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Is It Better To Stain Or Paint A Fence

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  • fecning, paint vs stain, wood stain, fence paint or stain, fence painting
  • Posted date:
  • 02-11-2021
Is It Better To Stain Or Paint A Fence

Is it better to stain or paint a fence? We look at the benefits of painting and staining your garden fence. We look at the benefits of each option.

Why paint or stain a garden fence? 

If you purchase a wooden fence of high quality, then you should expect it to come with a guarantee against fungal decay and rot. 

Prior to being purchased, the wood for the fence will have been treated with one of two different kinds of protective treatment: either pressure treatment or dip treatment. 

If your wood has been dip treated, then you will need to have it re-treated on a yearly basis for the preservative to continue working as it should. 

Is It Better To Stain Or Paint A Fence?

If your wood has been pressure treated, then it will still need re-treating eventually, but not for a good long while compared to dip-treated wood. 

At some point, all wood will have to be protected from insects, rot, mould and general wear and tear if you are wanting it to remain healthy and look its best. Which treatment you decide to use on your wood fence is entirely up to you. Whether that is paint or stain, there are benefits to both. 

Benefits Of Painting a wooden fence

Benefits of painting?

Paint is really straightforward to apply. Paint can be applied easily with a roller or paintbrush and sits on top of the wood. 

Paint provides the wood with protection that is highly effective against the outdoor elements. 

Paint can offer you far more variety when it comes to colours than stain as paint is available in a plethora of different colour and shade options, perfect for gardens with a colour scheme as you can paint things like your shed, furniture and decking to match.

Paint can transform your tired and run-down old fence completely. Paint also allows you to have more artistic freedom as, with the array of colour options available, you can customise your garden fence with any design your imagination can think of. 

You can apply paint on top of a surface that has been painted already, allowing you more freedom to change the look of your fence whenever you please, something you cannot really do with a stain. If your wood is highly absorbent, then paint will typically cover more of a surface area than stain will, litre for litre. 

Benefits of staining?

Stain is considerably thinner than paint is, making it exceptionally easier to apply if you decide to stain a fence. Stain is best applied with either a sprayer or brush. 

Stain does not peel, crack, or chip like paint does; however, it will eventually fade. Stain allows the wood to breathe naturally. 

It is also incredibly straightforward to reapply when needed as, unlike paint, you don't need to sand down the wood before staining your fence. You can simply just clean the surface and then apply the stain. 

Benefits Of Staining a wooden fence

Although stain does not offer a much of a colour selection as paint does, there are still plenty of natural shades to choose from, and it does the job it is supposed to do; protecting the timber. Stain is also significantly cheaper than paint, and only one coat is usually required. The need for reapplication is considerably less frequent, too.  

Guidelines For Painting Your Fence

Whether you have decided to paint or stain your wooden fence, it is advised that you purchase the highest quality timber coatings that you possibly can and follow these important guidelines: 


The product should be assembled onto the timber and then left to dry thoroughly throughout a number of weeks of dry weather 


You should use a microporous finish, as this will allow the wood to properly breathe. 


You should try and thin your initial coat of finish down and let it dry. 


You should build the finish up using three or four full coats. This is dependant on the required depth of finish.  


It is extremely important that you carefully read the instructions printed on the tin and follow them. 

What's The Difference Between Paint And Stain?

What's the difference between paint and stain?

Paint will sit on the wood's surface and cover the fence. Paint provides a more dramatic and complete transformation to your garden fence. Paint does, however, tend to wear, crack and peel over a period of time. 

Worn down paint is hugely unattractive and can leave your fence looking distasteful and haggard if it isn't repainted regularly. 

In order to avoid your fence having a peeling and cracking appearance, it is imperative that you repaint your garden fence every 1-3 years or whenever you start to notice any imperfections appearing. 

Painting your fence will also restrict the timber from its natural ability to breathe, increasing the moisture content and resulting in possible rotting issues in the future.

It is important to bear in mind that once you have to repaint your fence, you should remove all the paint that is already existing. You will then have to adequately prepare the surface of the painted fence before repainting it.

Rather than sitting on the surface like paint, stain actually soaks deep into the timber, meaning it lasts longer as a treatment. 

Stain needs far less preparation than paint does, and by soaking into the wood, avoids issues like cracking or peeling. 

All you have to do to prepare your fence for staining is to give it a good clean. Various kinds of stains are available and range from solid colours to more transparent finishes, as well as everything in between. 

If your stain is more solid, then it will likely offer more protection than a transparent one, although, in turn, you will be able to see less of the wood.

painting and staining your garden fence

A semi-transparent stain will provide the needed protection whilst still allowing the timber's natural beauty to remain visible. It relies entirely on the look you are trying to achieve with your garden fence. 

If you are wanting your fence to have a more dramatic change in appearance, and you're okay with maintaining it more frequently, then it would probably be best to go with paint. 

Whereas if you would prefer it if maintenance was less demanding or want your fence to appear more natural, then stain will most likely suit you better.

What Is The Difference In Cost between painting and staining your garden fence?

What Is the difference in cost?

Paint is considerably less costly than stain is. However, it will require far more paint to cover an entire fence than it would stain, and the stain will last much longer. 

So if you take into consideration all of the extra paint that needs to be applied in comparison to stain, it pretty much evens out the cost, so there is no obvious winner when it comes to the prices. 

You may want to think about how much paint or stain will cost in the long run because paint may cost more than stain, but you will need much less of it. 

However, paint can chip and peel, meaning it will have to be reapplied more regularly than stain.   

The amount of time and effort you will need to take to scrape the old paint off the fence and sand the surface in preparation for repainting is also worth taking into consideration. 

All you really need to do with stain is give the fence a good clean before reapplying a stain, making it a much quicker and more straightforward task.

If you require garden fencing in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire contact us today. Our garden design experts can supply and install beautiful garden fencing for you and your family to enjoy for years to come.