Garden Fence treatment & paint

The new fence looks great when it's done, and that initial wow factor will wear off after a while and soon you might be wondering what you can do to add some decoration, some character and put your own unique touch on it.

To begin, that might be to add some colour with a coat of paint or timber preservative.  A lot of my clients liked the look of the new timber with it's own sawmill preservative showing off the natural beauty of the wood, and that stays for a couple of years until the sun begins to bleach the colour out and you're left with a dull grey wood effect, which again, some folk like.

Dark Creosote Substitute

Red Cedar Woodstain

Farrow & Ball Exterior Paint

Dark Creosote substitute with sprayer.
Red Cedar Woodstain
Farrow & Ball Exterior Eggshell

I was always more drawn to the creosote substitutes, golden or dark brown are the two choices there. Not really exciting but if it's long life preservation you're going for, then the spirit based treatments which soak deep into the fibres of the timber are best suited to that in my opinion.

On the other hand, you have surface coatings, which tend to be water based and come in the full spectrum of colours and you can pretty much find whatever shade or tint excites you.  Even if you want something bespoke, most decorating centres will have a base white product for you to use and with their technology, you can show them a sample of whatever colour you want and they will make it for you.  I found that particularly useful when we were doing a repair or an extension to an existing fence and we had to match the new fence to the colour of the old fence.  We could take a piece of old fence to the decorator centre and they guys in there would nail it every time.  

By far the most popular product we were asked to use was Cuprinol Garden Shades, available in the traditional colours and always some weird and wonderful new seasonal ranges too, but again, the only limit to what you can do is in your own imagination.  

I'll put some Amazon links in here to show you just some of what's available, and then I'll tell you how we apply it, to achieve good coverage for the most efficient spend.

Now that's just a small selection of what's available, and bear in mind, you can take any combination and mix them to make something truly bespoke to your own liking.

To apply you would traditionally use a big pasting brush and lather it on thick, but it's not the best way in my opinion.  We use a garden sprayer now, and Cuprinol have one specifically for the job too.  For me personally, I would just by a basic sprayer, one of the pump-handle white plastic variety off the shelf in any garden centre and it does just fine.  I did find it was necessary to water down the product, and a 1:1 ratio seemed to work best for me. That goes through the sprayer nozzle well, and usually I would be doing two coats so coverage was good.

My approach was to go at the fence at 45 degrees in one direction, and cover all the faces of the fence boards, and then catch the other side on the way back.  This meant that the front face got a good double coat, and the side facings got their double coat when you spray the other side.

Here are the sprayers I'm talking about.

The only thing to be wary of when spraying is of course over spray.  You don't want this stuff all over your house or all over your neighbour's clean washing lol.  It's up to you, but I would only spray on a calm weather day, and use dust sheets for cover if needed.  Stop short of the house or garage and finish with a brush there to maintain control over where the paint goes.  If you do make a mistake and overspray something, the paint is water based so if you catch it quickly, you can just rinse it off with a hose or a bucket of warm soapy water, which is a huge advantage over spirit based products like creosote substitute.  Whatever creosote touches, that's it's new colour now lol.

How often should you treat a fence?  

It's entirely up to you but I would advise every two years if you really want to maximise the life of your fence.  Bear in mind too, the sun will bleach the colour out of just about anything over time too, so you might want to freshen and renew every year in the spring before the plants burst into life. That's generally how it goes on the frontage of a property, and maybe every other year around the back.