Paint vs. Stain Fence

Considering a stain fence? Nothing quite achieves the look and feel of a natural wooden fence.

A vinyl pvc fence is inexpensive and useful for certain applications.

Chain link fencing is indispensable in some areas.

Even after the development of multiple high-tech options, a fence made of wood is still the preferred choice of millions.

But, even with some of that expertise applied to modern fencing, a fence will still degrade fairly rapidly unless some preventive measures are taken. Luckily, thanks to innovative types of fence coatings, there are several options for doing just that.

Types of Fence Paint

Paint is one of the traditional choices and it has been enhanced beyond belief by contemporary chemistry. Every imaginable range of prices is available. Latex is one option, oil is another. Alkyds are available that will outlast the wood they cover.

Latex is easy to apply and typically less expensive than the rest. But, it does have a downside: it tends to peel over time. It spreads easy and looks great at first. That might be good enough for many fences in many areas. But harsh winters, heavy spring rainfall or baking summer sun – and some climates have all three – will peel it off within a few years.

Oil or alkyd-based paint is a little more expensive, and trickier to apply evenly. But with a little practice it can produce a fine finish. It weathers well and seals wood to keep out moisture.

The major difference between the two is in the binder. Latex paints use, as the name suggests, a latex binder to keep pigments and solvents together. An oil-based paint uses an extract of vegetable oil to perform that task.

Types of Stain Fence

Another, equally popular style of a treated fence is a stain fence, which itself comes in a variety of colors and types. There are wood-toned, semi-transparent and solid color stains.

Wood-tone stain allows most of the natural grain of the wood to show through, while providing a layer of protection from air and water. They do have some pigment, however.

Semi-transparent types provide some show-through of the texture while adding a bit of color. Solid colors will appear almost like paint (though they’re made of different chemicals), but grain can be seen close up.

In general, the darker the stain the more long lasting it will be, though the differences can be minor. The darker types tend to last longer because they resist UV radiation a little better. Often, the look you want will outweigh that consideration.

A purely clear option is available in the form of shellac or an oil that contains no pigment. They provide excellent protection from wind and rain while allowing the natural look of the wood to shine through. UV protection, though, is minimal.

For cedar and other colored woods, some fading of the original is to be expected over a period of years.

After your done you may want to add a fence sealant to your new stain fence.

Costs, ease of application and personal preferences will all play a role when choosing how to treat a wood fence. Fortunately, thanks to modern chemistry, you can’t go wrong when you want the natural look of real wood with a properly chosen stain fence.

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