How To Paint a Fence With a Sprayer or Brush

When you’re looking to paint a fence with either a paint sprayer or brush then check out this guide to get the right information you need to create a professional-looking job.

Let’s begin with why…

Why Should I Paint My Fence

There are many reasons why people paint their wooden fencing, for me, it’s the protection of the material but let’s dig into a few more here…

Protection for exterior wood against the elements over time. A new fence is a fairly big investment for the home, and for me personally, this is the main reason why painting the fence goes on my list.

A good quality coat of paint keeps the fence looking better for longer. The life expectancy of a wooden fence is approximately 15 years, however, with proper maintenance this is extended to over 20 years.

Easier to clean a painted fence as it creates a seal over the wood which means cleaning dirt becomes a quicker job as you won’t need to scrub down from the grain of the wood. However, be aware of cracked paint where water can seep through and decay the wood.

A freshly painted fence looks good. This is probably the most common reason! As well as maintaining our homes we also want our home and garden to look amazing and perhaps maybe impress the neighbours when they come over for the Sunday BBQ!

The fence is more than just about creating privacy and being a boundary for the property…

It’s visually framing the overall design of the garden, providing a backdrop to flower beds, garden furniture or other features you may have. So, perhaps take a moment and think about different colours, is it time to try a new bold look?

Selling your property. Of course, an old broken down fence will be a major negative to potential buyers viewing your property, but as readers of House and Garden Care, it should never get that bad!

Potential buyers typically look for a good fence in property to 1. provide privacy, this is more so in rural areas. 2. keep children and pets safe. A fence won’t necessarily increase the value of your home directly but it will tick a box on the potential buyer’s checklist which makes for an easier sale.

Paraphrasing an article by This Is Money published in June 2020 which talks about homes with gardens becoming the new must-have for buyers, green spaces are in demand with nearly three-quarters of property insiders think the demand for a home near a park will rise over the next two years, while 68 per cent believe properties with more private space and fewer communal areas will be a top priority.

When is the best time to paint a fence?

During the summer is best time, we wan’t a dry period for a couple of days to ensure the paint dries properly. If it has been raining recently then wait for the wood to dry.

If it does rain shortly after painting your fence, it should be ok but check for affected areas where the paint looks uneven or diluted. Another coat will do the job but make sure to check the weather forecast.

The wood should be dry but not hot, if possible paint the fencing while it is under shade. The paint should not dry too quickly as it wont allow time to soak into the wood and negatively affect the protection.

If the fencing has recently been installed then it is recommended to wait 1 to 2 months before painting. This is because new wood may still hold a lot of moisture, ideally, we want to allow time for the wood to dry out before painting.

Choosing The Right Paint

Choosing the right paint for your fence painting project is a big decision. We want to ensure we get a high-quality paint that will protect the wood and stand the test of time, but we also want to stay in budget. Check the article Best Fence Paint Reviews for a guide on the paints developed specifically for wooden fencing and which ones we like.

What Tools and Materials Are Needed?

  • Painting Sprayer or Brushes
  • Step ladder
  • Drop cloths/Tarps
  • Painters’ tape
  • Hammer
  • Wood Fence Paint
  • A bristle hand brush is perfect for removing dirt and debris.
  • Protective breathing mask
  • Gloves

Paint Sprayer or Brush for painting wooden fences?

With the Sprayer I can finish the job faster, only need a single coat and get a good finish. However, I do use a lot more paint, roughly 2 or 3 times than using a brush.

Sprayers don’t tend to work well outside if it is a windy day, as you can imagine with a strong wind the paint can go on it’s own journey!

The paint brush does have more control, its a more precise tool over the sprayer but for me I will always choose the sprayer for the main reason of getting the job done quicker.

If this is your first time using a a paint sprayer then take some time and have a practise on old pieces of wood or alike. Sprayers from different manufacturers can of course require a slightly different setup, but they generally follow the steps of 1. Setup 2. Priming 3. Spray. So be sure to read the instructions.

Considerations for Paint Sprayers

Some Paint can be thick and clumpy which can cause problems flowing through the hose. You can add water or a chemical thinner to make it pass through smoother.

Mix the paint thoroughly until you get a good consistent texture.

Optionally after thinning and mixing the paint it can be strained to remove any clumps which have not broken down.

Considerations for Brush

While you will want to be generous with the paint, be careful going over the same area multiple times, this might seem like the best plan but it is counterintuitive. The more time you spend on certain areas, the more likely you are to need a second coat.

Preparations Before Painting Wood Fence

Before we begin painting we need to prepare the fence and the surrounding areas. We want to create a clean area around the fence removing any clutter and trimming grass and vegetation.

Step 1 – Clean Dirt

Clean the fence from dirt and debris. You can use a power washer to clean a dirty fence but do this with caution as power washers can be aggressive on the wood and strip it down.

Step 2 – Remove Old Paint

Scrape away the old paint and/or sand it down with a medium-grit or fine-grit sandpaper. It is best to practise to sand a fence that has previously been painted, this helps the new paint adhere to the wood.

Remember: to use breathing protection and gloves when sanding, especially against old paint. Sanding creates alot of fine dust that is easily inhaled and may contain hazardous substances.

Step 3 – Check For Repairs

Check the fence for repairs. Look for loose screws that can be fixed and broken sections of the fence. This is the best time to replace a broken section.

Step 4 – Chemical Clean

Clean the fence using a chemical fence cleaning product. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly, these can be strong products.

Wait for the fence to be dry before moving onto the next step…

Step 4 – Sand Down

The fence should now be sanded down, repairs finished and clean. Lay down tarps or drop sheets around the area to safeguard against unwanted paint and tape over any parts of the fence you don’t want to be painted such as hinges or posts.

It’s time to start painting…

Painting The Fence

If you’re going to use a paintbrush start on the top edge then paint on any verticals making sure to paint in at the edges.

Then taking one panel at a time painting from the top all the way down to the bottom.

Using a sprayer pour the sprayable paint into the tank of the sprayer stir the paint well before starting.

Secure the clips turn it on and stand about 20 centimetres back from the fence and gently squeeze the trigger to start the sprayer.

Spray the fence using the same method as with a brush the top edge first followed by any vertical uprights and then the face of the fence working top to bottom.

Reviewing Your Work

When all panels of the fence have been painted take a moment to review. Revisit each section that has been painted so that you can retouch any spots that need a second coat.

Check for thin coating and bare wood. Newer fences can be especially problematic because paint absorbs into the wood more rapidly.

If another layer is required, wait until the current coat is dry first.

Cleaning the tools

Cleaning the tools that you used to paint the fence will help to preserve them for future jobs of this nature. If you’re using oil-based paints, a white spirit is your best bet for cleanup.

Using other cleaning materials could cause paint traces to remain after the project is complete.

Final Words

As you can see, the process of painting your fence with a sprayer or brush is a simple process which can give many benefits such as extending the life of the fence and be part of a new re-design garden project.


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