting your outdoor wood furniture.

Best Primer

When it comes to outdoor wood furniture, ensuring durability and longevity is key. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer is the ideal primer for this task.

Not only is it a versatile primer for both interior and exterior surfaces, but it also sticks to all surfaces without requiring sanding. 

The flexibility of its acrylic formula allows it to adapt to the natural movements of wood, preventing cracking or peeling of the finished paint job. This primer also seals stains, graffiti, and tannin bleed, ensuring a clean and even surface for painting. 

One crucial feature of this primer is its ability to provide a mold and mildew-resistant barrier. This is particularly important for outdoor furniture, which is often exposed to the elements and prone to moisture.

Another advantage of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer is its quick drying time of just one hour. This is particularly handy when dealing with outdoor furniture, which may need to be moved and exposed to the elements soon after priming.

Finally, this primer can be applied in temperatures as low as 35°F (2°C), making it suitable even for colder climates. Its low odor and great flow and leveling make it a pleasure to work with.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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