How to paint a fence – treat and protect wooden fences to keep them fresh

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  • Painting the garden fence can be the instant makeover your garden is crying out for – and best of all it doesn’t cost the earth. Unsure how to paint a fence? Don’t worry, we have all the know-how you need to tackle this satisfying garden DIY and decorating job. Set aside a day to get the job done (although another pair of hands will make it go quicker!) and don’t forget to put on high-SPF sunscreen before you start.

    Get your plot in order with with this simple yet highly effective garden idea. A fresh coat of wood stain can go a long way in perking up a weathered old wooden fence, while also adding a layer of protection to ensure the panels have a better chance at withstanding the elements.

    Painting a garden fence with a splash of colour instantly adds personality to an outdoor space, and thanks to a variety of specialist paint brands who now offer a whole spectrum of stylish colours there’s a shade to suit all.

    Bright colours, such as sunshine yellow and burnt orange, are an ideal small garden idea to make the space feel bigger and brighter. While on-trend darker shades, such as black or charcoal grey are ideal for larger gardens to enhance planting – making the lush greenery standout.

    How to paint a garden fence

    Image credit: Cuprinol

    What you’ll need to paint a garden fence

    • Stiff bristle brush
    • General purpose cleaner
    • Bucket
    • Wood filler
    • Sandpaper
    • Dust sheets
    • Masking tape
    • Woodcare paint – such as Cuprinol Garden Shades, shown above, or Sadolin Superdec, below.
    • Paint kettle
    • 3in paintbrush

    1. Considerate planning – choose the right day

    This is key, more so thanks to the unpredictable British weather. The wood has to be dry, so tackle the job when no rain is forecast for a few days. Avoid very hot days though, as the sun will dry out the paint before it’s had time to penetrate the wood properly.

    2. Prepare the surface

    Use a stiff brush to remove dirt, flaky bits and dried garden debris. Scrub away any algae with a diluted general purpose cleaner and let it dry completely. Replace any rotten sections and repair any small areas of damage with exterior wood filler (sand when dry so it’s flush with the wood).

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/ Colin Poole

    3. Protect the surrounding area

    Use dust sheets to cover plants or paving that might be splashed. Trim back any foliage that’s getting in your way and gently detach and pull back any climbers. If your fence posts are concrete, cover with masking tape. Do likewise with any handles or metalwork attached to them.

    4. Do a patch test

    Give the paint or stain a really good stir before you start. Check that you’re happy with the colour and finish by doing a patch test in an inconspicuous place before you do the entire fence – same as you would with an interior decorating task. It’s important to see the colour once it’s dried to gage how it will look once it’s done.

    5. Get painting

    Apply brush strokes in the same direction as the grain and try not to spread the paint too far. Don’t overload the brush and work the paint into the wood well.

    For end grains (such as the top of fence posts), dab the brush in a stippling motion to really get the product into the wood. Leave the paint to dry completely before going back to do another coat.

    Two thin coats will give a much better result than one thick coat.


    Image credit: Sadolin

    Another job to tackle: How to plant a hanging basket – transform your garden with this pretty outdoor accessory

    Garden fences will look amazing with a fresh coat of paint, whether you love brights or neutrals. What colour will you go for?

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