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Should I Paint or Stain My Fence?

Whether you have a new fence that's ready for a topcoat or your old fence is in need of attention, deciding whether to paint or stain is a common stumbling block for homeowners. Each has their pros and cons, and we're here to go down the list to make sure you end up with a finish that's just right for your fence.

Which Finish Lasts Longer?

If you're thinking of tackling a major project like painting or staining your fence, the first thing that comes to mind is how often you'll need to do this task. Both types of finishes need regular attention. Stain should be reapplied at least every three years and paint every five to six years. The conditions that your fence withstands, such as harsh winters or considerable rainfall, may mean more frequent maintenance.

Stain tends to show its wear a little more pleasantly than paint. You may notice some areas of fading or deteriorating finish. Paint, on the other hand, tends to crack, bubble, and peel as the time to reapply draws near.

paint or stain a fence,	
paint or stain wood fenceWhich Finish Is Easier to Apply?

Both paint and stain are applied in a similar fashion, but each has its own requirements. Paint will require a coat of primer to achieve good adhesion and a proper finish, and a quality outdoor latex paint will be dry within four to eight hours depending on weather conditions. Stain, on the other hand, needs up to two full days.

Stain can be a bit more forgiving during application as your fence will soak it up rather than sitting on the surface. On the other hand, raw, rough wood is happy to have a coat of stain where paint will require sanding and smoothing of the surface. No matter which finish you choose, be sure to make any necessary repairs to your fence before you get started.

ProTip: Pressure washing can be a great way to get a clean slate before treating your old fence.

Lastly, paint can be applied in a wide variety of conditions as long as it's not raining. To apply stain, you'll have to wait until it's at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees Celsius out, with no rain forecasted for at least two to three days.

paint or stain a fence,	
paint or stain wood fenceCustomizing Your Finish

If you want a truly unique look for your fence, paint is the way to go as your color selection is virtually endless. Stain manufacturers have created a variety of hues, but generally you still have to stick within natural wood colors. If you're hoping for a fabulous fuchsia fence, paint is the only way to go.

Consider Your Surface

Lastly, before you make your decision, consider the type of wood your fence is built from and what its current finish is. Cedar, for example, does not take paint well and paint can actually reduce the lifespan of your cedar fence. Treated lumber can be painted or stained, but stain will not soak in as deeply with treated wood than it would with raw. Keep in mind that you can paint over a previously stained fence, and you can stain over a painted fence. But on the second option, there’s more work involved. CLICK HERE for our recent blog on this topic.

Still on the Fence?

If you're still not sure whether paint or stain is right for your fence, contact the pros at Five Star Painting. We'll look at the type of wood you have, its current condition, and add your color considerations to help you make the right decision.