Best Paint For Outdoor Porch Swing

Best Paint For Outdoor Porch Swing

Porch swings make wonderful additions to a deck or patio. They’re easy to maintain but, every so often, they do need some TLC. Luckily, repainting a wooden porch swing is easier than you think if you use the best paint for outdoor porch swings.

Whether you’re painting to cover up wear and tear or because you fancy a change, a good method is to use high quality semi-gloss latex paint. Also known as water-based paint, it contracts and expands alongside the weather. This enables it to stay resilient and helps it resist rapidly changing weather conditions.

Latex paint provides ultraviolet protection from the glare of the sun and acrylic binders that actively resist rain. 

While it’s true latex paints are less durable in some ways than oils, they dry much faster and can be reinforced with a gloss sheen. Gloss and semi-gloss products resist scuffs and keep high traffic areas looking smart for longer.

What Kind of Paint to Use for Porch Swing

If you google “best paint for outdoor porch swing,” you’ll get a cascade of opinions and perspectives. To find a definitive answer, let’s consider what a good outdoor paint needs to provide. 

First, it needs to look good. So, it should be specifically designed for the porch swing’s material whether that’s wood, metal or plastic.

Matching the paint to the material is important. Latex paints produce great results on wood and most metals, but they don’t take too well to plastics. 

Make sure the paint is fully compatible. It must also be extremely weatherproof and tolerant of being applied in multiple coats. The more coats of paint you apply to the wing, the stronger its exterior will be.

Let’s explore some of the paint options you could use. This article is concerned with wooden furniture because most porch swings have timber frames. If the advice for metal furniture differs, this will be clearly stated. 

Plastic porch swings are less common and typically made from recycled, reclaimed materials. We’ll touch on the best paints for plastic a little later.

Types of Exterior Paint

Solvent Based Paints (Oil or Alkyd)

Solvent based paints may contain oil or synthetic alkyd resins. Alkyd paints are growing in popularity, but oil paints remain the most common choice. 

They are superb for use outdoors because they create a very thick, non-absorbent surface. Oils tolerate turbulent weather conditions very well, so they’re often used to paint exterior doors.

One major downside of using oil-based paint is they take a long time to dry (at least twenty-four hours). They can also start off very hard and tough but later crack due to the wood shrinking underneath. 

Oils are not able to contract and expand as latex paints can. After a long time, they develop a chalky, uneven appearance as ultraviolet light begins to break down their chemical components.


  • Dries tough and water resistant
  • Thicker (can use fewer coats)
  • Easy to create a glossy, mirror finish


  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Cracks if the wood underneath shrinks

Water Based Paints (Latex and Acrylic)

We’ve already discussed some reasons why latex (or water based) products might be considered the best paint for an outdoor porch swing. 

Water based paints dry much faster than oils. They are significantly less noxious insofar as they don’t emit any powerful fumes. This makes them easier and safer to paint with though, if you’re painting furniture in the garden, fumes may be less of a concern.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of using latex or acrylic paints on a wooden swing is their adaptability. Water based paints are naturally thinner and more porous than oils, but they contract and expand more easily. 

For a porch swing that lives out in the garden, this is important. It greatly reduces the risk of cracks as the wood perpetually warms and cools.

The downside of using water-based paints is they don’t leave a brushless mirror finish in the same way as oils. 

Glossy paints are recommended because they can further reinforce the paint’s surface, but they ‘re unlikely to create a completely flat, even surface (without stroke marks). Again, this may not be a problem if durability is your main concern.

Our top pick for the best latex paint to use on a porch swing is Rust-Oleum Premium Premium Ultra Cover Gloss Paint found on Amazon.

Rust-Oleum Premium Painters Touch Latex Quart Gloss - White Color
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and provides long-lasting protection
  • Covers up to 120 sq ft and dries to touch in 30 minutes for quick project completion
  • Gloss finish provides a fresh new look for surfaces, goes on smoothly and provides excellent hide
  • Prior to application sand surfaces with 180/200 grit sandpaper, then wash with a degreaser, allow the surface to dry and apply paint

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re planning to use latex paints, here’s a tried and tested method:

First, (1) apply a stain blocking primer. Then, (2) follow the primer with up to three coats of latex outdoor primer. Finally, add two or three coats of exterior latex paint in your chosen color. 

This method requires patience (each coat must dry fully after application) but adding two primers is guarantees long life.

There are other ways to paint your furniture, of course. Others have different recommendations as to the best paint for outdoor porch swing. Options like oils and acrylics are equally effective, but they’re expensive. 

In this article, we discuss common choices (acrylics, latex paints, oils, etc.) and the benefits each can bring to your project.

Types of Finish for Exterior Paints

The ‘finish’ of a paint describes the way it looks after it has dried. For instance, some paints dry with a highly reflective sheen. 

These are called gloss paints. Others are purposefully formulated to dry dull and without a reflective surface. These are the matte (or flat) paint varieties. They soak up light rather than reflecting it.

Let’s consider which finishes make the best paint for an outdoor porch swing:


High gloss finishes are the most durable. They dry ultra-hard, appear very shiny and can be wiped clean. It’s a bit like topping your paint job with a thin layer of protective plastic though isn’t impervious to wear and tear. 

For families with children, exterior gloss paints are recommended. Stains from sticky fingers can be wiped away without leaving any blemishes on the swing’s seat.


  • Toughest of all the paint finishes
  • Easy to wipe clean


  • Highly reflective (not to everyone’s taste)


Semi-gloss paints are the next step down in reflectivity and durability after gloss paints although they are still impressively tough. They have a noticeable sheen, so don’t opt for finishes of this type if you’d prefer a matte effect. 

Like gloss paints, semi-gloss products are easy to wipe clean and lend themselves well to families with young children and pets.


  • Best of both worlds (tough but not as overtly glossy)
  • Great for families with kids and pets


  • Slightly less durable than glossy finishes


Satin (sometimes known as eggshell) finishes have a gloss of between 10% and 25%. It means they’re significantly less glossy than semi-gloss and gloss finishes. 

In fact, they’re closer to a matte effect but with a subtle sheen. Considering they don’t dry with the same plasticky hardness as gloss finishes, satin paints are surprisingly resilient. 

However, you should not scrub them vigorously. They can be gently wiped clean but too much force will cause painted surfaces to fade.


  • Subtle (only a slight sheen)
  • Good choice for high traffic areas


  • More prone to scuffs and scratches


Lastly, we come to the flat (or matte) finishes. These paints are the dullest varieties and produce no gloss or reflective surfaces. Instead, they absorb light. 

This makes them less durable, but they remain a popular choice for outdoor furniture. If you choose to paint your outdoor porch swing with a flat finish, it might be worth applying a couple of extra coats for added strength. 

Keep in mind the fact flat finishes aren’t as “slippery.” It makes them less resistant to scuffs and chips.


  • Smooth, subtle appearance
  • Makes surface imperfections less visible


  • Not the best choice for high traffic areas/outdoors

What Kind of Primer To Use For Outdoor Porch Swing

You shouldn’t try to paint outdoor furniture without applying a high-quality primer first. If just retouching a scuffed porch swing, you can maybe get away with using only the water or oil-based paint. 

Full paint jobs, however, need a strong and stable surface on which to dry. This is what primer provides, an even ‘ready for paint’ coating.

Primer helps paint stick to the surface of wood. It also ensures a smoother, more uniform appearance. Wood is lumpy, bumpy and porous. Without a coating or two of primer, much of the paint you apply will get lost in the material’s crevices leaving a patchy, uneven effect.

When applying primer to your porch swing, make sure the surface is free of debris first. Give it a casual wipe to remove bits of grass, leaf or dirt that could get stuck and degrade the even, smooth layer you’re trying to create. 

The primer must be completely dry before you begin applying the colored paint. This can take up to four hours.

Benefits of applying primer (before paint) include:

  • Creates a smooth surface for painting
  • Enables dark colors to be replaced with lighter shades
  • Contributes to a stronger, more durable finish overall
  • Adds an extra layer of weatherproofing/protection

Oil Based Primers

Oil based primers are great at covering darker colors and stubborn stains. They wear impressively on wooden surfaces and can slow down weather erosion and rusting. 

These primers offer excellent coverage. They fill out the spaces in a wooden surface to create an even layer for paint, but they can become brittle over time.

Water Based Primers

Like water-based paints, water-based primers dry quickly and remain flexible. They are capable of contracting and expanding in fluctuating temperatures. 

This gives them extra durability and resilience. Only latex primers are suitable for use with water-based paints (acrylic and latex varieties).

Our top pick for the best primer to use on a porch swing is Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex Primer found on Amazon.

Rust-Oleum, Painters Touch Quart Latex Primer - 32 Fl Oz
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or unglazed ceramic
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and provides long-lasting protection
  • Covers up to 120 sq ft and dries to touch in 30 minutes for quick project completion
  • Flat finish minimizes surface imperfections, goes on smoothly and provides excellent base
  • Prior to application sand surfaces with 180/200 grit sandpaper, then wash with a degreaser, allow the surface to dry and apply paint

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Kind of Spray Paint To Use For Porch Swing

If you’re wondering if there’s an easier way to paint your outdoor furniture, you could always try spray paints. There are many reasons why spray paint is not the best paint for outdoor porch swing decorating. 

However, you might want to try it. The big benefit of this method is speed. Spray painting can be done much faster than manual brush painting.

It’s a handy option if you have lots of open space (spray paint fumes are toxic), understand how to operate the cans safely and don’t mind that the finish will be slightly less durable. 

Spraying creates much thinner layers than hand painting. The more coats you apply, the stronger the final surface. Though, it can take a long time and many applications to create a veneer as strong as one made from latex gloss paint.

Here are some of the spray paint options you could use:

General Purpose Spray Paint

  • Suitable for use on outdoor furniture
  • Quick drying with minimal dripping
  • Can be bought with integrated primer
  • Offers the broadest array of colors/shades
  • Available in gloss, semi-gloss, satin and clear

All Surface Spray Paint

  • Smooths and evens out any surface/material
  • Suitable for use indoors and outdoors
  • Can be bought with integrated primer
  • Smaller selection of colors and finishes than GP spray

Rust Preventative Spray Paint

  • Perfect for use on garden furniture
  • Protects against rain and humidity
  • Designed to tolerate harsh weather of all kinds
  • Creates a glossy, crack resistant surface
  • Available in ‘wood effect’ finishes

Professional Enamel Spray Paint

  • Industrial grade quality (pro grade)
  • Can be quite expensive
  • Available in a limited amount of colors
  • Provides excellent rust protection
  • Dries in fifteen minutes or less

Creative Paint Ideas For Your Porch Swing

If your repainting project is part an effort to revitalize a tired outdoor porch swing, you might want to experiment with some creative ideas. 

With the addition of accessories such as decorative cushion covers, throw pillows and coffee tables, it’s easy to create a porch you never want to leave.

Here are some exciting ways to perk up your porch and bring color to an outdoor space:

Rustic White

While white may seem like the dullest color, it can be the epitome of sophistication when applied with style. It’s probably not the best choice for families with children, but couples can revel in a space that feels both clean and classic. Paint your porch swing white.

Then, turn it into a statement corner by adding luxe pillows and maybe even molded armrests. The details aren’t important here. Focus on soft, high quality fabrics. Let the materials breathe and speak for themselves.

Country Style

If the rustic look is more your thing, why not paint your swing’s arms a dusky grey and hide imperfections with a homely rattan binding. This keeps painting to a minimum and complements the natural wood of an outdoor deck.

Or, if painting the entire porch swing is your goal, replicate that rattan look with a shade in butternut, light olive or slate grey. Add a roughhewn wood table for an extra slice of countryside charm

Strong and Contemporary

Adding tailored seat cushions to your porch swing is an easy way to transform it from fun garden toy to a sophisticate’s lounging area. For a strong and contemporary aesthetic, paint in a bold but slightly muted shade such as teal. It’s a strong color but not overbearing.

Similarly, fresh shades include mustard and Suffolk pink. They’re bright and invigorating but they won’t give you a headache in the morning. Balance out your use of bright paints with pastel highlights and throw pillows with strong, simple designs.

Traditional Black

Sometimes, it’s nice to keep things simple. Black is a timeless shade that looks striking on outdoor furniture. It wears remarkably well and hides a multitude of sins. You’re not going to see blemishes and scuffs as easily as you would on a pale colored porch swing.

Black paints are probably the best match for glossy finishes. Jet black paint jobs with completely smooth, even surfaces scream high quality. 

They need few adornments as the flawless finish speaks for itself. Keep things subtle. Add a basic seat cover (grey and pastel blue shades work well with black paint) and matching throw pillows.

How To Paint A Porch Swing

You’re likely not painting a porch swing from scratch. Most paint jobs, even full ones, reinvigorate a piece of furniture that has grown old and worn. 

Perhaps you’ve picked up an old swing from a thrift shop or even salvaged one from a junkyard. Starting from scratch is rare, so let’s look at the best way to prepare a porch swing for painting.

Step One – Repairing The Damaged Wood

  • Start by rubbing damaged parts of the wood with a wire brush. This will dislodge debris and ensure you have a smooth, even surface for painting. Get rid of any hanging paint chips and splinters. There should be nothing protruding from the wood by the time you finish rubbing.
  • Use a wood filler in paste form to fill any significant chips. Again, the goal is to create a completely smooth surface for the primer and paint later. At this point, it doesn’t need to look pretty, but any filled patches must be flush with the rest of the wood. Leave the filler to dry overnight.
  • Use a piece of 220-grit sandpaper to work the edges of the wood around the filled in portions. Try to blend the patches so the wood and putty almost merge together and the divisions between them stop being so distinct. This will help the primer better adhere to the porch swing.
  • Wipe away all residues left by the sandpaper. There can be no gritty bits left behind because they’ll disturb your smooth, even coating of primer.

Step Two – Painting The Wooden Porch Swing

  • If there is still a lot of old paint left on the swing, use a chisel to carefully pry it off. Getting every single piece of paint isn’t important. Focus on any large remnants that might disturb your paint’s surface. Smaller paint chips shouldn’t cause much of a problem. Though, you can spend more time sanding away all the remaining paint if you so choose.
  • Rub the entire porch swing with sandpaper. Use 100-grit sandpaper for very rough wood. If the wood is already fairly smooth, skip straight to 180-grit paper. Wipe any residues away with a wet cloth.
  • Apply one coat of exterior primer to the swing with a broad brush. Try to maintain the direction you started with. This is very important. If you paint in all directions, it will show up in your finish as streaky lines. It’s best to move along with the wood’s grain. Allow the primer to dry completely. This will take at least two hours.
  • When dry, apply a coat of exterior paint always taking care to move in the same direction. Allow the porch swing to dry overnight.
  • Repeat step four for as many coats as you wish to apply.

How To Remove Paint From A Wooden Swing

Depending on the type of porch swing you’re working on, you may need a more thorough preparation process. 

Garden furniture that is already peeling because it hasn’t been maintained is fairly easy to strip and ready for new paint. Oftentimes, you can do it using a palette knife and sandpaper.

However, if you’re upscaling or redecorating a porch swing with an existing paint job, you’ll need to completely strip it before applying any new paint. Fortunately, this is easier than it sounds. 

All you need is a bottle of furniture stripper. You can purchase this online or from home maintenance stores. You should already have a palette knife and a wire brush.

Start by rubbing the swing down with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Then, apply the furniture stripper to the wire brush. Don’t be shy. 

Get a generous amount on there. Rub carefully over the painted surfaces. Use a firm, even stroke but don’t push down too hard because the stripper will do the hard work.

Leave the furniture stripper to work away at the paint for at least thirty minutes. Then, apply the pallet knife in a scraping motion. When you meet a stubborn patch of paint, try to pry underneath it until you can loosen and lift it.

While scraping with the pallet knife, regularly add small amounts of water to the paint. It will accelerate peeling and encourage the paint patches to shrink and loosen faster. Alternate between the pallet knife, the wire brush and the water until all of the paint is gone.

How Long Will Painted Wood Last Outside

While the exact answer depends on a variety of factors such as climate, paint quality and intensity of use and traffic, you’ll be pleased to know a good exterior paint job can last anywhere between five and ten years.

Conversely, a poorly done job can last as little as two. If you live in a very hot and humid climate, you can expect exterior paint to fade and peel a little faster. Though, a properly performed paint job should still survive for at least half a decade.

Never use a pressure washer on a painted outdoor porch swing. You risk stripping away patches of paint and dragging splinters of wood out of its surface.

Final Thoughts

Painting an outdoor porch swing is a task that requires care and precision. Yet, it can be completed in just a couple of days with the right tools. For a high-quality paint job that looks impeccable and stands the test of time, use the best quality paint and primer you can find.

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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