painted gates

Like most garden fencing or furniture, it’s important to protect your timber gates from the ever-changing British weather as much as possible. But, which is the best treatment to use for your timber wooden gate: paint or wood preserve?

Well, any treatment that you plan on using will largely depend on whether your gate is hardwood, softwood, or pressure treated.

Why should I treat my gate?

Whether you have decided to buy an untreated or pressure-treated gate, it’s always beneficial to use wood treatment to ensure your gate can withstand harsh weather conditions and lasts over time.

What is the difference between wood stain and wood paint?

Unlike paint, wood preserve has a much thinner consistency and soaks into the wood, rather than covering it up completely. It’s a great option if you’d like to effectively protect the wood without taking away from its natural beauty. Or, if you have a specific colour in mind or you’d simply like to cover it up, wood paint might be the preferred option.

Gate Treatment Guide

Untreated softwood gates

A treatment of wood preserve is needed for untreated softwood gates - even if you’re planning on painting your softwood timber gate. The Protek Royal Exterior Superior Wood Finish is an excellent no-nonsense wood treatment that provides a water-resistant coating with mould and fungal protection.

It’s important that untreated softwood gates aren’t left exposed to the elements, as this will result in the timber warping and eventually rotting. The treatment needs to be applied as soon as possible to ensure your gate stands the test of time.

Pressure treated softwood gates

As pressure treated gates are already protected from the elements with chemical preservatives, it isn’t necessary to add wood treatment before painting. However, we would recommend treating the timber at least once a year with wood preserve to enhance its appearance and encourage a longer life.

Hardwood gates

Hardwood gates don’t need treatment and can be left to weather naturally. If you prefer a less weathered look, then oil treatments can help maintain their original appearance. They can still be painted, but many people prefer to show off the natural finish of the wood.

Wood preserve

Wood preserve is an essential treatment for non-pressure treated softwood gates (it can also be used on pressure treated gates). It has a number of great benefits:

  • It has a more natural look than paint.
  • It requires less maintenance. The best quality wood preserves penetrate the wood, rather than sitting on top of it like paint.
  • It's available in a range of different coloured stains, so you can create your own unique look.
  • For hardwood and pressure treated softwood gates, oil is an excellent alternative to wood preserve. It’s easier to apply and helps reduce the amount of water that can penetrate the wood, preventing rot and improving longevity.

How to apply wood treatment

  1. Ensure that the wood is completely clean before application.
  2. Apply a wet coat of wood preservative, quickly wiping the excess before it dries.
  3. You can use any tool to apply wood treatment – from paint rollers or a spray gun, to an old rag, the choice is yours.


Once you've applied your timber gate treatment and the wood is preserved, whether you paint your gate or not is a matter of personal preference. Paint can certainly transform the appearance of the gate and add an extra layer of protection.

Unfortunately, paint can flake and crack, letting moisture in and causing gates to rot. It may also need to be removed periodically and re-applied.

If paint sounds too high maintenance, staining can achieve a similar effect to paint without the risk of flaking and cracking.

How to prepare exterior wood for paint

  1. Before you paint your gate, it’s important to make sure that the surface of the wood is completely clean and smooth. We would highly recommend lightly sanding the wood beforehand to make the application easier and cleaner.
  2. Brush off any additional dust, grease or dirt with a damp cloth.
  3. Apply a layer of exterior wood preserve and wait for it to completely dry before painting.
  4. Time to paint!