Staining Vs. Painting: Which Is Better for a Fence?

Staining Vs. Painting: Which Is Better for a Fence?

Choosing whether to paint or stain your fence is a typical stumbling point for homeowners, whether they have a new fence that needs a topcoat or an old one that needs some attention. But, which is better for your fence?

Most of the time, staining a fence is preferable to painting it. Certainly, stain fades with time and must be reapplied, but this does not happen for several years, contrary to painting. While painting your fence, you have to anticipate cracks and peels within a few years. Compared to paint, stains are more expensive, although the long-term cost is lower since you don’t have to re-stain as often.

In this article, we will discuss which option between stains and paint is better. We will run down each other’s differences to help you figure out which one is the best approach for your fence.


Painting Vs. Staining: Which Is Better for Your Fence?

If you’re considering putting up a new wood fence, you might be concerned about the finish. While you could leave your fence naked, doing so may alter its longevity. An unfinished wood fence may bend, twist, split, or mold with time.

Many new fence owners wonder if they should stain or paint their fences. The most essential thing is to safeguard your wood before the weather wreaks havoc on your lovely new fence. While simple wood is attractive, it is extremely susceptible to damages inflicted by snow, rain, sun, dirt, and mildew. Your fence will be waterproofed using both wood and paint.

Consider painting or staining your fence to preserve it from the weather. If you don’t want to do that either, you might want to look at alternatives to wooden fences. With that being said, which one is better?

Painting Your Fence

Paint was the logical choice years ago, when stain selections were limited. However, it necessitates a lot of upkeep, and there are several techniques to achieve the perfect effect with stains these days.

Many homeowners have heard that horizontal surfaces, such as decks, should be stained. However, stain does hold up better underfoot. You have greater leeway with vertical surfaces as no one save the cat is likely to scale your fence.

The biggest benefit of paint is its versatility. If you decide to paint your fence, you’ll have a wide range of colors and finishes to choose from. Stain, however, is only available in flats. You may select your shine with paint.

Do you need to get your gate painted before the weather changes? The majority of latex paint dries to the touch in about an hour and is completely dry in four to eight hours. Meanwhile, stain takes around two days to dry.

If you choose to paint your fence, anticipate cracks and peels within a few years, depending on the quality of the paint you chose. When it’s time to repaint your fence, scrape off the old paint, prepare the surface, and then apply fresh paint. This takes a long time and is more expensive in the long run.

Staining Your Fence

Stain is a very distinct substance. The thinness of it is immediately apparent when you open it. Stain soaks into the wood rather than resting on top of it, changing its color. Stain is also more tolerant than paint since it doesn’t always require priming nor as much effort to get a consistent hue.

If your fence is textured or stressful, a stain is a better option than paint. It brings out the inherent beauty and texture of raw wood. However, if you’re painting a very absorbent surface, the amount of stain required by your gate may surprise you.

The number of stain options available has grown over the years. Customers can now pick between a clear stain, a bit of color, and an opaque stain. Typically, a single coat of stain is required. Unlike paint, stains do not peel, fracture, or blister.

On the other hand, they can be finicky. Only stain your fence when the temperature is at least 50°F and no rain is forecasted for at least two days to ensure thorough drying.

Most of the time, staining a fence is preferably overpainting it. True, stain fades with time and must be reapplied, but this does not happen for several years. Furthermore, staining takes less preparation than repainting since it does not peel or split.

Simply power wash the fence to create a clean, ready-to-stain surface. Although stain is usually more expensive than paint upfront, the long-term cost is lower because you don’t have to re-stain nearly as often.

Stain also comes in various colors and transparency. Some are transparent, providing waterproofing and protection without affecting the color of your fence, while others are semi-transparent. Those darken the wood while still allowing the grain to be visible.


Fences are more than just boundaries between lots. They provide protection against animals and trespassers, secure your privacy, and improve the overall look of your property. If you are planning to sell your house, your fences are a part of your property that should not be ignored. Read our article to find out what you need to know about backyard fences and property value


Which Finish Is Easier to Apply?

In this area, stain triumphs for it is way easier to apply than paint. A portable garden pump sprayer can quickly apply most stains. A fence can also be painted, although this needs specialized equipment.

Because stain absorbs rather than sits on the surface of your fence, it can be a little more forgiving during the application. As a result, it won’t show drips or runs as well as paint. Raw, rough wood, on the other hand, is content with a single layer of stain, contrary to paint, which requires the sanding and smoothing of the surface. Before you begin, do any necessary repairs to your fence, regardless of whatever finish you pick.

A painted fence necessitates additional prep work when it comes to reapplying paint. All peeling or flaking paint must be removed from the fence after it has been carefully sanded. Because stain does not peel or flake, all that is required to prepare the fence for a fresh coat of stain is a thorough cleaning.

Before treating your existing fence, pressure washing might be an excellent idea to achieve a clean slate.

As long as it is not pouring, the paint may be utilized in various conditions. You’ll need to wait until it’s at least 50°Fahrenheit (10°C) outside and no rain is expected for at least two to three days before applying stain.


Differences Between Staining and Painting Your Fence

A brand-new fence should come with a rot-free warranty. It is always the case with a good fence. If the fence panel has been dip-treated, it will very certainly need to be treated every year. You may leave it alone for years if its pressure is treated. Nevertheless, the weather does take its toll on any outdoor wood, fading most colors.

As a result, you may discover that staining or painting is both practical and visually necessary. It might be the same color as the original treatment or a completely different one. Either way, both contribute to the fence’s durability by keeping water out. To put it another way, you’ll have to paint or stain your fence at some point.

Paint is the way to go if you want a genuinely distinctive look for your fence since the color options are nearly unlimited. Solid stain alternatives provide you with color stain options that look like paint, and stain makers have produced several colors. However, if you want a stunning fuchsia fence, paint is the only option.

Here are other differences between painting and staining your fence:

  • Paint sits on top of the wood, and so, covers it, whereas stain soaks into the wood and colors it. The use of stains allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the wood.
  • Paint will deteriorate over time, peeling and cracking. It’s a headache to sand it down and repaint it. Meanwhile, because the stain has sunk deep into the wood, it is easy to apply some more.
  • Paint is an excellent way to radically change the fence. In the blink of an eye, a fence may turn from beige to blue. Although a stain may achieve the same thing, the grain is more visible and the impression less striking.
  • Paint obstructs the wood’s ability to breathe, which can lead to an increase in moisture content and subsequent rotting issues. The majority of stains let the wood breathe. And that’s a good thing.
  • There are several different forms of stains, ranging from practically translucent to solid. A semi-transparent stain will provide all of the necessary protection while also allowing you to appreciate the natural beauty of the wood. As a rule of thumb, the darker a stain is, the more protection it provides – but the less of the wood it exposes. It’s a compromise.


Fences are the first line of defense to protect you from trespassers, burglars, intruders, and even give you some privacy from nosy neighbors. Some people hire professionals to build their fences, while others prefer to build one themselves. If you are on a budget, is it cheaper to build your own fence? Read our article to find out. 


What Lasts Longer on a Fence: Stain or Paint?

Although stain lasts longer than paint, it is more difficult to apply. Even though the stain outlasts typical paint, keep in mind that it may fade with time and need to be redone.

The first thing that comes to mind when considering a significant undertaking like painting or staining your fence is how often you’ll need to do it. Both types of finishes require regular maintenance.

The stain should be redone every three years, while paint should be reapplied every five to six years. Your fence’s environment, such as hard winters or a lot of rain, may necessitate more frequent maintenance.

Paint wears out more quickly than stain, but stain wears out more gracefully. Some portions of the finish may be fading or degrading. As the time to reapply approaches, paint, on the other hand, tends to fracture, bubble, and peel.

These are some general guidelines you must keep in mind:

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint or stain to your fence if it appears to be in need. It’s never too early to perform preventative maintenance.
  • It’s never too late to paint or stain a fence if you haven’t done it already.
  • Take more time to thoroughly clean the wood before applying any treatments.
  • Use a professional wood brightener before treating aged wood if you wish to eliminate the grey hue.

Finally, before opting to paint or stain your fence, consider the kind of wood it’s made of and how it’s currently finished. For instance, paint does not hold well to cedarwood, and thus, can shorten the life of your cedar fence.

Although pressure-treated lumber can be painted or stained, the stain will not penetrate as deeply as raw wood. It must also be allowed to dry before being treated. If you’re going to paint rough sawn wood, you’ll need to do a lot of prep work. To retain the natural look of this type of wood, we recommend using an oil-based stain or oil-based wood treatment, such as linseed oil.



To make your wooden fence more durable, you can either paint it or stain it. Choosing staining over painting or vice versa depends on a couple of factors that you should take note of before making a decision.  Consider the type of wood your fence is made of and the current finish before deciding whether to paint or stain it. If you’re still unsure about whichever option to go for, consult an expert.

Both of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, you just have to be keen on choosing the right one for you. There are other factors you must consider when trying to decide between painting or staining your fence. If money isn’t a big deal for you, you can opt for painting your fence, although it will eventually need reapplication, which can be expensive.

Recent Posts