Painting your fence is an excellent way to give your entire property a facelift at relatively little cost. If you notice your fence’s paint job chipping, it is time to refresh the coat. Don’t just dive right in, though; there’s a lot to consider if you want to give your fence a fresh new look.
Paint vs. Stain
Whether stain or paint is better for your fence comes down to a matter of preference. Each has its pros and cons, and these must be weighed in relation to your property. For example, paint provides a wide variety of colors and finishes but often requires more frequent maintenance. It also requires more elbow grease when it comes time to repaint because the old paint should be removed first.
Stain brings out the natural beauty of wood. Unlike paint, it cannot chip away because it actually absorbs into the wood of your fence. Over time, instead of flaking, it gradually fades. Even though stain generally has a lower cost less per gallon than paint, it also generally requires a great volume, so it may be more expensive initially.
Benefits of Painting Your Fence
There are many benefits to painting your fence, and the most obvious is that doing so adds beauty to a property. A fresh coat of paint can revitalize a fence or completely update the atmosphere it lends. Paint also protects the structure from the elements, serving as a protective barrier against moisture, UV rays, and biological growth.
Key Considerations as You Paint Your Fence
Being informed before and as you paint your fence can ensure that the task is done correctly, giving you a clean coat and minimizing the need to repaint sooner than you had anticipated.
Pick Your Paint Well
It is imperative that you choose the correct kind of paint for the type of fence you intend to paint. This will fall under the family of exterior paints which are designed to hold up well against the weather. While it is most common to paint wooden fences, other kinds of fences (including decorative metal) can be painted as well. Just make sure to use the paint designed for that material.
Check the Weather
It is important to have ideal weather conditions when painting your fence, not just for your own comfort but also so your paint can go on evenly and cure properly. The ideal weather conditions are 40 and 90°F with low humidity and very little breeze. If you intend to stain, it is best to apply it out of direct sunlight to prevent lap marks.
You want to ensure that you have good weather (especially no precipitation) for several days before you paint so your fence will be dry when you begin. It is equally important that you have good weather for some time after painting your fence so the paint can cure without getting smudged.
The area around your fence should be free from debris so you don’t paint anything you don’t intend to. Nothing should be touching the fence during the painting process or for several days after. This means that before you paint, cut away grass and other shrubbery that could brush up against or drip on the structure, remove any nearby outdoor furniture or equipment, and cover landscaping or home elements that you want to protect with plastic tarping.
Have A Clean Slate
The fence itself must be prepared to receive the paint you are applying. Don’t rush or skip this process since doing so can leave you with uneven paint or paint that chips within months.
Your fence needs to be a clean slate before you paint it. This means removing all dirt, debris, and even old paint. The best way to do this may be to pressure wash. Highly pressurized water can strip away mildew, moss, or old paint, while a gentler touch with a bit of detergent will leave your fence sparkling clean. When pressure washing a wooden fence, be sure to follow the grain of the wood to avoid leaving gouges and marks in the wood.
Any holes and cracks must be repaired before paint or stain is applied. Doing so will minimize the risk of cracking and chipping after the paint is applied.
If your fence has been painted in the past, you will have the best results if you sand away the old coat. Even if you don’t need to remove a previous paint job, your fence will need to be sanded with a medium grit (120- to 150-grit) to ensure that your paint adheres properly. Afterwards, all shavings need to be cleaned away.
Before painting your fence, it is important that you prime it. Some types of wood, like redwood or cedar, have tannins that tend to bleed through stains and paint. Applying primer can prevent the process while simultaneously giving your paint a stronger grip.
As tempting as it is to get all of your painting finished in one setting, it is imperative to let the first coat of paint dry before adding another. Impatience while painting your fence can lead to improper curing, not allowing the bottom coat to completely solidify. This will negatively affect the protection the paint will provide and may give it a sloppy appearance.