Is it Better to Paint or Stain a Wood Fence? - Matt the Painter

Is it Better to Paint or Stain a Wood Fence?

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When it comes to fence painting, homeowners have a few different options. They can use regular paint on their wood fence, which protects the wood and changes the color. Or, they can use wood stain, which is thinner than paint but still changes a surface’s color.

The two have different applications, uses, and price points. If you are still deciding whether to paint or stain a wood fence, here are a few factors to consider.

Benefits of Paint

One of the biggest benefits of paint is its variety. Paint comes in many colors and finishes, while wood stains only come in natural colors and a flat finish. If you want to get creative with your home’s exterior appearance, then you should reach for paint.

Paint also dries faster than wood stain. If you are desperately trying to finish painting your fence before a storm comes in or are worried about damage pets or kids could cause to stain as it dries, then paint is the better option.

Drawbacks of Paint

Overall, paint is more expensive than stain. This may not be a problem if you only have a small section of fence to paint, but as the yardage adds up so will the price.

If you go with paint, your fence painting job may last longer than you think. That is because paint is far more difficult to apply than stain. It requires more coats, shows cracks and errors in the surface immediately, and often you will need to prime the surface. In the end, it is also less durable than stain.

Benefits of Stain

One of the biggest benefits of wood stain compared to paint is that it is durable. While fences do not take as much of a beating as wooden decks or patios do, they still pick up wear and tear from the weather. If you stain your fence, you will go longer in between repeated coatings.

Stain is also easier to work with. It absorbs directly into the wood as opposed to sitting on top of it, so there’s no need to prime the surface. It can help enhance the natural textures and whirls of wood.

Drawbacks of Stain

Stain absorbs into wood’s surface, so it also takes longer to dry. You will need to leave your fence untouched for two days and hope that it does not rain or get too cold. Otherwise, your stain will be ruined.

Stain can also be unpredictable. Some areas, such as gates, absorb more than others so you may wind up using more of it than you predicted. Although its usage is unpredictable, its appearance can be quite boring as there are fewer colors or finishes available than paint.

Unless you have an aesthetic vision in mind that you can only achieve with paint, a stain is a better choice for your wooden fences. It lasts much longer, even when faced with harsh weather conditions. When it does begin to fade, it does so evenly, as opposed to paint, which chips and flakes, creating a worn look. For those in harsher climates, wood stain is a better choice than paint. 

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