Water repellents and paints are both coatings. Paint is considered a film that lies on top of the surface. Many water repellents soak into the wood and do not leave a film at the surface. Some water repellents do create a film or skin at the surface. The problem with films or surface coatings is that they eventually peel. When this happens, you are forced to scrape or strip the loose and peeling film off before you can apply a second coat. For this single reason, try to avoid coatings that leave a film.
If you do decide to paint instead of applying an epoxy fortified synthetic resin water repellent, be sure that you thoroughly wash the wood – but again, avoid pressure washing the delicate wood. Carefully read the label of the finish paint product you choose and follow the directions with respect to any primer they say you must use. Never forget that paint is simply a form of glue with colour added to it. Both the primer and the finish paint will adhere optimally to a clean and dry surface.