Which is the Best Exterior Wood Paint?

Written by Andy Potts - Ultrimax Team - 27/07/23

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Which is the Best Exterior Wood Paint for Windows, Doors and Cladding?

When it comes to exterior wood paint, most people think of names like Sadolin Superdec, Zinsser Allcoat or Johnstone's. But have you heard of Sayerlack AZ97? If you have, you'll know that it offers a superior finish and industrial-grade protection. If you haven't, here's your chance to learn more about the best exterior wood paint on the market.

In this article, we'll explore the things to consider when choosing an exterior joinery paint and why we think that Sayerlack waterborne products should be your go-to exterior coating.

Things to consider when buying wood paint for exterior doors, windows and cladding

The condition of the wood

For an exterior wood paint to perform at its best, the wood must be healthy, without pith and should exhibit the following features:

  • No sign of fungal attack
  • No sign of insect attack
  • No sign of rot
  • No traverse splits in the grain.


Any exterior paint must be durable enough to withstand the elements, but consider whether you need additional UV protection for a south-facing building or extra resistance to moisture for inclement weather conditions. There are exterior paints on the market that offer all-round high-level protection and products formulated for specific issues.


Wood constantly expands and contracts in response to changes in temperature and humidity. Exterior wood paint must be able to flex with these natural shifts to prevent unsightly cracking, resulting in water ingress to the wood underneath and rotting in the long term.

Solvent-based vs water-based

Water-based products should be the first port of call for exterior coatings in our environmentally-conscious world. Water-based technology has made considerable advancements in recent years, and some incredibly durable products are available that provide a professional finish. There are a few instances where you would choose a solvent-based product, such as if you need the highest level of durability or the glossiest of finishes.


Consider whether you need to match your exterior wood paint to a specific colour, as not all paint products can be colour-matched. Also, pay attention to the type of colour-matching technology that your paint supplier uses. If you need a regular supply of paint in a specific colour or if you are doing a touch-up, look for a supplier that uses lab-level colour-matching technology for accurate and consistent results.


Do you want a matte (flat), eggshell, satin, semi-gloss or high-gloss finish? This decision is partly about aesthetics and partly about function.


Matte paint provides a flat finish that is great for disguising flaws in older wood. It is, however, the least durable of the three finishes, owing to its porosity and susceptibility to fading and mildew problems. As such, matte paints are best reserved for exterior walls or cladding not exposed to harsh environmental conditions. Items handled frequently, such as windows and doors, will usually need a semi- or high-gloss finish to deliver the best level of protection.


The popular eggshell finish has a slight lustre without being shiny. It is more durable than matte and can withstand the occasional power wash. It is suited to sidings such as horizontal wood cladding, HardiPlank and stucco. As with matte paint, eggshell is a good choice for hiding minor imperfections.


Satin paint has a sheen without being highly reflective. It has good durability and flexibility, and it resists mildew and peeling. A satin finish will offer sufficient protection to trim areas, such as soffits, trim boards, eaves, overhangs, porch ceilings and trim, door frames and window sills.

Satin's sheen level magnifies imperfections, so the wood should be in good condition or sanded and filled to provide a smooth surface.


Semi-gloss has a definite shine without providing the mirror finish of high-gloss. It is more durable than satin, can withstand harsh weather conditions and excess moisture, and is easy to clean. Satin provides an attractive, protective finish well-suited to garage doors, front doors, trim, shutters, and window sills. As with satin, semi-gloss highlights imperfections. It can also be brittle and chip easily if the surface is not prepared correctly. Refer to the product technical data sheet for surface preparation and coating system guidance.


The glossiest of the gloss. A high-gloss finish offers superior durability, is super easy to wash, and brings an aesthetic 'pop' and richness to your trim. But don't be tempted to coat all your exteriors with high-gloss unless you want your home, shed or work building to look plastic! The best approach is to use a semi-gloss or satin on sidings and save the high-gloss for highlighting trim, doors and architectural detail.

Don't forget to seal the end grain and v-joints

Your paint job is only as good as your seals. Always ensure you use a suitable high-quality seal on your timber end joints and v-joints to protect them from water ingress.


Learn More About Exterior Paints

Which is the best exterior wood paint?

At Ultrimax, our customers report excellent results with Sayerlack AZ97 Hydroplus waterborne exterior wood paint. It is ideally suited to topcoating hardwood and softwood windows, doors, conservatories and other joinery applications.

Safe for painter health and the environment

AZ97 is a single-pack water-based product with low VOC content, making it a safe option for the painter and the environment. Clean-up is easy too. Simply clean your kit with tap water.

Drip-free vertical application

Sayerlack has invested heavily in researching and developing products that can be built or applied vertically in thick coats (max. 300g/m2 wet) without dripping, running or sagging. AZ97 is, therefore, ideally suited to sidings such as cladding and tall structures.

Your flexible friend

AZ97 is formulated to work with the natural swelling and shrinking of wood. It is highly resistant to cracking, peeling and blistering, even when exposed to harsh environmental conditions.

Excellent UV protection

UV protection is a key feature of AZ97. Special UV absorbers protect the finish and substrate from degradation due to UV radiation, providing a fade-resistant coating that will not become brittle with sun exposure.

Versatile finish

Available in 30% and 60% gloss levels, AZ97 comes in sheen levels that are aesthetically pleasing, easy to clean and durable without the plastic look of high-gloss products.

Tintable to any colour

Whether you need to match to an existing colour or want your summerhouse to be the blue of the ocean in a magazine, AZ97 can be tinted to any colour.

How to get the best results with Sayerlack AZ97

To ensure the best possible surface adhesion when using AZ97, we recommend applying one coat of AML3519 Exterior Primer before topcoating with 1-2 coats of AZ97 Exterior Topcoat. Use Sayerlack XA0469 End Grain Sealer for sawn ends and Sayerlack XA0470/00 Clear Sealer for v-joints.

Need more advice?

If you have any technical queries, need pricing help or would like a visit from us, chat with our friendly Total Paint Team.

+44(0)1302 856666



What is the best paint to use on wood outside?

The answer to this question is more complex than it once was. Acrylic has long been the best option for exterior wood as it is highly resistant to cracking, peeling and blistering. However, there are now waterborne formulas available that offer equal, if not better, protection.

What is the best paint finish for the exterior of a wood house?

Eggshell, satin and semi-gloss are all excellent options for painting the sidings of a wooden house. These finishes offer the balance of being durable, easy to wash and aesthetically pleasing. A matte finish should be reserved for walls and cladding that are not exposed to harsh environmental conditions, as it is the least durable of the finishes. high-gloss is a good option for highlighting trims, doors and architectural features. Just make sure the wood is in good condition, as high-gloss accentuates flaws.

What is the longest-lasting exterior paint?

Traditionally, acrylic paint has been the go-to paint for durability. However, there are now waterborne paints on the market that offer equivalent levels of protection against environmental factors such as exposure to heat, UV light and moisture.

What is the best exterior paint for extreme weather?

Acrylic or more modern waterborne formulas provide high resistance to extreme weather conditions. Look for a product with flexibility and resistance to UV, moisture, peeling and cracking.

Do I need to prime exterior wood before painting?

The answer to this question depends on the paint system required for your chosen product. Some exterior wood paints are straight-to-wood, while others need a primer or preservative wood stain. Always stick to the paint system identified on the product's technical data sheet. Failure to do so may result in sub-standard protection and/or depth of colour.

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