19th Jun 2023 -

Your wooden fence, although a durable structure, requires proper care and maintenance to withstand the test of time. Over the years, external wood becomes susceptible to rot, weathering, and general wear. 

Painting an existing fence is a popular option to boost its look and performance, however, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Get all the info you need to make an informed decision in this simple guide.

The Benefits That Come From Painting Your Fence

Whether looking to protect your fence or to change the look of your outdoor spaces, several key benefits can come from painting your fence:

  • Enhancing aesthetic appeal: Painting your fence can transform its look and provide a wide range of colour options to match your style and complement your outdoor space. Whether looking to preserve a natural wood look, or add some eye-popping colour to your garden, there will be a range of options for you.
  • Adding protection: By applying paint, you create a protective layer that helps shield the wood from moisture, rot, UV rays, and potential damage from insects. External wood will typically come pressure-treated for these benefits, but they will become less effective over time.
  • Increasing durability: The additional barrier provided by paint helps extend the lifespan of your fence by safeguarding it against weathering, cracking, and general wear and tear.
  • Easy maintenance: Painted fences are generally easier to clean and maintain compared to their unpainted counterparts, as they offer a smoother surface that can be easily wiped down or power-washed to remove dirt and grime.

The Drawbacks of Painting a Fence

While painting your fence offers several advantages, it's important to consider the potential downsides for your garden:

  • Requiring regular maintenance: Painting your fence means committing to periodic repainting or touch-ups to maintain its appearance and protective qualities, which can be time-consuming and require ongoing effort.
  • Potential for peeling and cracking: Over time, painted fences may experience peeling or cracking, particularly in areas with extreme weather conditions or high humidity, necessitating repairs or repainting. Especially when choosing a less natural colour, it’s worth noting that any missing patches will be obvious.
  • Limiting natural wood aesthetics: Applying paint to a fence covers the natural beauty of the wood, including its grain and texture, which some homeowners prefer to showcase. Once painted, wood cannot be easily restored to its natural appearance.

How to Paint Your Fence

man painting fence

If you’ve decided that painting is the right option for you, it’s a simple process that can be easily accomplished by a DIYer. Here are the key steps to take to ensure a solid and lasting finish for your fence:

  • Check the weather forecast: Before starting, ensure you have a few consecutive days of dry and warm weather. Painting in wet conditions can hinder the paint's adhesion, and as you will need to apply multiple coats you’ll need several undisturbed days.
  • Prepare your surroundings: Clear the area around your fence, trim any foliage, and cover nearby surfaces with plastic sheets to protect them from paint splashes.
  • Wash and sand your fence: Remove dirt, debris, and old coatings by using a stiff brush. For dirtier fences, you can also use warm soapy water. Ensure the fence is completely dry before proceeding.
  • Apply your fence paint: Select durable exterior wood paint and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Use a brush or sprayer, applying the paint in the direction of the wood grain. Start from the top and work your way down, catching any drips as you go.

Wash all your equipment immediately afterwards with the appropriate product recommended for the paint you’ve used. 

The Best Paints For Fencing in the UK

Firstly, whenever selecting a paint for your fence, it’s crucial to choose an option intended for external wood, otherwise, it will not offer the performance you need. There are many specific fence paints in the UK, from brands like Ronseal and Cuprinol. Gardentoolbox.co.uk listed Cuprinol Duckback 5-Year paint as the best choice for UK fencing, which comes in a range of 12 attractive colours.

white fence

What Are the Alternatives to Painting?

Wood staining is a popular alternative to painting fences, offering several benefits. It preserves the natural look of the wood, highlighting its grain patterns and adding depth. Stains provide long-lasting protection against moisture, UV rays, and weathering. With easy maintenance and a variety of colour options, staining allows you to enhance your fence's appearance while keeping it protected. 

Whether you prefer a subtle, transparent stain or a bolder, semi-transparent colour, wood staining offers a beautiful and durable solution for your outdoor fencing needs. Many homeowners opt for this as an alternative to painting.

What About Composite Fencing?

Composite fencing is a low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood fencing, made from a mixture of wood fibres and plastics. Unlike wood, composite materials are not typically designed to be painted. The surface of composite fencing is often finished with a protective layer that provides colour and resistance to fading. 

While some paints can be applied to composite fencing, this can cause damage to the fence, void warranties, and often provide a different look than anticipated. The best recommendation is to purchase a composite colour you’re happy with initially. Before attempting to paint composite fencing, we recommend you consult the manufacturer's guidelines to ensure proper adhesion and durability of the paint.

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