The Best Way to Paint a Fence

Fence Painting Archives by Great Expectations Painting

Fence painting and maintenance archives provide our readers with comprehensive advice, tips and tricks, and maintenance. Proper fence care will add years to your fence’s longevity. Using high-quality paints and supplies is the best way to paint a fence and ensures your fence longevity. High-quality paint will also help protect your fence from the sun, weather, and rain. Some inferior paints will start to chip almost immediately, creating damage to your expensive wood. Pressure washing periodically will help keep dirt and grime off your fence, giving it more life as well. Rag cleaning works great, however, you need the pressure from a powered washer to really get the dirt off. This will keep rot and other damage at bay, giving your deck substantially more lifetime.

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Should You Stain or Paint Your Fence?

Refinishing your fence with either paint or stain is a great way of improving the look of your home. Painting or staining can also help your fence last longer. Putting in a bit of extra work can extend the lifespan of your fence by providing some additional protection against insects, rot, and normal wear and tear from the elements. Here in North Idaho, we tend to experience extreme temperatures. High temperatures followed by extreme lows can cause your fence to wear out faster than it would in more neutral temperature zones.

Paint or Stain?

So how do you choose between staining and painting? While there are benefits to both, our experts recommend staining a fence over painting it. Wood tends to absorb stain, while paint likes to stay on top of most wood. This means that as paint ages, it peels, chips, and appears worn. In comparison, since stain is absorbed deep into the wood, it just fades as it ages. Stains don’t chip or peel like paint does over time.

Paint can start peeling off of a fence in a year or less. Especially during harsh winters like those seen in the Inland Northwest, the lifespan of outdoor painted wood is greatly reduced. Depending on the quality of paint used, your fence job may last a bit longer. However, you can expect to see significant wear on a painted fence within the first 4 years. Cedar, in particular, doesn’t agree with paint very well at all. Cedar needs to breathe. Covering this wood with paint basically suffocates it, greatly reducing the lifespan of the wood. This is especially important to consider because most contractors recommending using cedar for fences due to its long lifespan. Of course, if you follow this direction, be sure to stain the wood and avoid painting it so this remains true.


Contrary to popular belief, staining a fence doesn’t mean you will have to compromise on fun colors. You aren’t limited to different shades of brown. Many great quality stains exist in vibrant reds, blues, greens, pinks, and purples. There is truly a stain for every style. You just have to know where to look! Our experts here at Great Expectations Painting will help you pick out the perfect stain for your project. If you prefer the natural look of wood, you can always choose a semi- or transparent stain, allowing you to see the true beauty of the wood itself.


So which costs more- paint or stain? It all comes down to lifespan. Stain won’t have to be replaced as often as paint, which means you’ll spend less on it in the long run. Initially, stain costs less than paint, but you will need more of it. The initial investment of staining your tends to be around equal to or slightly more than the initial investment of painting your fence. It is also important to take time into account – as we all know that time equals money. You have to take into account the amount of time you’ll spend scraping and sanding away peeling paint. This time won’t have to be taken for a stained fence. You can simply clean the fence and reapply the stain, saving you tons of time.

In conclusion, it is ultimately your decision whether you should paint or stain your fence. Both projects result in completely unique and beautiful finished products. Though we are a painting business, we at Great Expectations Painting understand the difference between painting a house and painting a fence. Overall, if you’re looking for an easy project and a beautiful product, choose staining. If you’re willing to invest in the right wood and put in some extra time for touch ups, you may enjoy painting your fence instead. Either way, you will add interest and value to your home.

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Painting In Rain And Water

Northern Idaho is seeing its first taste of fall rain this week! And while we aren’t seeing downpours the likes of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it can feel like the time for finishing building, construction, and painting projects is running short. Here is some advice on how to keep painting even in the midst of rain and bad weather:

Only Stop Painting When It’s Actually Raining


It’s easy to miss the obvious, but you only have to stop painting when it is actually raining. Overcast skies and “smelling rain” isn’t going to ruin your progress. Keep painting even if the weather isn’t favorable until raindrops start to fall from the sky. If you feel rain, take a break and waPaintingit for it to pass. Modern latex or water-based paints become tacky dry very quickly in the thin layers most people apply. Whatever you just started to paint before the rain began is unlikely to be ruined by a drizzle. In the Northwest a lot of our rain comes at night, so most mornings you can get started painting again if it persists all day.


Unless It’s A Downpour, You Probably Won’t Have To Repaint

Like I mentioned earlier: Modern paint dries quickly enough to withstand most precipitation. However, if a large downpour begins within an hour of your last coat, it will probably need to be redone. How resistant your new paint is to the elements is obviously variable: Oil paints take longer to dry and the impact of rain becomes greater in areas of more humidity. Use your own judgment and see how it turns out.


You Will Have To Wait Longer After Power washing Than After Rain

PaintingIf you are power washing your painting surface, it will take much longer to dry than if it had merely rained in that area. This is because the high pressure soaks water into the wood and other materials instead of resting on the surface. Rain is much lower pressure than our mechanical inventions, and materials will be ready to paint after rainfall much faster.

Hopefully, these tips will give you some confidence to continue painting in the rain and tough weather fast approaching this fall! Remember, if all else fails the teams here at GEP will brave any weather (until winter!) to give you the service you need.

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Proper Fence Care: An Epilogue

Proper Fence Care: An Epilogue

We’ve finally come full circle to proper fence care! After all that hard work preparing, staining, and sealing your fence, its finally time to sit back and enjoy it! Well done, drink some lemonade and relax. Make sure and check out HGTV’s great serious on fence care as well!

There are several things you will want to do to take care of your fence.

  1. Fence careUse wood preservative spray. We’ve all seen it: your neighbors fence that starts to rot, then inevitably falls down. Wood warping as it ages is a natural (and alas, unstoppable) scenario. The rot however, is a different story. There are tons of products on the product designed to help keep out the rot! They basically work like wax on a car. Once the fence is coated, it won’t absorb water and it will resist direct sunlight. Adding a fence preserver will add years to your fence lifetime!
  2. Wash it off once in a while! We can’t overstate the value of the occasional power washing! By washing off any buildup on your fence, it helps stop dirt and grime adhering to your fence. Make sure and pressure wash during the daytime so your fence has plenty of time to dry in the sun!
  3. Keep the grass back! We’re all lazy from time to time. The bottom of your fence needs to be clear or any debris or plants. You want any of the material that comes in contact with the fence to be moisture resistant, so keep that grass away! Best bet is to dig out the bottom of your fence, and CAREFULLY round up the base of the fence. After you put in the effort once, it should just require touch up in the following years!

That briefly covers so finder points of fence care. If you have any other questions, or didn’t follow our guide and need fence repair, contact us today for a 100% FREE estimate! To read more from our fencing series, check out the archives here!

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Fence Painting: Application

ApplicationWe’re finally to our fence’s application time!

Application is the last step in properly painting your fence. Thus far we’ve covered all the preparation and priming. Now is time to finish up with your paint or stain application. Truth be told, this is the easiest step in the process! When you are ready to apply your paint or stain, just keep these few steps in mind, and the job will end up looking amazing.

  1. Spraying. While you can use other methods to paint your fence (brush, roll, etc.), spraying is by far the most effective method of paint application. This will also allow you to back brush (explained later) creating the most thorough and uniform coverage on your fence. Renting a sprayer from one of our local companies is really affordable and the results will be worth it. When spraying you want to ensure a very thick application of stain or paint. This will help create a uniform look later, and will make sure and seal your fence.
  2. Allow enough time to dry. One of the pro steps! After you spray the fence you need to allow the paint or stain 5-10 minutes to dry. There are several reasons for this brief drying time. First, the paint needs to be tacky for proper fence adherence. This ensures enough stain or paint absorbs into the fence. Secondly, allowing a drying time ensures all your paint (or especially stain) keep the same color. When applying a liberal coating to the fence, you can’t naturally control the amount of stain on each section of the fence (you did apply liberally on purpose after all). Equalizing the drying time makes it so each fence section absorbs the same amount of stain! Don’t skimp on your drying time, this will keep the job looking professional.
  3. ApplicationBack Brushing. After you have specifically applied “to much” paint to the fence, you need to remove the additional product. This process is called back brushing. After a timed drying, you take a roller (or brush, or paper towel it doesn’t matter to much) and brush off the additional product. With the correct drying time, the adequate amount of product will already have absorbed into the wood, and you will just be brushing off “extra” product. This allows you to create an even temper of stain for the whole project.

Once your done spraying and back brushing, your stain or paint application will start to set! After drying, your fence is finished! Next week we will cover paint and stain care for your fence. To read more from our fencing series, check out the archives here!

See you next week!

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Fence Painting: Paint Choices

The most important part of a new paint job, are your paint choices!

fence paintingThe specific paint choices you make will determine longevity, aesthetic, and ease of application. The different types of paint/stain to use depend on whether your fence is new or old. Wood that has been stained/treated several times needs different treatment then a brand new fence. We’ll start with a new fence. You have just finished putting up your gorgeous, new fence and now its time to paint it! The single best paint/stain to use is oil based clear stain. Oil based stain is easy to apply, is cost effective, and has an amazing manufacturers warranty. It also applies color very smoothly, resulting in a professional application without the cost. If you want to paint the fence, make sure and choose a “lifetime” fence product. A recent addition to painting products, lifetime paints are amazing. They apply incredibly smoothly and look great. The best part about “lifetime” paints is the warranty: with proper application these paints will last dozens of years! In the past it was impossible to have paint look great even after a few years of the sun baking it. Take advantage of these great products on your next fence painting job!

If your not painting a perfectly prepped new fence, you will have followed our previous steps. After the fence is carefully prepped, you need to make sure and choose a product that is going to make the wood look more vibrant. The best choice is solid color stain. It lasts a long time, and is great at covering up previous products that remained after prepping. Application is generally easy. You will want to make sure and catch the stain with a pan as it drips under the fence (environmental consciousness for the win). We don’t want wildlife licking up the left over stain! Another great solution if the wood will not look beautiful stained is “lifetime” paint (can’t exclaim how much we love this paint). Just like with a new fence painting, the lifetime paint will revitalize your older fence, making it look new and uniform.

When you are making your paint choices, ensure you avoid using odd transparent stains especially on older fences. Usually you will have some remedial stain, and it will create spotting with your new stain. You can avoid any issues by using our above recommended stains.

Where almost there! Next week we will cover paint application. See you soon! To read more from our fencing series, check out the archives here!

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Fence Painting: Priming

primingWelcome back to the Great Expectations Fence Painting Guide! This week, we cover priming your fence. Having successfully (and carefully) prepped from last week, we are now ready to apply the first layer of primer! If you are staining you fence, make sure and skip this step! Stain does not get primer it goes directly onto the fence! Here’s the big secret from the pros: the primer you buy is super important! Primer (unlike paint) is designed to seal against wear and tear. It also helps the paint to maintain its life, and color vibrancy. Buying cheap primer is the “death knell” for a well done job! The specific brand won’t matter but make sure it is formulated for bare wood or fences. Don’t be cheap! At least purchase mid grade! You will thank me later!

Once you have purchased your primer, its time to start the application! Make sure and start working early. You don’t want the heat from the sun to scorch your primer. Starting early will get you out of the heat, but will be warm, helping the primer dry correctly.

primingThere are two primary ways to start fence priming: Spraying and rolling/brushing. There are upsides/downsides to both. Spraying is better most of the time. It ensures a very even coat of paint, and saves money by using less paint. If you are going to be spraying, the amount of prep work is significantly more. You need to ensure all bushes and plans are covered, and carefully seal any portions of the fence you don’t want painted (gate hinges, cross bracing, etc.). Paint rolling gives you much greater control, but is time consuming and labor intensive! If you have lots of little crannies to paint on the fence, it will be easier to maneuver with a roller/brush. Paint rolling allows you to get a good amount of primer on the board in one go, and brushing lets you get all the nooks and crannies well painted. Which is better depends on the fence itself.

Once you are ready to start the priming process, make sure and work in a pattern. The best pattern is to paint about five boards at a time. This will keep the paint equal and help dry it in sections. Start by painting the top of each board first, then move down towards the bottom using long smooth strokes. Place a piece of cardboard UNDER the boards you are painting to catch the additional paint drips. It also keeps your roller or brush from getting dirty.

That about covers priming! If you have any additional questions please feel free to email us, and we look forward to painting next week! To read more from our fencing series, check out the archives here!

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Fence Painting: Preparation.

fence paintingThese next few weeks on the Great Expectations Painting blog, we want to cover fence painting! This week covers fence painting preparation. Here in Hayden and Coeur d’Alene, we do TONS of fence maintenance! There are very specific ways to make sure your stain or paint adheres and lasts a long time on your fence. With a few helpful tips and proper attention to detail, your stain or paint job will last for years! This week we will go over proper preparation. Arguably the most important part of any job is careful prep work! Using proper preparation means your paint or stain will correctly adhere and the job will be significantly higher quality. Here are a few steps to getting your preparation done right!

  1. Cleaning. Chances are your fence will be filthy. Its one of those things we forget to do as time goes on. It will be covered in peeling paint, bird poo, and spiderwebs and dirt. If you don’t get that stuff off, your paint has no hope of properly adhering to the wood! Make sure to take a flat edge scraper, and get rid of all that gunk! You don’t need to be shy, you will be repainting anyways! Make sure and scrape to bare wood. You can also go over the fence with a wire brush. They tend to get more gunk free but take more “manual labor” to use! The only other note about cleaning is you shouldn’t need to use actual cleaner. Some elbow grease will do the trick, and the lack of cleaning residue will help your paint or stain to better adhere to the deck.
  2. Sanding. The part everyone wants to skip! Giving your fence a full sanding is the best way to ensure a consistent look with your paint or stain. After sanding, you will avoid blotches, poor paint application, and will be able to make sure you didn’t leave any dirt in the cracks and crannies!
  3. fence paintingPower washing. You need to power wash your fence. Even if you take great pains to clean the fence, there will be small bits of debris that you can’t get off! Power washing really helps to prep the wood for new stain or paint. It gets the wood fibers damp, clears off the years of drying, and makes your fence look amazing! Skipping this step will dynamically reduce the amount of time your new stain or paint lasts. Don’t skip it!

That is the start for fence painting work! Next week we will go over the first application of primer for your fence painting project! To read more from our fencing series, check out the archives here!