To Paint, Stain, or Leave Alone: What Should I do with My Fence?


If you've recently had a new wood fence installed at your home, you've made a wonderful addition to your residence. You've taken a very important step to improve the appearance, enhance safety, and increase the market value of your home.

You do face a serious question, now that you have a great new fence at your home. You need to decide whether you should paint, stain, or keep the fence in a natural state. There are pros and cons for each course that you need to consider when it comes to a fence at your home.

Pros and Cons of Paint

Before the explosion in the different types of wood stain finishes that are now on the market, painting fences was a widely utilized alternative. You do get a great many options when it comes to painting for a fence.

There is a significant downside to painting your fence. Maintenance is significant. For example, you will need to repaint your fence every two or three years to keep it in proper shape.

The repainting process is time consuming. It begins with the necessity of scraping off all of the existing paint. You then need to prep the surface of the fence for the fresh coat of paint. You then are able to start the repainting process.

The costs associated with repainting over time can be significant. Indeed, a painted fence at your residence is likely to prove to be the most expensive option available to you.

Although the repainting process is challenging, keep in mind that you can hire a professional to undertake the task for you. By shopping around, you are likely to find a painter that charges a reasonable fee.

Pros and Cons of Stain

Many experts on fences maintain that stain is preferable to paint in most situations. The key reason that this is the case is that stain requires significantly less in the way of maintenance than is the case with paint. Staining a fence may cost more initially, but over the long term, stain is cheaper. Although a stained fence needs to be redone from time to time, this upkeep does not need to occur as often as is the case with paint.

In this day and age, there is a wide range of different stain colors. As noted previously, one reason paint was utilized fairly regularly historically was the broader range of colors available. With the greater selection of stain colors, using paint as a second resort is not as often necessary.

Unlike paint, the stain does not peel or crack. It can be easily and safely cleaned by power washing it on a regular basis. This aids in prolonging the life of a coat of stain.

When it comes time to re-stain a fence, unlike paint you do not need to spend an inordinate amount of time scraping off the existing stain. Due to the fact that it doesn't peel or crack, you don't have to worry about spending a significant amount of time scraping off the existing coat.

Pros and Cons of the Natural Look

The final option to consider when it comes to your fence is to leave it in its natural state. By taking this route, you permit weather to impact your fence over time, which can result in an attractive effect. The weathered, rustic look is very popular in this day and age.

If you intend to take the natural approach when it comes to fencing at your home, you must get high quality wood for the job in the first instance. High quality wood for a fence includes redwood, cypress, spruce, white cedar, and western red cedar.

You do need to take some steps to maintain a fence with natural wood. For example, power washing is one practice you will want to employ to keep a fence in a natural state in good condition for an extended period of time. You will want to undertake power washing a few times a year to keep a natural fence in tip-top condition.

Selecting Paint, Stain, or Leaving Alone

In the final analysis, selecting paint, stain, or natural is really a matter of personal taste. There are also cost issues that come into play. Natural provides the lowest initial cost. With that said, even with diligent upkeep, a natural fence may end up having a shorter lifespan than a fence properly coated with stain or paint. In this day and age, more homeowners with wood fences are turning to stain them. That trend is expected to continue into the future.


Jessica Kane is a writer for Viking Fence, the number on fence rental company in Houston.

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