Face Lifting Your Fence: Should You Paint or Stain?

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Face Lifting Your Fence: Should You Paint or Stain? 

Fences create the first impressions of homes, so they matter a great deal. How they look and the state of their structural integrity are extremely important. When getting a new fence or updating an existing fence, many home owners wonder whether they should use paint or stain.  

Why bother with paint or stain? 

Wood in its natural state isn’t immune to the damaging effects of rain, snow, sun, or dirt. Paint and stain help to waterproof it. Without the waterproofing, wooden fences will grow mold and eventually rot away.  

Paint and stain serve the same function for metallic fences as for wooden fences – increasing the lifespan. The waterproof coating helps to protect against rusting and the consequent wear and tear. 

For plastic and vinyl fences, the purpose of paint and stain is purely aesthetic. By playing around with colored options, you can ensure that your fence blends in with the rest of exterior design. 

Without fear of contradiction, we can say that a sturdy and attractive fence will influence a higher resale value for your home. Even if you are not looking to auction, beautified fences will be your source of pride, elevating your home’s appeal to visitors, friends, and neighbors. 

If you are still sitting on the fence between paint or stain, below are nuggets of wisdom to help you make up your mind.  


It’s alluring, but it’s a lot of work. You will have to do regular maintenance by repainting at least once every two years. Color tends to crack and peel so this is not the best option for the budget conscious. 

Additionally, to attain a fresh look, you’ll have to scrape off all the old painting first then clean the surface in preparation for new paintwork. The additional hours of work could end up shooting the costs through the roof. For some wood types like cedar, paint will actually accelerate its deterioration. 

Wait a minute, isn’t it the American ideal to have a house with a white picket fence? If this is something you are dreaming of, don’t be discouraged. You can cut costs with a white vinyl fence which will never require painting or staining. Then again, you can safely use a solid white stain to achieve the same effect. 


In the list of pros and cons, stain triumphs over paint most of the time. With stain, there is zero maintenance once the job is done. However, note that stain might cost higher than paint. The only reprieve is that you will not need frequent re-staining, or have to peel off stain and other costly procedures in future. Thus, it is actually more budget friendly over the long term. 

Eventually, you will have to give your fence a retouch since stains do fade over time. However, this will not be as quickly as paint does. When it’s time to re-stain, all you will need to do is to give your fence a good power wash before applying the new stain. 

Beautiful stains 

There are color options for stain.  If you are a color person, then a solid stain is the way to go here. There are solid stains in pure red, white, blue, green, purple and yellow among others. If you are already in love with the natural color of your fence, there are transparent and semi-transparent stains that will do the protection without adulterating the natural wood color. 

You have many options with stain. Whatever option you choose, you can be sure to get the value for your money regarding cost-effectiveness and increasing the lifespan of your fence. 


If neither of these two options (paint and stain) appeal to you – there is a third option. Leave it natural. However, this is highly discouraged. By leaving your fence natural, and therefore unprotected, you it will be weathered by time and the elements. Even though you will not have the hassle of painting or staining your fence, it will inevitably need to be replaced much sooner than a painted or stained fence. 

If you have to leave your fence natural, there is a trendy look that might give you the same aesthetics that painters and staining enthusiasts seek.  The rustic shabby look. You will need to have a good quality wood to take regular washing in this case. Cedar, for instance, assumes a beautiful silvery tinge when it fades that many people enjoy. 

Before you make up your mind: 

Either of paint or stain could work for your fence. Before deciding on what to do with your fence, think about costs, effort, and the existing exterior design of your home. 

We are curious to know what decisions our readers make. Let us know what you decide to do and how it turns out. Share picture in the comment section below. 


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