Should You Paint or Stain Your Fence?

A fence is more than a boundary marking the perimeter of your property; it adds character and curb appeal to your home. Painting or staining your fence can help it to look better and last longer. Many stains and paint products provide protection against rot and wear and tear, but how do you decide which is best? Here we’ll explore the answer to the question should you paint or stain your fence.

The Benefits of Stain

Wood tends to absorb stain far deeper than paint, so it can have greater resistance to wear and tear. While paint may start to chip or peel, stain will gradually fade over time. If your fence may be exposed to harsh winter conditions, paint may struggle to last more than a year. Of course, the quality of the paint will affect how long it lasts, but most paint products will last far less time than stain. Another benefit of stain is it can allow the wood to breathe. There are certain woods, such as cedar, that do not work well with paint. When the wood cannot breathe, the lifespan of your fence will be reduced. Many homeowners avoid stain, as they believe that they will be stuck with a boring brown color. However, there are solid stains available in a rainbow of vibrant colors, including green, red, blue, and yellow. You can also opt for a natural wood look using a transparent or semi-transparent product that allows the grain of the wood to show through.

The Benefits of Paint

The main advantage of paint is the cost. While stain tends to be less expensive than paint, gallon for gallon, you need far more of it. There is also a far greater range of paint products that are more widely available. Of course, you will need to factor in the additional time needed to scrape the old layer of paint off your fence each time you need to repaint, which can be a timeconsuming and dull task. Another benefit of paint is that while you need to apply a coat of primer, most paint products will be dry within four to eight hours. Stain can take as long as two full days to completely dry. Additionally, paint can be applied in pretty much any weather apart from rain, while stain is more temperamental and you’ll need to wait for a 50 ºf day with no rain forecast for several days.

Paint or Stain?

If you’re looking to create a unique look for your fence, the virtually endless selection of colors makes paint an attractive choice. However, you will need to consider the surface of your fence. As we mentioned above, some woods such as cedar can be compromised by paint. If your fence is made with treated lumber, stain will not soak in as deeply, so paint may be a better option. Additionally, if your fence has previously been painted, there is far more work involved in staining it compared to painting over a previously stained fence.