What Is The Best Finish For Exterior Wood?

Wooden exteriors are a timeless choice for any home. Whether you’ve chosen wood for your fence, decking, cladding, louvres, or other outdoor structures, you’ll want to know what is the the best finish for exterior wood to treat and maintain your exteriors so they keep it looking their best.

Here’s everything you need to know to make that decision:

Compare The Three Wood Finishes For Exterior Timber: Wood Oils, Stains or Varnish

Typically, there are three different finishes you can use on your exterior wood project: stain, varnish, and wood oil. The finish you choose will depend on the location of the wood, its use, whether you want to keep the natural look of the wood, and how often you will maintain the finish.

  • Stains: there are two types of wood stains you’ll come across; oil-based and water-based stains. Oil based stains penetrate the surface fibers while water based stains penetrate and also leave a membrane on the surface.
  • Varnish forms a water repellent seal on the wood surface. Varnish suits semi-protected areas like joinery and doorways. In order to maintain weather tightness, varnish needs to be rigorously checked and refinished when it shows signs of wear.
  • Wood oils: These split into two types as well; penetrating and migrating wood oil.
    Penetrating oil: Oils like Dryden OilStain deeply penetrates into the wood to nourish it from within.
  • Migrating Oil: Dryden WoodOil migrates into the wood and conditions the timber, keeping it from cracking and warping.

Dryden WoodOil need to be reapplied about every 6 months to 2 years, to maintain the beauty and shine of the exterior timber surfaces. Our timber maintenance guides explain everything you need to know about how to maintain timber cladding and decking.

Why choose Dryden WoodOil for exterior timber?

Wooden exteriors are a beautiful and durable material that, when treated with care and quality products, will last a lifetime.


Dryden WoodOil: Elevating Elegance of Exterior Timber

Exterior wood protection oil is the way to go if you want to enhance the natural warmth and grain of low traffic areas like fences and cladding.

Dryden WoodOil is a high quality, water-repellent oil that migrates into the timber. It prevents water ingress, warping, and splitting. Truly versatile, wood oil can be applied on most species of wood and both old and new, rough and smooth surfaces.

Made in New Zealand, Dryden WoodOil is specially formulated to withstand our harsh weather and UV conditions.

The Perfect Blend of Aesthetics and Protection

Dryden’s WoodOil is carefully crafted to maintain a balance between aesthetics and protection. While their formulations provide unrivaled safeguarding against UV rays, they also enhance the wood’s innate beauty. The result is an outdoor space that not only stands the test of time but becomes a testament to the exquisite harmony of nature.

Which exterior wood surfaces best suit WoodOil?

Dryden WoodOil can be used on most woods, including:

  • most softwood species, such as Radiata Pine, Macrocarpa, Western Red Cedar, Yellow Cedar, Larch, and Redwood
  • most hardwood species, such as Purpleheart, Garapa, Vitex, Kwila, Tonka, Rosewood, Iroko and Jarrah
  • other timber products, such as modified timber (e.g. thermal or acetylated), plywood and laminated timbers
  • new and old, dressed and band-sawn timbers

Read more information for the best oil for Cedar wood weatherboards.


Dryden WoodOil is suitable for use on:

  • Cladding
  • Shingle roofs
  • Fences
  • Louvres
  • Exterior Doors

We don’t recommend Dryden WoodOil for hard-wearing surfaces such as decks and outdoor furniture, instead use Dryden OilStain for these areas.

Dryden OilStain is suitable for use on:

  • Hardwood timber screening
  • Doors and windows
  • Plywood/timber
  • Beams
  • Fascia boards
  • Shutters
  • Joinery
  • Fences
  • Wooden posts
  • Engineered products like composite wood

Find more information on Dryden OilStain use & application.

Can you colour wood using Dryden WoodOil?

Dryden WoodOil is a clear product allowing wood to naturally silver and weather.

If you want to deepen or alter your wood colour you can still use WoodOil instead of stain. Add colour to Dryden WoodOil with ColourTone+ to enhance or update the wood colour according to your preferred look. This gives you all the benefits of WoodOil with the colour that you get from a stain.

How much Dryden WoodOil do I need to buy for my project?

Now you’ve decided on Dryden WoodOil, how much do you buy? Below are some rules of thumb to figure out how many litres to buy.
Remember, timber type, dryness, and outdoor temperature all affect the amount of WoodOil needed.


Timber type Coverage rate (m²/litre) 
New band-sawn plywood 6-8
Any restored timber (low density) 6-8
New band-sawn timber (low density) 8-10
New modified timber 8-12
New dressed timber (low density) 10-12

Read How to Protect Wood to learn about Dryden WoodOil Application and Maintenance.

Need some inspiration?

Check out our timber image gallery for the latest wood trends and colours.

Find stockists for Dryden WoodOil.