An Independent Test and Review of Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life
Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life paint is one of the UK’s most popular fence paints and is sold in all the major retailers and online at Amazon.
But is it any good?
How does it hold up against water?
How does it compare to other paints, such as Cuprinol’s Ducksback?
Can it be used on old fences too?
We independently tested this popular fence paint so you can make an informed buying decision.
How We Tested Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life
We purchased a five-litre tub of Ronseal’s One Coat paint and tested it on three surfaces:
- A new fence panel.
- A very old fence panel that had old red patchy paint on it.
- An old shed that had previously been painted.
This is what we looked for:
- Coverage rate.
- The number of coats realistically required to get a good finish.
- How accurate the colour was compared to the image on the tub.
- Ease of application.
- Sprayer compatibility.
- Ability to resist rain.
- Hosepipe and tissue test.
- How it performed on different types of timber.
- Comparison to other paints.
Read This Before You Buy
You need to know this before you buy Ronseal’s One Coat product:
Ronseal’s product is one of several fence paints on the market that should only be applied to rough-sawn timber.
Rough-sawn means most sheds and almost all fences.
Gardeners should not apply this paint to smooth timber such as window frames, smooth timber doors or furniture.
Here’s what Ronseal told us:
You can’t use this stain on decking, garden furniture or other smooth planed wood. We have other products to help you with that.
Here are the specs from the manufacturer:
5ltr, 9ltr and 12ltr tubs | 1 coat | 6sq/mtr per ltr | Showerproof in 1 hr | Water-based | Rough sawn timber only | Sprayer: Yes, compatible |
Our Test of Ronseal’s Fence Paint
We purchased a 5-litre tub of Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life paint and tested it on a new fence panel, starting with just one section so you can see the difference compared to the unpainted section.
This is how it looked after just one coat:
The paint colour was initially way off – it looked washed out and light compared to the colour tab on the tub.
We were concerned that this could be the finished colour, but after 48 hours, the fence colour matched the tub exactly, as you can see in the image we took above.
Even after only one coat, we found it covered the fence well without any bare patches.
We then tested the paint to see how well it repelled water, which it did, although not as well as Cuprinol’s Ducksback:
We then tested the paint by dabbing a wet tissue onto the fence to see if any of the colour washed off.
We also sprayed the panel with a hosepipe to see how well it adhered.
We didn’t experience any issues with the paint washing off during these tests.
Next, we tested the paint on an old panel that was previously painted red and had lots of bare patches on it:
How the fence looked after just one coat
Finally we tested it on an old shed which had the same patchy red paint as the old fence:
How We Got On With Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life:
The Colour Was Initially Way Off: It wasn’t until the paint had fully dried and cured that the colour matched the tub. Initially, the colour looked much lighter and washed out.
We Think Two Coats are Needed on Patchy Old Panels: In our test, we found that the paint adhered to and covered the new fence panel very well, but on the old panels and the old shed, we found that the original colour and patchiness was coming through the new paint and a second coat was needed.
Coverage Rate: We measured the paint carefully before applying it to the fence and found that Ronseal’s stated 6 sq mtrs per litre was a little optimistic, and we found the coverage rate closer to 5 sq mtrs, but our panels and shed were very dry and absorbed a lot of paint.
Ease of Application: After stirring the tub of Ronseal, we found that the product was fairly thick and gloopy, and it adhered well to our brush and the fence without excessive dripping.
Sprayer Compatibility: We tested Ronseal’s Once Coat paint using a powerful Wagner sprayer and found it performed better after we watered it down, but only slightly.
Hosepipe and Tissue Test: In an effort to replicate real-world weathering, we hosed the panel with water from our hosepipe one week after staining the fence and none of the colour washed off. We also dabbed the surface with wet white kitchen tissue, which didn’t pick up any colour, indicating that the paint had adhered correctly.
Overall, Ronseal’s product performed as we expected.
We knew that the old panels would likely need two coats as they were very absorbent and the old paint was very patchy with bare sections visible.
The paint performed better after one coat on the new panels, as these had a consistent base colour.
We found that coverage was slightly below the stated figures but the colour match was nearly identical to the tub.
Considering that Ronseal’s paint is one of the cheaper products on the market, we found it performed well but not as well as the number one fence paint – Cuprinol’s Ducksback.
Comparing Ronseal to Cuprinol Ducksback
As part of our test, we also applied Cuprinol Ducksback fence paint to several panels and performed the same tests.
Despite Ducksback requiring 3 coats and each having to be applied within a few hours of the other, the finished panel repelled water impressively:
Cuprinol Ducksback contains wax that repels water better than any other fence panel
Closeup of water beading
Cuprinol Ducksback fence paint is our number one choice but there are a few drawbacks:
- It’s expensive.
- The wax can repel second and third coats so these must be applied before the wax has set (2-4 hours).
- We also found that the colour was very deep and it masked the grain and knots of the timber more than any other paint we tested.
What’s Good and Not So Good About Ronseal’s Product
Here are the pros and cons for Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life paint:
- Plenty of colours to choose from.
- The colour closely matched the image on the tub (after it had fully dried).
- It wasn’t too watery and didn’t drip excessively.
- Sprayer compatible.
- Looked great after only one coat on bare fences and after two coats on patchy timber.
- Water repellent, once dried.
- Quick drying (touch dry in 1 hr, recoat in 2-4 hrs).
- Ronseal state that it will protect for up to 2 years compared to 5 years for Ronseal’s Fence Life Plus paint and 5 years for Cuprinol Ducksback.
- Not as water-repellent as Ducksback.
- Very thick and gloopy, and I had to water it down for the sprayer.
- The finished look masked the knots and grain, although this is an issue with all thick fence paints.
Alternative Ronseal Fence Paint
Ronseal has another, newer, fence paint that’s worth considering.
It’s called “Fence Life Plus” and here are the key points:
- More expensive than the original.
- Requires 2 coats.
- Ronseal state that it will protect for 5 years compared to 2 for their original fence paint.
- Can be used on smooth wood too.
What Others are Saying About Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Paint
As part of our independent research, we also looked at reviews from past customers on several different websites.
We found a number of buyers who stated that Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life started to wash off after a few months, and one customer on B&Q produced photos of brown stains on his white wall directly underneath the fence.
I’ve had to paint my walls about 5 times to cover the stains and every time it rains its running again!
While there are many hundreds of positive reviews, these negative ones stood out and gave us cause for concern, although other product/brands have their fair share of negative reviews too.
We couldn’t replicate this issue, and the user may not have applied the paint correctly.
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This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by Paul Farley.
Explore: Paul’s profile and qualifications.
We selected Ronseal’s One Coat Fence Life paint as it’s a popular product, and when we tested four popular products in April 2023, it performed well and was our number 2 choice, behind Cuprinol’s Ducksback.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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