Once your new wooden fence is assembled, you have a big decision to make. Should you paint it or stain it? You'll need to do one or the other to protect the fence and keep it looking its best. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks. Here's a look.
Painting the Fence
Benefits: When you paint the fence, you'll have your choice of most any color. While there are colored stains, they tend to have a muted, somewhat transparent look. Paint is opaque and will give your fence a bold, uniform color.
Paint also does a good job of protecting wood from pests like carpenter ants and wood bees. Usually, these pests won't burrow into wood that is protected by paint, though they sometimes do bother stained wood. Paint also keeps moisture from penetrating the wood. If you opt for stain, you'll have to apply a second coat of water sealer to fend off water, but this step is not necessary with paint.
Drawbacks: Paint requires an ample amount of upkeep. When the paint starts chipping, you need to scrape the fence and re-apply the paint, which can be time-consuming. High-quality, outdoor paints (and the primer you need to place under it) can be quite expensive, and you'll need more than you might think!
Staining the Fence
Benefits: Stain tends to be easier to apply than paint. You don't have to scrape the fence before you re-apply it, either. It preserves the natural appearance of the wood rather than covering it up, which might be ideal if you're living in a country-style or rustic home. Stain may also be less expensive than paint; a gallon of stain will stretch really far since it's a very thin liquid and you only need a small amount.
Drawbacks: Stain has quite an odor and may bother you when applying it if you're sensitive to chemical smells. If this is the case, you may need to hire someone to stain the fence for you. Also, stain is hard to apply without dripping. If you have plants beneath your fence, staining the fence may expose them to chemicals that cause them to die back or suffer from unpleasant "burn" marks.
If you're not sure whether to paint or stain your wooden fence, talk to a fencing contractor, such as Holman Fence LLC. They can tell you what other homeowners in your position have done, which may help you come to the decision that's best for you.