Best paint for pergola: Enhance Your Pergola’s Beauty and Durability {In-2023}

A pergola is a beautiful addition to any outdoor space, providing shade and a relaxing atmosphere. However, when it comes to finishing your pergola, you may find yourself debating whether to use paint or stain. Both options have their merits, but it’s important to consider several factors before making a decision. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using paint or stain for a pergola and provide you with valuable insights to help you make an informed choice.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for a Pergola

Weather Resistance

One crucial factor to consider when deciding between paint and stain for your pergola is its ability to withstand various weather conditions. If your pergola is exposed to intense sunlight, heavy rain, or harsh winters, you’ll want a finish that offers excellent weather resistance. Paint, particularly high-quality exterior paint, forms a protective barrier on the wood surface, shielding it from moisture, UV rays, and other environmental elements. Stain, on the other hand, penetrates the wood, enhancing its natural beauty but offering less protection against the elements.


Durability is another essential aspect to contemplate. Paint generally provides a more durable finish compared to stain. The thick layers of paint create a robust shield against scratches, fading, and wear. Stain, however, is more susceptible to wearing off over time, especially in high-traffic areas. If you anticipate heavy use or want a long-lasting finish, paint is the preferable option.

UV Protection

Protection against harmful UV rays is crucial, as prolonged sun exposure can cause the wood to fade and deteriorate. Paint offers excellent UV protection due to its opaque nature, effectively blocking the sun’s rays from reaching the wood. Stain, particularly those with UV inhibitors, can also provide decent protection but may require more frequent reapplication to maintain its effectiveness.

Color Options

Choosing the right color for your pergola is a personal preference. Paint offers a wide range of color options, allowing you to customize and match your pergola to your outdoor aesthetics. From vibrant hues to subtle tones, the possibilities are endless with paint. Stain, on the other hand, typically offers a more limited color palette, focusing on enhancing the natural grain of the wood rather than changing its color entirely.

You May Also Know:

Types of Paint for Pergolas

When you’re choosing the perfect paint for your pergola, you’ll come across several options worth considering. Let’s delve into some common types of paint people use for pergolas.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a popular choice for outdoor projects, including pergolas, due to its excellent durability and weather resistance. It forms a hard protective shell over the wood, offering long-lasting color and protection against the elements. Acrylic paint also dries relatively quickly, making it a convenient option for those looking to complete their project efficiently.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint is known for its exceptional durability and ability to withstand harsh conditions. It provides a tough, glossy finish that can effectively protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and temperature fluctuations. However, oil-based paint tends to have a longer drying time and requires proper ventilation during application due to its strong odor.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is a popular choice for pergolas due to its ease of use and versatility. It is water-based, making it easy to clean up with soap and water. Latex paint offers good durability and weather resistance, although it may not be as long-lasting as oil-based paint. However, it does provide a wide range of color options and a quick drying time, making it a convenient choice for DIY enthusiasts.

Stain Paint

Stain is a unique option for those who want to enhance the natural beauty of the wood while providing some protection. Stains come in various shades, ranging from clear to solid colors, allowing you to choose the level of transparency you desire. Transparent and semi-transparent stains showcase the wood’s natural grain, while solid stains can completely change the color of the pergola. Stains also penetrate the wood, offering good protection against moisture and UV rays.

You May Also Know:

Best Pergola Colors

Best Paint Color

When it comes to choosing the right color for your pergola, the options are vast. Here are five popular paint color choices that can complement different outdoor styles:

  1. Classic White: A timeless choice that adds a clean and elegant look to your pergola. White paint can create a striking contrast against greenery and other colors in your outdoor space.
  2. Natural Wood Tones: If you prefer a more natural look, opt for paint colors that resemble the natural wood tones. Earthy browns, warm grays, and muted greens can blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment.
  3. Bold Colors: Make a statement with vibrant paint colors such as deep blues, rich reds, or sunny yellows. These bold choices can add a pop of personality and create a focal point in your outdoor area.
  4. Neutrals: Neutral colors like beige, taupe, or soft gray can create a calming and harmonious atmosphere. They provide a versatile backdrop that complements various outdoor furniture and decor styles.
  5. Tonal Match: Consider matching the paint color of your pergola with the existing color scheme of your home’s exterior. This approach creates a cohesive and integrated look for your outdoor space.

5 Best Paint Brands for Pergolas

Best Paint Brands

Choosing the right paint brand is crucial to ensure a high-quality finish and long-lasting protection for your pergola. Here are five reputable paint brands known for their durability and performance:

  1. Sherwin-Williams: Sherwin-Williams offers a wide range of exterior paints that provide excellent coverage, durability, and color options. Their products are known for their high-quality formulation and resistance to fading, cracking, and peeling.
  2. Benjamin Moore: Benjamin Moore is a trusted brand in the paint industry, known for its extensive color palette and durability. Their exterior paints offer excellent weather resistance and UV protection.
  3. Behr: Behr is a popular paint brand known for its quality and affordability. They offer a wide selection of exterior paints, including stains and solid color options. Behr paints are known for their excellent coverage, fade resistance, and long-lasting durability.
  4. Valspar: Valspar paints are known for their high-performance formulas and wide range of colors. They offer a variety of exterior paint options that provide excellent protection against the elements and maintain their color vibrancy over time.
  5. PPG: PPG is a global leader in coatings and paints, offering a range of high-quality exterior paint products. Their paints are known for their durability, color retention, and resistance to cracking and peeling.

It’s important to choose a paint brand that suits your specific needs and budget. Before making a final decision, consider factors such as the climate in your area, the level of maintenance you’re willing to undertake, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve.

Tips for Painting a Pergola

Before you start painting your pergola, here are some tips to help you achieve a professional-looking finish:

  1. Prepare the Surface: Ensure the pergola surface is clean, dry, and free from dirt, dust, and loose debris. Use a pressure washer or a scrub brush and mild detergent to clean the wood thoroughly. If there are any rough areas or peeling paint, sand them down to create a smooth surface.
  2. Prime the Wood: Applying a primer before painting can improve paint adhesion and enhance the durability of the finish. Choose a primer specifically designed for exterior wood surfaces and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  3. Use High-Quality Brushes or Rollers: Invest in high-quality brushes or rollers that are suitable for the type of paint you’re using. Good-quality tools can help you achieve a smoother and more even application, resulting in a better finish.
  4. Apply Multiple Thin Coats: Instead of applying one thick coat, it’s better to apply multiple thin coats of paint. This allows for better adhesion and helps prevent issues like cracking and peeling. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time between coats.
  5. Protect Surrounding Areas: Cover any nearby plants, furniture, or surfaces that you don’t want to get paint on. Use drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect the surrounding areas and ensure a neat and clean application.
  6. Follow Proper Drying Time: Allow the paint to dry fully before exposing the pergola to any moisture or harsh weather conditions. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying time before using or applying any additional coats.
  7. Regular Maintenance: To extend the life of your painted pergola, perform regular maintenance such as cleaning the surface, inspecting for any signs of damage, and touching up any areas that may need attention.

You May Also Know:

How to Paint the Pergolas?

How to Paint the Pergolas

When it comes to enhancing the beauty of your outdoor space, pergolas serve as elegant and functional structures. A well-painted pergola can add a touch of charm and sophistication to any garden or patio area.

Choosing the Right Paint

To ensure a successful painting project for your pergola, it’s crucial to choose the right paint. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you select the perfect paint for your needs:

Step 1: Consider the Outdoor Environment

Take into account the specific outdoor environment where your pergola is located. Assess factors such as sunlight exposure, humidity levels, and weather conditions. If your pergola is constantly exposed to direct sunlight, you’ll need a paint that offers excellent UV resistance to prevent fading.

Step 2: Opt for Exterior-Specific Paints

Choose paints that are specifically formulated for exterior use. Exterior paints are designed to withstand the elements and provide better durability compared to interior paints. They are more resistant to fading, cracking, and peeling caused by moisture, temperature changes, and sunlight.

Step 3: Look for Acrylic or Latex-Based Paints

Opt for acrylic or latex-based paints for your pergola. These types of paints offer several advantages, such as excellent adhesion to different surfaces, flexibility, and easy maintenance. They also dry quickly, allowing you to finish the project efficiently.

Step 4: Check for Fade Resistance

Ensure that the paint you choose has fade-resistant properties. This is particularly important if your pergola is exposed to intense sunlight. Look for paints with UV protection or fade-resistant additives to maintain the color vibrancy for a longer period.

Step 5: Consider the Color Palette

Select a paint color that complements your outdoor space and matches your aesthetic preferences. Keep in mind that lighter colors tend to reflect sunlight and heat, making them suitable for warmer climates. Darker colors can absorb heat, so consider the temperature in your area when making your color choice.

Step 6: Evaluate the Paint’s Longevity

Check the paint’s longevity and durability ratings. Look for paints with a proven track record of withstanding outdoor conditions and providing long-lasting protection. Read product reviews and consult with professionals or knowledgeable staff at your local paint store to gather insights about the paint’s performance.

Step 7: Consider Low or Zero VOC Paints

If you’re environmentally conscious or have sensitivities to strong odors, consider using low or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints. These paints have lower levels of harmful chemicals, making them safer for you, your family, and the environment.

Step 8: Consult with a Professional

If you’re unsure about the best paint choice for your pergola, consider consulting with a professional painter or an expert at your local paint store. They can provide valuable advice based on your specific requirements and help you select the most suitable paint for your project.

By following these steps and considering the important factors mentioned, you’ll be able to choose the right paint for your pergola. A high-quality and well-suited paint will ensure a beautiful and long-lasting finish, protecting your pergola while adding visual appeal to your outdoor space.

Preparing the Surface before Painting

Properly preparing the surface of your pergola before painting is essential to achieve a smooth and long-lasting finish. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure effective surface preparation:

Step 1: Clear the Area

Remove any furniture, plants, or other objects near or on the pergola to create a clear workspace. This will allow you to have easy access to all areas of the pergola and prevent any accidental damage or obstruction during the surface preparation process.

Step 2: Inspect for Damage

Thoroughly inspect the pergola for any signs of damage, such as rot, cracks, or loose boards. Identify any areas that require repair or replacement before proceeding with the painting. It’s important to address these issues to ensure a sturdy and structurally sound surface.

Step 3: Clean the Surface

Using a broom or brush, sweep away any loose dirt, dust, leaves, or debris from the pergola. Pay special attention to corners, joints, and crevices where dirt may accumulate. If there are stubborn stains or grime, consider using a mild detergent mixed with water to scrub the surface gently. Rinse the pergola thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.

Step 4: Remove Loose or Peeling Paint

Inspect the surface for any areas where the existing paint is loose, peeling, or flaking. Use a paint scraper or putty knife to carefully remove these areas. Take care not to damage the underlying wood or structure while scraping. Removing loose paint will ensure better adhesion of the new paint and result in a smoother finish.

Step 5: Sand the Surface

After removing loose paint, sand the entire surface of the pergola to create a smooth and even base for the new paint. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper (around 80 to 100 grit) to remove any rough patches or remaining paint edges. Then, switch to a finer-grit sandpaper (around 120 to 150 grit) to further smooth the surface. Sand in the direction of the wood grain to prevent scratches or gouges.

Step 6: Repair Damaged Areas

If you identified any damaged areas during the inspection, such as rot, cracks, or holes, it’s important to repair them before painting. Replace any rotted or damaged wood components with new ones. Fill cracks or holes with an exterior-grade wood filler, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the filler is dry, sand it down to achieve a level and seamless surface.

Step 7: Clean the Surface Again

After sanding and repairing, it’s essential to clean the surface once more to remove any dust or debris generated during the preparation process. Use a brush or a damp cloth to wipe down the entire pergola thoroughly. Ensure that the surface is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 8: Mask Off Areas

If there are any areas or elements of the pergola that you want to protect from paint, such as nearby walls or plants, use masking tape and plastic sheeting to cover and mask off those areas. This will ensure clean and precise paint lines and prevent accidental paint splatters or drips.

By following these step-by-step instructions for surface preparation, you’ll create an ideal foundation for painting your pergola. Properly preparing the surface will not only enhance the appearance of the finished paint job but also contribute to its durability and longevity.

Applying the Paint

Once you have prepared the surface of your pergola, it’s time to apply the paint. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure a smooth and professional-looking finish:

Step 1: Stir the Paint

Before you start painting, thoroughly stir the paint using a stirring stick or a paint mixer. This will ensure that the pigments and binders are well mixed, providing consistent color and coverage throughout the project.

Step 2: Choose the Right Tools

Select the appropriate tools for your painting job. For larger areas, a paintbrush, roller, or paint sprayer can be used. A paintbrush is ideal for detailed areas, corners, and edges, while a roller can cover larger surfaces quickly. A paint sprayer is a good option for achieving a smooth and even finish, especially on large pergolas.

Step 3: Start from the Top

Begin painting your pergola from the top and work your way down. This helps to minimize any drips or spills on already painted surfaces. Use a ladder or scaffolding if necessary to reach higher areas safely and comfortably.

Step 4: Apply Thin Coats

Apply the paint in thin, even coats rather than thick layers. This allows for better adhesion, reduces the risk of drips, and ensures a more durable finish. Avoid overloading the brush, roller, or sprayer with paint to prevent excessive buildup and uneven application.

Step 5: Use Proper Technique

When using a paintbrush, apply the paint in long, smooth strokes in the direction of the wood grain. For a roller, use a “W” or “M” pattern to evenly distribute the paint. If using a paint sprayer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper technique, maintaining an even distance from the surface and applying the paint in a controlled manner.

Step 6: Cover all Surfaces

Make sure to cover all surfaces of the pergola, including the top, sides, and bottom of each component. Pay attention to intricate details, such as decorative elements or slats, to ensure complete coverage. Take your time and be thorough to achieve a professional-looking result.

Step 7: Allow Drying Time

Allow each coat of paint to dry completely before applying additional coats. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying time. This ensures proper adhesion between layers and prevents smudging or damage to the fresh paint.

Step 8: Apply Additional Coats if Needed

Depending on the desired color intensity and coverage, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint. Allow each coat to dry before deciding if additional coats are necessary. Evaluate the color and coverage after each coat to determine if further painting is required.

Step 9: Remove Masking Tape

If you used masking tape to protect specific areas, carefully remove it once the final coat of paint has dried. Remove the tape at a 45-degree angle to ensure clean lines. Take your time and be gentle to avoid accidentally peeling off any fresh paint.

By following these step-by-step instructions for applying paint, you’ll achieve a beautiful and professional finish on your pergola. Remember to take your time, use proper technique, and allow for sufficient drying time between coats. With each coat, your pergola will transform into a stunning focal point in your outdoor space.

YouTube video

Tips for Painting or Staining Your Pergola

  • Cleaning and Washing: Regularly clean your pergola to remove dirt, grime, and debris. This helps maintain the appearance and prolong the life of the paint or stain.
  • Inspecting for Damage: Periodically inspect your pergola for any signs of damage, such as cracks, peeling paint, or discoloration. Promptly address any issues to prevent further deterioration.
  • Touch-up and Repainting: Over time, your pergola may require touch-ups or repainting. Keep some extra paint or stain on hand for small repairs or refreshing the finish when necessary.
  • Protective Coating: Consider applying a clear protective topcoat over the paint or stain for added durability and weather resistance. This extra layer helps shield the finish from UV rays and extends its lifespan.
  • Regular Maintenance: Maintain your pergola by periodically cleaning and inspecting it. This proactive approach can help identify and address any issues before they escalate, ensuring the longevity of your paint or stain.


Choosing between paint and stain for your pergola depends on several factors, including weather resistance, durability, color options, and ease of application. Paint offers excellent protection, color variety, and durability, while stain enhances the natural beauty of the wood. Consider your personal preferences, the specific requirements of your pergola, and the maintenance you’re willing to undertake when making your decision.
Ultimately, both paint and stain can provide a beautiful finish for your pergola, transforming it into a stunning centerpiece of your outdoor space. By carefully considering the factors discussed in this article, you can make an informed choice that best suits your needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

How often do I need to repaint or restain my pergola?

The frequency of repainting or restrain your pergola depends on several factors, including the type of paint or stain used, the climate in your area, and the level of exposure to the elements. Generally, you can expect to repaint or restain every 3-5 years.

Can I paint over stain or vice versa?

In most cases, it’s possible to paint over stain or apply stain over paint, but proper surface preparation is crucial for adhesion. Consult with a paint or stain professional to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

Is one option more environmentally friendly than the other?

Stains, particularly water-based ones, are generally considered more environmentally friendly than paints. Stains have lower volatile organic compound (VOC) content, resulting in reduced air pollution during application.

Can I change the color of my pergola if I decide to repaint or restain?

Yes, both paint and stain allow you to change the color of your pergola. Paint provides a wider range of color options, while stain can alter the wood’s color while retaining its natural grain.