Your DIY guide to painting a fence

By Ellie Reeves | 12th January 2023 | 4 min read

Find out how to paint your garden fence

Looking to bring some personality to your garden? Painting your fence is a brilliant way to brighten up your surroundings. Whether you want to simply refresh your garden barriers with a fresh coat of fence stain, or you fancy switching up the look completely with a bold and colourful fence colour. From sunny yellow to subdued blue, there are plenty of fence paint colours to choose from. Painting a wooden fence is a quick and easy job to do. All you need is a spare afternoon, a dry day, and a few tools. Read this step-by-step guide and we’ll walk you through the process.

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Safety first

We recommend wearing safety goggles when painting, as well as protective gloves and a dust mask when sanding. If you require a step ladder, wear suitable shoes, and place the ladder on a level surface. If any fence paint touches your skin or eyes, rinse immediately with water.

How to paint your fence in 5 easy steps

Step 1 – Check the weather forecast

Before you do anything, we suggest you check the weather forecast first. You’ll want a couple days of dry and warm weather, if you paint your fence in wet weather there is a risk that the paint won’t stick properly.

Step 2 – Prepare your surroundings

Clear the area around your garden fence. Cut back any trees or shrubs or tie them back to make sure they’re out of the way. Move garden furniture out the way and cover your patio, decking, or lawn with plastic sheets to protect from any paint splashes.

Step 3 – Wash and sand your fence

Your fence lives outside, so it’s most probably dirty and covered in cobwebs. You’ll want to remove any dirt, debris or flaking bits of old coating so that it’s ready for the new coating. A stiff brush will usually do the trick. If your fence is really caked in dirt, then you can use warm soapy water as well to help get it off. If you do use water to clean the fence, then make sure it’s thoroughly dry before attempting to paint.

Top tip

Do you have brand new, pressure or dip-treated fence panels? Then you’ll want to leave these to weather for a few months first to allow the treatment on the surface to dissipate, otherwise the new coating could be rejected and flake away.

Step 4 - Apply your fence paint

It’s time for the fun part. Let’s get painting! Choose fence paint with a tough and durable formula that has been specially designed to be used on exterior wood. Whether you use a paint brush or paint sprayer is up to you.

If you’re using a fence paint brush, ensure that you paint following the direction of the wood grain for a smooth finish. Make sure you start from the top and slowly work your way down so that you catch any drips.

If you’ve got a large surface area, a fence sprayer will help you get the job done quickly. If you’re using a paint sprayer, check that the paint is compatible. Ensure you wear a dust mark and goggles, and make sure you’ve covered the areas surrounding the fence properly, as there will be a little bit of overspray.

Some fence paint will only require one coat; however, some fence paint will require 2-3 coats. Make sure you check the tin to see the recommended number of coats and to see how long it will take for the paint to dry.

Step 5 - Clean your tools

Wash your brushes and tools straightaway so that the paint doesn’t dry up and become almost impossible to remove. If you’ve used a water-based paint, you can simply wash your brushes in a bucket of warm soapy water. If you’ve used an oil-based paint, you’ll want to soak your brushes in white spirit to get the paint off. This is because oil and water don’t mix, so if you attempted to clean your brushes with just warm water, it wouldn’t do the job.

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Fence paint colours we think you’ll love…

Get the perfect outdoor paint colour mixed just for you

With our Ronseal Xactly paint you can choose from 50 different colours for your garden, available as paint or stain. Because who says wood has to be brown? Our paint mixing service is available in store or online.