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7 Best Paints for an Outdoor Fence

Is your weather-worn fence ready for a makeover? From white picket to rugged cedar, here are the top-rated paints for outdoor fences.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Painting A FenceTom Werner/Getty Images

What Paint to Use on Outdoor Fences

Fences around your home provide security, privacy and curb appeal. Whether they’re made of wood, metal, brick, stucco or masonry, it’s important to keep them from succumbing to the elements, age and abuse. All it takes to have a fence you can be proud of is the right paint, a little know-how and a weekend of your time.

Here are some facts about outdoor fence paint.

Types of fence paint

Oil-Based

Oil-based (a.k.a. alkyd) is a long-lasting paint that tends to be more durable than water-based emollients. Oils take longer to dry and require paint thinner for cleanup. But if you’re looking for a tough, enameled (satin, semi-gloss or glossy) finish that withstands outdoor exposure, there’s no substitute.

Water-Based

Latex (a.k.a. acrylic) paint is a water-based formula that makes a good all-purpose paint solution. Acrylic paint is flexible — expanding and contracting with changes in temperatures — to resist cracking and blistering. Latex paint is also less toxic and better for the environment.

Primer

A primer is an undercoat that creates a bonding layer on a surface to seal it for painting. Besides blocking stains from wood tannins and mildew from moisture, primers give surfaces “teeth” to make the paint adhere better.

A lot of exterior paint formulas are self-priming. If the paint you choose is not, we recommend applying a quality primer to achieve the best results.

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Best All-Purpose Fence Paint

Grab a brush and go to town with The ONE Paint and Primer. It works on all types of fencing surfaces in one quick and easy step. No need to dread painting your fence because the thick, one-coat opaque formula helps you get the job done in no time flat. Choose from 12 pigments in gloss, satin or matte finishes.

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Best Oil-Based Fence Paint

Some painters swear by the luster and depth that oil-based enamel paint achieves. To get a rich, durable mid to glossy sheen on wood or wrought iron fencing, we like Diamond Brite Paint. A champ against high-traffic areas, it works as well on wood as it does masonry, metal and brick.

Pro Tip: The paint flows best when applying with a natural bristle paintbrush or a premium quality roller cover.

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Best Water-Based Fence Paint

Valspar’s 100-percent acrylic Duramax Satin Exterior Tintable Paint gives year-round protection with its all-weather adhesion capacity and mold, mildew and algae resistance. Is rain in the forecast? No problem. Duramax dries so fast — in an hour-and-a-half — there’s no need to put off your painting plans. This paint is sold as a tint base, so when choosing a custom fence color, the sky’s the limit.

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Best Fence Paint For Wood

Behr Exterior Barn and Fence Paint is the perfect marriage between durable oil-based paint and resilient latex. Developed especially for wooden fences and barns, this ready-to-use, self-priming hybrid compound offers superior adhesion, penetration and endurance. It resists cracking, blistering and peeling for a beautiful appearance that stands the test of time.

One five-star reviewer on homedepot.com said, “One coat application, ultra-bright white, great coverage and 20-30-minute drying time. Loving the front fence!”

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Best Decorative Fence Paint

If you want your fence to stand out in a crowd, add a touch of originality with color. Majic Paints Diamondhard Repurpose Acrylic Satin can turn a humdrum fence into the talk of the neighborhood. Delivering a smooth satin finish and superior color retention, this paint goes on like a dream, sticking to any surface without sanding or priming. Comes in 10 break-all-the-rules paint colors.

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Best Fence Paint for Metal

Reclaim the beauty of a crusty, rusted metal fence with a protective and professional finish by using Rusto-Oleum Professional High Performance Enamel Spray Paint.

Brushing metal can be tricky and tedious. The high-output, comfort tip lets you spray the oil-based paint in any direction — even upside-down — to achieve a hard-shell gloss or semi-gloss finish that protects against corrosion and harsh weather conditions. Dries to the touch in 15 minutes.

If you have a lot of metal fence to paint, purchase a spray can tool for comfort and a better grip.

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Best Fence Semi-Solid Stain for New Wood

For adding a subtle, fresh finish on a new wood fence without hiding the natural grain texture, we recommend tintable Cabot Semi-Solid Siding and Fence Acrylic Stain. An alternative to full-coverage paint, Cabot’s special semi-opaque pigments ensure a rich color while providing a deep-penetrating flat finish that protects against mold and mildew growth.

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Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.

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