The Official Blog of The Fence Authority

Should I Paint or Stain My Fence?

So you got a new fence, and now you have a few questions. Won’t my fence age over time? Do I have to seal it somehow? There are three basic options for “finishing” a fence: painting, staining, or leaving it natural. There are benefits and drawbacks to each option. We are here to help you decide which route is the best for you!


Painting fences was more popular before there were so many options for stains. We would least recommend painting, because it does require a lot of maintenance. If you do decide to go ahead and paint your fence, you can expect to have to repaint it every 1-3 years, as paint does tend to crack and peel.

painted fence

Also keep in mind that once you do need to repaint, you will need to scrape off all of the existing paint, prep the surface for new paint, and then finally repaint. It is a lot of work and a lot of time, and over time the painting and repainting will end up costing you more.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “but how else do I get that white picket fence look?” Well, there are a few options. One is to buy a white vinyl picket fence. Vinyl will never need to be stained, painted, or maintained other than a good cleaning every once in a while. The other option is to use a solid white stain. Read on to find out more about this option!


Stain wins over paint most of the time, and that’s because it requires so much less maintenance than paint. It may be a higher cost initially, but you will not need to re-stain over and over again.

Eventually the stain will fade and need to be redone, but not nearly as frequently as paint. Stain does not peel or crack, so it requires way less preparation than repainting. A good power wash or washing with a deck cleaner will give you a clean slate to work with before re-staining, without all the scraping and peeling.

fence stain

There are a lot of options when it comes to staining your fence. One option is a solid stain, which, as mentioned above, will give you that traditional “white picket” look without all the maintenance of paint. Or, if you really love the look of natural wood and just want to protect your fence, there are plenty of semi-transparent options to choose from, too. There are even clear options that simply serve to waterproof and protect your fence.


natural weathered white cedar fenceThe third option for finishing a fence is simply leaving it natural and allowing it to weather over time. This option, of course, requires the least amount of effort, but it does leave room for the elements to take a toll on your fence over time. However, the rustic, weathered look is popular these days, and quality wood will last a while even if it is left to the elements.

Simply power washing or pressure washing your natural fence can bring it back to life, too, if you choose not to paint or stain but would like to try and keep the “new” look.

White cedar ages to a beautiful, silvery grey. Many people really like this look, and will choose it over attempting to preserve the brand new look.


Which will you choose?

Definitely be sure to consider the time, cost, and which option best complements the style of your home and property.

Leave pictures of your finished fence in the comments below, so we can see what you decided to do!

To order fence parts or schedule professional installation,
call 800-431-4303 or contact us online!


  • Mitch Fortner says:

    Great article. We recently had to make this same decision. We chose to go with a semi-transparent stain, as we wanted it to look painted for the most part, but still show some of the wood grain.

    Great tips about it lasting a while too, that was another reason we chose it.

    • Fence Authority says:

      Hi Mitch, glad you enjoyed the article! Semi-transparent stain is a great way to go. Best of luck with your fence!

  • Marina says:

    Great article! I just restained my fence same color as previously done about 8 years ago. I had it Powerwash’s a little to hard In some spots it’s blotchy. Was thinking of painting over or should I apply more stain?

  • Thomas Westgren says:

    I like how you said that you can simply leave a picket fence alone and keep the natural color. My wife and I have really wanted to get something to help keep our house’s privacy. Getting a good looking picket fence with some natural color is something that we would love to have on our property!

  • Dave Anderson says:

    That is really nice that white cedar ages to a silver grey and becomes very beautiful. Maybe I should have some cedar fencing installed. Maybe even get some ornamental cedar fencing and let it age for a little bit.

  • Steve Vogt says:

    Very good article. For the best coverage and longest lasting we prefer an oil based stain over a latex stain. It always surprises our customers how good thier old fence looks after a few repairs and well-applied stain.

  • Delta Fence & Construction says:

    Good read. I like the helpful info you supply for your articles.

⚠ Unsupported Browser ⚠

The Fence Authority probably won't work great in this browser.

We generally only support the recent versions of major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. Use this one at your own risk.

⚠ Unsupported Browser ⚠ The Fence Authority may not work properly in this browser.